TGIF, Today God Is First

Standing in the Gap

January 18th, 2017 by Os Hillman

I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. – Ezekiel 22:30

The people of Israel fell into sin when they worshiped the golden calf. It would not be the last time God’s people would fall into idol worship. They had forgotten the great things God had done for them. This angered God so much that He was going to destroy the whole nation. Only one thing changed God’s mind in the matter — Moses. Psalm 106:23 says, “…had not Moses, His chosen one, stood in the breach before Him to keep His wrath from destroying them.” Moses was a man willing to stand in the gap, sacrificially, for those who were not deserving of such sacrifice. This sacrificial love by Moses is called for among His people today.

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The prophet Ezekiel described another situation in which God’s people fell into sin. God was ready to destroy the nation when He spoke to Ezekiel, asking him if there is a man willing to stand in the gap so that God would not have to destroy His people.

Judah was a man who stood in the gap on behalf of his younger brother Benjamin. Joseph held his brother Simeon hostage as insurance that the other brothers would bring Benjamin to Egypt. Judah had a long history of a me-focused life, but in this instance he came forward to stand in the gap for his younger brother. He responded to the anguish of his father, Jacob, by personally guaranteeing the safe return of both Simeon and Benjamin. Judah’s sacrifice was rewarded (see Gen. 42-43).

Just as Christ did, we are to be those who will stand in the gap on behalf of others who are not aware of their own vulnerable condition. It is a proactive sacrificial position. Who is God calling you to stand in the gap for? Perhaps it is a mate; perhaps it is a coworker who has not come to know the Savior; perhaps it is a wayward child. Are you willing to become the sacrificial offering to God to change His plans of judgment because of your willingness to stand in their place? This is a hard teaching. This is what Jesus did for each of us. When we stand in the place of another, God moves because of our willingness to stand on their behalf. If we don’t, His plans will go forward because He is a righteous and holy God who will honor His own word, even if it means destruction. Are you willing to stand in the breach of the wall for someone today? Perhaps you are the only person who will stand on someone’s behalf.





Recognizing Our Source

January 17th, 2017 by Os Hillman

But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth. – Deuteronomy 8:18a

Pride is the greatest temptation to a successful workplace minister. When we begin accumulating wealth, managing people, and becoming known for our workplace expertise, we are most susceptible to falling to the most devious sin in God’s eyes — pride. The Bible tells us that God is the reason we are able to produce wealth. It is not of our own making. As soon as we move into the place where we begin to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, God says he will take action.

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You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”….If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 8:17,19-20).

These are strong words from God. It demonstrates His utter impatience for any people who think that what they have accomplished has anything to do with their own power. It is God who gives us the skill, the mind, the resources, the energy, the drive, and the opportunities in life to accomplish anything. When we become prideful in heart, He will begin a process of reproof in our life.

Today is a good day to examine whether we have fallen prey to pride. Are you sharing what God has entrusted to you with God’s people, or the needy? Are you being the instrument of blessing that God desires for His people to be? What areas of pride have crept into your life? Ask the Lord to show you this today. And avoid being put on the shelf. Nothing is worse than being cast aside because of our own pride.





God’s Tests

January 16th, 2017 by Os Hillman

…”What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to take my life?” – 1 Samuel 20:1

The cost of being one of God’s anointed can be great. Those whom God has anointed for service and influence in His Kingdom go through a special preparation. David was anointed to be the next king over Israel. Shortly after this, while still a young boy, he was brought into King Saul’s service to play music in Saul’s court. While there, the opportunity to stand up against Goliath elevated David for his next stage of development as future king. As his popularity grew so did Saul’s jealousy. However, even Saul’s jealousy was God’s instrument for molding and shaping David.

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Saul finally decided he could no longer tolerate David’s success and popularity among the people, so he tried to kill David. The confused young shepherd boy spent many years hiding in wilderness caves before he was able to see the hand of God in all of this. No doubt David thought that when Samuel anointed him he would be conveniently raised up to be king with all the accompanying benefits of kingship. Not so. God’s preparation of David involved much persecution, disloyalty, and hardship. These were the lessons necessary to be a godly king. God brought many tests in David’s life, just as He did with Saul. David passed these tests. Saul did not.

