TURNING EARTHLY PROFITS INTO
By Robert W. Christensen
Michael A. Ware
Turning Earthly Profit into Eternal Rewards
Copyright © 1999 by Covenant Marriages Ministry
Printed in the United States of America
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Covenant Marriages Ministry, 17301 West Colfax Avenue, Suite 140, Golden, Colorado 80401
All Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise designated.
We would like to dedicate this book first to our Lord Jesus who gave us a blueprint for our successful journey through life.
Secondly, to our respective wives, Lynne Christensen and Jeanne Ware, who have been willing to walk with us in covenant and to encourage, refresh, and inspire us along the way.
Then to our children and the extended families who watched our walk and have been there to be disciple and to bless us in so many ways.
Lastly, to our dear friend, colleague, mentor, and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Peter Daniels, who has shown us so much by his example.
An Eternal Purpose for Your Daily Work
GOD’S VISION FOR YOUR LIFE
God’s Plan Is For Your Success
God Desires to Give You His Vision
A Whole Life that Counts for All Eternity
GIVING BIRTH TO A GOD-GIVEN VISION
Burdens Give Rise to Vision
The Incubation Period
Creating Landing Pads for God’s Blessings
Refusing to Focus on the 3 F’s
The Key to God’s Trust
IMPLEMENTING GOD’S VISION
Developing God’s Plan for Success
Involving Others in Your Pursuit of the Vision
Turning Your Vision into a Vow of Commitment
OVERCOMING EVERY OBSTACLE
Anticipating the Enemy Attack
Turning Our Naysayers and Manipulators
Facing Verbal Criticism, Threats, and Challenges from Competitors
Overcoming the Inner Threats
Seven Keys to Overcoming Obstacles
ENDURING IN THE WORK OF THE VISION
The Call to Work
Building on the Foundation of a Godly Vision
Four hallmarks of Successful Work
The Maturing of a Vision
AN ETERNAL PRUPOSE FOR YOUR DAILY WORK
Marilyn kicked shoes and slumped into the sofa. The children were in bed at last. She’d deal later with the dirty dinner dishes sitting in the sink. Using the nearby remote control, she mindlessly turned on the TV set and began to flip through channels, catching one fleeting image after the next. That’s like my life, she thought to herself. A series of fleeting images. Work scenes, home scenes, children scenes…little bits of life. Without even realizing she was sad or frustrated, Marilyn began to weep quiet tears. As they streamed down her face, she had a second thought, Will any of this really matter a hundred years from now?
Dan stared dully at the stack of envelopes before him. Graduation announcements. The time had actually come. Five long years of part-time work coupled with mostly full time study had brought him to this point. A biology degree. History minor. Thousands of dollars in student loans that would begin to come, due in six months. Now what? Within a few weeks he’d be marching across a stage to pick up a diploma and then, ideally, he would begin his life’s work. But working at what? For whom?
Where? So many questions. But the one that nagged Dan the most in that moment was, In what job, and in what ways in that job, can my life really count?
Warren gazed out over the city below him. From his to-floor corner office he saw mostly rooftops. The third-quarter report he held in his hands showed a solid profit. Looking around his well-appointed office he saw luxury and accomplishments. Still, he sensed that something was missing-something he couldn’t quiet identify and yet he knew was lacking. Why, he wondered, am I so profitable and accomplished, and yet strangely lacking a feeling of reward? What more can I do to give myself a feeling of purpose and fulfillment?
Are you like Marilyn, Dan, or Warren? Do you long for a deeper sense of fulfillment and satisfaction? Do you question whether you are truly fulfilling God’s purpose for your life?
We have good news for you today!
God desires that you not only be profitable and accomplished in your life, but that you receive eternal benefit from all you do and all you are. God’s plan for your success is not only a plan that will result in a bettering of your outer, daily, practical life, but an enriching and deepening and strengthening of your inner life. God’s plan for your life is a plan for eternal success and eternal rewards!
At the very outset of this book, let us assure you of these four vital truths based on God’ Word:
First, God has a vision for your life, career, and business. Furthermore, the Lord is eager to impart that vision to you. The Lord delights in answering your prayers to follow His commandments in obedience and to seek and fulfill the desires of His heart for your life. He will reveal to you what it is that He desires for you to do. And He will reveal it to you in a way that you can receive the vision and know that it is from the Lord.
Second, God’s vision for your life, career, and business is a unique vision – one designed exclusively for you and for your fulfillment as a human being. God’s vision for you will be in keeping with the talents and abilities He has already given to you. His vision will be in keeping with the experiences He has built into your past and into the desires that are at the very core of your being. The vision will be one for which He has prequalified you uniquely and to which He calls you specifically.
What do we mean by prequalified? God will not ask you to do anything that He will not equip you to do and which He has not designed you to do. God is not going to you the vision for pursuing a career as an opera singer if He has not also endowed you with a good singing voice. His is not going to give you the vision for pursuing a particular business enterprise if He has not also given you the desire to pursue that business as well as the basic talents, abilities, and propensities to succeed in that field.
Third, God’s vision for your life, career, and business will be BIGGGER and GRANDER and MORE IMPORTANT than any idea you have had for your own life. God’s vision may frighten you, to a degree, because it will challenge you and you will quickly realize that God’s vision is bigger than your talents or your ability to accomplish the vision on your own strength.
If the vision you receive from God is something that you can accomplish totally on your own and is something that you can do quickly and easily in a short period of time, it likely is not a vision from God. Visions from the Lord are life-encompassing and they take the whole of a person’s life to accomplish them – and even so, they cannot be accomplished in the strength of one person alone.
A vision from God is always based upon this truth: “God is able. And as we live and move and have our being in Him, we are enabled.”
