TGIF, Today God Is First

Good Things Versus God-Things

November 23rd, 2014 by Os Hillman

“Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” – Romans 8:14

The greatest sign that you and I are maturing in our walk with God is when we can discern the difference between “good things” and “God-things.” When the people of Israel journeyed out of Egypt through the desert, the cloud led them by day. They could move only as fast as the cloud. If they went ahead, they went without God’s presence. If they lagged behind, they also lost God’s presence.

Each of us must have the discernment to know when God is leading in a matter, or if it is simply a good idea. There are so many things in which you and I can be involved, and the more successful you become, the greater the temptations to enter into things where God has not called you. Entrepreneurs are especially prone to see all the opportunities.

I recall one time when I entered into a project that I thought was a great idea. It would help many people. After two years, the project had to be discontinued. It was a great lesson on understanding what projects have God’s blessing on them. There are some projects you and I might get involved in that result in little fruit compared to the investment put into them. That is because they may never have been birthed by the Holy Spirit.

As sons of God, we are called to be led by the Spirit. This requires a level of dependence on God in which many of us really do not want to invest. It requires listening, waiting, and moving only when God’s Spirit tells us to move. Workplace believers are “action” people. We know how to get things done, but our greatest strength can be our greatest weakness.

Today, ask God to make you a Romans 8:14 man or woman who is led by the Spirit of God. Pray against lagging behind or moving ahead. Ask God to reveal whether the next project you consider is a “good thing” or a “God-thing.”





A Question of Ownership

November 22nd, 2014 by Os Hillman

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” – Matthew 10:39

Otto Koning was a missionary in New Guinea. He worked among a native tribe that had known only their village ways. One of those village ways was stealing from others. When Otto and his wife arrived and moved into a hut, the natives often came by to visit. The Konings would notice that after the natives left the missionaries’ home, various household items had disappeared. They saw these items again when they went to preach in the natives’ village.

The only fruit Otto could grow on the island was pineapples. Otto loved pineapples, and he took pride in the pineapples he was able to grow. However, whenever the pineapples began to ripen, the natives would steal them. Otto could never keep a ripe pineapple for himself. This was a frustration, and he became angry with the natives. All during the seven-year period in which this took place, Otto preached the gospel to these natives, but never had a conversion.

The more the natives stole, the angrier Otto became. Finally, one day Otto had a German Shepherd dog flown in from another missionary to protect his pineapple garden after other frustrated efforts failed. This only further alienated the natives from him.

Otto took a furlough to the United States and attended a conference on personal rights. At this conference, he discovered that he was frustrated over this situation because he had taken personal ownership of his pineapple garden. After much soul searching, he gave his garden to God. Soon the natives started having problems among their tribe. They discovered that Otto was the reason for their problems because he gave his garden to his God. The natives saw a correlation between what Otto had done and their own lives being affected by calamities in their village. When Otto gave his garden to God, he no longer got angry and was free from worry. The natives started bringing him fruit from the garden because they didn’t want any more calamities to come into their village.

The light came on one day when a native said to Otto, “You must have become a Christian, Otto. You don’t get angry anymore. We always wondered if we would ever meet a Christian.” They had never associated Otto with the kind of person he was preaching about because his message did not line up with his life. Otto was broken in spirit when he realized he had been such a failure.

At the end of seven years, he witnessed his first conversion, and many began coming to Christ once he fully gave his garden to God. The fruit grew so abundant that Otto began exporting it and growing other types of fruit, such as bananas. His village became the most evangelized in the whole region, yet for seven years he had not one convert.

Otto realized something each of us must realize: To gain your life you must lose it, along with your possessions. It was only when he gave all his possessions to God that he became free from them. God measured back to him manifold once He had complete ownership.

Do you have some possessions that you need to give up to God today? Let God have all that you have. Become a steward, not an owner. You will be surprised at how well God can take care of His possessions.





A Business Problem Leads to a Call

November 21st, 2014 by Os Hillman

Now the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.” – 1 Samuel 9:3

The people of Israel wanted a king. God finally agreed. Samuel was the prophet of Israel who was to anoint the man God had chosen. God selected a young man to be the first king of Israel-his name was Saul.

It is interesting to look at the circumstances in which God called Saul into his new vocation. It seems that Saul’s father had a business that used donkeys. During these times, donkeys were often used for commerce. It was obviously important to the father to find these lost donkeys, so he sent Saul and his servant out to find them.

They went from region to region, unable to find the donkeys. Finally, Saul told his servant that they should go back. He thought that his father would be worried.

But the servant replied, “Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take” (1 Samuel 9:6).

Saul took his advice. Near the town they met some young girls who told them that Samuel had just come to their town that day.

When they arrived, they met Samuel who told them that the donkeys were safe and he would also tell Saul the next morning all that was in his heart. He then informed Saul of his new calling to be the next king of Israel.

Can you see what circumstances led to Saul’s receiving his call? It started with a business problem – lost donkeys. It led to connecting Saul with Samuel through a number of divine appointments and circumstances. God still does this today.