When God anoints us, it often is accompanied by some severe tests. These tests are designed to prepare us for the calling God has on our life. Should we fail these tests God cannot elevate us to the next level. For a workplace believer, these tests often involve money, relationships, and other issues of the heart.

What if God has chosen you for a specific purpose in His Kingdom? Are you passing the tests He is bringing about in your life? These tests are designed to bring about greater obedience. In most instances, it will involve great adversity. The Bible tells us that the King of kings learned obedience through the things that He suffered (see Heb. 5:8). If this is true, why would it be any different for His children? Be aware of the tests God may be bringing before you in order to prepare you for His service.





Obedience-Based Decisions Versus Skill and Ability

January 15th, 2017 by Os Hillman

As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move out to battle. – 1 Chronicles 14:15a

The Philistines were attacking. David wanted to know how to respond. His first inquiry of God revealed that he was to attack the Philistines straightaway and God would give him victory. David followed God’s instruction and gained victory. Shortly after, the Philistines mounted another attack. “So David inquired of God again, and God answered him, ‘Do not go straight up, but circle around them and attack them in front of the balsam trees’ ” (1 Chron. 14:14)

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David was a well-trained warrior, a strategist. Yet, we find that David’s dependence on God to direct his efforts was very great. In fact, after he won the first battle, he went right back to inquire again. This is the most important lesson we can learn from this story. God told David to attack, but only after he heard the marching in the balsam trees.

How many times have you or I operated in the workplace based only on our skill and ability, without seeking to know the details of God’s will in the matter? David could have simply assumed that since he had won the last battle, surely God would give him victory the same way. No. David had learned that communicating with the living God is the only sure way of victory. His skill was not enough. He had to have God’s blessing.

How many times have we worked in our work life the same way each time only because it was the way we did it last time? What if God has a better way? What if God has a different plan than ours? “So David inquired of God…” These are the important words that we are to learn from. We must be in such relationship with God that we are constantly inquiring of His mind on every matter. When we do this, we can expect the same results that David achieved-success in our endeavor and recognition by God.

“So David’s fame spread throughout every land, and the Lord made all the nations fear him” (1 Chron. 14:17). This is the reward of obedience to God. We don’t have to build a name for ourselves. God will see to it that we are honored for our obedience. He wants to make known those servants who are willing to obey Him at all costs.





Move On!

January 14th, 2017 by Os Hillman

…”Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on.” – Exodus 14:15

Moses had brought the whole nation of Israel, approximately 600,000, to a dead end in the desert. The only thing between Israel and Pharaoh’s pursuing army was the Red Sea. This was after ten plagues God had inflicted on Pharaoh to motivate him to free the Israelites. Finally, Pharaoh had freed Moses and the people, and they left Egypt. They thought they were home free. “Freedom at last,” they said. But God did a strange thing. He directed Moses to take a route that led to the Red Sea, instead of the northern route around the Red Sea. God explained that He didn’t want them fighting the enemies they would have encountered on this route. But still, there was the issue of the Red Sea.

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They finally arrived at the Red Sea, and the people were wondering where they would go from there. News hit the camp: Pharaoh had changed his mind. He was coming after them with his army. Panic set in. The defenseless Israelites cried out, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?…It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Ex. 14:11b-12)

God sometimes brings each of us to a “Red Sea” in our life. It may be a work problem that can’t be solved. It may be a marriage that seems to be failing. It may be a debilitating disease. Whatever your Red Sea, God tells us one thing: “Keep moving.” The Red Sea was before them, yet God was angered at Moses and told him to “Keep moving.”

“But Lord, the Red Sea is before me.” “Keep moving.” When we live by sight, we act on what we see. God sets this stage in dramatic fashion. God is into the dramatic. There is no way out without God here. That is just the way He wants it. No one will get glory except God.

A friend once admonished me when I was in the midst of an extremely difficult time in my life, “You must not withdraw from being proactive in your faith just because of this trial that you are in. God’s hand is on your life. There are too many who are depending on you to fulfill the purposes God has in your life. Keep moving! Keep investing yourself in others.” I didn’t feel like it. I was in too much pain. But I did it anyway. God met me at the point of my greatest need once I decided simply to be obedient. Getting past myself by investing myself in others helped heal the pain. There is great healing when we look past our own problems and seek to invest ourselves in others for the sake of Christ. This is when our own Red Seas become parted. We begin to walk to freedom. But we will never experience the miracle of the Red Sea in our lives if we don’t first “Keep moving.”





