#249: Why Do We Pray As A Last Resort?

Your business is crashing. Competitors have stolen your best customers. Your last product launch didn’t deliver. Employees are stealing from you. Creditors are starting to call demanding payments you can’t make.

Pray

Finally, someone close to you says, “Well, all you can do now is pray.”

The world as you know it is coming to an end. You’ve tried everything you can think of. Done everything humanly possible. And now all you can do is pray.

Really? Has it come to that?

Why is it we exhaust ourselves trying to solve worldly problems and only turn to God as a last resort?

I wish I knew! In my case, it’s usually a combination of stubbornness and pride. I just want to fix everything on my own. For some reason, it’s a sign of weakness to admit that I can’t do everything myself and I need God.

But here’s the thing. I know better! I know God stands beside me, ready to help in my moments of my greatest need. He’s just waiting for me to ask!

I did a quick study of the New Testament and found seven instances where Jesus makes a promise to help us when we ask!

  • If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11 & Luke 11:13)
  • Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:19)
  • And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. (Matthew 21:22)
  • If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:14)
  • If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
  • In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. (John 16:23)
  • If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given. (James 1:5)

Now let’s be perfectly clear. God is not like a genie in a bottle that you rub and get three wishes.

Notice the qualifiers in these verses.

  • God gives us good things. Not everything we ask for is good. It may seem good to us, but in the grand scheme of eternity, many things we ask for are not good for us. We just don’t realize it!
  • Ask in prayer, receive by faith. Coming to God in prayer is only the first step. We must have faith that God will answer our prayer.
  • Ask in Jesus’ name. Jesus is our mediator representing us to the Father. Jesus is where the power of prayer lies.
  • Abide in me. My words abide in you. Abide is an unusual word in our vocabulary. Its’ use here means to “stay in a given place, state, relation or expectancy.” The sense here is we are staying in Christ and have His words staying in us.

We need to be close to God as we pray expectantly, by faith, in the power of Jesus’ name.

So, don’t wait until a situation becomes dire and someone says, “Well, all we can do now is pray.”

Instead, make sure that as a leader, you have been praying for your work, your business, your ministry all along.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you pray as a last resort or are you a leader who comes to the Lord in prayer on a regular basis? Have you committed your work/business/ministry/life to God in prayer?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

#247: Faithless Whiners and Complainers Need Not Apply

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Have you ever experienced times when you felt like you were surrounded by whiners, complainers, and people who had no faith in you or your leadership?

Faithless Whiners

Me too!

I think all of us who have been in positions of leadership for any length of time have experienced the whiners, the complainers, and the faithless.

If you think your situation was bad, imagine what Moses was going through as he led some 4 million people out of Egypt on the way to the Promised Land. They were only gone a few days, and the people started whining about one thing after another.

  • They complained about the taste of the water (Exodus 15:23).
  • They complained about being hungry (Exodus 16:2-3).
  • Then they complained about being thirsty (Exodus 17:1-4).

Despite the miracle of being led through the Red Sea, the water being purified, the mana being provided every day, and the water flowing from the rock, they doubted God and Moses.

But Not Everyone

As leaders, it sometimes seems like we are standing alone, but that is seldom the case. It wasn’t the case for Moses either.

About a year after they left Egypt, God gave Moses detailed instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 25-30). But who will do all the work? Not these faithless whiners and complainers!

Yet, where God leads He provides, and God knew exactly who He wanted to build the Tabernacle. Enter Bezalel, from the tribe of Judah, whom God personally chose and appointed to supervise the work of building the Tabernacle (Exodus 31:1 & 35:30).

What made Bezalel so special? According to Exodus 35:30-34 Bezalel was:

  • Filled with the Spirit of God,
  • Skilled,
  • Intelligent,
  • Knowledgeable, and
  • Inspired.

When you think about a resume for a great leader, this is about as good as it gets!

How’s My Leadership Scorecard?

When I look in the mirror and honestly assess myself against these leadership qualifications, I feel woefully inadequate.

