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Encountering Life's Issues - Is there a God? Is God real?
OpenHeaven.com Forum : Encountering Life's Issues - Is there a God? Is God real?
Subject Topic: Failure That Leads to Godliness Post Reply Post New Topic
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Posted: 01/05/2006 at 4:58am | IP Logged Quote Guests

Failure That Leads to Godliness
by Os Hillman, January 5, 2006

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader.... - 1 Samuel 22:2

God uses broken things to accomplish His greatest work. When David was anointed to be the next king, he was just a boy, the youngest among all his brothers. Little did he know that the next several years would be years of fleeing from Saul whose successes turned into obsessions as a leader who had fallen from God's anointing. Perhaps David thought, "Why am I living a life as a fugitive?" I am the next king of Israel. Yet, his life was filled with adversity after adversity before he ever fulfilled the ultimate calling God had for him. Others began to hear of David's successes and identify with his plight. But, it wasn't the successful and polished who came to join him. It was "those who were in distress or in debt or discontented" who would be part of his army-and an army it was! His army would become known throughout the world as the greatest ever assembled, not because of their skill, but because of the God behind the army. God turned David's men into "mighty men of valor" (see 1 Chron. 11:10).

God often uses failure to make us useful. When Jesus called the disciples, He did not go out and find the most qualified and successful people. He found the most willing, and He found them in the workplace. He found a fisherman, a tax collector, a farmer, and a doctor.

The Hebrews knew that failure was a part of maturing in God. The Greeks used failure as a reason for disqualification. Sadly, in the Church, we often treat one another in this way. This is not God's way. We need to understand that failing does not make us failures. It makes us experienced. It makes us more prepared to be useful in God's Kingdom-if we have learned from it. And that is the most important ingredient for what God wants in His children.

Do you need help?

Life's Issues prayer counselors or available to help you send an email to: Larry Silverman
nhministry@yahoo.com  or post a reply to this message.

Or you can contact us by email here: http://www.openheaven.com/contact/

© 2005. TGIF Today God Is FirstTM is a registered trademark of Os Hillman/Marketplace Leaders. To request re-print permission, click here



Edited by Moderator on 04/27/2006 at 8:41am
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The Purpose of the Desert
by Os Hillman, January 7, 2006

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. - Hosea 2:14

If you have an important message to convey to someone, what is the best means of getting the message through? Have you ever tried to talk with someone who was so busy you could not get him to hear you? Distractions prevent us from giving our undivided attention to the messenger. So too, God has His way of taking us aside to get our undivided attention. For Paul, it was Arabia for three years; for Moses, it was 40 years in the desert; for Joseph, it was 13 years in Egypt; for David, it was many years of fleeing from King Saul.

God knows the stubborn human heart. He knows that if He is to accomplish His deepest work, He must take us into the desert in order to give us the privilege to be used in His Kingdom. In the desert God changes us and removes things that hinder us. He forces us to draw deep upon His grace. The desert is only a season in our life. When He has accomplished what He wants in our lives in the desert, He will bring us out. He has given us a mission to fulfill that can only be fulfilled after we have spent adequate time in preparation in the desert. Fear not the desert, for it is here you will hear God's voice like never before. It is here you become His bride. It is here you will have the idols of your life removed. It is here you begin to experience the reality of a living God like never before. Someone once said, "God uses enlarged trials to produce enlarged saints so He can put them in enlarged places!"

He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me (2 Samuel 22:20).

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

© 2005. TGIF Today God Is FirstTM is a registered trademark of Os Hillman/Marketplace Leaders. To request re-print permission, click here

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Blessing Those Who Curse You
by Os Hillman, January 8, 2006

..."Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today." - 2 Samuel 16:11-12

As David's enemies were increasing and he was fleeing the city from his son who was seeking to take his throne, a man named Shimei began heaving rocks and cursing him as he passed by. Cursing the king was against the law, so David had every right to cut off the man's head-as his generals were encouraging him to do. Here we see the difference between Saul and David in their response to those who would seek to do them harm. This is the defining difference between a leader who seeks to lead through a vertical dimension with God versus a horizontal fix-it mode. God knew David as a man after His own heart. Yet, David was a murderer, adulterer, and had failed in many areas of his life. But one thing separated this leader from all the rest: He had a heart that sought to please God and be in His will. When David blew it, he repented.

What is the purpose God desires to accomplish with the estranged relationship you may have with someone? Has He brought this affront to find out what is in your heart today? Will you seek revenge and solve the problem yourself? Or will you find the grace to allow God to carry out vengeance in His time if it is needed? When I learned this lesson to stay vertical with God and avoid the trap of fixing things in my own energies, it was a day of freedom. No longer was it my problem. We must examine our own heart in these matters. But if we are clean, then this affront is for character building. It is the only way God builds the deepest level of character in His saints. A.W. Tozer tells us, "It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply." God actually rises up storms of conflict in relationships at times in order to accomplish that deeper work in our character. We cannot love our enemies in our own strength. This is graduate-level grace. Are you willing to enter this school? Are you willing to take the test? If you pass, you can expect to be elevated to a new level in the Kingdom. For He brings us through these tests as preparation for greater use in the Kingdom. You must pass the test first.

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

© 2005. TGIF Today God Is FirstTM is a registered trademark of Os Hillman/Marketplace Leaders. To request re-print permission, click here

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God-Inspired Delays
by Os Hillman, January 9, 2006

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.

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.

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

© 2005. TGIF Today God Is FirstTM is a registered trademark of Os Hillman/Marketplace Leaders. To request re-print permission, click here

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Obedience
by Os Hillman, January 11, 2006

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).

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.

© 2005. TGIF Today God Is FirstTM is a registered trademark of Os Hillman/Marketplace Leaders. To request re-print permission, click here


 

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Wrestling With God
by Os Hillman, January 12, 2006

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?

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.)

Do you need help?

Life's Issues prayer counselors or available to help you send an email to: Larry Silverman
nhministry@yahoo.com  or post a reply to this message.

Or you can contact us by email here: http://www.openheaven.com/contact/



Edited by Moderator on 04/27/2006 at 8:43am
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God's Tests
by Os Hillman, January 16, 2006

..."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.

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.

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

© 2005. TGIF Today God Is FirstTM is a registered trademark of Os Hillman/Marketplace Leaders. To request re-print permission, click here


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Seeing a Greater Purpose in Adversity
by Os Hillman, January 24, 2006

But Paul shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!" - Acts 16:28

Paul and Silas had just been thrown into prison. An earthquake erupted and the jail cell was opened. It's Paul and Silas' opportunity. "Deliverance! Praise God!" might be the appropriate response. But this is not what Paul and Silas did. In fact, rather than leave, they sat quietly in their cell area. The guard, in fear of his life, knew that it would be automatic death if prisoners escaped. Paul and Silas did not leave because they saw a higher purpose for which they were in prison. They were not looking at their circumstance; they were much more concerned about the unsaved guard. The story goes on to explain how Paul and Silas went home with the guard and his family. Not only did the guard get saved, but his entire household as well.

What a lesson this is for us. How often we are so busy looking for deliverance from our circumstance that we miss God completely. God is looking to do miracles in our circumstances if we will only look for them. Sometimes as workplace believers we become so obsessed with our goals we miss the process that God involves us in, which may be where the miracle lies. What if that bill collector who has been hounding you is unsaved and he is there for you to speak to? What if a problem account has arisen due to something God is doing beyond what you might see at this time? Our adverse situations can often be the door of spiritual opportunity for those who need it.

I saw this personally when God allowed me to go through a number of adversities. It took some time, but I saw some great miracles as a result of those adversities. When God said that "all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purposes" (see Rom. 8:28), He meant all things. It is up to us to find the "work together for good" part by being faithful to the process. In the next adversity you face, tune your spiritual antennae and ask God for discernment to see the real purpose for the adversity

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

© 2005. TGIF Today God Is FirstTM is a registered trademark of Os Hillman/Marketplace Leaders. To request re-print permission, click here


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Precious Deaths

by Os Hillman, February 10, 2006

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. - Psalm 116:15

The Bible often speaks of death as a requirement of living a life in Christ. This death is not a physical death, but a spiritual death. It is a death of the old so the new can be raised. It is the life of Christ that is raised in us. However, this death can be painful if we do not choose to willingly allow this "circumcision of heart" to have its way. If we are not circumcised of heart, we do not enter into God's promises. Moses was called to deliver a people from slavery. But when he was about to return to Egypt to begin what God called Him to do, God almost killed him. He had failed to take care of the details of obedience. In this case, it was that all the males in his family were to be circumcised. This oversight on Moses' part almost cost him his life. Imagine that - God prepared a man 40 years, and yet, he was almost disqualified because of an oversight. "At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it..." (Ex. 4:24).

