TGIF, Today God Is First

An Eternal View of Circumstances

March 31st, 2015 by Os Hillman

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” – Philippians 1:12

Are your life circumstances advancing the gospel? Can you see the Lord’s hand in your life in such a way that all of your life experiences, joys, sorrows, hardships, and training have resulted in advancing the gospel?

Paul was a tentmaker by trade. But he had an overall ministry objective in his business life. That objective left him imprisoned and persecuted at times. But Paul saw these events not as roadblocks to his mission. Rather, they were catalysts to advancing the cause of Christ. Paul’s revelation of this kept him from despairing about his circumstances.

One day a little-known pastor who lived in the small African nation of Benin began to pray for his Marxist president. For two years he prayed. Then the Lord told the pastor to go to meet this president and share the gospel with him. The president rejected the gospel, but after another such occasion, the president accepted the gospel and became a Christian. He was removed from power but was discipled by this pastor. Sometime later this same president was elected again. Today that president is now a Christian leader of a nation committed to spreading the gospel throughout his nation. One man – yet millions have been affected by his obedience. This modern-day story is retold in countless lives of those willing to live for a cause greater than themselves.

Are your work and life experiences serving to advance the gospel? What experiences has God allowed in your life that are part of His plan to advance the gospel? Ask Him to help you see your life the way He sees it. Seeing our life the way God sees it will help us avoid discouragement in those times when life appears to be a mystery to us.





Embracing the Lean Times

March 30th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.” – Jeremiah 17:7

Have you ever considered at what point a test becomes so difficult that you decide you can no longer trust in God and you must take over to solve the problem? The prophet Jeremiah describes a situation in which the temptation to solve a financial problem can become so great that we trust in man’s way to solve it.

This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

Jeremiah drew a sharp comparison between the man who trusts in his own effort to solve his problem and the man who trusts in God when he cannot see the outcome. The man who trusts in God bears fruit despite the circumstances in his life. He does not shrivel when the heat comes; in fact, his roots go deeper into God’s grace. He continues to bear fruit in spite of his circumstances.

Recently, a friend from South Africa explained to me that whenever a plant lives in an arid climate, the roots drive deeper and deeper into the soil to get the water they need. This forces the plant to develop a root system that is far beyond the normal plant because it is forced to go deeper to gain the water it needs. Sometimes God forces us to go deeper into the grace of His love in order to build a greater foundation in our own lives. These lean times are designed to accomplish this in us. If you find yourself in this condition, ask the Lord who provides the water for our soul for the grace you need today to continue to bear fruit in the desert.





Understanding Our Own Calling

March 29th, 2015 by Os Hillman

…”If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow Me.” – John 21:22

Jesus was talking to Peter after he had just had a very important encounter with Him-one of the last meetings the two would have. This was the third time Jesus had shown Himself to the disciples after His resurrection. It is the famous dialogue between Jesus and Peter in which Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Jesus followed by commanding, “Feed My sheep.” Jesus went on to foretell of Peter’s future death. As they were walking together, John was with Peter and Jesus. Peter asked Jesus about John and whether he would die also. Jesus reacted sharply to Peter’s comment, telling him not to worry about what John’s role or purpose was in life. All Peter had to do was worry about fulfilling his own purpose.

As workplace believers we tend to measure our success on whether we have achieved a certain position or stature in life. Even as Christians the temptation to believe that someone is blessed if they have achieved prominence is always confronting us. In His discussion with Peter, Jesus was getting at the very heart of the matter of a person’s calling. Peter was worried about whether his friend John was going to get the same lot in life as he was. Jesus told him it should not be his concern. He was to concern himself only with one thing: his own calling before God.

Are you tempted to compare yourself with where others are in their life? Are you dissatisfied with where God has you right now? Be of good cheer-“[be] confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).





Resolving the Ownership Issue

March 28th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” – Psalm 24:1-2

As Christian workplace believers, God calls us to view Him as the owner of everything. We are to be stewards of all that He entrusts to us. This is one of the hardest of all commandments to follow for the Christian workplace believer because, if we work hard at business, we receive all the benefits of that work. It appears as though all that we have achieved was through our hand. Yet God says that it is by His hand that we are able to make wealth (see Deut. 8). He is the source of that ability. As soon as we become owners and not managers, we fall into trouble with God.

