TGIF, Today God Is First

A Fine-Tuned Instrument

October 4th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“…I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on My name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.'” Zechariah 13:9

My business career has been as an owner of an advertising agency. Over the years, I have had the privilege to work on many different and prestigious accounts. One of those accounts was Steinway Pianos, the maker of the world’s finest pianos. Each piano has always been made from scratch; it takes over a year to make one Steinway. The most impressive scene as I toured the manufacturing plant was the place where the soundboard is stretched to its maximum tolerance and allowed to sit for an extended period until it remains in the curved design. This was done in an off-to-the-corner part of the plant. If the wood were alive, it would be crying out for mercy.


After an extended time of stretching, the wood will never spring back to its original state. It is permanently changed. The piano is becoming a fine-tuned instrument. After this process takes place, the next step requires another point of stress. It takes 11 tons of pressure on a piano to tune it. Each step in the process moves the piano closer to a finished product that will ultimately be played by the world’s finest musicians. These musicians desire a particular sound that only a piano like this can make.

God looks at each of us as a fine-tuned instrument. However, we begin as rough wood that He desires to transform into gold. Tuning us requires certain experiences that will stretch our faith, our frame, and our very life. Sainthood springs out of suffering. If we can stand the strain of this intense process, we will come forth as gold-as a sweet-smelling offering to our Maker. When we are in the midst of these times, it feels like fire. It is painful to be stretched beyond our perceived limits, but the Lord knows this is necessary for us to become an instrument that can play a beautiful song that others will seek after.

Let the master Craftsman have His way in your life today. You will be pleased with the instrument He fashions.

The Need to Control

October 3rd, 2015 by Os Hillman

“You acted foolishly,” Samuel said…. 1 Samuel 13:13

The prophet Samuel had anointed Saul the first king of Israel. Saul was now 30 years old and was leading the nation in battle against the Philistines. The Philistines had gathered at Micmash to come against Saul and his army. The Lord was directing Saul through the prophet Samuel. Samuel instructed Saul to go ahead of him to Micmash, and he would follow in seven days. He would then offer a burnt offering on behalf of the people of Israel.


The pressure began to build as the Philistines gathered around Micmash preparing for battle. The people of Israel grew fearful and began to scatter throughout the countryside. Saul was also afraid. Samuel did not show up on the morning of the seventh day. Finally, Saul, fearing the impending attack, took it upon himself to offer the burnt offering. After he had done this, Samuel showed up.

…”You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, He would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart and appointed him leader of His people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command” (1 Samuel 13:13-14).

Saul believed he needed to take control of the situation. Whenever we try to take control of a situation out of God’s will, we demonstrate that we are led by fear. Many a boss is so driven by fear that he attempts to manage by over controlling his people. This results in codependent relationships in which the employees are fearful of making the wrong decisions, and are driven to please the manager at all costs. This results in loss of respect for the manager. Many times the employees make poor choices just to please their manager; as a result, resentment begins to build among the employees due to the manager’s over control.

Do you see any signs of over control in how you relate to others? Can you allow others the freedom to fail? Do you find yourself changing directions in midstream when you see something you don’t like? Are you fearful of failure? These are all symptoms of a Saul-control spirit. Pray that God will allow you to walk in the freedom of trusting in Him and those around you.

The Goal of Life

October 2nd, 2015 by Os Hillman

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11

For many people in the world, real meaning in life is the next vacation, career success, or stepping up the income ladder. It is a life based on pleasurable experiences. Many a human being has toiled their whole life to gain a pleasurable lifestyle only to find a life that is empty and meaningless. You only have to watch television for one evening to discover that advertisers want us to believe this is the goal of life. The work-to-play theme is consistent with most advertising messages.


Solomon was a man who had nothing withheld from his appetite. He was a great builder, a great businessman, and a great lover of women. Every imaginable pleasure was his. Nevertheless, he was to discover that these things alone could not satisfy the human soul.

A recent trip to a beautiful island left me grateful that God had allowed me to understand the futile trap of the work-to-play lifestyle. It is great to experience times of refreshing and visit beautiful places as long as we don’t fall into the trap of thinking that these experiences equal a meaningful life. God’s beautiful creation can so easily become a prison of emptiness if Jesus is not in the center of it. The apostle Paul said there is only one way to find meaning and purpose in life:

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe…”(Ephesians 1:17-19).

Knowing Christ brings the only real meaning and purpose to the human soul. Spend time today getting to know the Lord in a more intimate way. Then you will discover real meaning and purpose in life.

Changing Our Paradigm of Experience

October 1st, 2015 by Os Hillman

“So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight-why the bush does not burn up.'” Exodus 3:3

Have you ever heard someone say, “God doesn’t work that way? He would never do that.” Well, there are times when God chooses to confound the foolish in order to change our paradigm of experience. Moses had never seen a bush that burned but did not burn up. It got his attention and it drew him to God.


