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Day 23

Scattered

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Have you ever faced challenges, especially when living out your calling in the marketplace? Today God took me to Acts 8:1-4 and asked, “what do you see?”  It was bad. Great persecution. The disciples were scattered, torn from their friends and families and everything that was known to them. They were burying the dead, the church was ravaged, and people were being dragged off and thrown into prison. But then there was also verse 4. A few simple words. Those who were scattered went about preaching the word.

Then God said to me, “Look again. What do you see?”  I saw a call to faithfulness in the midst of adversity. I saw a prayer that my core purpose in Christ would not be lost in the overwhelming flood of life’s challenges. I saw a reminder that God’s power is sometimes more obvious in times of our greatest need. I saw that God turned what looked like a terrible end into the real beginning of it all. These verses encouraged me to look at my circumstances in a new light. I pray you would be encouraged to do the same.

 

And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.   Acts 8:1-4

 

Spiritual Leadership

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One of the best books on leadership, especially how faith and work intersect, is “Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda” by Henry & Richard Blackaby. The book shares truths applicable to both business and church leaders alike. One common thread is the difference between vision and revelation, and which one should drive our thinking and action.  For example, here are three quotes:

“There is a significant difference between revelation and vision. Vision is something people produce; revelation is something people receive.”

“The world functions by vision; God’s people live by revelation.”

“Every time leaders choose to develop their own vision for their people instead of seeking God’s will, they are giving their people their best thinking instead of God’s. That is a poor exchange indeed.”

Which of these represents how you tend to view your work?  Which way is closer to how you do “strategic planning”?  Anything you need to change?

 

 

Believe

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Chapter seven in Dan Grider’s book Crucial Conversations: Bridging the Awkward Spiritual Gap is titled “The Power of Pisteuo”.  Grider explains how the Greek word pisteuo is usually translated as “believe” , or sometimes as “faith”. However, our typical church culture mistakenly thinks that by this Jesus meant “we should dispassionately repeat a set of sterile doctrines, theologies, and beliefs”.  Rather, it’s not about intellectual consent to a set of facts. In reality, Crider suggest that to capture what Jesus intended, a better translation would be “all in” or “abandon all competing ways to live and fully embrace the new Jesus Kingdom”.

Imagine what our world would be like if it was full of Christians who understood belief as all in, complete abandon, to truths working themselves out in every aspect of our lives. What a huge difference that would make!

The hard part for me is reading Scripture in light of this expanded definition.  John 3:16 would be “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever would be all in / sold out / fully abandoned to His way of life shall not perish but have eternal life”.  Now read John 3:18 or Hebrews 11:6 or Mark 16:16 with this pisteuo/believe definition in mind.  Calls us to up our game, doesn’t it?

 

 

Seek Me And Live

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Sometimes I wonder why so many people who profess to be Christians live lives of defeat and have minimal impact on those around them.  The other day I came across this devotional in my YouVersion bible reading plan (Daily Encouragement by David Evans). I wonder if this might be part of the reason?

“Seek me and live” – this is the essence of true religion: to seek and find the one true and living God, and in finding him, to enter into a life which pleases him. That life is inevitably characterized by good works and the evident presence of God: “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you” (Amos 5:14).

The tragedy of nominal, formal, merely traditional religion is that it is just religion and nothing more. It does not change the life of the individual, and the Lord is conspicuous by his absence. The ritual is carried on while righteousness is missing in public and private life. People go to Bethel, but they do not meet with God. There is no lack of religious feasts, assemblies and music, but this ritual goes hand in hand with injustice and immorality and is an abomination to the Lord.

The test of all religious profession and practice lies here. Is there a genuine seeking of God, and does it produce holy living? We do well to bring our meetings, our music, our charity, and our whole lifestyle to this searching examination. Our Bible study must be subject to it too, because it is possible to search the Scriptures and yet not come to Christ (John 5:39,40).

All In

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Recently I was reading Jeremiah 29, which contains some verses familiar to many of us. Normally my attention is drawn to verse 11, which is the life verse God gave my middle daughter:  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We like to read that verse.  But as I reflected, it struck me that this promise comes with conditions (or at least a roadmap). The words that immediately follow it, verses 12 & 13, explain: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” For at least a week now, I keep thinking about verse 13 … when you seek me with all your heart.  Sounds like the picture of someone who is “all in”, fully committed. What a challenge this can be, but what a glorious outcome. When I get down about the state of God’s People today, or with my own walk for that matter, I am reminded of the solution laid out in these verses. We must call on Him, come to Him, pray to Him, and seek Him with all our heart. The question is, am I “all in”?  Are you?