God will provide the necessary circumstances to accomplish His purposes in your life. You must realize that a business problem may lead to a new calling for your life. Saul had no idea lost donkeys would be the instrument used to change his life. So, too, we must realize God’s ways are not our ways.





Starting Over

November 20th, 2014 by Os Hillman

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. – James 1:9

Do you find yourself in humble circumstances? If so, James tells us that we are to take pride in this “high” position. These two things would seem to be an oxymoron. Most of us would not consider humble circumstances a high position. Successful business tells us that being on top means being wealthy, attaining favor and status, or having power to influence. However, Jesus influenced not from power, but from weakness.

J.C. Penney is a name synonymous with department store. He first launched his chain of “The Golden Rule” stores in 1907. In 1910 his first wife died. Three years later, he incorporated as the J.C. Penney company. In 1923 his second wife died giving birth to his son. In 1929 the stock market crashed and he lost $40 million.

By 1932, he had to sell out to satisfy…creditors. This left [Penney] virtually broke. …Crushed in spirit from his loss and his health suddenly failing, Penney wound up in a Battle Creek, Michigan sanitarium. One morning he heard the distant singing of employees who gathered to start the day with God: Be not dismayed, whate’er betide, God will take care of you…. Penney followed the music to its source and slipped into a back row. He left a short time later a changed man, his health and spirit renewed, and ready to start the long climb back at age fifty-six.

By 1951 there was a J.C. Penney store in every state, and for the first time sales surpassed $1 billion a year. [John Woodbridge, ed., More Than Conquerors (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1992), 340-343.]

The success of J.C. Penney can be traced to God’s mercy in his life to bring him out of his humble circumstance. Do you find yourself in a humble circumstance? God is the only one who can help you see your humble circumstance from His viewpoint-a high position. It is a high position because of what God is going to teach you in this place. He does not intend you to stay there; it is merely a stopping place to learn some important things you would not learn otherwise. Press into God and trust Him for the outcome to your circumstances.





Are You a Romans 8:14 Christian?

November 19th, 2014 by Os Hillman

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. – Romans 8:13-14

Joshua and Caleb are described in Scripture as men who had a different spirit. They were two of the 12 spies sent into the Promised Land to determine if it could be taken, as God had promised it to them. The other ten gave a bad report that instilled fear in the people, which ultimately caused a rebellion. This resulted in an entire generation dying in the desert. Joshua and Caleb were the only two who were led by the Spirit of God, versus the spirit of fear. They were the only ones to enter the Promised Land from their generation.

Are you a person led by the Spirit? The verse above tells us that those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. “But because My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” (Num. 14:24). Caleb was a Romans 8:14 man! The Spirit led him. He was not led by fear.

Many of us have failed to enter into our own Promised Land because we have failed to be led by the Spirit rather than by fear. Fear prevents us from entering into what God has promised for each of us. God has reserved an inheritance for us that is exceedingly good. God described the Promised Land as a land of milk and honey. Our own Promised Land is the same. But you must be led by the Spirit to enter in. You cannot be led by fear, reason and analysis, or even skill. The Spirit must lead you.

Commit yourself to being a Romans 8:14 man or woman. Then you will enter into the land God has promised for you.





Fulfilling Vows

November 18th, 2014 by Os Hillman

When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. – Ecclesiastes 5:4

Have you ever had a business relationship with someone who made a commitment but later said, “Well, things changed, so I cannot honor our original agreement.” Sometimes this may be the case, but often it is simply an opportunity to avoid fulfilling an agreement. God is big on fulfilling vows. God’s nature is righteousness and truth. You will always see God honor His Word. He expects the same of His people.

God says there are consequences when we do not fulfill our vows. Subsequent Scripture verses reveal the following:

It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry with what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God? (Ecclesiastes 5:5-7).

God tells us that He will destroy the work of our hands for failure to fulfill vows. That’s pretty strong language. It gives us an indication of how important fulfilling vows is to God. He will not prosper our work if there are unfulfilled vows in our lives

Are there any unfulfilled vows in your life that may be hindering your projects? Vows show up in many areas of our lives – marriages, businesses, personal friendships. Unfulfilled vows in any one of these could be the reason your work may be hindered.

Ask God today if there are any unfulfilled vows in your life. If so, begin today to make them right so that you may be successful in whatever God calls you to do.





Product Testing

November 17th, 2014 by Os Hillman

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” – Matthew 25:21

Testing allows one to discover how well a product is made when placed under extreme stress. Increasing the pulling pressure between two objects reveals the amount of tension that can be withstood in a chain link. Eventually, the “choking” point occurs. In sports, we ascertain the “choking” point for athletes by putting them into a pressure situation. At what point will the athlete lose concentration and collapse under the pressure? It is under these stressful times that we discover how well we have been trained to withstand the pressure and make right decisions regardless of outside influences.

In my younger days I played sports. I came to observe that we fail under pressure usually because we reach a point where our ability to focus on execution yields to concern about outcome. This worry about outcome forces us to lose our concentration. The fear of failure begins to rule our emotions and actions, which ultimately results in our failure. What we fear has come upon us. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In life, we see giving in to pressure in the form of compulsive behavior, withdrawal, anger, abuse, moral failure, and dishonesty, to name just a few manifestations.