None of us will ever enter the Promised Land of full blessing with God unless we have this same circumcision of heart. The psalmist above accurately describes the process of circumcising the heart.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have freed me from my chains (Psalm 116:15-16).

We cannot be free to be God's servant until this death takes place in each of us. When this death takes place, we become free - free from the chains of sin that held us back from becoming completely His. Oh, what freedom there is when this death takes place. No longer are we held to the sin of materialism, fear, self-effort, or anxiety, for we are dead to these things.

The Bible speaks of the seed that must die in order for it to spring up and give new life.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (John 12:24-25).

Each of us must ask the Lord if our seed has died. Is it in the ground now, yielding the fruit of brokenness before Him? This is the great paradox of a life in Christ - the circumcision of heart and the death process. Ask God to free you to become all that He wants you to be today.

Do you need help?

Life's Issues prayer counselors or available to help you send an email to: Larry Silverman
nhministry@yahoo.com  or post a reply to this message.

Or you can contact us by email here: http://www.openheaven.com/contact/

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

© 2005. TGIF Today God Is FirstTM is a registered trademark of Os Hillman/Marketplace Leaders. To request re-print permission, click here





Edited by Moderator on 04/27/2006 at 8:43am
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Worthless Idols
by Os Hillman,

Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. - Jonah 2:8

Have you ever exercised your will over the will of God? Have you ever been so willful that you were going to go your own way no matter what God said? If so, you have been at the same place as the prophet Jonah. God called Jonah to deliver a message to God's people as a warning. Jonah flatly refused. It was Jonah's will over God's. Guess who won?

Talk about willpower; Jonah had it! In fact, he was so rebellious toward God's will that he got on a ship to go the opposite direction. But he couldn't go far enough. The omnipotence of God caught up with Jonah, and he was hurled overboard when the seas became rough and the ship's crew figured Jonah was the source of their problems. Overboard he went and into the belly of that big fish.

God has a way of getting us to rethink our decisions, to reconsider our position. In fact, we see the extent of Jonah's willfulness by the amount of time he was willing to hang out in the belly of that fish - three full days. Then, Jonah decides enough is enough! Obedience is better than this fish belly and seaweed.

From inside the fish, Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.

He said: "In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and You listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all Your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, 'I have been banished from Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.' The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But You brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered You, Lord, and my prayer rose to You, to Your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to You. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord." And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you." Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh (Jonah 2:2-3:3a).

In the midst of realizing his own calamity, Jonah made a seemingly out-of-context statement: "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." Jonah was thinking of the sailors who threw him overboard and how they prayed to worthless idols. In the business world, we rub shoulders with those who cling to worthless idols every day. How tragic.

But this story's primary message is for every believer. And I can identify with Jonah. There's been many a man placed in the "belly of the fish" to encourage him to fulfill the purposes of God for which He called him. Jonah's situation changed immediately upon his obedience. Obedience is a mysterious thing. Jesus had to learn it through the things He suffered (see Heb. 5:8). If Jesus had to learn obedience through suffering, what does that mean for you and me? Sometimes willing obedience requires encouragement.

 

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

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Godly Rewards
by Os Hillman,

You have said, "It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out His requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape." - Malachi 3:14-15

Have you ever felt that serving God had little reward and the ungodly seemed actually to be more blessed than you? This is what the people of God felt. God heard their cry and responded through the prophet Malachi to explain God's view on this matter.

Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored His name. "They will be Mine," says the Lord Almighty, "in the day when I take up My treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not" (Malachi 3:16-18).

Notice that after the people complained about this, they began to talk to each other, and the Lord listened and heard. God had been taking note of those who were serving Him and honoring Him. There is a day coming in which God will honor His "treasured possessions." We will see that there is a distinction between the righteous and the wicked on that day when "the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall" (Mal. 4:2). What a beautiful picture of what we will feel like on that day.

God rewards faithful obedience. It often requires patience, suffering, and perseverance. Be of good cheer; He will reward you if you faint not.

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

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When God Restores What the Locusts Eat
by Os Hillman, 

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten - the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm - My great army that I sent among you. - Joel 2:25

There are seasons in our lives that involve times of famine and times of restoration. Solomon tells us that He has made everything beautiful in its time and that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven. (See Ecclesiastes 3:1,11.)

God brings about both the good and the bad. The seasons of famine have a divine purpose in our lives. They accomplish things that only these hard places can accomplish. But there is a time when those hard places have accomplished their purpose and He begins to restore. God did this with the nation of Israel after a season of famine and devastation.

Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten - the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm - My great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will My people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will My people be shamed" (Joel 2:23-27).

God wants each of us to know that there is a time when He will restore in order to demonstrate His gracious hand in our lives. He is a loving Father who tenderly guides His children through the difficult places. If God has taken you through a time of leanness, know that He is the restorer of that which the locusts have eaten. Wait patiently for Him to bring this about in your life. He will do it.

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

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Death and Birth of a Vision
by Os Hillman,

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. - John 12:24

Almost every significant thing God births He allows to die before the vision is fulfilled in His own way.

. Abraham had a vision of being the father of a great nation (birth). Sarah was barren and became too old to have children (death). God gave Abraham and Sarah a son in their old age. He became the father of a great nation (fulfillment).

. Joseph had a vision that he would be a great leader and that many would bow down to him (birth). Joseph's brothers sold him to some merchants and he became a slave. Later he was falsely condemned to spend his years in prison (death). God allowed Joseph to interpret the dreams of the butler and baker and later the king, whereupon, he was made a ruler in the land (fulfillment).

. Moses had a vision of leading his people out of the bondage of Egypt (birth). Pharaoh as well as his own people drove Moses out of Egypt after Moses' first attempt to relieve their bondage (death). God gave Moses signs and wonders to convince Pharaoh to free the people and bring them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land (fulfillment).

. The disciples had a vision of establishing the Kingdom of God with Jesus (birth). The very ones He came to save killed Jesus, and the disciples saw Him buried in a tomb (death). God raised Jesus from the dead, and the disciples performed great miracles until the gospel had spread through all the world (fulfillment).

. A grain of wheat has a "vision" of reproducing itself and many more grains of wheat (birth). The grain dies in the ground (death). A harvest springs up out of the very process of "death" in the ground (fulfillment).

Has God given you a vision that is yet unfulfilled? If that vision is born of God, He will raise it up in His own way. Do not try to raise the vision in your own strength. Like Moses, who tried to fulfill the vision of freeing the Hebrews by killing the Egyptian, it will only fail. But wait on your heavenly Father to fulfill the vision. Then you will know that it was His vision when He fulfills it in the way only He can do.

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

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A Refiner's Fire
by Os Hillman, March 17, 2006

For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. - Malachi 3:2b

The Lord has a specific manner of preparing His people for useful service. God desires to turn His children from rough, hard-edged stones into gems of gold and silver.

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years (Malachi 3:3-4).

The refiner's fire can only accomplish its purposes when the heat is turned up to extraordinary temperatures. It breaks down the metal in order for it to become moldable and shapeable. Only when the temperatures reach this level can the work be fully accomplished. So it is in our lives.

Until the Lord completes His refining process, the offerings we make are not made in righteousness and cannot be acceptable. Thank God that Jesus is our righteousness and that there is no righteousness apart from Him. Still, the Lord continues to purge all that is not of His righteousness out of our lives. This comes through trials that bring each of us to the end of ourselves in order that He may only reflect that which is Himself.

When God takes you through the refiner's fire, be encouraged because it is His overriding commitment to turn you from a rough, hard-edged stone to a precious metal. He will do this through certain events in your workplace, your relationships, and other circumstances in your life. Our job is to avoid trying to blow out the fire.

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Posted: 03/17/2006 at 5:18pm | IP Logged Quote Kathy Bippus

Quote:`When God takes you through the refiner's fire, be encouraged because it is His overriding commitment to turn you from a rough, hard-edged stone to a precious metal. He will do this through certain events in your workplace, your relationships, and other circumstances in your life. Our job is to avoid trying to blow out the fire.'
 

Yes! and I have to say I laughed when I read the last statement which I underlined!..wooo oh so true!!

Thanks so much for posting all these nuggets of truth. They have been refreshing, encouraging, exhorting.

                           Love in Christ, Kathy



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The Anguish of Faith
by Os Hillman, March 20, 2006

Do not hide Your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. - Psalm 143:7b

Of all the biblical characters, David gives us a glimpse of a man who walked with God with great emotion in victory and in defeat. David never lost a battle throughout his many years of serving as king of Israel. In many of the Psalms, David often lamented about the difficult places where God had placed him. He talked of his enemies and the need for God to deliver Him. He talked of God's everlasting love for him. How do you suppose David came to this understanding after years of being sought after by King Saul who wanted to take his life? His years of turmoil within his family gave him many reasons to lose all hope in a loving God.