Fourth, God’s vision will encompass every aspect of your life. God has a vision that includes your personal well-being...your work or business or career…your family…your health and fitness…your ministry and spiritual life…your finances…your friendships. No area of your life is factored out of God’s vision for your success includes your success in your career and business. And so much more! All areas of your life are fulfilled when you pursue God’s vision.
Nothing you can ever pursue will be more rewarding, satisfying, enriching, or joyous to you than discovering and pursuing God’s vision. It is the very reason you were created. It is the reason you were given life for this moment.
Do you know God’s vision for your life, career, and business today?
Do you desire for your life and work truly to count for something?
Do you desire not only to enjoy earthly profit, but eternal reward?
Then this book is for you.
GOD’S VISION FOR YOUR LIFE
GOD’S PLAN IS FOR YOUR SUCCESS
God’s plan is always that His beloved children will succeed.
God does not fail- and He has not desire that we who are believers in His Son will fail.
Psalm 35:27 we read, “Let the LORD be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” God delights in your doing well! He delights in your being in health, moving boldly in His grace, and in having all that you need to do the work He has called you to do.
Not only does God desire that you succeed, but He has a plan for your success. In Jeremiah 24:7 we read these wonderful words of the LORD:
For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.
If God’s desire and plan are that we succeed, why, then, do so many believers feel as if they are failing in life?
One of the key reasons is that we do not believe that we can succeed. We believe that success is difficult to attain and that success is only for the few who are either “lucky” or “overachievers.” That isn’t what the Word of God tells us!
The fact is, it is just as easy to succeed as it is to fail. Most people don’t believe this. They believe that it is very hard to succeed and all too easy to fail. But the reality of God’s Word tells us that success and failure are equally “easy” to experience.
SUCCESS HAS BEEN BUILT INTO YOU
The potential for success has been built into you form your creation. You are the “seed” of your parents, and God’s principle is that success is built into every seed. The potential for harvest is already built into every seed, including the seed of your life. But success is not realized from a seed unless that seed is planted, watered, and the resulting sprout is protected and nourished.
You can carry potential within you from the day you are born until the day you die. But unless you begin to plant and cultivate the seed of your potential – investing your talent and your time into actual work, deeds, behavior, action – you will never set into motion the harvest that God has preordained for you.
According to God’s principles, what is success?
Success is being and doing what God designed you to be and do, with the highest Christian character and most excellent effort.
Has God designed you to be a homemaker and mother? Then do that with the utmost Christian character and your best effort.
Has God called you to start a new business or enterprise? Then as a Christian do outstanding work, provide an outstanding service, and produce or use outstanding products to the very best of your ability.
Has God called you to start a specific ministry? Then live out your Christian character and give an excellent effort to the tasks ahead!
It doesn’t’ matter to WHAT the Lord calls you, as long as you know it is the Lord’s direction and are obedient in following is lead. If the Lord leads you into a job as a clerk in a store, a warehouse worker for a large retail outlet, a foreman on a farm, a secretary in an office, a nursing assistant in a clinic…obey God and know that there are no “small” jobs in God’s eyes. Jobs are only “right” or “wrong” for the person who is doing them. If you are in the right job, it doesn’t really matter what that job is. It is right for you according to the Lord’s design and you will be successful in it.
WHAT DOES GOD DESIRE FOR YOU TO BE AND DO?
Most of us spend far too much time talking to God about what we perceive to be our needs and desires, and far too little time listening to what He desires for us to become and to do. We must adopt the stance of the psalmist who heard the Lord speak to him, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
God desires to give us all that we truly need and desire. If we are willing to become silent in His presence and listen to what He says to us from His Word and by His Spirit, we can know two things with certainty: first that He desires to meet our needs and fulfill our deepest desires for meaning and purpose and fulfillment, and second, that He has a plan for doing so. We’d feel a lot less anxious, make far fewer mistakes, and be far more efficient and productive in our pursuit of God’s vision for us if we would only listen more.
The prophet Elijah learned this lesson. He fled for his life after Jezebel sent him a death threat. Elijah and his servant ran to Beersheba, and then Elijah left his servant there and set out a day’s journey into the wilderness. When he got to the wilderness he sat down under a tree and prayed that he might die. The Lord refused to answer that prayer and instead of allowing Elijah to languish in hunger and thirst, He sent angels to give him water and food – enough so that Elijah might journey on for forty days and forty nights as Elijah made his way to Horeb, the mountain of God. There, Elijah holed up in a cave.
It was after all Elijah’s praying to die and all his running that the Lord finally got a word in edgewise. He said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (Kings 19:9)
For many of us, that’s very likely a question the Lord would like to ask us, if we’d only pause and take time to listen to Him! The fact is, most of us don’t know why we are doing what we are doing or why we are where we are! We need to stop and admit to the Lord, “Lord, I don’t know where I’m at. I don’t know what I’m doing. Please show me what it is that You want me to do and where you want me to go.”
Elijah responded to the Lord, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (1 Kings 19:10).
The Lord responded to Elijah by saying, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD” (VS. 11). Are you willing today to stand in silence before the Lord? Are you willing to submit yourself completely to Him, saying, “Lord, here I am. Whatever You tell me to do, I’ll do. Where ever You tell me to go, I’ll go. However, You direct me to use my talents and my resources - including the talents and resources of my business, my family, my entire life – I’ll obey You”?
ARE YOU WILLING TO SAY, “HERE I AM’?
Throughout God’s Word, we find example after example of those who stood before the Lord and said, in effect, “Lord, here I am.” And in example after example, we see that the Lord responds to those who seek His face and who desire to do His will!
Abraham said, “Here I am”…and the Lord told him what to do. (See Genesis 22:1 and 11.)
