TGIF, Today God Is First

Being a Vessel to Bless Others

August 1st, 2014 by Os Hillman

“One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25

One of the reasons God entrusts money to us is to bless other Christians by meeting their needs. God uses the transfer of money within the Body of Christ to build unity among Christians. Sometimes we withhold money that God has designated for someone else. He wants to bless through us, but His will cannot be accomplished through us if we are disobedient.

This was the case for a business owner who tells of the time when God told him to forego a company bonus one year. God directed him to share his year-end bonus with an employee to show his appreciation for him. He wrestled with God for three full days before obeying the Lord on the matter. When he finally met with the employee to give him his check, the man said he had been praying about a financial need he had three days earlier. He had decided to borrow the money to meet his need. The amount of money he borrowed was the exact amount the business owner gave him.

God had already planned to provide for the employee through the business owner, but because he was hesitant, he almost missed the opportunity to be an instrument of God in this man’s life. Even so, he could have prevented the man from having to borrow money. It was an important lesson for the business owner.

How many people do we let down because we feel the “harvest” God provides is all ours? In America, the pressure is always on to move up the ladder of material accumulation. Jesus warned us about this. If our focus is on accumulation, we will not look for opportunities to be God’s vessels of financial blessing to others. Ask the Lord if you have an open hand when it comes to finances.





Waiting for the Lord

July 31st, 2014 by Os Hillman

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

Hearing and doing God’s will are two important steps that often get confused as one step. However, these are two distinct processes. When we hear God’s voice, this is only 50 percent of the process. The next important step is to know when to move. It is one thing to hear; it is another to know when to act.

There was a time when the Lord showed me I was to write. This was a major change in my life from what I was doing. As I began to write, I attempted to find a publisher for my work. This became a real frustration. I encountered many false starts, and many well-intentioned people wanted to assist but their efforts resulted in further delays.

Finally, my wife asked me, “Os, have you completed the book you are working on?” “No,” I replied.

“When you complete the book, God will provide a publisher if He has called you to write. You need to complete the book.”

A few months later I was in discussions with a publisher about my work. They were going to be in my city and wanted to meet with me. The day we met they offered me a contract on my book. It also was the exact day that I had completed the book. I thought back to the words my wife had said.

Corrie ten Boom was a prisoner in the German Holocaust who lost her sister in the concentration camps. She tells a story about her father taking her on trains. She always wanted to get the ticket from her father ahead of time. He never gave her the ticket until she was about to get onto the train.

God is always on time. He is never late, and He is seldom early. Ask God for the wisdom to discern His will and His timing for the events in your life.





Bad Alliances

July 30th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not Mine, forming an alliance, but not by My Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting Me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge.” Isaiah 30:1-2

Have you ever entered a business relationship with someone you knew you were not supposed to? Throughout the history of Israel, the people were called to come out of an old way of life. Egypt represented that old way; when things got tough, the Israelites reverted to what was comfortable. They always knew they could take a trip to Egypt and find what they lacked. Perhaps this was their reasoning: “If we can’t get it accomplished under the new way, why not go back to the way we used to do it? At least we know we can get it there.”

When God calls us into a walk of faith, we can expect to be tested in this walk. If we enter into alliances that God has not ordained, it will only bring heartache. Such was the case for Israel. “But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace” (Is. 30:3).

Beware what you perceive as an alliance that may advance your business. It may actually bring you great distress if God has not directed you to align it. Ask yourself what the motive is behind this possible alliance. Make sure that it is not based on fear or a quick fix. Get confirmation that God is leading you to make such an alliance. Then you will not end up in the way of Israel, experiencing shame and disgrace.





Presumption Versus Faith

July 29th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and He struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.” 1 Chronicles 13:10

A life of faith often requires us to leave God’s work alone. Responding to a need out of a desire to help move a vision along can be the greatest challenge for a Christian entrepreneur. There is a fine line between presumption and faith.

Uzzah learned that presumption could cost him his life. He was part of the crew that was to move the ark with the help of a team of oxen. When the way became rough, Uzzah responded in a natural way. He grabbed the ark to steady it. When he did, he was immediately struck down. God said it was forbidden to touch the ark. King David mourned the death of his servant and argued with God about this loss. Walking with God in the workplace requires sensitivity to balancing our God-given talents and operating in the power of the Holy Spirit in and through our work life. A mentor once told me, “You almost have to hold back your natural gifting to ensure that God is the one who is guiding you. If not, you will not know if it is through your skill versus His hand that you are accomplishing the work.” I find this the most challenging aspect of a walk with God in the workplace.

You can only grow in your understanding of this balance by being accountable to others in the process. By having other committed Christians walking close to you, they become the safety net to keep you from presumption and the deceit of the heart. God also gives godly spouses to help many in this area.





When the Lord Tarries

July 28th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3

God has a storehouse of blessings that He has reserved for you and me. However, our timing to receive those blessings may not be the same as our Lord’s. God has a specific timetable that He requires to accomplish His purposes in the life of the believer. Sometimes that timetable seems excruciatingly cruel and painful, yet it is needful.

When we read that Joseph remained a slave in Egypt and was then placed in prison after being wrongfully accused, it would be easy to second-guess the God of the universe. Oh, how cruel and uncaring, we might think. Joseph thought he was going to be delivered from prison when he interpreted a dream for a court official, but then he was forgotten another two years. Why? An early release would have disrupted God’s perfect plan.

God takes time to develop character before anything else. God could not afford to have a prideful 30-year-old managing the resources of an entire region of the world.

We can sometimes delay this timetable if we refuse His correction.

Although it is sometimes difficult to understand, the Lord is just and gracious in His dealings with His children. When He does decide to move on our behalf, we will appreciate the delay and will often understand the reason it was needed.