David often began his Psalms in a place of discouragement and loss of hope. But He never ended one Psalm in defeat. He always came to a place of victory in God by the end of the Psalm. David always placed his life in God's hands, knowing He would care for him.

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. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in You. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Psalm 143:8-10).

It is okay to feel discouragement. It is part of the process of grieving and working through those times of pain. But God wants each of us to allow Him to walk with us in these places. If you find yourself in one of these places, do what David did. Ask God to show you the way and let Him bring the word of His unfailing love to you.

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Treasures in Darkness
by Os Hillman, March 27, 2006

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.

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

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The Famine That Leads to Freedom
by Os Hillman,

Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die. - Genesis 42:2b

F. B. Meyer in his book, The Life of Joseph, describes a time in the life of the 12 sons of Jacob in which they were driven from their lives of self-satisfaction to an unlikely place to save their lives. Many years earlier they had thrown their youngest brother into a pit, then sold him into slavery. Thirteen years later he became the second most powerful person in Egypt. Now the world was experiencing a famine, and Joseph controlled all the stored grain of Egypt.

As long as the hills were green and the pastures clothed with flocks, as long as the valleys were covered over with corn and rang with the songs of reapers, Reuben, Simeon, and the rest of them would have been unconcerned and content. But when the mighty famine came, the hearts of these men were opened to conviction. Their carnal security was shattered. They were being prepared for certain spiritual experiences they would never have dreamed. And they were being prepared for the meeting with Joseph. This is how God deals with us; He breaks up our nest, He loosens our roots, He sends a mighty famine that cuts away the whole staff of bread. Then, at such times, weary, worn, and sad, we are prepared to confess our sins and receive the words of Christ when He says, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Mt. 11:28).

A missionary once said, "There is a place where we will all be obedient." Joseph was a type of Christ in the Old Testament. The famine was an event designed to bring the brothers to repentance and a saving knowledge, physically and spiritually. It created the circumstances that led to freedom for these men, for they had been in bondage to a wicked crime against their brother for many years. It was the forgiveness from Joseph that led to that freedom.

Is your life passing through a time of famine? Are your supplies limited? Is God leading you into directions that you would not normally seek? Perhaps this is God's hand creating circumstances for His purposes. Now is the time to look attentively as He directs you to unlikely sources.

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

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Hearing His Voice
by Os Hillman, April 22, 2006

He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God. - John 8:47

Jesus said that the key to being able to hear God's voice is first to be one of His children. One of the great mysteries of the universe to my logical mind is how God can communicate with six billion people on the earth at the same time. It is one of those mysteries I must let go of because my "hard drive" would crash if I had to explain and understand this before I believed and trusted in Him. It is as though God places a computer chip in each human being, and when we place our faith and trust in Him, it becomes activated. We begin to communicate with Him. Jesus says that if we are children of God, then we can hear God's voice. He further explains this relationship in the following parable:

I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice (John 10:1-5).

The Shepherd is always representative of Christ. Sheep are representative of God's children. This passage tells us that the Shepherd communicates with His children. We are called by name and we can listen to our Shepherd's voice. There is another comforting aspect to this relationship. The Shepherd goes before the sheep to prepare the way. Jesus has already gone before us today to prepare our way.

Knowing the Shepherd and His voice allows us to have the assurance that we will not be fooled by another shepherd's voice. The sheep know His voice. It is only when we are dull of hearing that we mistakenly hear another's voice and follow it. Sin can create a poor frequency in our communication with the Shepherd. Make sure your frequency is free of static (sin) today so that the Shepherd can lead you and go before you.

Finally, distractions can also keep us from hearing our Shepherd's voice. When the sheep get entangled in the fence or wander off, they get too far away to hear the Shepherd's voice. We must stay in close proximity to the Shepherd to hear His voice. Stay close to the Shepherd today. Listen and follow. He wants to lead you.

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

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Edited by Moderator on 04/22/2006 at 7:07am
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Fears That Keep Us From His Presence
by Os Hillman, April 26, 2006

Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So He got into the boat and left. - Luke 8:37

Jesus did many miracles when He lived on earth. One of those miracles involved the deliverance of a demon-possessed man. The people of the community witnessed this awesome demonstration of God's power when Jesus commanded the demon spirit to come out of the man and go into the herd of nearby pigs. The man was healed and sat at Jesus' feet.

You would expect the people who witnessed this to embrace Jesus as one performing good deeds and to honor Him. The opposite was true. Instead, they were overcome with fear. Why? Many of us respond the same way to Jesus when He does an out-of-the-ordinary act among His people. We are fearful because we have never personally experienced this before. So, we draw wrong judgments. The result is that Jesus removes Himself from us.

The Lord is able to do far exceeding above what we think. Jesus does not remain in the places where there is fear of His goodness. It is often subconscious fears that prevent us from going to a deeper level with Him. The people in Gerasenes could not benefit from Jesus' presence because of their fears.

Have you feared Jesus because of what He might require of you? Have you feared that He might ask of you something you are not prepared to give? Do not let your fears drive Him from your presence. His motive is always love for His children. You can trust Him.

Do you need help?

Life's Issues prayer counselors or available to help you send an email to: Larry Silverman
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Edited by Moderator on 04/27/2006 at 8:41am
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Being Given Over to Death
by Os Hillman, May 1, 2006

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake.... So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. - 2 Corinthians 4:11-12

It is the great mystery of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Death gives life. Jesus' death on the cross gave life. The death of a vision brings new vision. The death of a seed gives new life. It is the central focus of God's requirement for experiencing Him - death. When Jesus extended us an invitation to experience salvation and a relationship with Him, it came with a great cost, our very lives. Yet what we don't realize is that until we relinquish our total lives, we really aren't living at all. Without this death we will continue to strive, manipulate, and fret over every detail of life. It is when we finally say, "Yes, Lord, I am Yours completely," that we experience real freedom for the first time. This is the only time when Christ is fully seen in and through our lives. Christ describes our lives as vessels-vessels for Him to be revealed in and seen by others.

How is your vessel today? When people look inside, will they see a life that is dead to all things, save the life of Christ revealed? In the workplace, we are faced with challenges each day that seek to instill fear and control at every turn, but Christ says He wants to live through your life in the workplace. He wants to reveal Himself to your fellow workers today. However, He can only do this if our vessel is free of ourselves. Ask Jesus what things must die today in order for Him to live completely in and through you.

Do you need help?

Life's Issues prayer counselors or available to help you send an email to: Larry Silverman
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Or you can contact us by email here: http://www.openheaven.com/contact/

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

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When God Seems Far Away
by Os Hillman, May 5, 2006

Why, O Lord, do You stand far off? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble? - Psalm 10:1

One of the great mysteries of God is His ways. Some of His ways almost appear to bring us into the most difficult places, as if He were indifferent to our circumstances. It would appear that He is turning His head from our sorrows. These events in our lives have a particular objective to perform for us. That objective is to bring us to the end of ourselves that we might discover the treasure of darkness. "Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness" (Job 30:26).

When we are taken into these dark periods, we begin to see light that we never knew existed. Our sensitivities become heightened and our ability to see through spiritual eyes is illuminated. Unless we are taken into these times, our souls never develop any depth of character. We do not gain wisdom, only knowledge. Knowledge is gained through understanding; wisdom is gained through the experience of darkness.

After we go through these periods, we discover that God was, in fact, with us throughout the entire time. It does not feel or appear that He is there when we are in the midst of the dark periods. However, He is there walking with us. He has told us countless times that He will never leave us. However, when we are in those dark periods, it does not feel like He is there because He does not rescue us from the circumstances. He does this for our benefit in order that we might become more like Jesus. Jesus learned obedience from the things He suffered (see Heb. 5:8). What does that say about how you and I will learn obedience? Embrace the dark times and gain the wisdom that God intends for you from these times.

Do you need help?

Life's Issues prayer counselors or available to help you send an email to: Larry Silverman
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Or you can contact us by email here: http://www.openheaven.com/contact/

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

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Sowing in Tears
by Os Hillman, May 16, 2006

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. - Psalm 126:5

The most difficult place to keep moving in faith is the place of extreme pain. Extreme pain, especially emotional pain, can become immobilizing to the human spirit if it is allowed to overcome us. The psalmist tells us there is only one remedy for overcoming painful circumstances that will result in joy. We are to sow in the midst of these times. You cannot do this if you live by feelings alone. It is an act of the will. This act requires that we go outside ourselves in pure faith.