Jacob said, “Here I am”…and the Lord revealed to him the next step he was to take in his life. (See Genesis 31:11 and 46:2)
Moses said, “Here I am”…and the Lord outlined His plan for the rest of Moses’ life as well as His plan for the Israelites. (See Exodus 3:4)
Samuel said to the Lord, “Speak, for Your servant hears”…and the Lord showed him precisely what to do and say. (See 1 Samuel 3:1-14)
Saul of Tarsus said to the Lord, “Lord, what do You want me to do?...and the Lord told him precisely where to go and the next step to take. (See Acts 9:6)
Do you really want to be successful in your life, fulfilling the vision that God has for you and the purpose for which He created you? Stand before the Lord with an open heart and total commitment and say to the Lord, “Here I am!”
The Lord responded to Elijah’s obedience in standing before Him on the mountain by giving Elijah a tremendous display of power. Elijah saw a powerful wind break the boulders and that mountain as the Lord passed by. He felt the earth tremble in an earthquake at the Lord’s footsteps. He saw fire burst form the mountain as the Lord displayed His great power to consume tand destry.
It is as if the Lord was saying to Elijah, “Do you really want My presence and power in your life? Do you really want to be My man and to do what it is that I desire to do in you and through you? Do you really want My answer and My direction for the next phase of your life?”
The will of God is not something to trifle with. It is not something to toy with or to take lightly. We serve and awesome God – a God who requires obedience and who exacts our best effort and total commitment if He is to use us fully. We must never stand before the Lord and say, “Here I am,” unless we are one hundred percent willing to submit ourselves to His infinite power and to do what He calls us to do.
After the Lord had revealed Himself to Elijah in these powerful displays of wind, earthquake, and fire, He again spoke to Elijah. As Elijah wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave, the Lord again asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Again, Elijah said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (1Kings 19:14). Elijah responded to the Lord by giving an “explanation” of why he was on Mount Horeb as well as a statement of how he felt about his life – as if he had done his statement of total submission to what the Lord might say to him about his future.
Today, we need men and women who will say to the Lord:
“Lord, this is Tom. I have done my best in building my business on my own strength, but I know there’s so much more that could be done and so much more that I should be experiencing when it comes to feelings of fulfillment and joy. I don’t know where to turn next. Here I am, Lord. Show me Your plan.”
“Lord, this is Susan. I have tried everything I know to try. Nothing seems to be working in the way I had envisioned it would work. I feel isolated and alone and frustrated in my efforts. Here I am, Lord. Show me Your way.”
“Lord, this is Brianna. I have been trying to make it totally on my won, trying to raise my children as a single mom and make ends meet. I’m tired and discouraged. Here I am, Lord. Show me Your desire for my life.
Take honest stock of who you are.
Take honest stock of what you are doing.
Admit to the Lord the way you feel about your life and your efforts. As much as you may have accomplished, own up to the fact that you may not be doing precisely what the lord would desire for you to do, and that you may not be experiencing the fullness of God’s blessings. And if you have the courage, take the boldest step any person can take and say to the Lord, “Here I am. I’ve done everything I know to do but I’m still not sure I’m the success You would have me to be. Here I am. Show me Your vision for my life.”
When Elijah stood before the Lord in complete honesty and reliance upon the Lord, the Lord spoke to him and said, “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria” (1 Kings 19:15). The Lord went on to give Elijah further instructions about whom to anoint as king of Israel and whom had not followed after false gods.
The Lord revealed to Elijah what was to be the fullness of God’s vision for his life!
God didn’t speak His plan to Elijah in a booming, resonating voice before masses of people. He spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice at the entrance to a cave forty days and nights’ journey from civilization! It was in the intimacy of aloneness, of seeking, of waiting, of total reliance upon the Lord that the Lord revealed His plan to Elijah.
Are you willing to get alone with God to hear His vision? Are you willing to stop running to and fro, filling every moment with “buy-ness,” to listen to His Word to you?
Can we be assured that the Lord will respond to us as we move into intimacy with Him? James 4:8 give su the Lord’s promise: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
CONCEPTION REQUIRES INTIMACY
There is no conception without intimacy. We certainly know that to be true in the natural. It is also true in the spiritual realm.
We must seek to be intimate with God. How do we grow in intimacy? We do this as we spend time alone with God…talk to Him about our deepest feelings and desires and hopes and fears and doubts and joys…and read the Scriptures as we are in tan atmosphere of prayer before Him, listening in our hearts with “spiritual ears” and looking at the world with “spiritual eyes” for what it is that God might desire to say to us or to show to us through His Word.
Intimacy comes as we “wait” upon the lord, acting only as He directs us and compels us to act. A number of Scriptures point toward this silent, waiting, listening stance we are to have before the Lord. In Isaiah 40:30 we read,
Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall walk and not faint.
What a blessing awaits those who seek the intimacy of God’s presence with a watchful, patient, hopeful expectation!
Read aloud these verses below from the Psalms to gain an even deeper understanding in your spirit about what it is a person must do to conceive God’s vision in the intimacy of one’s relationship with the Lord. Be encouraged at the great things God imparts to those who wait upon Him in intimate seeking and trust:
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)
You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder. (Psalm 81:7)
Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me, from my deadly enemies who surround me. (Psalm 17:8-9)
Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! (Psalm 27:14)
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way…Those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. (Psalm 37:7,9)
I will praise You forever, because You have done it; And in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good. (Psalm 52:9)
My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. (Psalm 62:5-6)
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning – Yes, more than those who watch for the morning…Hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption. (Psalm 130; 5-7)
Those who are intimate with God gain an understanding of what it is that God desires to do – not only in their own life, but in the life of their family, in the life of their church, in the life of their business, and ultimately, in the lives of every person they encounter. They gain an understanding of God’s desires to forgive, love, bless, prosper, and protect His people.
Are you willing today to seek God in solitude, quiet, and vulnerability? Are you willing to admit to the Lord that you need His plan if you truly are to succeed?
If so, you are in the best possible position to receive both God’s help and God’s direction…for success!