When Jesus appeared on the water in the middle of the night during a storm, the disciples exclaimed, “It’s a ghost!” They had never seen a man walk on water. This led to a great miracle-Peter walked on the water, too. When Jesus asked Peter to catch a fish and get the coin from its mouth to pay their taxes, you can imagine what Peter must have thought about those instructions. When Moses got to the Red Sea, he ran out of options. God had an unexpected solution to the Israelites’ problem-He parted the Red Sea to demonstrate His power and allow the people of Israel to cross over to flee the Egyptian army.

Each of these new paradigms was a stepping-stone of an encounter with God so that the individual would experience God in a new way. God used these times to enforce the principle that His ways are not our ways. Whenever we try to predict that God will act in a certain way, He changes the paradigm to keep us from becoming our own little gods.

Have you ever been guilty of judging someone for an experience they’ve had that you’ve never had? Did you dismiss it as extreme or something not of God? God is in the business of changing our paradigm from no personal experiences to God-experiences. However, if you operate on a level of rigid logic, you may never have the privilege of having the God-experiences. Keep your heart free to experience new paradigms with God today.

The Booster Rocket

September 30th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses My servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them-to the Israelites.”Joshua 1:1-2

A rocket launch is truly an amazing phenomenon to me. Tons of weight is stacked vertically to the sky with thousands of gallons of fuel exploding in a matter of moments. Soon the rocket drops its take-off boosters and uses additional boosters to move the rocket to the next stage of the mission. The first engines have a unique purpose…to get the rocket to the next stage.


Joshua was known for almost 40 years as “Joshua, servant of Moses.” God’s preparation for him required years of selfless service, training in the desert, and tests of faith. Those preparation years were booster rockets designed to move Joshua into each new stage of his development and his ultimate calling.

God allows each of us preparation times to lay a foundation that He plans to build on. Some of those foundation times appear to be laborious and meaningless, yet these varied experiences are what God is using to frame your life for the message He plans to speak through you. Without these foundational experiences, the Jordan River can never be crossed and we cannot enter the Promised Land.

Embrace these times of seeming inactivity from God. They, too, are a rocket booster to your next stage of your walk with God.

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

Visions and Dreams

September 29th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions; your old men will dream dreams.”Acts 2:17

“I need to meet with you,” said the man from England during a break at a conference overseas. We walked outside to have a coffee break and sat down. “God wants you to know that He removed your finances in order to reserve His reward for you in Heaven. He has done you a great service.”


I was shocked. I’d never met this gentleman before. How would he have known I had lost a half million dollars in the previous few years, virtually all of my financial net worth, to some unusual calamities? We shared for the next several minutes.

That week, during our lunch and dinner times, I had been enjoying wonderful, juicy oranges from this island in the Mediterranean Sea. It came time for the gentleman and I to conclude our coffee break. We bowed in prayer. As we prayed, the man began to describe a picture he was seeing in his mind.

“I see a picture of a large orange tree. The tree is full of large, ripened oranges. They are beginning to fall to the ground. You are the tree!”

Again, I looked at the man with shock and amazement, and now tears in my eyes.

“You are the third person in three years that has had a similar vision during a prayer time like this. The first two people were also strangers to me.”

I went back into the meeting rejoicing that God could be so personal in my life. He used a servant who had gone through similar trials to supernaturally speak a word of encouragement in a way that I would know it was God who was speaking.

There are times when God supernaturally speaks into our lives. He does this to demonstrate His power, His love, and His intimacy with us. Do not be surprised if God sends one of His messengers to speak into your life when you need it most. Be open to how God might want to speak into your life today.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (Psalm 1:3).

Be As Little Children

September 28th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1a

I want to share with you a conversation that happened between a man and his wife.

“I have an important business meeting in the morning. Would you please set the alarm for 5:30 a.m.?” He said to his wife.

“Oh, that won’t be necessary. Just tell the Lord what time you want to wake up. He does it for me all the time,” his wife said.

He rolled his eyes in disbelief. “Well, I’d feel more comfortable if we set the alarm.”


“Okay, ye of little faith. But just to prove my point I am going to ask the Lord to wake us up just before 5:30.”

The next morning he awoke before the alarm went off. He looked at the clock. It read 5:15. He looked at his wife, who had just awakened at the same time with an I-told-you-so smile.

Sometimes we wrongfully view God as someone we go to for only the “big things.” The idea of “bothering God” for such a trivial matter seems foolish and presumptuous. However, when you were a child and had to get up in the morning for school, didn’t your mom or dad come wake you up? They were your parents, and you could come to them with the most trivial concerns or requests. Why would our heavenly Father be any less approachable? Perhaps our problem is that we simply have not developed a level of intimacy with God so that we feel the freedom to approach Him at these daily, routine levels. We often operate with an unwritten code that says our needs must have a certain degree of importance or crisis before we come to God with them. This is not God’s character towards us.