I learned this principle during one of the deepest periods of my life. I had lost much that was dear to me. A mature man in the faith admonished me to reach out to others in spite of my own pain. "Invest in someone else," he said. I did not realize what a place of healing and comfort that would become.

"He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him" (Ps. 126:6). Pain can become a source of joy if we take the first step by planting seed. There is a harvest that will come if we sow in the midst of tears.

 

Do you need help?

Life's Issues prayer counselors or available to help you send an email to: Larry Silverman
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Or you can contact us by email here: http://www.openheaven.com/contact/

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

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Wrestling With God
by Os Hillman, May 23, 2006

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. - Genesis 32:24

All that Jacob had lived for was coming down to one event - his reunion with Esau. More than 20 years had passed since Jacob had manipulated his father's blessing away from his brother Esau. During these years God had been changing Jacob from a controller and manipulator to a man who was learning to trust God. He was now ready to meet Esau. However, he was fearful that Esau might take revenge on him and his family for his past sin, so he sent a gift ahead, while he retreated and sought mercy from God.

As an angel appeared to Jacob, he realized the only hope he had was in God. Only if God blessed him would he survive this ordeal. In the past, Jacob would have sought to solve his problem his way. Now, he wanted only God's way. He wanted Him so badly that he wouldn't let go of the angel. He was striving with God, but it was the right kind of striving. Jacob was striving to have all God's blessing on his life. He was seeking God with all that he had. "When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man" (Gen. 32:25). The only way to overcome the strong will of this man was to physically immobilize him. The angel touched the socket of Jacob's hip. It was painful; it broke him. This was the final stage of removing the old nature from Jacob. It was the place of complete brokenness and surrender. No longer would Jacob walk in his own strength. He would now have to lean on a cane, symbolic of his leaning on God alone.

It was the final act from God in Jacob's life that was celebrated with a new name - Israel. No longer would he strive with God or man. The process was now complete. God could now bless this man abundantly. He gave him favor with Esau and restored their broken relationship.

What does God have to do in our lives to remove the controlling and manipulative nature that so often is part of a workplace believer's life? Perhaps it will require a time of immobilizing, loss of a job, loss of income, loss of health, loss of a close relationship. These are His methods of preparation. Your new nature will not be complete until you've stopped striving with God through your own self-efforts. If God is taking you through this process, be encouraged; it is because of the inheritance He has prepared for you. However, the inheritance can only be received when God brings us to total dependence on Him.

Do you need help?

Life's Issues prayer counselors or available to help you send an email to: Larry Silverman
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Or you can contact us by email here: http://www.openheaven.com/contact/

To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

© 2005. TGIF Today God Is FirstTM is a registered trademark of Os Hillman/Marketplace Leaders. To request re-print permission, click here


 

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The Goal of Death And Not Life
by Os Hillman, May 25, 2006

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. - John 12:24

The goal of the Christian life is death, not success. A popular teaching says that if we follow God, we will prosper materially. God may, in fact, bless His people materially, but few can make this claim among third-world countries. Wealth must never be the goal of a person's life, only a by-product.

A missionary to a Middle-Eastern country has shared a motto among their ministry team: "God does not require success, but radical, immediate obedience." Jesus' obedience gained Him the cross. It did not gain Him popularity among the heathen, the religious or financial success, or a life of pleasure. His obedience resulted in His death on the cross. This is the same goal Christ has for each of us-death of our old nature so that He might live through us. That may not sell well among outcome-based Christian workplace believers, but it will result in an eternal reward that far exceeds any earthly reward. "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done" (Rev. 22:12).

The Christian life is a paradox-the first will be last, death in return for life, and we are encouraged to offer praise to God to overcome a spirit of heaviness. It requires faith in a God who operates from a different set of values that are sometimes difficult to measure from human standards. Let death work in you a life that only God can raise up.

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Preparation for Greatness
by Os Hillman, June 1, 2006

He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. - 2 Samuel 22:35

David was a mighty warrior, and God described him as a man after His own heart. God took David through a training ground that could be looked on as cruel and unusual punishment by many a person. God chose him at a young age to be the next king, yet King Saul rejected him and hunted him down. David was a fugitive for many years. He had uprisings in his own family, and he had relationship problems. He had a life of extreme ups and downs. He certainly did not have a life free of problems; he made mistakes. He was human like all of us, yet he learned from his mistakes and repented when he failed. This was David's training ground; it made the man. Without these hardships, it is doubtful David would have accomplished what he did.

Toward the end of David's life, he recounted his relationship with God. It is a sermon on God's ways of dealing with a servant leader.

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me Your shield of victory; You stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn (2 Samuel 22:33-37).

God was David's source for everything. God gave him the ability to achieve the many extraordinary things in his life. It was a lifelong training ground that moved him from one plateau to another, often dropping into a ravine of despair and hopelessness from time to time. These are God's ways. They drive us deeper and deeper into the heart of Him who has prepared a way for us. Let God take you to the heights or depths He desires for you. He never promised smooth sailing during the trip, but He did promise to be the captain and companion along the way.

 

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The Strength of Brokenness
by Os Hillman, June 19, 2006

The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. - 1 Samuel 2:4

There is an oxymoron throughout the Bible. It says that brokenness is strength. How can this be? How can brokenness be strength? In order to use men and women to their fullest extent, the Lord has to break His servants so that they might have a new kind of strength that is not human in origin. It is strength in spirit that is born only through brokenness.

Paul was broken on the Damascus road. Peter was broken after Jesus was taken prisoner. Jacob was broken at Peniel. David was broken after his sin with Bathsheba. The list could go on of those the Lord had to break in different ways before they could be used in the Kingdom.

When we are broken, we see the frailty of human strength and come to grips with the reality that we can do nothing in our own strength. Then, new strength emerges that God uses mightily. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Do not fear brokenness, for it may be the missing ingredient to a life that emerges with a new kind of strength and experience not known before. Pray for a broken and contrite heart that God can bless.

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Second Chances
by Os Hillman, July 23, 2006

..."I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." - Jonah 4:2

Have you ever gone through a time of disobedience with God? Jonah was a prophet of God who decided he didn't want to prophesy for the Lord. God wanted him to deliver a message to Nineveh to warn them against impending destruction if they didn't turn from their ways. Jonah had developed a hardened heart toward the people of Nineveh. He didn't really care if they repented or not; so rather than travel to Nineveh and deliver the message, he hopped a boat in the opposite direction. You probably know the rest of the story. He was eaten by a fish and spent a few days thinking about his decision.

There is a place where we all will obey. What circumstances must take place for us to become obedient? For some of us, it requires a good shakeup. For Jonah, it required a big shakeup because he was God's man to save 120,000 people. He was chosen by God to be used by God, and God didn't give up on him.

God understands our disobedient heart. He sees what we really are; yet He gives second chances. God gave Jonah a second chance. He gave the people of Nineveh a second chance. It is a lesson of love from a heavenly Father who specializes in second chances. Have you blown it? Have you disappointed someone close to you? God is the God of second chances. All we have to do is acknowledge our waywardness. He will restore. He will give grace. Ask Him.

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The Faithfulness of God
by Os Hillman, August 13, 2006

The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. - Psalm 145:13b-14

Have you ever had a relationship with someone who was faithful? You knew you could depend on that person to do what he said. You learned that his word was completely trustworthy. If he said he would call you, he would. If he said he'd be somewhere at a certain time, he'd be there. In fact, if he was late, you began to wonder if he had an accident because it was so contrary to his nature. It's great to have friends who are faithful.

God is faithful. He is faithful to fulfill every promise in His Word. Sometimes we think God isn't faithful because it appears He has not fulfilled a desire that we have. Sometimes we think He is not faithful because of a crisis event that seems to say God isn't faithful. We must remember that God is more concerned about accomplishing His ultimate purpose in the life of every believer than giving us the desires of our heart. Sometimes this results in hardship.

The Bible is full of accounts of God's faithfulness that was often accompanied by hardship. He brought Joseph out of slavery to be greatly used in a nation. He delivered the people from Egypt and brought them into the Promised Land. He gave Abraham the son of promise late in his life. He delivered David from his enemies and made him a king. In story upon story, we learn of God's faithfulness.

Are you a faithful man or woman? The workplace needs faithful men and women. Take an inventory of your life today and ask God if you have been faithful with what He has entrusted to you.

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Things I Cannot Understand
by Os Hillman, August 14, 2006

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. - Job 42:3b

If there was any one man on earth who had reason to question God's love, it was Job. He lost his family, his health, and his wealth-all at the same time. His friends came to his side only to question his spirituality. God had already answered the question of his integrity. Job was described in the opening verses of the book as "blameless and upright" (see Job 1:1). His calamities were not born from sin. Job acknowledged God's right to do anything in his life until one day he could take it no longer. He questioned God's motives.