GOD DESIRES TO GIVE YOU HIS VISION
Most of us are familiar with Robert Frost’s famous poem that tells of two roads diverging in a yellow wood. One woman once responded to a class discussion about this poem by saying, “I’ve never been in a yellow wood but I have approached the five-level interchange in downtown Los Angeles with five seconds to make a decision that could get me to the desert or the beach before I knew it!”
Have you ever felt that way? Have you wondered in which direction God desires for you to move, and toward what goal? Do you feel as if you are frantic and unfocused in your decision-making, even about important things?
To succeed in any area of your life – personal, family, business – you believe God desires for you to fulfill as you move toward that goal.
The Bible word for vision literally means to have something stripped naked or to have hidden things made visible. To have a vision is not necessarily to have a dream or an experience in which you visually see something – rather, it is any experience that leads to a spiritual “seeing” of God’s secret, hidden purposes or plan. It is seeing something with spiritual eyes. It is discovering reality as God sees it, knows it, experiences it – and seeing how that reality might manifest itself in our world today.
No person has ever seen a strand of human DNA with the naked eye. And yet consider all that is determined by this unseen entity in the human body – height, weight, eye color, hair color, skin color, propensities for all kinds of physical attributes, strength, and weaknesses, including factors that govern brain function and the “automatic” nervous and hormonal systems of the body. We are just beginning to know all that has been determined by something so small it was unknown until just this past century.
What else is there still to discover…uncover…and create?
So much more - not only about DNA, but about all of life. For each of us, there is likely still to be a great deal about ourselves that God desires for us to discover, uncover, and to learn.
GETTING INTO POSITION TO RECEIVE GOD’S VISION
If you do not vision for your life there is one simple key to discovering it: Ask God to give you His vision! Ask God to show the "destination point” for your life. God has a vision and a destination point for every person because He has a purpose for every person He has created. He desires to impart to every person His plan that will bring fulfillment to their lives.
Too few Christians are actively seeking to know God's vision for their lives. They are too busy pursuing what has been said to them as the "world's" vision for them. And to be sure, the world holds a vivid vision. L holds out the quest for power, money, fame, and the acquisition of all sorts of products and possessions – all of which are linked to the concepts of "success," "having it all," and "making it to the top." The world presents its vision in a relentless manner, in virtually all forms of communication: vision, radio, magazines and newspapers, videos, audio recordings of music, billboards. The message can hardly be avoided. And many, including many of the Body of Christ, are tuned into these messages and give them time and attention.
But do we know the vision of God for us? Are we tuned in with as keen a perception to the Spirit of God speaking to us?
When the angel Gabriel came to marry, he spoke to her in a powerful vision for her life. He said, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" (Luke 1:28).
The Bible tells us that Mary was "troubled" out what the angel said to her… But Mary did not let her troubled spirit keep her from listening intently to the Angel. The Bible goes to say on that she "considered what manner of greeting this was" (Luke 1:29).
Mary could have closed are heirs to the Angel and concluded that she was "hearing things." She could have closed her eyes to him and dismissed him as a figment of her imagination. Instead, she listened to what he had to say. And it is because she chose to listen that the Angel then said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a, and Shall Call His Name, JESUS. He will be great, it and will be called the Son Of the Highest; and the Lord God gave Him the throne of His father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:30 – 33).
Talk about vision for your life – to the mother of the "Son of the Highest" who would reign over all Israel! Mary was "tuned in" to God's vision. She heard in its fullness.
Asked the Lord today to open your spiritual eyes and ears so that you might catch a glimpse into the fullness of His vision for you.
When Mike and his father, Jeanne, moved to Denver from Baton Rouge to start a church, they had no church building and no church body. Eventually as the church body began to take shape and grow, a building was created for that body. But soon the time came for that building to be replaced. The "body" had outgrown its building!
The first step toward the building of a new structure to house a growing body of believers was to purchase land.
Day after day as Mike drove by the property the church plan to purchase, he saw more than vacant ground. To the person without vision, those acres seemed there. To Mike, with a vision, not property had a beautiful building on it, fully completed and landscaped, and people were coming to the building by the thousands to worship God. His vision for what God desire to do gave him the ability to see the end result to which God was calling him. As Mike says, "You have to learn to close your eyes to see, then open them and expect.”
We each need to learn how to see the ending from the beginning. It is what we have a clear vision of the ending now we truly know how to begin.
Never discount or dismiss God's vision when you begin to see it or hear it in your spirit. So many people move away from God's vision, either out of fear or out of deep sense of unworthiness. Rather than move away from God's vision, moved toward it!
Some people who hear God's vision for their lives move quickly to a conclusion, "I was just daydreaming." They assume that the idea was totally of their own conception and they may even be embarrassed that they had dared dream anything so big or important for their lives. They draw a curtain over the version in their assumption that the very idea is their own unrealistic "pipe dream."
It's amazing that many young children never seem to have a problem with their own dreams and goals, and especially so if they live in an environment where their basic needs are met and educational opportunities are made available to them. In fact, most children in such environments dream huge dreams for themselves. They see themselves as one day being capable of doing virtually anything and everything – indeed, many of them feel they are already capable of doing heroic feats and accomplishing great goals.
But something happens to the streams. Children are told "can't, don't, shouldn't." Then later they are taught that they must be "realistic and quote about their dreams. These children who are big dreamers turn out to be adults who are afraid to dream anymore. Their dreams are quenched and they become adults who settle for doing what others have done – they accept a life of mediocrity and "mere existence."
God's vision is not unrealistic or unattainable – it's available! Explore God's vision by asking "how" questions about it. Moved toward the vision, instead of away from it.
