Today God Is First

The Religious Spirit at Work

March 31st, 2017 by Os Hillman

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

As we begin to express the life of Christ in our work lives, we need to be aware of another set of Satan’s deceptions, namely, the religious spirit.

The religious spirit can best be defined as an agent of Satan assigned to prevent change and maintain the status quo by using religious devices. The religious spirit seeks to distort a genuine move of God through deception, control, and manipulation. This spirit operates out of old religious structures and attempts to maintain the status quo, favoring tradition over a genuine, intimate relationship with God. It influences believers to live the Christian life based on works instead of grace. Similar to the

Greek way of thinking, the religious spirit depends on human effort to acquire spiritual knowledge and favor from God.

In the years before the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther’s greatest challenge was to root out the religious spirit. He was told by his religious teachers that there were stringent requirements for receiving the favor of God. “Remember Martin, just to pray by yourself is not enough. The church has to pray for you too. Even when the priest has asked that you be forgiven, God will not listen unless you do good works. The more gifts you give to the church and to the poor, the more trips you make to Rome and Jerusalem, the more pleasures you give up, the better will be your chances for heaven. The best and safest way to do all this, and the one that is most God pleasing, is to give up everything and become a monk.” The essence of Martin Luther’s struggle to win God’s favor still resides in many a Christian worker.

The religious spirit nullifies the importance of faith and grace that has been given to us through the work of the Cross. You cannot gain acceptance from God by doing any works. Accept His unconditional love for you today.

*Frederick Nohl, Luther (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1962), p. 26.





Live As Though You Are Dead

March 30th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:11-12).

“How will I know when I am going to come out of my adversity pit?” said the woman sitting across from me. “When it doesn’t matter anymore,” I replied. It brought back memories, when I also sat across from a mentor who said to me, “The only problem you have Os is you are not dead yet. You need a good funeral.” He was talking about my carnal flesh life.

When Joseph was elevated to be ruler over the entire kingdom of Egypt after years of slavery and imprisonment, my guess is that it didn’t really matter that much to him. He thought he was going to get out of prison years earlier when he successfully interpreted the cupbearers dream only to remain there two more years. “Why should this situation prove any different?” he must have thought to himself.

I believe Joseph had come to a place with God where he resigned himself to remain wherever God had chosen to keep him. He had become dead to his circumstances. It does not mean we can’t have a longing for better days, but there is a Godly contentment that allows us to remain in any condition with a peace that passes all understanding.

The Bible says we are to live as though we are dead. This does not mean we do not have emotions or dreams. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them (Mark 14:34). That sounds like anxiety to me, yet we know Jesus never sinned. So, we can conclude that we can have concerns and emotions without crossing over into sin. God has given us His Spirit to allow us to operate inside the storms of life without sinning.

Place your faith today into the hands of the One who can calm any storm in life.





Becoming Influential

March 29th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom” (Deut 28:13-14).

Coca-Cola, at this time of writing, has a 40% market share in the soft drink industry. It is the number one brand in the world. When Coke comes into a business environment, they have authority in that realm. They have great respect because of their position in business.

George Barna, the U.S. Christian researcher on Christian activity tells us that 35-45% of the U.S. population is born again. Based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in the year2005, there were 149 million adult workers. Simply multiplying this figure by 40% would give you a figure of 59 million Christian adult workers. If this is so, why aren’t we having more impact?

I would have to say the body of Christ in America is not the head, but is still the tail. Part of the reason for this is that we have not understood our biblical mandate to have dominion on the earth as was modeled in Genesis with Adam and Eve. When Jesus returned to earth He came to save that which was lost and restore this principle of dominion (Luke 19:10). When Jesus prayed in the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:9-10), He was praying that His dominion would be restored on earth just as it is in Heaven.

However, we have given over this leadership to the ungodly in our societies. In order to restore this we must win the battle in seven key domains in society. These include 1) business, 2) government, 3) education, 4) arts and entertainment, 5) religion, 6) media and 7) the family.

This begins by affirming the calling of men and women in the workplace as having a holy calling. Realize that whatever work you are doing, God has called you to express His life in that arena in order to have His dominion over the earth.





Kingdom Economics

March 28th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant” (Josh
24:13).

In the world of business we are taught to do whatever it takes to produce a desired outcome. Competitive forces can drive companies to go beyond the limits of ethics and integrity to achieve a desired outcome. Men and women can become work-a-holics as the need for competitive advantage is passed down the various management levels in order to meet sales and marketing goals. This sweat and toil mentality contradicts God’s Kingdom Economy.