Jesus never yielded to pressure. He never made decisions based on outcome. He always made the right decision. He always performed the same no matter what the circumstance. He lived a life based on absolutes, not circumstances. He never gave in to “situational ethics.”

As God entrusts us with more and more responsibility, He brings more and more pressures into our lives to “test the product,” to make sure that He can give even more responsibility to us. This process helps us see where we are in our maturity and determines our level of future responsibility.

Are you a product that can withstand the product test? Will you perform as the Maker designed no matter what outside pressures come? Know that you cannot perform well unless you are continually in relationship with and obedient to the one who made you. Trust the product developer today. He has made you to perform well under pressure.





The Ultimate Franchise

November 16th, 2014 by Os Hillman

And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought Me? Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business? Luke 2:49 KJV

Earth is God’s business. He has set up many franchises (churches) designed to send His representatives (Body of Christ) into the world to make known the best product ever given to mankind (Jesus). His branch managers (pastors) have been given the responsibility to teach and support those in the field. God’s goal is to establish a franchise in every nation, state, and city. It is the ultimate business because when you introduce someone to His product (Jesus), you receive a reward from the home office (Heaven). God has promised that His representatives will have all the tools and customer support needed to accomplish their strategic plans.

Jesus knew that He was to be about His Father’s business. He knew He was sent to earth not to enjoy the pleasures of lowly man, but to accomplish a task for which He alone was sent. When He had accomplished His mission, He was to entrust this mission to other representatives into whom He poured His life for three years. This field training allowed Jesus to mentor, model, befriend, and demonstrate firsthand the model for a successful business to be launched and sustained.

God has big plans for His franchise. He wants every human being to partake of His product; however, even God knows that not everyone will. Nevertheless, this does not thwart His efforts in seeking to make it known among His audience.

You have been called to be part of the ultimate franchise. How many new recruits have you been responsible for bringing into the franchise lately?





Real Customer Service

November 15th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“While they were going out a man, who was demon-possessed and could not talk, was brought to Jesus.” Matthew 9:32

Years ago, it was not uncommon to have your milk delivered to your home. Doctors made house calls. And when you made a call to a company to discuss a problem, you actually spoke to a human being. Those days of personal service are gone, and if we are not careful, we will follow the same trend in how we share the gospel.

So often we are encouraged to bring people to church. Yet, we see no examples of where Jesus brought people into the synagogue to get them saved or healed. The miracles happened more often in the workplace because that was where Jesus could be found. Jesus had less response and found more resistance in the synagogue than in the workplace. He took the gospel to and modeled the gospel in the workplace. That is where the power of God was manifested. This is not to say we should not bring people to church, only that our priority should be to bring the Church into the workplace, not bring the workplace into the church.

Paul understood this when he said, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4).

Paul understood that it wasn’t words that impacted people; it was the power of God manifested through him.

When is the last time someone saw something happen through your life that could not be explained other than God working in your life? When you begin to see this happen, you will be modeling ministry as Jesus modeled it. You will be bringing the Church to the people, not the people to the church. Pray that God makes you a vessel of His power, not simply a vessel of words.





Sold Out

November 14th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” Philippians 3:7

George Mueller was a man known for building orphanages by faith in the mid-1800s. He raised literally millions of dollars for his orphanages, yet died with little in his own bank account. When asked about his conversion experience he commented,

“I was converted in November of 1825, but I only came into the full surrender of the heart four years later, in July 1829. The love of money was gone, the love of place was gone, the love of position was gone, and the love of worldly pleasures and engagements was gone. God, God alone became my portion. I found my all in Him; I wanted nothing else. And by the grace of God this has remained, and has made me a happy man, an exceedingly happy man, and it led me to care only about the things of God. I ask affectionately, my beloved brethren, have you fully surrendered the heart to God, or is there this thing or that thing with which you have taken up irrespective of God? I read a little of the scriptures before, but preferred other books; but since that time the revelation He has made of Himself has become unspeakably blessed to me, and I can say from my heart, God is an infinitely lovely Being. Oh, be not satisfied until in your own inmost soul you can say, God is an infinitely lovely Being!” [Basil Miller, Man of Faith and Miracles (Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bethany House Publishers, n.d.)]

Many will never get to the place where George Mueller was in his spiritual life, because we are unwilling to release control of these areas of which he speaks. If we do release control, it usually is due to a process that God brings us through. Paul got knocked off a horse and was spoken to personally before he was willing to listen and follow completely. Peter had to live with Jesus three years and he still denied Him. It was only later, after he denied Jesus and realized how weak he was in his own faith, that he became fully committed to the Savior.

What will it take for you to fully surrender? You will know that you have given full surrender when power, money, and position no longer have meaning in your life. Paul said he came to a place where his life was the life of Christ only. It is a sacrificial life, but it is also a life of freedom, purpose, and meaning. Let God take full control and see His life lived fully through you.