Very quickly, you will discover that you are capable of accomplishing God's vision. You already have built into you the tools, ability, mind, and personality to fulfill and accomplish the destination of God's vision. Just remember: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippines 4:13). In Christ, and with His unlimited power and wisdom working in you and through you and for you, you can do all things that the Lord compels you to do! You can do what others only dream about.
Many people, as they sense God's vision for their lives, become frightened by it. Their fear is generally rooted in their own inadequacy. They sense that God's vision is great and they dismiss the vision as being "too grandiose” or "too extreme” or "too big an effort" for them to make because they are so aware of their own weaknesses, faults, failures, and even sins. They fill in capable, unskilled, unprepared, or unworthy of God's vision.
And the result is that they do nothing in response to what they know deep in their hearts is God's vision for them.
Others feel fear because they don't understand how God's vision could possibly come to pass in their lives. This bear, in part, is a fear of the "great unknown future," which they perceive to be the "great potential failure." They sense that God's vision would be wonderful in its fulfillment, but they don't know how the vision might unfold and they fear what they don't know.
Mary, in part, exhibited this fear. She asked the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know one man?" (Luke 1:34). Mary was not doubting the Angel is much as she was questioning her own role in the plan and wondering about the how aspects of fulfilling what the Angel said.
The Angel responded to Mary by saying, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
God's answer to our fears about His vision for us is the same answer. It is the Holy Spirit who will enable God's vision for us to come to pass. It is the power of the Highest that will overshadow us, infill us, infuse us, and empower us to do our part in fulfilling God's vision.
Very often God answers our fears by putting into our path a person, or a testimony about a person, who has been successful in the area to which God is pointing us. It is as if God is saying to us, "Look! Here's a person who has allowed me to work in his life. See what great things I am doing in him and through him. You can be like this person who was trusting Me and working to fulfill My plan for their life."
The Lord did this very thing for Mary. The Angel said to her, "Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and there is now the six month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:36 – 37).
Elizabeth was an old woman, considered to be past the age of childbearing. Yet, the Angel revealed to Mary that Elizabeth was expecting a baby. What encouraging news this must have been to Mary! Would it be more difficult for a virgin to conceive then for a bear an old woman to conceive? Elizabeth was to become Mary's example of how a miracle of God might happen.
When God imparts His vision to you, keep your eyes and ears open for information about others who have pursued, or are pursuing, a similar vision. As you study their lives and learn from them, make this your overriding thought: "With God nothing will be impossible!" Surely that is the case. In Christ, we can do all things!"
There are those who have heard God's vision for their lives and they have accepted in their hearts that God's vision is both possible and worthy of their faith and effort.. But they simply haven't acted on what they know to be God's will. They are putting off God's vision to a future date. They are procrastinating in starting the necessary planning, research, and "doing" steps necessary to turn vision into reality.
Say "yes" to God's vision. Mary said, "Behold the maid servant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). All that was required for Mary to conceive God's plan for her life was for her to say "yes."
Then, begin to surround yourself with people who have faith and who are pursuing God's vision for their lives. There is great strength to be found in being part of a group of people who believe that nothing is impossible with God. Especially seek out those who may be pursuing a similar vision or who have like interests or passions for engaging in similar tasks or activities.
Mary aligned herself with the one person on earth whom she fully understood her situation and the vision of God for her life. The Bible tells us, "Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to the city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth" (Luke 1:39 – 40). Mary acted quickly to get to Elizabeth sighed and to draw strength and wisdom from her. She was not disappointed. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby inside her "leap" and Elizabeth was filled with the Hold the Spirit. She spoke out with a loud voice to Mary, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your home! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told from her Lord" (Luke 1:42-45).
Notice two things about what happened in Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. First, Elizabeth was blessed by Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. First, Elizabeth was blessed by Mary’s coming even though it was Mary who seemed to be coming to Elizabeth for a blessing and encouragement. When groups of believers in Christ come together for the purpose of encouraging one another in their visions from the Lord, the feelings of encouragement one another in their visions from the Lord, the feelings of encouragement are mutual. There is a give and take of ideas and appreciation, both of which are motivating and supportive.
Second, the atmosphere of their meeting was marked by joy and the flow of the Holy Spirit. This was a happy occasion for both Elizabeth and Mary – a visit that was affirming to both of them and which resulted in deep feelings of purpose and fulfillment. When groups of believers in Christ come together to share vision, the atmosphere should be highly charged – positive, joyful, and with an open stance toward what the Holy Spirit might desire to do and say through each person, one to another.
It was during her visit with Elizabeth that Mary began to exclaimed, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior and quote (Luke 1:46 – 47).
POSITIVE ACTION vs. FEARS AND DOUBTS
It is as a person moves toward the vision of God for their lives – in prayer, in obedience, and in seeking out other believers of like purpose and heart – that initial fears and doubts began to dissipate. That doesn't mean that from time to time a person might not experience a "twinge" or "bout" of doubt or fear, but rather, that the overall flow of the person's life is positive, joyful, and full of purpose. Taking action toward a vision is also taking action against doubt and fear.
Mary may have had questions about how the Holy Spirit was going to work in her and through her, but by the time she made her visit to Elizabeth, she voiced strong statements of faith and purpose – no doubts, no fears! She said,
He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hunger with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.
(Luke 1:49 – 55)
Mary was sure of for things as she voiced this phrase song to God in light of God's vision imparted to her:
First, God is strong. He is capable of doing anything that he desires to do, including capable of helping us to do anything He calls us to do.
Second, God is merciful. He understands our weaknesses and He accommodates our weaknesses with His strength. He fills the gaps in our understanding with His wisdom. He responds to our faults as human beings with unending and unconditional love and acceptance.
Third, God exalts the humble. The Bible refers to the humble as those who are "lowly in spirit." This doesn't mean that all who are poor and without our humble – it does mean that those who are humble will always see themselves as one hundred percent reliant upon God. The humble person knows that he can do virtually anything apart from God's presence and power at work in his life.