  • Am I as Spirit-filled as I could be? No. I often feel I should spend more time reading and studying the Scripture. I feel my prayer life is not as strong as it should be.
  • Am I skilled as I could be? Nope. I always feel like there are things I need to do to improve my skillsets.
  • Am I as Intelligent as I could be? Well, this one is out of my control. But the bigger question is, am I using what intelligence the Lord gave me in ways that honor Him?
  • Am I as knowledgeable as I could be? Again, no. As fast as the world is changing there is always something new to learn.
  • Am I inspired? Finally! Something I can say yes to! God called me to this ministry at this time in my life. I feel privileged to get up every day and do what I am doing!

So, here’s the thing. God chooses whom He chooses, but whom the Lord chooses, He qualifies (1 Thessalonians 5:24). God has called each of us to a specific work, and He has equipped us for that work.

In conclusion, the most important thing for us as Christians who are also called to leadership is

1) to be filled with the Spirit of God, and

2) to be skilled, intelligent, knowledgeable, and inspired

as we apply the gifts and talents, God has given us to our daily work and ministry.

Faithless whiners and complainers need not apply!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How do you rate yourself against each of the leadership characteristics God attributed to Bezalel? Are there some where you have room for improvement?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#240: Here’s Another Nice Mess You’ve Gotten Me Into!

Will God Still Use Me When I Mess Up?

“Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” is a catch phrase popularized by Laurel and Hardy in nearly 20 of their movies that released in the 1930’s and 40’s. Laurel was continually getting the hapless pair into some kind of trouble and Hardy’s response was always “Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!”

Mess Up

The times may have changed, but it seems we still manage to get ourselves and others into some kind of mess or another on a regular basis.

The question on the mind of many Christians, especially those in leadership positions, is, “Will God still use me even if I mess up?”

The apostle Paul wrestled with this very question. He said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:15, 19).

Will God Still Use Me?

Looking at some examples from the Old Testament it’s clear that God is a God of second chances, continuing to use those who mess up while following Him.

Adam & Eve. There’s that whole eating the apple issue against God’s command (Genesis 3). While there were consequences to their actions, God still used them to populate the world.

Jacob. Jacob deceived his father and took advantage of his brother, but God still used him (Genesis 25). God made a covenant with Jacob and Jacob became the father of the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 28).

Moses. Moses killed an Egyptian and buried him in the desert (Exodus 2). Then there is the issue of not following God’s command regarding speaking, not striking, the rock to get water (Numbers 20). Despite these transgressions, God used Moses to deliver His people out of Egypt to the Promised Land.

There are also several examples of God using people who messed up in the New Testament. Three of the most prominent examples are from Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ own disciples.

Peter #1. Peter rashly cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the High Priest (John 18). Jesus rebuked Peter telling him to put away his sword and then healed Malchus’ ear.

Peter #2. When Jesus warns the disciples they will all fall away from him that night; Peter declares that he will never deny Jesus. Peter goes so far as to say he will die with Jesus (Matthew 26). Then, as predicted, Peter denies Jesus three times before the next morning.

Peter #3, James & John. Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him into the Garden of Gethsemane and asked them to stay awake and keep watch while he prayed (Matthew 26). Three times Jesus checked on them, and three times they had failed to stay awake and keep watch.

These men were Jesus’ disciples. They had been with him for the three years of his earthly ministry. They had been personally discipled by Jesus. They had witnessed His miracles. They had performed miracles themselves in the power of His name.

Despite sitting at the feet of the Lord, they messed up. They made mistakes. Yet, the Lord continued to use them.

An Ongoing Struggle

We can sense Paul’s angst in the Romans 7 passage. He wants to do so much better, to be better as a follower of Christ. Yet, he struggled to do the good he knows he should do.

This same theme emerges again in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me (1 Corinthians 15:9-10).

Despite all he has accomplished in the furtherance of the Kingdom, Paul says he is unworthy because of his past actions.

Yet, and this is most important, Paul realizes what has been done was done by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit working through him.

Leaders, we will mess up. We will never be the powerful, inspired leaders God intends us to be until we come to grips with our weaknesses and failures. We must, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10, submit our weaknesses to God, then we are strong.