Finding The Will Of God

January 13th, 2017 by Os Hillman

I desire to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart. – Psalm 40:8

How would you describe the process by which you find and do God’s will in your life? For some, finding God’s will is like playing bumper cars. We keep going in one direction until we bump into an obstacle, turn, and go in another direction. It is a constant process of elimination, failure, or success. Is this the way God would have us find His will? No. There is much more relationship between hearing God’s voice and living within the mystery of His omnipotence in our lives.

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Perhaps this process is more like water in a streambed. The water is constantly flowing to a final destination. As it presses against the streambed, it gently points the water toward its final destination. There are no abrupt head-on collisions, simply slight modifications of direction. Occasionally, we come to a sharp turn in the contours of our life. For those times, God allows us to stretch our normal response to change. A popular Bible study says that we cannot go with God and stay where we are. Finding and doing God’s will always require change. What changes are necessary in your life to join God in what He is already doing?

There is a direct connection between finding and doing God’s will and having God’s law in our heart. A friend once complained that he did not know what God wanted of him in his life. My immediate response was, “How much time do you spend with God in Bible study, prayer, and meditation on Scripture?” “Only a few minutes a day,” he replied. How can we expect to hear and discern God’s voice if we don’t spend focused time with Him? If you have a spouse, how did you get to know him or her before you were married? You spent time together. You got to know everything about each other. Our walk with God is no different. It isn’t enough to have a desire to follow God; we must put our energy into getting to know Him. His will for us flows out of our relationship, it is not an end in itself. Commit yourself to seeking Him more in your life by spending more time with Him. “Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jer. 33:3).





Wrestling With God

January 12th, 2017 by Os Hillman

The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. – Genesis 32:31

Jacob was a man who was a controller. He connived and manipulated his way to get what he wanted. It was a generational stronghold passed down through his mother, who encouraged her son to play a trick on his father, Isaac, by pretending to be Esau. This trick led Isaac to give the family blessing to Jacob, which meant Jacob would eventually inherit the land God had promised to Abraham’s seed. Jacob also learned control from his uncle Laban who caused Jacob to work for 14 years to take Rachel as his lifelong mate. One must ask which was more ugly in God’s sight, the self-centered nature and worldliness of Esau, or the control and manipulation of Jacob?

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Control is a problem for men and women. Many women use sex to control their husbands. Many men use power and force to control their wives. Control is at the core of that which is opposite the cross-self-rule. What delivers us from this fleshly nature of control? A crisis. Jacob’s crisis came when he was faced with the prospect of meeting a brother who said he would kill him the next time he saw him. Esau had built his own clan and was about to meet Jacob and his clan in the middle of the desert. Jacob was fearful, so he retreated. There he met a messenger from God who wrestled with him. Jacob clung to God and refused to let go of this angel. It is the place where Jacob was given a painful but necessary spiritual heart transplant. From that point on, Jacob would walk with a limp, because God had to dislocate his hip in order to overcome Jacob’s strong will.

For workplace believers, God often has to “dislocate our hip” through failure and disappointment. Sometimes it is the only way He can get our attention. Our nature to control and manipulate is so strong that it takes a catastrophic event to wake us up. Yet God did not reject Jacob for these character traits. In fact, God blessed him greatly because He saw something in Jacob that pleased Him. He saw a humble and contrite heart beneath the cold and manipulative exterior of Jacob’s life, and it was that trait that God needed to develop. He did this by bringing about the crisis in Jacob’s life that led to total consecration. This event was marked by Jacob getting a new name, Israel. For the first time, Jacob had a nature change, not just a habit change. What will God have to do in our lives to gain our complete consecration to His will and purposes?

“Beware of the Christian leader who does not walk with a limp.”

Bob Mumford (Used by permission.)





Obedience

January 11th, 2017 by Os Hillman

Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all. – Exodus 5:23

Have you ever felt that the more obedient you are to following God, the more adversity there is? Moses had been instructed to go to Pharaoh and tell him to release the people of Israel. God had said He was going to deliver the people through Moses. The only problem is that God did not tell Moses at what point they actually would be released. When Moses complained to God, the Lord told Moses that He had to harden Pharaoh’s heart in order to perform greater miracles. God was behind hardening Pharaoh’s heart. We forget that the king’s heart is in God’s hand. God had a specific reason for each plague and each delay. God said to Moses,

“I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs of Mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 10:1b-2).