God never has any tolerance for human pride. He crushes it at every opportunity. He sends the "rich" – those who see themselves as self-reliant and who put their trust in their possessions and accomplishments – away empty. But at the same time, He "lifts up" those who are truly humble in heart before Him. He "feeds" those who hunger and thirst for the things of God. God always responds positively to an attitude of, "I cannot, but You can. I rely on You to help me in every situation and every circumstance, and to grasp fully every opportunity You put before me."
Forth, God always acts in us and through us to fulfill His greater purposes. God wasn't doing something "nice" for Mary – rather, He was inviting Mary's participation in the film element of His greater plans and purposes for the human race. He was asking Mary to join with Him in accomplishing His fulfillment for all of Abraham's heirs, including those Gentiles who would walk by faith in God as Abraham walked in faith.
The vision that God will in part to your life is not just something good, pleasurable, fund, or rewarding for you. It is something that He desires to see done through you for the greater plan and purposes of the ages. It will be a vision that results in the winning of souls, the deliverance of those in bondage to sin, the edification of the Saints, and the extension of God's kingdom. It will be a vision that is an eternal, heavenly purpose and along the way, you will be blessed and feel fulfilled as you participate in God's greater vision and greater plan.
There is no greater feeling of satisfaction than knowing that you have done what God has prepared you to do and plan for you to do. There is no greater feeling of fulfillment then knowing that you have done your utmost to walk out the vision that God has given for your life.
A Whole Life That Counts For All Eternity
Are there certain things that you do that seem particularly meaningful to you?
At times do you have a great sense of "purpose" in something that you do, knowing without a doubt that God is part of it and that God is going to use your efforts for His glory?
Do you ever find yourself involved in something that you know with certainty is "bigger than yourself"?
The difference between accomplishing things and feeling fulfilled and satisfied in life is going to lie in the nature of those things we seek to accomplish. If we seek only to accomplish a certain financial standing, a degree of material wealth, or a certain standard of living, we might achieve what we set out to accomplish, but we are still going to feel hollow inside. If we seek to accomplish a certain position of power or elected office, we may achieve what we set out to accomplish, but we are not going to feel a deep and abiding sense of satisfaction with our lives.
It is only when we pursue something that we truly believe is honoring to God, and something which we firmly believe God has called us to do, that we are going to find satisfaction in life. It is only will we know we have done all that the Lord has led us to do that we can face our death with a deep and abiding peace. That is called "giving purpose" to your life. Most people let others give them their purpose, and the result is they die unfulfilled. As we trust the Lord for our daily provision, we must trust the Lord for our life purpose.
God does not desire that only an occasional moment or experience of our life carry this weight of glory or a sense of eternal purpose. He desires that our entire life bear that wonderful sense of meaning and fulfillment.
EVERY CHRISTIAN BUSINESSMAN IS CALLED TO "MINISTER"
We must never divide our business lives from our spiritual lives. We must never separate our life into compartments that we label "secular" and "spiritual." To a believer in Christ Jesus, all things have spiritual significance. Our lives are to be lived out in a spiritual fruit full way out all times, in all enterprises and activities.
One of the things we as Christians must recognize with renewed understanding is that God always sees our lives as a whole. God does not divide or fragment us. He always sees us as an entire entity, fully functioning as a singular whole.
God's design for our success or prosperity is to be a total life success, a prosperity that encompasses our wholeness. In three John two we read these powerful words: "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers."
Prosperity includes the prosperity of the soul – the mind, the emotions, the spiritual nature of man.
Prosperity includes the prosperity of the body – good health and vitality and energy and strength.
Prosperity includes the prosperity of the material world – sound finances, quality possessions, useful tools, good equipment, and adequate facilities.
Too often we think of prosperity in only one dimension. Those who are deeply spiritual often discount prosperity in the natural or physical or material realms. They say, "Only the spirit counts." God says it all counts.
Too often those who are unbelievers at discount the spiritual realm as having an impact on their success in business or in their careers. They say, "Money is all that matters. Show me the money! Show me your financial portfolio! Show me your assets! It's only the bottom line that counts." God says all the factors of one's life count, and in the end, it is only the bottom line on the spiritual ledger that is going to extend into eternity.
There are also those who worship the body. They believe that all of life is only good as one's physical appearance, fitness level, or degree of strength and vibrancy. They say, "Looking good and feeling good are what life is all about." God says that life is much more – it is experiencing a fullness in spirit and mind and emotions and relationships and finances and possessions and health.
A true vision from God will involve all areas of a person's life and it will impact all areas of the lives of those who are served.
Does a good church impact a person's health or wealth? Absolutely. What is taught from the pulpit and what is received by the people in terms of faith and obedience and joy and love is to be translated into a way of living that brings about fruit in every area of a person's life.
Does a good business impact a person's health and spiritual life? Most definitely. What is done on the job creates an attitude in a person that is carried over into a person's home, neighborhood, church, and greater community. When a person feels as if he or she has done good work for a good cause and with good people, that person has an increased exuberance for life that becomes contagious. It manifests itself in greater giving and greater communication with others."
Does good physical health impact a person's career and spiritual life? Without a doubt. When we are healthy and fit we feel more like reaching out to others in ministry. We have greater alertness and greater energy to give to our work.
Life is a whole. Jesus reinforced that concept again and again as He said to those who were sick and oppressed and struggling, "Be thou made whole."
We must never think of prosperity or success in unilateral, or narrow terms. Prosperity is to include the whole of our lives.
The logical extension of seeing our lives as a whole is to recognize that it is what we do with the whole of our lives that matters most to God. He is concerned about living His life in us and through us – all of us, every aspect of our being, every facet of our daily lives!