Does the Lord desire this level of intimacy with you and me? The apostle Paul exhorted us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17 KJV). There is never a caution to pray only about matters of greater importance.

Today, go to God with matters that you might view as trivial and would normally avoid bringing to God. Ask God to increase your level of intimacy with Him. You may even be able to get rid of your alarm clock.

A Joseph Story

September 27th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”John 3:16

“I’d like you to help us develop our marketing program beginning in January,” said the CEO of a sports product company. The consultant was delighted to have the opportunity. It was the first new business opportunity he’d had in some time. He had just come out of some very difficult business and personal circumstances in the last few years.


A few months into the relationship, the CEO asked the consultant to manage the entire marketing department, placing him over the current marketing staff. It appeared that God was blessing his efforts with several successful initiatives. The consultant began to build a relationship with a few of the executives. One day, the sales manager came into his office and asked for help on a personal crisis. One thing led to another, and two months later, the consultant found himself leading the sales manager in the sinner’s prayer in the sales manager’s office.

God prepares His servants in many ways to accomplish His purpose. The story of Joseph is repeated every workday in the lives of His people. The circumstances may be different, but the results are the same. God trains His servant through sometimes difficult “boot camps.” When that training is complete, He places them in strategic places to be a provider-both physically and spiritually.

Is God preparing you to be a provider in the workplace? Do not fret at the difficult training ground you may be required to endure. He has a plan. If you’ll allow Him to carry out His plan, you’ll be privileged to be used by the Master’s hand. I know because I am that consultant.

Situational Ethics

September 26th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“Lord, who may dwell in Your sanctuary? Who may live on Your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart.” Psalm 15:1-2

“I cannot believe they are not going to honor my bonus agreement,” said the executive who was about to take another position in a new city. Her understanding of her present work agreement called for a bonus at the end of the year. Management saw the situation differently. “It’s not right. I am entitled to that bonus,” she complained.


It was time to leave. The company had given her a laptop to use. However, when she left, she decided that because the company was not going to pay her the bonus she was entitled to, she would simply keep the laptop as compensation due her. “And they would never miss it,” she reasoned. She was now in the employment of the new company. As each day passed, she grew uneasier about her decision. She could not get it off her mind. Finally, she concluded that the Holy Spirit was telling her this decision was wrong and that she needed to call her former boss to confess her action. She called him and confessed what she had done and why she had done it. Her boss accepted her confession and forgave her. Strangely enough, he allowed her to keep the laptop computer.

Truth never changes. It is absolute. When we make decisions based on other actions that are taken, we move into making decisions based on the situation, not truth and righteousness. The executive may indeed have been wronged, but she had to address the wrong in the appropriate way. Trying to compensate for the wrong by doing something that violates another scriptural principle is called situational ethics. If the employer had never wronged the executive, do you think she would have felt justified in taking the computer? Probably not. When you isolate the two situations, you see that one action was taken in response to the other action. Have you had any experiences in which you have used situational ethics? The Lord desires His people to have a higher standard, even at the cost of being wronged. Ask the Lord to reveal any business practices that may indicate situational ethics. You might be surprised what will happen when you do the right thing.

A Shoe Salesman

September 25th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” Matthew 19:26

Dwight L. Moody was a poorly educated, unordained, shoe salesman who felt God’s call to preach the gospel. Early one morning he and some friends gathered in a hay field for a season of prayer, confession, and consecration. His friend Henry Varley said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.” Moody was deeply moved by these words.


He later went to a meeting where Charles Spurgeon was speaking. In that meeting Moody recalled the words spoken by his friend, “The world had yet to see!…with and for and through and in!…A man!” Varley meant any man! Varley didn’t say he had to be educated, or brilliant, or anything else. Just a man! Well, by the Holy Spirit in him, he’d be one of those men. Then suddenly, in that high gallery, he saw something he’d never realized before. It was not Mr. Spurgeon, after all, who was doing that work; it was God. And if God could use Mr. Spurgeon, why should He not use the rest of us, and why should we not all just lay ourselves at the Master’s feet and say to Him, “Send me! Use me!”

D.L. Moody was an ordinary man who sought to be fully and wholly committed to Christ. God did extraordinary things through this ordinary man. Moody became one of the great evangelists of modern times. He founded a Bible college, Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, which sends out men and women trained in service for God. Are you an ordinary man or woman in whom God wants to do extraordinary things? God desires that for every child of His. Ask God to do extraordinary things in your life. Begin today to trust Him to accomplish great things for His Kingdom through you.