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God has a reason for everything He does. These delays were designed to bring greater glory to God and were to be a lasting legacy of God’s miracle-working power for generations to come.

When the people were freed, God again hardened Pharaoh’s heart to go after them. This action of God to harden Pharaoh’s heart was to set the stage for an even greater miracle — the parting of the Red Sea. The people were angry with Moses for bringing them to the desert “to die.” But God said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on” (Ex. 14:15b). There was only one place to go by this time — the Red Sea. God parted the Red Sea, and another greater miracle took place.

Moses learned several lessons that each of us must learn. God’s promises are true, but His timing is not the same as ours. God always wants greater glory than what we might be willing to give Him. God puts obstacles and adversity into our lives in order to build perseverance and faith. Why has God put the mountain in your life at this time? To demonstrate His power through your life. To show His glory.





Sudden Ghosts in Life

January 10th, 2017 by Os Hillman

When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. – Matthew 14:26

Have you ever had some unexpected event happen in your life that caused great fear? Sudden calamities can result in great fear unless we know Who is behind the event. Such was the case for the disciples when they were out in their boat at night. Suddenly, they saw a figure walking on the water and assumed it was a ghost. They feared for their very lives. But as the figure got closer and closer, they could see that it was Jesus. Their fear turned to joy because now they knew whom they were confronting. This seemingly life-threatening event turned into one of the great miracles of the Bible. Peter was invited to walk on the water — and he did just that.

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Many times we have events in our lives that appear to be ghosts. For me, it was a period in my life when I experienced family loss, loss of my finances, and 80 percent of my business — all in a matter of a few months. These were the ghosts that instilled fear and great turmoil in my life. But after two years in this desert experience, God revealed His true purposes for these events. He turned them from being a place of fear, to a place of miracles. He led me to a totally new calling in my life, and He demonstrated to me that He was behind the storm that led to these new discoveries. The events were real. The emotions I went through were real. I had to hold fast to the reality that nothing can touch us without passing through God’s sifter. He allows only that which is necessary to touch us. And if it does, it has a purpose. But we may not know it for a while.

Are there some “ghosts” in your midst? Look beyond the appearance and let God turn your ghosts into a miracle.





God-Inspired Delays

January 9th, 2017 by Os Hillman

Yet when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days. – John 11:6

Delays in our life are not always easy to handle or to reconcile in our minds. Often, when God does not answer our prayers in the time that we feel He should, we appoint all sorts of characteristics to God’s nature that imply He does not care. Such was the case with Lazarus’ sisters when Lazarus became ill and died. Jesus was a close friend to Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. (Mary, you may recall, was the woman who came and poured perfume on Jesus’ feet.) When Jesus arrived two days later, Martha shamed Him by saying, “If You had come he would not have died.” She implied that He didn’t care enough to come when sent for. It was a matter of priorities for Jesus, not lack of love.

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God often has to delay His work in us in order to accomplish something for His purposes that can be achieved only in the delay. Jesus had to let Lazarus die in order for the miracle that was about to take place to have its full effect. If Jesus had simply healed a sick man, the impact of the miracle would not have been as newsworthy as resurrecting a man who had been dead for four days. This is Jesus’ greatest “public relations act” of His whole ministry. What many do not realize is that the key to the whole story is in the next chapter.

Many people, because they had heard that He had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet Him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after Him!” (John 12:18-19)

If Jesus had not raised Lazarus from the dead, there would have been no crowds to cheer the Lord when He came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.

God often sets the stage so that His glory is revealed through the events that He orchestrates. He did this with Moses and Pharaoh, allowing delay after delay for release of the Israelites from Egypt. He did this with Abraham and Sarah for the promised child, Isaac. God granted Sarah a baby past the age of childbearing in order to demonstrate His power.

God did this in my own life. He delayed the fulfillment of what I believed He called me to do for several years. But the delays provided the necessary preparation and greater glory that God was to receive. My friend, don’t take the delays lightly. Do not faint as God places you in what seems to be a holding pattern. God is at work. God knows the purposes for His delays. Don’t give up, for they are for His greater glory; so we need to remain faithful.