So often we encounter believers who can quote vast portions of the Bible. They pray daily. They attend church regularly and may be involved in a prayer group or Sunday school class. But for some reason, they see their "church life" – or their "spiritual life" or their "religious life" – as being separate from their careers, their business plans, their on-the-job performance, or their worklife.
The principles of God are not given to us so that we can exercise them only on Sunday mornings or in so-called "religious settings." They are given to us so that we can use them "24 and seven" – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Everything that God teaches us in His Word and by His Spirit are to be things that we apply in a very practical and concrete ways to daily life.
God has called me, Mike, to be the pastor of a church.
God has called me, Bob, to be the founder of TMJ Implants and Covenant Marriages Ministry.
Are we both in "full-time ministry"?
What is done as the pastor of a church is ministry unto the Lord. What is done in the world of oral surgical prosthetics at TMJ Implants and what is done in the parachurch world through Covenant Marriages can't ministry is also done as ministry unto the Lord.
Every businessman or woman needs to recognize that their business is there ministry. When a businessman or woman finally sees their business as a ministry, their business takes on a new dimension of purpose. No longer is it a place to go on Monday or a place to pick up a paycheck. It is a place of earthly and eternal destiny.
EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE SHOULD BEAR ETERNAL FRUIT
God's highest desire for each of us is that all we do be blessed so that our needs are met for today and eternal fruit and a eternal reward are produced. The Bible tells us,
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
Who delights greatly in His Commandments.
His descendents will be mighty on Earth;
The generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches will be in his house,
And his righteousness endures forever.
Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness;
He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
It a good man deals graciously and lands;
He will guide his affairs with discretion.
Surely he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.
He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is established;
He will not be afraid,
Until he sees his desire upon his enemies.
He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever;
His horn will be exalted with honor.
The wicked will see it and be grieved;
He will gnash his teeth and mouth away;
The desire of the wicked shall perish. (Psalm 112)
What a marvelous blessing comes to the person who trusts in God and follows His Commandments. He is given wealth and riches, and his reputation will extend long after his lifetime.
Isn't this blessing what most people truly want in life? They want to have sufficiency of supply, a good reputation among their peers and among those who follow after them, sufficient information and wisdom, and they want to experience peace, joy, and satisfaction in their souls.
Look again at this Psalm, however. Note that it is that the righteous man does with his wealth and riches. The righteous man is a person who is "gracious and full of compassion" – he lends graciously and is very wise in his use of money. He "disburses" abroad – he has a far-reaching impact for righteousness with his money and he gives generously to the poor. He uses his wealth to perpetuate righteousness!
This is the call upon every believer. We are not only to amass and acquire. We are here to use what God put into our hands to extend the Lord's work on this Earth. We each are to be in ministry, multiplying the gifts God gives us so that we might reach more people with the Good News of God's they being, healing, delivering, and restorative power.
And the unrighteous person? The unrighteous person lives in anger and jealousy over others, and with a attempt to accomplish "melts away" – it has no lasting benefit and no enduring purpose. It "parishes."
The unrighteous person cannot produce anything that has internal value, and therefore those things that the unrighteous do are very temporary – indeed, they are fleeting.
The righteous are called to build and produce and growth those things that their internal, spiritual fruit – what they do is to be a living monument to them throughout the ages and extend into the courts of heaven.
ALL THINGS ARE TO PRODUCE GOOD
Most of us know what it means to have "good productivity."
God's desire, however, is that we have "productivity for good."
Our money and business life are expected to produce just as much "good" as any other aspect of our life.
Money is neutral. The Bible says the love of money is the root of evil. That verse refers to our attitude toward money, not about money itself. Any can be used for a tremendous good, and can be also be used to implement evil plans. In this way, money is like fire. Fire, in and of itself, is neutral. It can give warmth and be used to refine metals and to clear away waste. It can also cause tremendous devastation.
Our stewardship as believers in Christ Jesus resides in a calling to use all things for good. We are to turn every resource that is put into our hands into something that is productive, useful, then official…good!
The Lord allowed David, and then his sons, Solomon, after him, to amass a tremendous amount of wealth. What they choose to do with that wealth, however, reflects two different attitudes.
David used the wealth that the Lord put into his hands to extend and secure the boundaries of Israel to the limits that the Lord directed him, and then used his wealth to bring together all of the elements that were good to be necessary for the Temple in Jerusalem. David knew that the actual building of the Temple would become the responsibility of his son, Solomon, but the Lord placed in David both the desire and the ability to pull together all of the necessary lumber, gold, jewels, and artisans necessary for the task to be completed.
Solomon also amassed a huge amount of wealth. In fact, his wealth was so great that the Queen of Sheba traveled hundreds of miles – no easy feat in those days – to witness his wealth for herself and she came away from the experience in awe. But how did Solomon handle wealth? Not very well. He exacted extremely harsh taxes from the Israelites, to the point where they suffered just to maintain Solomon's wealthy lifestyle. He did not turn his wealth into programs and projects that benefited the people. In fact, we have little mention after Solomon was anointed king that he consulted the Lord at all as to why he was to do with the wealth the Lord provided to him. Solomon had pray for wisdom and the Lord has granted him wisdom and he wrote 3000 Proverbs and more than 1000 songs. (See 1 Kings 4:32.) He was an accomplished botanist and his zoologist and political philosopher. (See 1 Kings 4:33 – 34.) But Solomon was not wise in his use of money.
Solomon built the Temple – he took seven years to finish all the details according to David's plan. And then he took 13 years to build his own house, as well as various other public buildings and dwelling places were his wives and concubines. But then, certainly without any authorization from God, Solomon also built a temple that his foreign wives and concubines could worship their gods. What an abomination for this otherwise extremely wise man to commit!
What happened in the wake of Solomon's reign? The kingdom that David has created and Solomon had a reinforced and maintained was torn asunder internally and it was divided, never again to be reunited politically by any of the Kings of Israel that followed.