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” (Is. 30:18)

If you are awaiting the fulfillment of a vision in your life, ask the Lord for His grace to sustain you. It will be worth the wait.





Small Things

July 27th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“Who despises the day of small things?” Zechariah 4:10

Life is filled with a series of small things that can amount to something big. Have you ever considered why the God of the universe came to earth and spent 33 years identifying with mankind through work? Jesus grew up as a carpenter’s son and, no doubt, learned the trade from His daily routine of helping His father. For 30 years He worked. When it was time for Him to begin to fulfill His purpose for mankind, He told countless stories of people and their work. He told stories of landowners, farmers, fishermen, tax collectors, and so on. He related to the everyday man because He Himself was one. This is why it was important for Him to have some personal work experience.

Life is filled with daily routines. Every now and then, God takes us to the mountaintop to experience His presence in a dramatic way. This is not the norm. It was not the norm for those in the Bible either. Moses spent 40 years in preparation. Paul spent a great deal of his life working toward the wrong purpose until a dramatic event changed his life. Jacob spent 20 years working for Laban.

God uses work to develop character qualities that He plans to use at the appropriate time. In the small things we develop trustworthiness with God. The day-in and day-out grind of working life molds us and makes us into what God desires. God may still be preparing you for something far greater. For now, however, you are learning the daily lessons of small things. Pray that you will be faithful.





Being An Overcomer

July 26th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“Why does it seem that those involved in Christian enterprise find the way so hard? It seems as though it is harder for those who are committed Christians in business. Have you found this to be true?” This was the comment from a business associate recently. My answer was a definite yes. In fact, if you were not a Christian and sought to do a similar business without regard to maintaining a biblical philosophy, the way would be much smoother sailing. It makes us think of the prophet who asked, “Why do the wicked prosper?” (see Jer. 12:1)

It is a spiritual principle of which we speak. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan before they entered the Promised Land, they fought only two battles. Then after they entered the Promised Land, they fought 39 battles. The way of the cross is not paved with lilies; it is paved with grace. When we seek to honor God in our business life, we will be met with opposition from the spiritual forces of this world. This is why each of us must commit ourselves to walking in the power of the Holy Spirit and to be as gentle as doves but as wise as serpents.

Do not be surprised when you find the way harder as a believer than when you were a non-believer. You now have more at stake among the spiritual forces that desire you to be defeated and ineffective.

Stand firm against the evil forces that desire to keep you from walking in freedom in the Promised Land. Jesus is your victory for every battle you will encounter. Call on His name.





Experiencing God in Your Business

July 25th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

The CEO walked into the president’s office after reviewing his new marketing plan for the next year. It was a well-prepared, thoughtful plan.

“This will not do!” exclaimed the CEO. “This plan describes how you will achieve these objectives through your own planning. I am certain you can achieve these objectives through normal business operations; however, you have allowed no room for faith in your plan. Now you must determine what God wants us to trust Him to accomplish through this business. You must go beyond what you can naturally achieve.” What was this CEO saying? If you and I want to experience God in business at the practical level, we must be willing to trust Him for more than what our natural abilities can accomplish. God likes to show Himself in the midst of unlikely circumstances. This is the place that God receives the glory. God always forced Israel to trust Him for the supernatural. This is how glory was brought to the Father. It is no different in our lives.

The world is looking for real faith. Perhaps you are the instrument that He wants to use to demonstrate real faith to the unbelieving business world. It will require courage, faith, and action; also, it will require risk. You may risk finances, reputation, and being misunderstood. This was the risk of all leaders in the Bible. It was a risk worth taking. Are you willing to see God move in your business life? Ask Him what this might mean for you.





Finding Meaning in Our Labor

July 24th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“But I said, ‘I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.’” Isaiah 49:4

Have you ever felt like you’re spending your life using your talent for nothing? Life is often spent doing mundane activities that seem to have little eternal purpose.

The great prophet Isaiah was struggling with his own purpose. He knew he was chosen to be a voice for God, yet life became purposeless for Isaiah. We all go through periods when our purpose seems to be clouded with the mundane. We see little meaning in life. On the other hand, Isaiah didn’t stay in this place. We read in this passage that he knew the truth of his existence. He could look past his present circumstance and know that his real reward and purpose would be revealed in eternity. He knew that God was just and fair, so he placed his faith on this truth.

When life appears to lack meaning and purpose, remember that if you devote your life to the purposes He has for you, the fruits of your labor will be manifested in due time. “The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).





Second Chances

July 23rd, 2014 by Os Hillman

…”I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah 4:2

Have you ever gone through a time of disobedience with God? Jonah was a prophet of God who decided he didn’t want to prophesy for the Lord. God wanted him to deliver a message to Nineveh to warn them against impending destruction if they didn’t turn from their ways. Jonah had developed a hardened heart toward the people of Nineveh. He didn’t really care if they repented or not; so rather than travel to Nineveh and deliver the message, he hopped a boat in the opposite direction. You probably know the rest of the story. He was eaten by a fish and spent a few days thinking about his decision.

There is a place where we all will obey. What circumstances must take place for us to become obedient? For some of us, it requires a good shakeup. For Jonah, it required a big shakeup because he was God’s man to save 120,000 people. He was chosen by God to be used by God, and God didn’t give up on him.

God understands our disobedient heart. He sees what we really are; yet He gives second chances. God gave Jonah a second chance. He gave the people of Nineveh a second chance. It is a lesson of love from a heavenly Father who specializes in second chances. Have you blown it? Have you disappointed someone close to you? God is the God of second chances. All we have to do is acknowledge our waywardness. He will restore. He will give grace. Ask Him.