God answered Job, but not in the way he wanted to hear. God answered him with a series of questions that represents the most incredible discourse of correction by God to any human being. Three chapters later, Job realized that he had questioned the motives of the Author of the universe, the Author of love. He fell flat before his Creator and realized his total depravity. "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know."

Have you ever questioned God's activity in your life? Have you questioned His love for you based on circumstances that came your way? The cross at Calvary answers the love question. He sent His own Son in replacement for your sin. If you were the only person on earth, He would have done the same. His ways cannot always be understood or reconciled in our finite minds. That must be left for a future time when all will be understood. For now, entrust your life to Him completely. Embrace Him in the hard times and the good.

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The Response of Faith
by Os Hillman, August 18, 2006

..."Everything is all right".... - 2 Kings 4:26

The prophet Elisha often would travel through the town of Shunem, and in that town was a well-to-do couple who extended hospitality to him. At first, they simply offered Elisha a meal when he came through town. Then, seeing that Elisha needed a place to stay and study, they built a room for him above their house so that each time he came through town, he had a place to stay. He was so appreciative of their kindness that one day he asked the wife what he could do for her. His servant Gehazi later informed Elisha that the woman was barren and her husband was old. " 'About this time next year,' Elisha said, 'you will hold a son in your arms' " (2 Kings 4:16). A year later the son arrived.

One day the father was working in the field, and the son became ill and died. The woman ran to meet Elisha to inform him. When Elisha asked what was wrong, she did not panic and react in fear. Her response to Elisha seemed almost unnatural. "Everything is all right," she said. Elisha went to the boy and raised him from the dead. It was a glorious miracle. (See Second Kings 4.)

Faith looks at situations through God's eyes, not the eyes of our limited understanding. This woman did not panic, for she knew something more than the current circumstance. Faith does not panic, but realizes that what looks like devastating circumstances may be God's plan to bring glory to Himself by demonstrating His power. When Jesus appeared on the water to the disciples in the middle of the night, they exclaimed, "It's a ghost!" (see Mt. 14:26) First appearances can bring great fear upon us even to the point of paralyzing us. Find the Lord in your circumstance today. Exercise your faith today and trust Him for His outcome in the situation.

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New Things
by Os Hillman, August 20, 2006

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:13b-14

Our past can be a hindrance or a help in moving toward God's purposes for each of us. For some, the past has meant pain and heartache, and grace is required so that we do not let our past dictate our responses to the future. If we allow our past to make us a victim, then we have not entered into the grace that God has for us. If we live on memories of past successes and fail to raise our vision for new things, we again are victims of our past.

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland" (Is. 43:19). Our past should only be viewed for what we can learn from it. We must move forward and avoid viewing the negative or the positive for more than what we can learn. Many have allowed their past to dictate their future. God is always about doing new things in our lives. He gives fresh revelation of His purposes in our lives. Do not live in the past. Do not hold onto bitterness that may hinder God from doing new and exciting things in your life. He turns our wastelands into streams of water to give life, not death.

How have you viewed your past? Has it hindered you in some areas of your life? Have you relied on past successes to dictate what you will do in the future? Put aside such thoughts and allow God to do a new thing in your life. Ask Him to help you see the new things He wants to do in and through you today.

"When your memories are bigger than your dreams, you're headed for the grave" [Author unknown].

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Confrontation With God

by Os Hillman,

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. - Isaiah 61:3b

"God, is this the way You treat someone who is faithful to You?" I yelled out loud on the top of the wooded hill where no one but God could hear me. "I have waited and waited and now this! I hate You, God! I have had enough!" Those were my words that day as I wrestled with news of an event that devastated me to the point where I broke down weeping.

As I sat there among the trees deciding what else I could say to God, I was speechless. I was angry. I was confused. I wondered if He even existed. If He did, I felt like He really didn't honor my faith and obedience. I sat for hours wrestling internally with my feelings.

Finally, without answers and sensing that God wasn't answering me, I turned to leave. I had been sitting on an old oak tree that was broken at the base. The tree pointed toward the base of another huge oak tree. Finally, a still quiet voice inside said, "Today, like this broken oak tree you are sitting on, you are a broken man. But this brokenness was needed in order for you to become this large oak tree you see."

Months and even years had passed with many struggles. But God was true to His word from that day. He began to replace the pain and disappointment with an inner joy that only His grace could provide.

Have you ever wrestled with the events of life, feeling that God has deserted you? Have you been honest with God? He is the kind of Father who is willing to have those difficult conversations. He won't always change things, but His purposes will be accomplished and peace will come if you trust. Trust Him this day with those things that are most difficult.

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Edited by Moderator on 12/22/2006 at 3:52pm
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The God of the Valley
by Os Hillman, October 15, 2006

The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, "This is what the Lord says: 'Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord'." - 1 Kings 20:28

Whenever we stand on the mountain, we are able to see clearly. It is the best vantage point to see what lies ahead. Wouldn't it be great to live on the mountain all the time in order to anticipate what is ahead? God allows us to experience the mountaintop at times. Joseph's first mountaintop experience was as a young man. He had the favor of his father, Jacob. He was given a fine coat and even had a dream about his future. As a young man, Joseph had a sense of destiny about his life. God often gives us a picture of our future so that we will remember this picture when we are being tested to trust Him in the valley. This picture usually does not reveal how God intends to bring about the visions for our life.

However, none of us really derive the character qualities God desires for our lives while we are on the mountain. It is in the valley where the fruit is planted and harvested. It cannot grow on the mountain; it must grow in the valley. God is a God of the mountain, but he is even more a God of the valley. In the valley, it is more difficult to see ahead; the clouds often cover the valley and limit our sight. Joseph was thrust into a deep valley that left him wondering if the God of his father had forsaken him. Jesus hoped that He might be able to avoid the valley that caused Him to sweat blood. There is a valley that each of us must enter, usually unwillingly, in order to experience the God of the valley-and to experience His faithfulness in the valley. Once we have spent time in this valley, we come out with something we would have never gained if we had not entered it. The valley brings much fruit into our lives so that we might plant seeds into the lives of others. God does not waste valley experiences. If we are faithful in the valley, we will enter a new dimension with God that we never thought possible. There is a harvest of wisdom and virtue that can only be grown in the valley.

Has God brought you into the valley? Know that the valley is a place of fruitfulness; it is a place of testing. It is where God brings what you know in your head into your heart. The only value of knowledge is when it becomes part of your heart. Look for God in the valley today.


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The Value of Hard Places
by Os Hillman,

So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. - 2 Corinthians 4:12

Being forced into hard places gives us a whole new perspective on life. Things we once valued no longer hold the same value. Small things become big things, and what we once thought big no longer holds such importance.

These hard places allow us to identify with the sufferings of others. It keeps us from having a shallow view of the hardships of others and allows us to truly identify with them. Those who speak of such trials from no experience often judge others who have had such hardship. It is a superficiality of Christian experience that often permeates shallow believers.

Those who have walked in hard places immediately have a kinship with others who have walked there also. They do not need to explain; they merely look at one another with mutual respect and admiration for their common experience. They know that death has worked a special thing in them. This death leads to life in others because of the hard places God has taken them through.

It is impossible to appreciate any valley experience while you are in it. However, once you have reached the top of the mountain, you are able to appreciate what terrain you have passed through. You marvel at what you were able to walk through. The valley of the shadow of death has yielded more than you ever thought possible. You are able to appreciate the beauty of the experience and lay aside the sorrow and pain it may have produced.

Death works in you for a greater purpose. If you are there today, be assured that God is producing something of much greater value than you will ever know.

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Why would Jesus pray that things in earth would be like they are in Heaven if it were not possible?


by Os Hillman,

This, then, is how you should pray: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." - Matthew 6:9-10

Imagine that you have never driven a car. You are not aware of all the features of a car. Up to this point, you have had to walk everywhere you go. All you are told is that you are about to receive something that will get you anywhere you need to go. The day arrives and you are given a brand new car. You get in and drive the car. However, the emergency brake is on, preventing you from going faster than 20 miles per hour. No one tells you that you should unlock the brake. Regardless, you are excited because you no longer have to walk to your destination. You are not told that the car has lights, which would allow you to drive at night. Neither are you told about the many other wonderful features of the car. You just know you have a new car that will get you anywhere you want to go at 20 miles per hour. For the rest of your life, you drive this incredible car during the daytime only at 20 miles per hour.