The Kingdom Economy is found in the above verse in Joshua. When the people of Israel were coming out of Egypt, a place of sweat and toil and slavery, God was trying to teach them a new economy of receiving. Instead of sweat and toil, He wanted them to learn obedience. Now their income would be based on their obedience, not their skill or their sweat and toil.

This new Kingdom Economy meant that there would be times when what you receive from your efforts might be less than the commensurate time invested. Yet, there would also be times when you would receive more compared to your time invested.

I used to determine whether I would meet with a person based on my perceived return on that investment. I justified that behavior as being a good steward. God says we are to determine if He wants us to meet with that person or be involved with an endeavor based on His leading alone, not based on the perceived outcome. It is His responsibility to bring fruit from the activity.

This will result in a new freedom in your work life. Stay vertical with God and let Him determine your next activity.





Hearing the Voice of God-Even on the Job

March 27th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. . . . My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:14,27).

Tom Fox is a successful financial investment manager who heads up a workplace ministry in the Twin Cities, Minnesota area. He used to be troubled when he heard Christians say, “The Lord told me . . . ” He certainly had never heard God speak to him like that. “What is different about those people and me?” he wondered. In the book of John, Tom had read that Jesus had said that His sheep hear His voice, but he didn’t understand how they could do that. His pursuit to answer that question began his quest to discover how to hear God’s voice himself.

Today, Tom realizes that God does speak and that we, as His children, can hear His voice. He has discovered how to hear God’s words of guidance in his daily life, which includes the day-to-day operations of his business, and he is teaching others how to hear God’s voice as well.

A friend of mine told me a story about an experience he had in Israel that demonstrates how sheep know their shepherd’s voice. He and his wife were visiting some of the famous biblical sites when they saw a group of shepherds and their flocks. They watched as three different shepherds put their sheep in the same pen for the night, and they wondered how in the world the shepherds would separate their sheep the next day, since none of them had any identifying marks on them.

My friend got up early the next morning to watch the shepherds gather their sheep. The first shepherd went over to the pen and called out to his sheep. One by one, his sheep (and only his sheep) filed out to follow him. The same thing happened with the other two shepherds. My friend said it was amazing to watch how only the shepherd’s sheep followed him while the others remained in the pen–and all because they recognized his voice. What a picture of Jesus’ words spoken centuries earlier.

Ask God to help you hear the voice of God–even on the job.





The Black Hole

March 26th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

On February 20, 1962, at 9:47 A.M., the spacecraft Friendship 7 rose on a pillar of fire, piloted by lone astronaut John Glenn. Leaving the coast of Florida far behind, the space capsule orbited the earth three times, traveling 81,000 miles in less than four hours. As the craft began its descent from space, mission controllers in Houston received a warning signal. A sensor indicated that the capsule’s heat shield was in danger of detaching. If the heat shield came loose during reentry, the capsule would burn like a meteor–and John Glenn would die.

Because radio waves cannot penetrate plasma, the spacecraft experienced a total communications blackout–what astronauts and mission controllers call a “black hole”.

The minutes crawled by and the suspense mounted in the Houston control room. NASA engineers felt totally helpless. Finally, after five minutes of silence, mission controllers heard Glenn’s voice crackling over the radio: “Friendship 7 to Houston?”

Shouts of joy shook the control room. John Glenn was coming home. Although neither Glenn nor the mission controllers knew it at the time, the heat shield was absolutely firm and reliable. The fears for John Glenn’s safety during his black hole experience were unfounded.

If you’ve ever been through a major crisis, you probably know what a communications “black hole” feels like. While you are in the pit of adversity, you feel that your world is collapsing, that your life is out of control–and that God is silent. The silence of a black hole is deafening. You feel isolated and alone. You question God’s love, His care for you, and even His existence.

But even when it seems that God is distant and silent, your “heat shield” is still there, firm and reliable. In your black hole experience, God is teaching you to go deeper into your relationship with Him. You may think that your life is out of control and burning like a meteor, but in reality God, your heat shield, still protects you from the fiery forces that surround you.





Thinking Big

March 25th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:36-37).

It was 4:00 A.M. in Cape Town, South Africa, in July 2000 when businessman Graham Power was awakened by a vision from God that came in three distinct parts. In the first part of the vision, God instructed Graham to rent the 45,000-seat Newlands rugby stadium in Cape Town for a day of repentance and prayer for that city. In the second part of the vision, he saw the prayer movement spreading to the rest of South Africa for a national day of prayer. In the final part of the vision, he saw the prayer effort spread to cover the rest of the continent.