It is God’s will that we are made holy, conformed to His image (2 Corinthians 3:18b).

God does not condone our failures; He redeems them when we submit to Him. Because, as Paul said, God began a good work in us, and He will continue this work in us until we are united with Christ once again (Philippians 1:6).

So, no matter what mess you’ve gotten yourself into, submit your messiness to the Lord, and humbly ask Him to continue the process of making you into His glorious image.

There is much work left to be done, and you and I have a part to play in the Kingdom.

Many thanks to Pastor Doug Fields who gave me permission to adapt his wonderful sermon into this blog post. If you liked the post it’s because of him. If you didn’t like it, it’s all on me!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever questioned how God could use you after you made a mess of things? Do you see how God can continue to use you when you submit to Him?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#236: Are These Trials at Work Good for Me?

In the margin of my performance review, one boss wrote, “RRK’s sense of integrity sometimes gets in the way of getting things done.” He concluded the review saying if I didn’t quit he would find a way to fire me.

Trials at work

Another boss made grand promises and sweet-talked me into joining his organization, only to renege on all his promises within two years.

Everyone I know whose career has spanned a number of years have some kind of stories of workplace trials like these. Some, sad to say, are much worse.

Can these workplace trials possibly be good for me? For us?

According to James, yes! James says these workplace trials are good for us, and furthermore, he says, we should expect them!

James, writing to the people of Israel, said, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials” (James 1:2).

Was James on some form of ancient happy juice?

He says they should be joyful whenever they experience trials? And what kind of trials is he talking about? James says these are trials that will test our faith.

Well, the Israelites had been kicked out of their land and dispersed throughout the Roman empire. So, they lost all their land, their cities, and their ability to provide for their families. They had to start over with nothing in hostile territories.

Admittedly, the workplace isn’t exactly like what James is talking about when he says we should be joyful when we encounter trials. But some of our workplaces are becoming more and more hostile territories!

What kind of trials can we expect in the workplace that will test our faith?

Types of Workplace Trials

I see three broad categories of trials:

1) People openly hostile to our Christian beliefs. These trials range from simple prejudice to limitations on career growth, or even threats of physical violence.

2) Ethical trials. These trials include our own temptation to abandon our faith and compromise our beliefs to “succeed.” They may also be pressure from outsiders to compromise our beliefs.

3) Faith shaking events. Sometimes the workplace trials we face may come events that shake our faith. Promises made are broken. We are laid off. We question how God could let these events happen to us, His faithful servants.

Each of these types of trials can test our faith and they are the ones James says we should be joyful about enduring!

The Result of Enduring

Why in the world would James say that? Because, says James, of the result. If we can manage to withstand all types of trials and maintain our faith in God, the result is endurance. When we can look back on the trials of life and see that God was always with us, this endurance helps us become spiritually mature, complete children of God (James 1:3-4).

That boss that wrote my integrity got in the way of getting things done? An executive who heard about the situation (I still don’t know how he heard) offered me a better job in a better market.

That led to me living in a neighborhood where my wife and I were led to the Lord. It’s where we met people who helped us adopt our beautiful daughter, Rebekah. That boss may have meant to harm me, but looking back, I see God’s hand directing it all to the benefit of our family.

That boss that made promises and reneged on them led me to start writing this blog reaching out to Christians leaders around the world. It may be years before I see all of God’s plan with this ministry, but one thing is clear, His hand is in it. He is in control!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What workplace trials have you endured? And looking back, do you see God’s hand leading and protecting you?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#227: Shall I Do the Good I Know To Do?

There are days when I wake up thinking, “Good morning, God.” But there are days; I hate to admit it when I am more likely to wake up thinking, “Good God, it’s morning!”

Good Evil

Some days I just don’t “feel” like being a good Christian.

Now, this is a problem. The rest of the world could care less how I feel when I wake up. People are going to look at me and decide, “Is this a reflection of Jesus I see?” or “Is this a reflection of the spawn of Satan?”

A perfect example is when I get behind the wheel of my car. If I have plenty of time to get to my destination, and the freeway is flowing along, then I am pretty likely to wave and let you in when you are merging into my lane.