Why would Jesus pray that things in earth would be like they are in Heaven if it were not possible? When Jesus came to earth, He came in order to penetrate the very kingdom of darkness with light. He came to bring healing to sickness, replace sadness with joy, and fill meaninglessness with purpose. He came to change things for the better for a world that had no hope outside of God.

Using the illustration above, Jesus did not come to merely give us a ticket to Heaven (a car that you drive only in the daytime at 20 miles per hour). He came to bring us much more-the Kingdom of God on earth. Nowhere in the Bible will you find the term, gospel of salvation. The Church does not exist for Heaven, but for earth. If it existed only for Heaven, then each of us would immediately be taken to Heaven. There would be no reason for us to remain on earth. So why has God allowed us to receive this new birth and remain on earth? It is so that we might bring the Kingdom of God into our world-our families, our workplace, and our communities.

God wants you to bring the Kingdom of God into the territory He has given you so that His will can be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Your domain is your workplace, family, and community. Ask God to show you how He wants to penetrate the darkness of your domain with His light. Then you will see and experience all the features of this gift that has been given to you.

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Dissolving Partnerships


by Os Hillman,

So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the Lord. - Genesis 13:18

Abraham took a totally different approach to solving this problem. He told Lot to choose which land he wanted. Imagine, Abraham could have been dooming himself and his family if he was unable to find adequate land and water for them. He gave up his rights in the matter, and Lot took full advantage. "Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar" (Gen. 13:10). So Lot left and took up residence in the valley later to be known as Sodom and Gomorrah. Sometimes what seems good on the front end turns out to be disastrous later. Such would be the case for Lot and his family.

As for Abraham, he made a choice. He decided to take life's high road-a choice that didn't necessarily mean his life circumstances would benefit him. He was willing to leave that outcome to God. He made the decision based on an eternal measuring stick. Interestingly, the place where Abraham moved was called Mamre. In Hebrew, the name Mamre means "strength." How can choosing the weakest position become "strength"? Jesus must have asked the same question of His Father when faced with the proposition of going to the cross. How can the cross be a place of strength? The devil thought he had won, but the cross is what freed the captives for eternity. The Bible tells us that when we are weak, then we are really strong. To willingly choose the way of the cross becomes our strength.

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Coming Out of the Cave


by Os Hillman

..."Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah"... - 1 Samuel 22:5

David and his fighting men had been hiding in the cave of Adullam. He was fleeing Saul. Many of life's down-and-out had come and joined David's army. David was content to stay in the stronghold of safety. Then, God's prophet came to David and told him that he must leave the stronghold and go into the land of Judah.

When life beats down on us and we get to the place where we want to hide in a cave, God often places people around us who prod us into moving in the right direction. He does not want us to remain in the place of discouragement. He wants us to move into the land of "praise." Judah means "praise."

I recall when I went through a very difficult time. It seemed to drag on and on with no change until finally I wanted to retreat to a cave and forget pressing on. It was a great time of discouragement. A godly man came to me and said, "You must keep moving! There are too many who are depending on you in the Kingdom." I didn't totally understand what he meant at the time. Now I know he was saying that God is preparing each of us to be the vessel He wants to use in the life of another person, but we will never be that vessel if we give up and hide in our cave of discouragement. Not only must we keep moving, we must move into a new realm. Our attitude must move from discouragement to praise. It is when we move past discouragement to praise that we begin living above our problems. Make a decision today to go into the land of Judah.

 

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Edited by Moderator on 01/04/2007 at 1:42pm
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Sudden Ghosts in Life


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.

Many times we have events in our lives that appear to be ghosts. For me, it was a period in my life when I lost my marriage, 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.

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God's Tests


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.

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.

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The Purpose of Crucibles


by Os Hillman,

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart. - Proverbs 17:3

This proverb describes one of God's strangest mysteries. It is a description of God's formula to refine the human heart in order to bring out its finest qualities. The significant leaders who make the greatest mark for the Kingdom had to experience their own crucible and fire. Without it, the dross can never be removed from the human heart. Without it, the encumbrances weigh us down. God understands the human heart. He understands that for us to become all that He hopes for us, there are seasons of fire. Joseph went through many tests. Succeeding in the test qualified him for greater responsibility. The greater the use in the Kingdom the greater the crucible to prepare the right foundation. Some of God's greatest crucibles are found in the workplace where we live every day: the employee who betrays our trust, the client who refuses to pay, the vendor who falls short of our expectations.

Each of these is a test from God to find out how we will respond. What tests are being brought your way today? His grace has been provided that we might pass the tests that He brings before us. Should we fail, we need not fear. His grace is sufficient for this as well. Ask God for the grace to walk with Him in whatever tests He has placed before you this day. He is able to accomplish what He wants for you.

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Sowing in Tears
by Os Hillman, February 9, 2007

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. - Psalm 126:5

Psalm 126 describes an interesting process that goes against our natural tendencies when we are taken into a difficult period in our lives. Whenever we are hurled into a crisis that brings tears, our tendency is to retreat or recoil in fear and hurt. However, there is a better way that God tells us to handle such times of travail.

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. "He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him" (Ps. 126:5-6). God is telling us that if we will do what is unnatural for us in these circumstances, He will make sure that what we sow in tears will return in joy. This is one of the most important lessons I have learned when faced with difficult circumstances. Rather than sit back and allow self-pity and discouragement to consume us, we should plant seed during this time. Reach out to a person who needs a friend. Invest in the life of another. See where you can be a blessing to someone. Give of yourself.

The psalmist acknowledges that we are doing this while we are in our pain. However, during this time we are to sow seed. That seed will return to us in another form. Here is what will happen when we do this. "He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." We will receive joy and fruit from the seed that we plant during this time. Sheaves represent the fruit of a harvest. We will actually get a harvest from this seed.

"You must not let the circumstances destroy you! Too many in the Kingdom are counting on you to come through this because of the calling on your life!" Those were the words spoken to me by a friend one time when I was in the midst of a very difficult business and personal circumstance that was threatening to destroy me emotionally. This person saw what God was doing and the fruit that God wanted to bring from these circumstances. Sometimes we need others around us to push us through the difficult times. If you find yourself in a difficult place today, see where you can sow some seed. Soon you will be reaping songs of joy.

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The Gospel of the Kingdom
by Os Hillman,
 
This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did. - 1 John 2:5b-6

When Christ came to earth, He came to bring to mankind the gospel of the Kingdom. Over the centuries, the Church has tended to emphasize only a portion of the gospel. That portion is the gospel of salvation. However, Jesus came that we might have more than just salvation. He came to give us a whole new life that was accompanied by signs, wonders, and His Spirit living in us and revealing Himself to us daily. He came so that we might walk on this earth as He did. If our lives are not reflecting the same things as Jesus' did, we must ask why?

I have noticed three distinct types of workplace believers throughout my 24 years of walking with Christ. First, many of us come to Christ out of a need for salvation. Our hearts have been touched by His call on our lives. We reason and analyze the claims of Christ and make a decision for Him. It is the convenient time to accept Him in our lives. This first stage is often characterized by a "Bless me, Lord" attitude toward God. It is the first stage that primarily brings salvation into our lives. Some never really go past this first stage.

The second stage is the crisis stage. A crisis takes place in our lives, and we are motivated to seek Christ with a whole heart. However, this motivation is not out of pure love for Christ; rather, it is motivated by the desire to get out of the pain of living. The motivation is to solve "the what" versus "the why" in my life at the time. This stage is best characterized as "Help me, Lord."

In the third stage we begin to experience the gospel of the Kingdom. It is the place where Jesus resided in His walk with His heavenly Father. It is the place of conviction. The number of people who live at this level are quite few, but these people are experiencing the reality of a walk with God that is foreign to all others. They are seeing daily occurrences of His involvement in their lives. They are motivated by a deep love for Him. They know Him. These people have an attitude characterized by these thoughts, "Have me, Lord; though He slay me, still will I trust Him."

Where are you today? Have you merely accepted His salvation to simply float along? Or do you seek Him with a whole heart only when a crisis occurs? His desire is for you and me to live a life of conviction, motivated by our love for Him and His love for us. This is where we will experience the gospel of the Kingdom.
 
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To contact Os Hillman, send email to: oshillman@marketplaceleaders.org   For personal prayer and counsel click here.

© 2005. TGIF Today God Is FirstTM is a registered trademark of Os Hillman/Marketplace Leaders. To request re-print permission, click here



Edited by Moderator on 04/12/2007 at 5:36am
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The Strength of Brokenness
by Os Hillman, June 19, 2007
 
The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. - 1 Samuel 2:4

There is an oxymoron throughout the Bible. It says that brokenness is strength. How can this be? How can brokenness be strength? In order to use men and women to their fullest extent, the Lord has to break His servants so that they might have a new kind of strength that is not human in origin. It is strength in spirit that is born only through brokenness.