Joseph understood that he was a steward of all the resources of Egypt. God promoted him to affect an entire region of the world. Joseph had more power, prestige, and wealth than any 30-year-old who ever lived before him. The temptation for him in this newfound role in life must have been great. Many a man has not been able to handle material success. Many of God’s choicest servants began well in their calling and service to God only to fail at the end. Consider Hezekiah, the great king who achieved many great things but failed to acknowledge God’s blessing at the end of his reign. His reign was cut short due to pride. Gideon’s fate was similar. Success can lead to pride if we are not careful.

“Not every man can carry a full cup. Sudden elevation frequently leads to pride and a fall. The most exacting test of all to survive is prosperity” [Oswald Chambers].

Ask the Lord today if you are living as a steward or an owner. Put whatever skills and resources you possess on His altar. Then you can expect God to do great things through you.





Treasures in Darkness

March 27th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” – Isaiah 45:3

“I have never been in this place before. It is new ground for me, and I find I am way out of my comfort zone. I am scared to death to trust Him at this level. I had to confess to the Lord I have not been able to accept or believe His love for me in this area.” Those were the words I expressed to a friend when I was in a difficult place in my life. That day when I confessed those words, God led me to this passage of Scripture.

What we perceive as dark periods in our lives are designed to be treasures from God. They are actually riches stored in secret places. We cannot see those times in this light because of the often-accompanying pain or fear that prevents us from accepting these times as treasures. They have a particular purpose from God’s viewpoint: “…so that you may know that I am the Lord…who summons you by name.”

You see, unless we are cast into times in which we are completely at God’s mercy for breakthroughs in our lives, we will never experience God’s faithfulness in those areas. We will never know how personal He is, or that He can be trusted to meet the deepest needs in our lives. God wants each of us to know that we are “summoned by name.” Every hair of our head is numbered. He knows every activity we are involved in. His love for you and me knows no bounds, and He will take every opportunity to demonstrate this to us.

Has God brought you into a place of darkness? Trust Him today to reveal that hidden treasure that can be found in this darkness. Let Him summon you by name.





Living a Life of Conviction

March 26th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5a

Everyone lives a life of conviction. Whatever we give our greatest time, our greatest energies, and our greatest resources to is a good indication of where our convictions lie. Some live a life of conviction about sports. Some live a life of conviction around pleasure. Still others live a life of conviction about very little that matters at all.

Whenever God chooses to do a deep work in a life, a strong conviction is born of the Holy Spirit. Conversions in the early Church resulted in changed lives that held to a deep, life-transforming conviction regarding what they believed and how they lived out that belief. Paul explains that the gospel they received came not just in words, but also in power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.

In order to impact the workplace for Jesus Christ, each of us must be reflecting a faith that is demonstrated through deeply held convictions. Are you living a life of deep conviction that spurs you on to reflect the power of Christ in your life and the lives of others? Paul was willing to suffer great persecution for his faith in a living God. God calls each of us to a life that is supernatural, not simply a good, moral life. The early Church understood the role the Holy Spirit played in demonstrating this power of the gospel. It was this deep work that resulted in living the gospel with great conviction. If you are not living the gospel with great conviction, ask the Holy Spirit to so fill your life today that the power of His Spirit is truly reflected in your life so that you may impact others in your workplace.





Making Adjustments

March 25th, 2015 by Os Hillman

…”Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” – John 21:6

A former client of mine was the marketing director of a large food brokerage company and told me a story about one of their client grocery stores located in the upper Midwest. It seems that the store could not understand why at a certain time every winter sales plummeted. They studied their product line and interviewed customers. They did everything possible to uncover the mystery. Finally, someone made a remarkable discovery that changed everything.

It seemed that whenever it was really cold outside, the manager raised the temperature in the store. When customers came into the store it was too warm for them, so they removed their coats and placed them in their shopping carts. This meant less room for food and resulted in reduced sales overall. They lowered the temperature of the store, and as a result, the sales climbed back to the levels they were accustomed to. Their adjustment resulted in restoring sales levels.