BUT, if I am late. If the freeway is not flowing freely. If you didn’t signal before you cut in front of me. Then I will likely offer you words of encouragement to improve your driving. If you cut in front of me and then slow down, then I will likely suggest locations for you to park your car until you learn how to drive.

I know it’s just me. I know these thoughts have never crossed your mind when you are driving.

The conversations I have are just between the other driver and me. Oh, and my passengers. And of course, God.

Here’s the point. Every day should be a “Good morning, God” kind of day. After-all, it is only by God’s grace that He gave me another day to live and to love.

Every day is an opportunity for me to reflect God’s love and grace to the world. The trouble is, I am weak and full of corruptible sin.

I Fail to Do the Good I know to Do

There are times I know the good I should do, and I fail to do it.

  • I know I should be relaxed and patient when I am behind the wheel of my car.
  • I know I should respond to that email request today because I promised I would.
  • I know I should work on that project at work because I committed to finishing it by tomorrow.
  • I know I shouldn’t listen to the gossip in the office.
  • I know I should help out that homeless guy who is looking for some food.

Yes, I know the good I should do, but sometimes I just don’t do it.

Jesus’ Lessons from the Parables

Jesus frequently taught the disciples this lesson about discerning what should be done and not fail to do what we should.

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30), there is the man who received one talent of gold with instructions to invest it until his master returned. Instead of investing the gold, the man hid it in the ground. He knew what he should do, but he failed to do it.

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) a priest and a Levite purposely avoid helping a badly beaten man left at the side of the road. They knew what they should do, but they failed to do it.

In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man didn’t care about people while he was alive. Then wanted special treatment after he died. He knew what he should have done while he was alive, but he failed to do it.

There are a lot of other examples. In fact, much of Jesus’ teaching touches on this topic of knowing what we should do and fail to do it.

James’ Drives the Point Home

It is no wonder that at the beginning of his book, James admonished believers to be “doers of the Word and not hearers only” (James 1:22). Then, summarizing his instructions, he concludes saying, “Therefore, it is sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.” (James 4:17.

These are sins of omission. Sins of omission are those that accrue to us because we fail to do something we knew we should do.

Our Christian experience is expressed every day. Not just through avoiding the obvious commission of sin but also the sins of omission.

Christians should always be doers of the Word; people who know the good to do and do it!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you struggled at times knowing the good that needs to be done, but not doing it?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#226: Remaining True to Your Principles in a Spiritual Battle

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

I imagine most of you are familiar with the adulterous story of David and Bathsheba. This tragedy is usually told from King David’s perspective. But what about Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband?

David hgnds letter to Uriah. Principles

This month in our Lessons from the Lesser Known I want us to shift our focus to see what we can learn from Uriah the Hittite.

Uriah’s Backstory

Uriah was a soldier in Kings David’s army. Some scholars suggest he carried the rank of a general. Uriah was honored as one of David’s 37 mighty men by David himself (2 Samuel 23:39).

Uriah’s home was just down the hill from King David’s palace which suggests that he was a man of means and social standing (2 Samuel 11:2).

David’s Treachery

While his army was out fighting against the Ammonites, King David was sitting back in his palace. He saw Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop. He inquired about her, and despite knowing she was Uriah’s wife, he had her brought to him. David slept with her, and she became pregnant.

Hoping to conceal his act, David called for Uriah to be brought back from the battle under the guise of giving David a status report. David’s plan was that Uriah would go home and get his wife pregnant before returning to battle.

Uriah stayed at the palace with David’s servants that night rather than going home. The next day, David got Uriah drunk and tried a second time to get him to sleep with Bathsheba. But Uriah spent the night with David’s servants again.

Because David’ attempts to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba failed, David sent orders to Joab, his commander, to send Uriah into the battle where the fighting was the fiercest. Uriah died in battle, and his death was reported to David.

Uriah’s Principles

When David confronted Uriah about why he had not gone home and slept with Bathsheba, Uriah offered a principled explanation. Uriah said,

“The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” (2 Samuel 11:11).