Paul was broken on the Damascus road. Peter was broken after Jesus was taken prisoner. Jacob was broken at Peniel. David was broken after his sin with Bathsheba. The list could go on of those the Lord had to break in different ways before they could be used in the Kingdom.

When we are broken, we see the frailty of human strength and come to grips with the reality that we can do nothing in our own strength. Then, new strength emerges that God uses mightily. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Do not fear brokenness, for it may be the missing ingredient to a life that emerges with a new kind of strength and experience not known before. Pray for a broken and contrite heart that God can bless.
 
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Is your eye evil because I am good? Matthew 20:15b

Life has become very busy of late and sometimes when we become busy we are easily entrapped by the tyranny of the urgent. It is sometimes difficult to get quiet before Him when there are so many things vying for attention. I try to remember the passage from Isaiah 26:3, "Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee." May you find your refuge in Him. Today I would like to share a few thoughts on offense toward God. There are many people who are afraid to admit that they have offense toward God. As I did a study on this I found a number of people in scripture who were angry with God. Jesus included some examples in His parables. This will be just a brief sampling of the study and hopefully it will help some people move forward.

      From the very beginning the enemy has attempted to discredit God. Satan tried to make Eve believe God was holding out on her. Carnal or fleshly thinking also has the propensity to discredit God. When fallen Adam was confronted, he immediately tried to shift blame saying, "It was that woman You gave me."
 
Caan was offended when his sacrifice was rejected and then was further offended with God, because he thought his punishment for killing Abel was too harsh. Have there been times when you questioned the fairness of God? Does it seem to you that God plays favorites?
 
     Let's look at a couple of parables that Jesus told in which there was offense taken toward the person in the parables who appears to represent God the Father. In Matthew 20:1-16 Jesus gives a " kingdom of heaven is like" parable. The landowner hires some workers early in the morning for a denarius a day. He came back the third, the sixth, and the ninth hour and hired more workers. Finally, he went out at the eleventh hour, found some more workers standing there and hired them. When the time came for the workers to be paid, those who were hired last received a denarius. Those who worked all day supposed they would receive much more, but they, too, received a denarius. They complained, feeling they had been wronged. The landowner answered, " Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or, is your eye evil because I am good." Matthew 20:13-16 Let's draw some conclusions from this parable.
 
1. The landowner did exactly what he said. He was true to his word. God is not a man that He should lie. He does exactly what He says.
 
2. He does what He wills with whatever is His. It's all His. The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.
 
3. Because He chooses to bless someone does not mean He is withholding from another. If God chooses to bless someone other than me, it is a good thing, not a bad thing. The problem is that if I am self-focused or selfish, I become envious of the blessing of others. If I am focused on me I will judge the goodness of God as unfairness. Does it ever seem that other churches are growing, but not yours, people are prospering with much less effort than you have put forth? You see, if we do not have a kingdom perspective we will resent the blessing of others. If we see things from a kingdom perspective we can rejoice in the blessings of others.When any part of the body is blessed; we are blessed.
 
4. He is good. God is good. The very essence of His glory is His goodness. It is the goodness of God that brings men to repentance.For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. His goodness being the very essence of His glory reveals our sin. His goodness exposes flesh.
 
Offense toward God will shut us down, because we buy into judgements about life and ungodly belief systems that set us up for disappointment with God. 2 Cor. 10:3-4 The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (fleshly), but are mighty through God to the pulling down strongholds and every high thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.  A stronghold is a demonically influenced mindset impregnated with hopelessness that keeps us from knowing God as He is. He is good. We must focus on His goodness and not misguided perceptions or disappointments for which there may be no explanation this side of heaven. We must focus on what He has done and what He is doing rather than getting get bound by what we haven't seen him do. You may say God isn't fair. There are some legitimate arguments for that statement. Was it fair that the wrath of God was poured out on His only begotten Son, that I might escape that wrath and be reconciled to Him as a son (one who had been an enemy). True, God may not be fair, but He is good, and He is merciful.
 
The other parable I wished to include was that of the prodigal son. Maybe next time, but until then keep your mind stayed on Him. Be blessed.
                        
 
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Moving On To New Things
by Os Hillman, August 20, 2007
 
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:13b-14

Our past can be a hindrance or a help in moving toward God's purposes for each of us. For some, the past has meant pain and heartache, and grace is required so that we do not let our past dictate our responses to the future. If we allow our past to make us a victim, then we have not entered into the grace that God has for us. If we live on memories of past successes and fail to raise our vision for new things, we again are victims of our past.

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland" (Is. 43:19). Our past should only be viewed for what we can learn from it. We must move forward and avoid viewing the negative or the positive for more than what we can learn. Many have allowed their past to dictate their future. God is always about doing new things in our lives. He gives fresh revelation of His purposes in our lives. Do not live in the past. Do not hold onto bitterness that may hinder God from doing new and exciting things in your life. He turns our wastelands into streams of water to give life, not death.

How have you viewed your past? Has it hindered you in some areas of your life? Have you relied on past successes to dictate what you will do in the future? Put aside such thoughts and allow God to do a new thing in your life. Ask Him to help you see the new things He wants to do in and through you today.

"When your memories are bigger than your dreams, you're headed for the grave" [Author unknown].
 
If you would like to communicate with someone or have someone to pray with you send an email to Larry Silverman  nhministry@yahoo.com or post a reply to this message.
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The Necessity of the Desert
by Os Hillman, September 6, 2007
 
 ..."I have become an alien in a foreign land." - Exodus 2:22

God's preparation of a leader involves training, extended times of waiting, pain, rejection, and isolation. Are you ready to sign up?

Moses was brought up in Pharaoh's court. He had the very best of everything-education, clothing, food, and personal care. But there came a time when the man God would use to free an entire people from slavery was going to have to learn to be the leader God wanted. At age 40, when most of us want to be thinking about winding down instead of beginning a new career, Moses was forced to flee to the desert.

Like Joseph and Abraham, Moses had to endure some difficult years of preparation that first involved removal from his current situation. He went from notoriety to obscurity, from limitless resources to no resources, from activity and action to inactivity and solitude. And, most importantly, waiting. And waiting. And waiting. He probably thought he would die in the land of Midian.

Then one day, a full 40 years from the day he arrived, God appeared to Moses in a burning bush. Everything changed. God said, "It is time." The years had seasoned the vessel to prepare him to accomplish the work.

God is preparing many workplace believers today. The circumstances may be different. The time frames may not be quite as long. But the characteristics of the training are still the same. Do not try to shortcut the desert time of God. It only leads to cul-de-sacs, which force you to revisit the lessons you are meant to learn. Embrace them, so that He can use your life for something extraordinary.
 
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"But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." —Luke 22:32 NIV
 
Jesus' disciples seemed to have failed him. Judas Iscariot was plotting against him with the Roman officers and the other eleven disciples were arguing over who was considered the greatest. Jesus could have given up on them, but he had compassion and gave them a second chance, even though they had failed to have faith in him.
Many times failure can cause us to give up trying. If we get fired, it seems like the end of the world. But consider this: Thomas Edison was fired from Western Union. Edgar Allan Poe was fired from two magazines. Rudyard Kipling was fired from the San Francisco Examiner. Nathaniel Hawthorne was fired from a customs agent job. These men were not blocked by failure, but went on to do greater things.
Sydney J. Harris, in his "Strictly Personal" column for the Chicago Sun Times, wrote, "A failure is not someone who has tried and failed; it is someone who has given up trying and resigned himself to failure. It is not a condition, but an attitude."
So if you have just been handed a pink slip, know that it is not a dead end for you, unless you fall by the wayside, crying "I'm no good! Nobody loves me! I might as well give up!" You are made in God's image and God loves you and will give you a second chance. When you have faith in God and faith in yourself, nothing can keep you from a productive, joy—filled life! Then at a later time you will perhaps have an opportunity to strengthen and encourage someone else that has been fired and suffers discouragement.
 
Lord, renew my faith and give me the courage to pick myself up and go on to greater things. Amen.
 
The more you do unselfishly,
The more you live abundantly . . .
The more of everything you share,
The more you’ll always have to spare.

Today contemplate the magnitude of tasks that can be accom-plished if there is not concern with receiving praise or credit.

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
Psalm 131:1
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  
Psalm 46:1
When trouble strikes, what you want is comfort and protection. You want strength to stand up to it and meet it.
You can have both. This text contains the answer. Frequently remind yourself that God is with you, that He will never fail you, that you can count upon Him. Say these words, “God is with me, helping me.”
This will give you a sense of comfort. New hope will flood your mind. New ideas will come. A new sense of power will be felt. As a result, you will rise above your trouble.
When a particular trouble arises, before you do anything else about it, sit down quietly, repeat this text a half dozen times, and put your full faith in it.
 