Unexpected Instruments

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Some days I find myself wondering, “How can God use a regular person like me?” This past week I heard a “regular guy” named Lee Wood share his God-story.  Lee, a former street dude with lots of energy and “self-diagnosed ADD … squirrel”, is a riot to listen to. God has worked through Lee and his team to launch a disciple making movement in the heart of Tampa, Florida. (click here to read Lee’s story). As Lee shared with us, it struck me how often God uses unlikely instruments to accomplish His work. It made me think of Samuel anointing David as the next king (1Samuel 16:7) … man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart. So, take heart. However God has wired you, He wants to use your unique gifting, talents and passions to help fulfill the Great Commission. Ask Him to show you, and He will.

Covenant

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Have you ever thought about the agreements you enter into, and your heart attitude towards them? Sometimes we fear our ability to accomplish what God calls us to. Other times we don’t live up to the promises we make to others, whether at work or in our personal lives.

The devotional that follows is from Os Hillman’s Today God Is First. Perhaps it will give you some more food for thought.

“But I will establish My covenant with you, and you will enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.” Genesis 6:18

The Bible is filled with covenants made between God and people. Six of those covenants were made with Old Testament figures: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. The seventh was made with His own Son, Jesus Christ. God is always the strongest partner in a covenant relationship.

God made a covenant with Noah in order to preserve the human race. This covenant involved Noah’s participation by building an ark. He’d never built an ark before. He’d never had a boat. It was a totally new concept to Noah and the rest of the world. Why would he need a boat in a dry land?

Noah did not have to invent the ark; God gave him the plans-in specific dimensional detail. He did not have to gather the animals-God led them into the ark. God even closed the door when they all came on board. God made it rain to prove why the ark was needed.

The covenant provided all Noah needed to complete his mission in life. When God spoke to Noah to do this thing, he needed only to respond to God’s call to do it. Noah could rest in knowing the covenant made with God was going to be fulfilled if he fulfilled his part.

If you have entered into a covenant relationship with God, you too can be assured that God will uphold His part of the covenant relationship. He is committed to fulfilling His covenant with you and to fulfill His purposes in and through your life. It only requires one thing on your part-obedience. He will even provide grace and faith to you to help you fulfill your part of the covenant.

Each of us has a covenant with God. But we also enter covenants with others in our personal and business lives. How are you doing in fulfilling covenants to others? God has given us the example to follow. Ask God if you have any unfulfilled covenants you need to honor. He has called you and me to be covenant keepers. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Faith

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I was reading through a You Version Bible devotional and encountered this entry on Faith. May reading this impact yours.

“The Lord expects his people to trust in him at all times. How clearly this is seen in the record of his earthly life. Faith to him was “natural” and he marveled at unbelief. He expects the royal official to trust his word as he walks the lonely road back to Capernaum (John 4:50). Even in the face of death he looks for faith. So he says to Martha, “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?“ (John 11:25,26). The burden of his prayer for Peter is that his “faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32).

The nature of faith makes trust in the Lord a possibility at all times. For faith is not feeling, or sight, or mere human understanding. Faith is the helpless cast upon the Mighty, the weak leaning upon the Strong (S of S. 8:5). It is the obedience of those “called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:5-6), the confession of “Jesus as Lord” (Ps. 10:9).

Trusting the Lord at all times is not a cold, indifferent exercise but the pouring out of the heart before him.”

Come

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The other day I was reading Matthew chapter 14. Right after Jesus hears the news about John the Baptist being killed, we see Him feed the 5000 as well as take a walk on the water. It struck me that, in both of these accounts, Jesus directly involved his followers in the miracle. He invited them into the miraculous. Despite their fears, questions, doubts, abilities, past, resources, or any other perceived hindrances, Jesus offered His followers an opportunity to be part of the amazing work He was doing in the world. And, His invitation was simple. Come.  Today I encourage you to read Matthew 14 and ask yourself these simple questions:  What is God inviting me to today? What step of obedience can I take in light of this?  Who can I share this with?

Obedience As Worship

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Lately I’ve been working through the Hillsong: 40 Days of Revival reading plan on my You Version Bible App.  One of the days focused on obedience, and it included a perspective I had not heard before: obedience as worship.  Check out the devotional text below and see what you think. How might you extend this kind of worship into your workplace?

 

Obedience:

What exactly does it mean to obey God?  Ticking the boxes next to the 10 commandments?  Loving my neighbour? Turning the other cheek when someone hurts me?  In essence, yes! But also, no!  Obeying God with a ‘tick-box’ mindset is not only doomed to failure, but simply not what God asks of us.

God’s love for us is not based on our actions or effort but on His goodness.  1 John 4 explains that love is not about us loving God, but about Him loving us and sending Jesus.  When we realise and understand God’s grace, we respond out of a love for Him and all He has done for us, beginning to do things as He directs us through His Word, preferring His ways over our own until they become our ways.

Obedience to God, through the Holy Spirit, therefore brings its own reward of purity. Obedience to His Word, under grace, provides us with the opportunity to be more Christ-like. In this way, obedience is also an act of worship, for when we live a life devoted to God we demonstrate our love for Him.

Have you ever thought about obeying God being an act of worship?  How can you worship God specifically through your obedience today?