Jesus stood on the shoreline and watched Peter and a few of the disciples fish. Jesus yelled from the shoreline asking if they had caught anything. They had not. He then suggested they cast their line on the other side of the boat. Without knowing the person who was addressing them, they took His advice. They began catching so many fish they could not bring them in.

Adjusting our lives to God is the first thing that has to happen in order to begin experiencing Him in our daily lives. For some, it is simply following the advice of those above us. For others, it may require a major change in our job situation. Still, for others it could mean making changes in relationships. Whatever the case, you can be sure that until we adjust our lives to God we will not receive His full blessing. Ask Him today where you need to adjust to Him.





Peace-A Weapon Against Satan

March 24th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.” – Psalm 23:4a KJV

In the battles of the workplace, your peace is actually a weapon. The workplace creates many opportunities to rob us of our peace. Cash flow concerns, deadlines, relationships – all create stress on us. Your confidence in the God of peace declares that you are not falling for the lies of the devil. You see the first step toward having spiritual authority over the adversary is having peace in spite of our circumstances. When Jesus confronted the devil, he did not confront satan with His emotions or in fear. Knowing that the devil was a liar, He simply refused to be influenced by any voice other than God’s. His peace overwhelmed satan; His authority then shattered the lie, which sent demons fleeing.

There is a place of walking with God where you simply fear no evil. David faced a lion, a bear, and a giant. In this Psalm he stood in the “shadow of death” itself, yet he “feared no evil.” David’s trust was in the Lord. He said, “…for Thou art with me.” Because God is with you, every adversity you face will unfold in victory as you maintain your faith in God! David continued, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Ps. 23:5a). The battle you are in will soon become a meal for you, an experience that will nourish and build you up spiritually. Only God’s peace will quell your fleshly reactions in battle. The source of God’s peace is God Himself. If fear has been knocking at your door, begin to face that fear with God’s peace. It is God’s secret weapon to destroy fear.





No Confidence in the Flesh

March 23rd, 2015 by Os Hillman

“If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more.” – Philippians 3:4b

The apostle Paul surely could relate to the business executive. Paul reached the height of his profession only to have it completely stripped and torn from him. What he thought mattered in life became rubbish compared to what God did in his heart as He destroyed what seemed valuable at the time. It took a dramatic event to bring Paul into this revelation. It took a bright light, blindness, and the most fearful experience a human could have – being addressed personally by God, who was questioning why Paul was persecuting His people.

It would not be too long after his conversion that Paul would learn one of the greatest lessons every child of God must learn. That lesson is to avoid putting confidence in the flesh. In our work we are rewarded for achievement. It is a “measurable” life. We work. We see results. We get certain feelings of accomplishment from these activities.

It was not until I was placed in a situation to experience utter failure that I could identify with the words of Paul. I have met other workplace believers as well who achieved great success in their business life only to experience dramatic failure. That personal handshake with failure leads to a realization that:

“Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…” (Philippians 3:7-9).

Sometimes God lets us experience great pain to learn the lessons of greatest importance. Knowing Christ intimately is the most important lesson we will learn. Take stock in what you find your greatest pleasure in today. Avoid placing your confidence in things that are but rubbish so that you might know Him more intimately.





David’s Source of Direction

March 22nd, 2015 by Os Hillman

“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” – Psalm 143:8

David is the only person in the Bible whom God describes as a man after His own heart. Despite David’s many setbacks he continually sought to know and do God’s will in his life. Like many of us, his will got in the way of a sinless life.

In the morning hour, David sought to hear from God. I can imagine David sitting on the open deck of his palace looking over the hills of Jerusalem, listening to God. There, in his morning watch, he felt God’s unfailing love. He reaffirmed his trust in God. He also understood that the key to knowing God’s will lay in spending such moments alone to reflect on what God had done and was doing in his life.

“Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Psalm 143:10).

Sometimes we fall prey to believing that God is not concerned, and that He does not lead us in our work life. We are tempted to think that He leads us in other areas, but not in our daily workplace. The truth is that God is in every aspect of life and desires to direct us.

Do you need direction in your life today? If so, David provides the best example of gaining direction. Set aside the morning hour to draw close to His presence. There, you will sense His unfailing love for you. His direction for your life will be a natural by-product of this time of communion with Him. Ask God to lead you by His Spirit today.