It was only thirty days earlier that a man named Gunnar Olson stood in front of a podium at the conclusion of a marketplace conference in Johannesburg, South Africa and proclaimed Isaiah 60 which said to “Arise and shine” over the continent of Africa and that God was going to use Africa to bless the nations.

Graham was obedient to the vision, and on March 21, 2001, a capacity crowd gathered in the Newlands rugby stadium for prayer and repentance. Soon after, a notorious gangster in the city was saved. News of the first gathering spread quickly, and in 2002, eight cities in South Africa hosted a day of prayer. Leading up to the event, young people from all over the country took part in a “walk of hope” from Bloemfontein to the eight stadiums where the prayer meetings were to be held. The events were broadcast on television.

By June 2006, what began as Transformation Africa became the Global Day of Prayer with participation from 200 nations from seven continents around the world. And this prayer movement is still growing.

It all started from the obedience of one businessman. What might God want to do through your life? It begins with being obedient to the small things and exercising your faith to believe God can do it. Our part is obedience. His part is outcome.





Mourning for Your City

March 24th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (Neh 1:4).

Nehemiah lived in the world of politics. He was a high ranking worker in the government of Babylon. His official title was cupbearer for King Artaxerxes. He would be considered the modern-day U.S. Secret Service agent who made sure the King was safe from being poisoned.

Judah had been driven into exile and some of his friends had just returned with news about his fellow brothers and sisters in Jerusalem.

In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire” (Neh 1:1-3).

Nehemiah’s response upon hearing the news is the kind of response that is necessary for a Christian leader to impact his or her city. He responded by weeping for the condition of his beloved city. He immediately went into prayer and asked for God’s direction on how he could be a positive impact on his city. He developed a strategy to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. He accomplished the task in only fifty-two days.

Do you weep for your city? God is calling forth men and women from the marketplace today to be catalyst to impact their cities. Begin today to pray for your city and ask God how you can be a catalyst to rebuild the spiritual wall of your city.





Receiving Only What God Can Give

March 23rd, 2017 by Os Hillman

“A man can receive only what is given him from heaven” (John 3:27).

John the Baptist was in the business of bringing sinners to the place of repentance by baptizing them and teaching them about the coming Messiah. Over time, he had developed quite a customer base of disciples. Yet when the promised Messiah showed up-the fulfillment of John’s business plantrue to form, his coworkers (or disciples) went to John to complain that the one he had testified about was stealing all of his customers. “Rabbi,” they said, “that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan . . . well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him” (John 3:26). John’s response showed clearly he understood his purpose and role in life in the above verse.

John understood that we receive by understanding our purpose and what God desires us to receive in light of our purpose. We need not worry about what others receive, only if we are receiving what God wants us to receive. Many of us try to receive things God never intended us to receive or be someone God never intended us to be.

A story is told about F. B. Meyer, the great Bible teacher and pastor who lived a century ago. He was pastoring a church when he began to notice that attendance was dropping. This continued until he finally asked some members of his congregation one Sunday morning why they thought this was happening. A member suggested, “It is because of the new church down the road. The young preacher has everyone talking and many are going to hear him speak.” The young preacher’s name was Charles Spurgeon.

Meyer, rather than seeking to discourage this development, exhorted his entire congregation to join him and go participate in seeing this “move of God,” as he described it to them. “If this be happening, then God must be at work.” Meyer, like John the Baptist, understood the principle of receiving from God and was not threatened by the new competition in town. Instead, he joined it.

Do you model a Kingdom mindset? Do you rejoice when others succeed? Are you receiving only what God desires you to receive?





Team Building

March 22nd, 2017 by Os Hillman

“…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Building a good team is key to the success of any enterprise. Jesus chose twelve unique individuals to build His world-changing enterprise. He intentionally chose several who had similar backgroundsPeter, James, and John were fisherman. Matthew and Simon the Zealot came from opposing political views. Matthew came from an industry considered corrupthe was a tax collector. It is clear Jesus chose those who had a skill set first, then changed the character of the individual. He mentored each one.

A good team needs to have team members with different viewpoints as well as those who are specialists in a particular area. It is noteworthy that Jesus chose someone expertise in handling money. Taking a team of twelve around the country required money and the ability to manage it. I’m sure Jesus spent a great deal of time with Matthew mentoring him on the proper use of money. He had to reshape his thinking about money.

Once the team was formed Jesus spent time molding His team into a cohesive unit to operate in unity. He corrected them when correction was needed. He taught them what it meant to love one another. He washed their feet. He taught and modeled servant leadership. Before you put a team together sit down and make a list of the skills you want represented on your team. Then recruit and invest spiritually into your team. Who knows, your team might just change the world, too!