Uriah put God first (the ark of God). He put God’s people (Judah and Israel) second. Then Uriah put God’s servants (Joab and the men of David’s army) next.

God first. God’s people second. God’s servants third. They were in the midst of a battle, camped in tents and open fields. Uriah could not see himself enjoying the comforts of home while his fellow warriors were not.

Uriah’s principles stand in stark contrast to David’s behavior. David should have been out leading his army. Instead, he stayed in the comfort of his palace while his men fought against God’s enemies for him.

This is bad enough, but he compounds his error by succumbing to lusts of the flesh when he inquired about a married woman, has her brought to him, and has sex with her.

David later married Bathsheba, but God considered the whole matter evil (2 Samuel 11:27).

Uriah, fighting a physical battle, remained true to his principles and faithful to God. David, fighting a spiritual battle, put his principles aside for his selfish interest.

Leaders, in this fallen world we are certain to face some combination of physical and spiritual battles. Let us strive to keep our eyes upon God the Father who has promised to give us the strength we need to stay true to Him (Philippians 4:13).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Has adhering to your principles ever put you in a difficult or even dangerous situation? How did you respond?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#222: Is This Standing in the Way of Your Success?

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right! Ford’s point is your attitude often determines whether you succeed or fail.

Success

If you convince yourself that you will be victorious, you are more likely to be successful. If, however, you convince yourself that you are doomed to fail, then likely, you will fail.

I guarantee you, when Michael Phelps (28 Olympic Medals) stepped up on the starting block at the end of the pool he saw himself swimming all out, defeating his opponents. He did not picture himself belly flopping and coming in second!

When Larisa Latynina (18 Olympic Medals) mounted a balance beam, she pictured herself executing a flawless routine. She certainly didn’t imagine herself falling off the beam.

If you’re a golfer, you know if you are driving over water and you think, “don’t hit the water, don’t hit the water” the next sound you’ll hear is kerplunk as your ball hits the water!

Our Attitude Does Make a Difference!

Yes, our attitude does make a difference. A negative attitude almost always precedes a negative outcome. So, negative attitudes limit our success.

The thing is, many of our negative attitudes are distortions of reality and thus are false beliefs. John Townshend, in his book Leadership Beyond Reason, describes what he calls cognitive distortions, that limit our success:

  • “I’ve tried, and nothing helps/works. There is nothing left to try.
  • Afraid to take the initiative. You’re waiting for someone else to decide or do something.
  • Fear of failure. This causes you to focus only on the negative. You may justify it as just being realistic, but it is anything but reality.
  • Defensive thinking. You won’t own your part of a problem, and you rationalize your position.
  • All-or-nothing thinking. You believe there is only one solution to a problem and can’t accept there might be other ways to handle a situation.
  • False self-thinking. You try to be someone you’re not to fit an image you’re trying to project or to please others.

In each case, these cognitive distortions, or limiting beliefs, prevent us from seeing ourselves the way we really are. We don’t see a situation the way it really is. The result is limited success or outright failure.

These false views that limit our success are the work of Satan. They are not the attitudes that God desires for us.

God’s Desire for Our Attitude

As we read through the Scripture, we encounter people with limiting beliefs over and over again. Adam was defensive. At times Moses acted helpless and negative. Nehemiah had to deal with city leaders who were passive and thought falsely about themselves. The list of characters exhibiting one of these limiting beliefs goes on and on.

But this is not God’s plan. In fact, with nearly every case of a limiting belief, we see God refuting the limiting belief and encouraging the person to have faith in their success.

So how should we respond when faced with the unexpected, the frustrations, and the difficult, exasperating situations of life?

Paul wrote that no matter what happens we should respond with a Christ-like attitude.

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27a).

Paul also said our attitude should be the same as Jesus’.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5).

And Paul encouraged us to be imitators of Christ.

“Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1)

We know there will be difficulties in this life. We need to respond with a Christ-like attitude, being imitators of Christ.

God did not give us an attitude of fearfulness, but of power. Paul reminded Timothy, his young protégé of this very fact.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” 2 Timothy 1:7).