Father, we are grateful that you have guided our nation for over 200 years. We pray that our leaders will be led by you in all their decisions. Help them to respond to every crisis with wisdom and effectiveness. Help each of us to do our part to support those who have suffered in recent natural disasters. Bless those who are actively working to help them. In Your name we pray. Amen.
Father, we are grateful that you have guided our nation for over 200 years. We pray that our leaders will be led by you in all their decisions. Help them to respond to every crisis with wisdom and effectiveness. Help each of us to do our part to support those who have suffered in recent natural disasters. Bless those who are actively working to help them. In Your name we pray.
 Amen.
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Fruitful Suffering

Os Hillman

..."It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering." - Genesis 41:52

Joseph named his second son Ephraim. Ephraim was given to him after he had been delivered from his suffering of 13 years. Joseph said that he named him this because God had made him fruitful in the land of his suffering. Ephraim means "twice fruitful."

Joseph was fruitful in two instances. He was fruitful during his time of adversity and in his prosperity. When God brings us into a time of suffering, it can be a fruitful time. It's rare for us to see the fruit during the suffering period. But know that the roots are going deep into the spiritual soil of our soul because of our pressing in to God during our time of suffering. This is producing a work in our character that cannot be seen until it finishes the process. Such was the case for Joseph.

It was not until several years after such a time of suffering that I began to see the fruit of the trials that the Lord allowed me to experience. How grateful I am to understand some of the "why" that has led to a new life in Him that I would never have had without this period.

Samson had great anointing but lacked character. We see many today who have great anointing yet lack character. But God is rising up Josephs who not only have great anointing for these days but also great character. Suffering produces character.

If you find yourself in a time of suffering, now is the time to press into God. Let your roots grow deeper. Whenever there is a famine, tree roots are forced to drive deeper into the soil to find water. These times are designed to create such a deep-rooted faith that our natures will be changed forever.

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He Has You Hidden for a Purpose - You Are His Secret Weapon!
 
Victoria Boyson

"My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place." Psalm 139:15

 

victoria boysonAt the Verge of Breakthrough

Have you ever felt forgotten by God? Do you feel invisible? Does God seem to be blessing everyone except you? Do your expectations of God seem to meet with cold indifference from Him?

If your answer is "yes," then rejoice, because you are at the edge of a miracle! You are on the verge of a breakthrough! The door to your destiny is about to swing open!

The most difficult time of any birth is the few moments right before you deliver your baby into the world. You are exhausted beyond what you can even endure...you cannot stand it anymore. You have pushed and pushed and have exhausted all your strength. You want to scream, "I can't do this...I can't!" BUT you must! It is at this moment that you must push the hardest and exert yourself the most. You are crying, "I can't," and everyone around you is yelling, "PUSH!"

Then, somewhere deep inside you, strength arises! You have a determination now, where a hopeless feeling used to dwell. Now you cry from the depths of your heart, "I can," and "I will!"

You are at the verge of a breakthrough and perhaps you are tired of believing, but only you can break through to your miracle. Only you can give birth to your destiny! Only you can fight through to your dream's fulfillment. Your God will give you His strength when you have none of your own. When you fall short, He will pick you up because, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak" (Isaiah 40:29).

Hidden Miracles and Butterflies

I have felt this way - I have felt forgotten by God. I wondered if the promise would ever be fulfilled - if God would ever open the door. I had been teetering on the edge of a breakthrough for so long that I began to doubt. "Would it ever really happen? Maybe God has changed His mind?" I was tired of waiting, of praying, of hoping in faith! I felt like a butterfly in a cocoon, hidden and forgotten. During that time I wrote this poem:

Someday, I'll Fly...

I've not been myself lately or for some time for that matter.
I'm not sure who "myself" is anymore.
I feel like a caterpillar inside the cocoon.
I'm neither a butterfly nor a caterpillar anymore.
I'm not what I used to be nor am I what I'm going to be.
I cannot go back to what I was,
or what was familiar to me.
I can't rush forward and be what I have not yet become.
It's a miserable place to be.
It's much like a baby in the womb;
you have to wait it out and stay where you are.
I hope every day will bring the end; I know God is almost done working.
I rejoice because the end is near,
but still the pain increases.
It's become too easy to not be anything, just a cocoon.
I want to give up, but You won't let me.
I'm not the caterpillar I used to be
and I'm not the butterfly I know I am becoming.
Becoming a butterfly is scary, painful and exhausting.
I guess I don't want to remain a nothing,
so I'll endure the torturous path out of this cocoon.
And I know, someday, I'll fly!

Years ago, we lived in a house with dozens of trees around it. In the fall, the trees were covered with cocoons. We would walk by them all the time without taking much notice of them. A miracle was taking place before us and we paid little attention to it.

But in the fall, our trees were covered with hundreds of beautiful butterflies. Our children would run through the trees and the butterflies would all take flight. It was a glorious sight to see hundreds of butterflies fill the air, sunlight reflecting off their wings.

Caterpillars are ugly little things, but butterflies are gorgeous. God loves to make something beautiful out of something ugly. God loves to take the ugly things of our past that satan meant for our destruction, and turn them into a powerful weapon He can use for our construction.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Death Gives Birth to Life

God takes you through "ugly" situations only to turn you into something beautiful. The Cross looked like the end of a dream to the disciples. They expected their Messiah to come, overthrow the Romans, and establish His Kingdom on this earth. The death of Jesus looked like the end of all their dreams.

Christ tried to warn the disciples of His impending death, but when He spoke of dying, Peter declared, "This shall never happen to You!" (Matthew 16:22). Christ knew that this must happen. Like a seed planted in the ground must cease to be a seed in order to become a plant, He knew that His life on earth, as it had been, must end or He could not bring forth the gift of eternal life for those who would believe in Him.

"In a little while you will see Me no more, and then after a little while you will see Me, because I am going to the Father." John 16:17

His death gave birth to life! "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies'" (John 11:25).

The "cocoon" that you are in right now is the "death" that will give birth to your destiny. The painful situation you are enduring right now could be the launching pad for your future.

If you feel as though you are invisible, rejoice that you are. God has hidden you away to change you in secret, but soon He will pull you out like a secret weapon and show you off to the world.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven." Matthew 5:16

Your Heavenly Father will declare, "Look at what My grace has done!" The world will praise Him because they can see what He has done in you. You are His trophy! His reward!

Some may argue then, that you have no right to be where God has placed you. But the voice of your accusers will not even reach your ears, because you have paid the price; you have endured and you have overcome.

And "You will soar on wings like eagles" (Isaiah 40:31), and yes, you will fly!

This Could Be the Day

When the expected due date for each of my children neared, I would awaken each day with the expectancy that today could be the day that I would deliver this child. Each day I would think, "Today could be the day." I never thought to myself that it just could not happen today, because I knew my time was coming and that this day could be the day that I would give birth.

As each day ended without seeing the birth of my baby, I would feel somewhat disappointed. But once again, another morning would come and I would arise with hope from Heaven, remembering that this day could be the day. And I was prepared to go at any time; I had my bags packed and gas in the car.

Each day that you serve God and wait on His timing for your destiny's fulfillment is one day closer to its birth. As you near your time of delivery, you feel in your spirit that the time is near. Perhaps today is the day! You look around and see your Christian brothers and sisters receiving the promises of God in their lives - you are happy for them.

But when is it your turn? When will your destiny come forth in the way God promised it would? Each day we must prepare our hearts to believe that, "this could be the day He fulfills His promises to me," and then suddenly He does.

The longer you serve God, the deeper you will trust Him to bring the promise to pass for you. As you near the time of receiving the fulfillment of His call on your life, you can know that every day will bring you one day closer. Today could be the day you receive a great blessing from God. Today could hold the answer you have been waiting for.

Wait in faith through each day as a woman waiting to give birth. God does not bring you to the time of birth just to stop the whole process. He did not bring you this far to leave you now. He will not forget you! It will happen! And remember that "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it" (Philippians 1:6).

"God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act?" Numbers 23:19

If He's promised it, He will do it!

Say this with me: God will do what He has promised. He has not forgotten me, for I am constantly in His thoughts. God is waiting to fulfill His Word through me. It will happen! This could be the day! God cannot lie; He will not change His mind. I choose to believe what God has told me and not the lies of fear and doubt.

He has you hidden for a purpose - you are His secret weapon!

Victoria Boyson
Speaking Life Ministries

Email: victoria@boyson.org

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