So let’s cast aside these limiting beliefs that are preventing us from achieving all that God has for us and instead let us be imitators of Christ with a spirit of fearlessness and power!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever faced a limiting belief that affected your ability to accomplish a goal or to be successful in some aspect of your life? If so did you overcome it?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#200: For unto Us a Child Is Born

I love that the Christmas season kicks off right after Thanksgiving because it gives me an excuse to listen to Christmas music for a whole month. Right at the top of my preferred Christmas music list are hymns with lyrics taken from portions of scripture.

Child Jesus

One of the hymns that I learned as a young lad was “For unto Us a Child Is Born.” I didn’t know it at the time, but the music was written by George Frederick Handel in 1741, and the lyrics were taken from Isaiah 9:6:

For unto us a Child is born
Unto us a Son is given
And the government
Shall be upon His shoulder
And his name shall be called
Wonderful
Counselor
The Mighty God
The Everlasting Father
The Prince of Peace.

Digging into Isaiah 9:6 we see it is rich with meaning as it refers to the Second Advent; the second coming of Jesus Christ:

“For unto us a child is born” speaks to the humanity of the Messiah.

“Unto us a Son is given” speaks to the deity of the Messiah given to the nation of Israel.

“And the government will be upon His shoulder” refers to the Second Advent; the second coming of Jesus Christ when he will reign as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

“And his name shall be called” begins a list of four attributes of Messiah’s character.

“Wonderful Counselor” The word “Wonderful” is a noun, not an adjective. “Wonderful” is His name. “Counselor,” Messiah will exhibit wisdom in His government and is the ultimate counselor to mankind.

“The Mighty God” This speaks to Messiah’s omnipotence as the supreme Ruler of the universe.

“The Everlasting Father” He is the creator, eternal, and a loving Father, He confers everlasting life on those who believe in Him.

“The Prince of Peace” The Messiah will bring peace into the world.

When we understand and appreciate the depth of meaning in this one verse, it is easy to see why Handel selected it to be part of the Messiah oratorio.

Watch the video below if you would like to listen to an incredible performance of Handel’s Messiah, “For unto As a Child Is Born” conducted by Sir Colin Davis, with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What is your favorite Christmas hymn? What does it mean to you?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

#195: Do You See Yourself in the Life of Zacchaeus?

Lessons from the Lesser Known

Have you ever read a Bible story and imagined yourself in the place of the main character? You think, “that could be me!”

Zacchaeus

Some people may see themselves as a leader like Moses, courageous like Joshua, wise like Solomon, or brave and determined like Paul. Others may see themselves more like Peter; bold and outspoken.

I wonder how many of us see ourselves like Jonah, who ran from God’s call on his life? Or like Jacob who deceived his father and brother all in an effort to get ahead?

One person most of us probably don’t identify with is a man Luke tells us about; Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector (Luke 19:1-10).

Zacchaeus is described as the chief tax collector in the city of Jericho. He was a Jew who had become rich by extorting more money in taxes from his fellow Jews than required by Rome.

He was small in stature, an outcast despised by his own people.

Despite his wealth and influence with Rome, there was something missing in his life. When he heard that Jesus was passing through town he wanted to see him. He was too short amidst the crowd following Jesus to see him, so Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a tree to get a better look at this man, Jesus, that he had heard so much about.

As Jesus approached the tree where Zacchaeus was, Jesus called him by name and told him to come down because he was going to stay at Zacchaeus’ house. So Zacchaeus scampered down and received Jesus joyfully.

While the crowd muttered against Jesus for staying with a sinner like Zacchaeus, Zacchaeus jumped down and immediately announced he would give half of everything he owned to the poor and pay back four times the amount of anything he had cheated out of others.

Jesus said salvation had come to the house of Zacchaeus that day. The Son of Man had come to seek and save that which was lost.

5 Lessons from the story of Zacchaeus

1) He was searching. Money and influence were not enough. Zacchaeus knew there was something missing in his life.

2) He was determined. Something in Zacchaeus drove him to set aside his pride, rush ahead of the crowd, and climb a tree just so he would have a chance to see Jesus.

3) Jesus came to him. Despite being surrounded by a crowd, Jesus came to Zacchaeus and dealt with him as an individual.

4) Jesus knew him. Jesus not only called Zacchaeus by name, but He knew the condition of his heart.

5) He responded to Jesus immediately. When Jesus called out to Zacchaeus, he jumped down immediately and responded to Jesus with rejoicing. He publicly repented of his sins against his people. He promised to give away half of his fortune and to make restitution to those he had cheated.

Zacchaeus was desperate to see Jesus, but at the same time, Jesus was on his way to meet Zacchaeus. The Lord knew Zacchaeus’ heart and he responded just as the Lord knew he would. The world may have despised or even hated Zacchaeus. But the Lord saw him through a different lens; one that saw his repentant heart and his desire to know the Lord.

Many of us are searching for the something that is missing in our lives. We work hard to accumulate wealth, power, and influence only to find that they are not enough. Then we go searching for what will fill that God-shaped hole in our lives.

Hopefully, when Jesus comes to us we will put away our pride, greet Him with rejoicing, repent of our sins, and follow him as the Great Shepherd!

The Lord knows His sheep and they recognize His voice (John 10:14).

 Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever imagined yourself in the place of a Bible character? If so, who and what about that character did you identify with?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

 

 

#194: Do You Know the 3 E’s of Expanded Leadership?

I had the great pleasure of attending the Global Leadership Summit hosted by Willow Creek Church again this year.

Expanded Leadership

Among the incredible speakers was Jossy Chacko, founder and president of Empart, Inc, a global church planting ministry.

Jossy’s talk entitled, “Unquestionable Ways to Expand Your Leadership Reach” was based on the Parable of the Talents recorded in Matthew 25:14-30.

As He teaches the disciples this parable, Jesus described the master who is going on a journey and called his three servants together to entrust his property to them. To one servant he gave five talents of money, to the second servant he gave two talents, and to the third servant he gave one talent.

The man who received five talents and the man who received two talents both put the money to work and doubled it. The man who received one talent was afraid of his master, so he just took the talent and buried it in the ground.

When the master returned, he held his servants accountable for their results. The man with five talents and the man with two talents who had doubled what they were given were commended by the master and invited to share his happiness.

The man with one talent who was afraid and hid the talent in the ground was reprimanded for not at least investing the talent, so what he had was taken from him since he was a worthless servant.

In God’s economy, the two men who multiplied what they were given were rewarded, while the man who just returned what he was given was not rewarded.

What talent has God entrusted to you? If God has entrusted you with leadership responsibility, how you are multiplying and expanding your leadership?

The 3E’s of Expanded Leadership

1) Enlarge Your Vision

  • One man with a small vision played it safe by burying his talent in the ground. If your vision is only to keep what you have, you’ll never see the opportunities all around you.
  • Your vision is directly related to your view of God. If you have a small vision, you have a small view of God. If you have a large vision, you have a large view of God.

2) Empower Your People

  • The master gave the money to the three servants and left! He went on his journey without giving specific instructions of what each person was to do—he left that decision to them individually.
  • People’s character is built through being held accountable for their actions. People often fail for lack of character.

3) Embrace Risk

  • See risk as a friend. The third servant said, “I was afraid,” but Paul, writing to Timothy said, “God has not given us a spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7).
  • Don’t let the fear of losing what you have, keep you from getting what God has for you.

Perfection is Not Required or Expected

When Jesus selected the apostles, He knew they would all be weak and abandon Him in His darkest hour. He knew Peter would deny Him three times. He knew Judas would betray Him.

Jesus didn’t expect the apostles to be perfect. In fact, knew they weren’t! He selected them anyway. What He expected was they would come back to Him in faith to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

Jesus doesn’t expect us to be perfect either. In fact, He knows we’re not but He has called us anyway. The question is, will you be a servant who answers the call and multiplies the talents you have received?

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Has God entrusted you with the responsibility of being a leader? If so, how are you multiplying and expanding that talent to others for the benefit of the Kingdom?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character