What is it that you were building today in the wealth the Lord has put into your hands?
The Lord said to Abraham, "I will bless you…and you will be a blessing" (Genesis 12:2).
The blessing on Abraham's life was not a blessing he was to ward or keep as a secret or use solely for his own welfare. It was a blessing he was to impart to others and share generously.
Ecclesiastes 5:18 – 19 tells us, "It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor – this is the gift of God."
The apostle Paul gave Timothy a very strong word about how we are to use our money:
tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily in those in need them: always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up a real treasure for themselves in heaven – it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well. (1 Timothy 6:17 – 19 TLB)
God's desire is for you to enjoy the things that He has given to you. His desire is also that you share those things – and that joy – with others!
EVERY BUSINESS VENTURE SHOULD BE A "MINISTRY"
There is a purpose for your profit! Every business should become linked to ministry in one or more of three ways identified below. Ask God what arrangement He desires for your life and work.
Ron and Kate had a family hardware business in a small town. They made a good profit from it and were active givers in their local church. Then God placed a burden on their hearts to support an orphanage in Mexico. The continued to give their tithe, they began to give increasingly generous offerings to the orphanage. They took on the support of one child, and then a second child, and eventually 12 children. They provided for special building projects and assisted in the purchase of various pieces of equipment and furniture. Ron made a trip to the orphanage with his two teenage children to provide several days of intense effort helping to build a new wing on to the main structure.
Overtime, Ron and Kate realized that their hardware store had become a "funnel" for ministry. They also discovered that the more they gave to the orphanage, the more their business seemed to increase. Others who knew of their involvement in the orphanage seemed to choose their place of business even over the larger hardware and lumber related stores that seems to be proliferating in a major city just 30 miles away. The more their business increased, the more there tithe increased, of course, and the greater their offerings grew. A cycle of business and ministry prosperity was established and it flourished not made through their lifetimes, but continued on in the lives of their children who were raised to have a deep interest in both the hardware business and the orphanage in Mexico.
Your business or your career is your ongoing opportunity to
Do not fail to overlook all of the opportunities the Lord gives you for ministry on the job or in your place of business.
15 years ago, Lynne and Bob Christiansen were living in Northern California. Bob was practicing oral maxillofacial surgeon and a successful businessman. He was a regular church goer for 30 years. Looking back, he knows that God had a plan and a vision for his life, but at a time, he was "missing it."
On the surface, Bob's life seemed to be a great success. He had a well-established practice that carried with it a great deal of prestige in the community and in his profession. He and Lynne had a new home, a ranch in Oregon, a new office building, an airplane that Bob was licensed to Pilate, and a degree of wealth.
But then Bob's marriage began to crumble. Lynne moved with their children to Southern California and Bob had a question to answer – was his material wealth going to mean more to him than his family? He decided that his family was more important than he gave up what he had built in Northern California to move several hundred miles south.
About that time, Bob was in training to become certified to fly citation jets. The pilot who was supervising his training recognized that Bob was not truly born again. Although Bob had attended church for years and had heard the story of Nicodemus and Jesus countless times, he somehow had "missed the message" that he needed to experience a spiritual rebirth and an inner transformation of his soul.
Bob surrendered his life to the Lord and the more he committed all of his ways to the Lord, the more the Lord began to rebuild him from the inside out.
There were difficult months and years. Over a two-year period Bob sought a new life in Southern California to be close to Lynne and their children. He had few friends, no job, and for months, only in frequent contact with Lynne. He lost most of his wealth and had difficulty finding a job with new colleagues, many of whom didn't understand why he had left his career and business in the northern part of the state.
All the while, however, the Lord was doing a work in Bob's life. Slowly, he was beginning to heal things in Bob's heart and also to mend things in Bob's relationship with Lynne. The Lord also began to give Bob a vision for what his "new life in Christ” was going to be and He would failed to evolve over time that he would one day again be the CEO of a profit-making company and also the founder and leader of a nonprofit ministry.
Knowing from firsthand experience how God had killed his own heart, changed his own thinking in certain areas, and had strengthened his faith to believe for a fulfillment in his marriage, Bob begin to see a vision for the ministry aspect of his new life. He could see that it would be one related to marriage healing and restoration.
The more Bob trusted God with his relationship with Lynne, the more God begin to move in her heart. Over a period of time, their relationship begins to be healed and eventually they remarried. She, too, accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and trusted her life completely to Him.
When the marriage of Bob and Lynne was restored after two years of separation and divorce, they begin almost immediately to minister in the area of marriage reconciliation. They would tell their own personal story of marriage going to couples, to small groups, and to large groups, and from the beginning, they sought God do a wonderful work in the lives of those whom they spoke and with whom they canceled. Numerous marriages were restored, divorce proceedings were turned around into "renewal of marriage vows and quote services, and many couples on the brink of separation found strength and inspiration to give their marriage is another, more deeply committed effort in line with the principles of God's Word.
As much as things were changing and growing for the better in Bob's personal and family life, he still was struggling God's vision for his business life. The more he prayed and sought God's plan for him, however, the more the Lord began to refill His vision. Bob found himself writing down on yellow legal pads the time and vision that he felt the Lord was revealing to him. One of the things that God begin to write down was a plan for tithing the profits from the profit-making company into the not for profit ministry he was to establish.
At that time, Bob was newly born again spiritually. He had put a few dollars now and then in the offering back at church. But he had never seriously considered the full ramifications or benefits associated with tithing, which is giving God can send and giving it as a first priority or as an offering from "first fruits." To find himself writing down that a full tithe was to be given from the profit-making company was a new revelation to him that he knew must be from God. It wasn't something he would have dreamed up on his own!
Bob reentered the field of dentistry and worked as a maxillofacial surgeon for three years. And then, the Lord revealed to Bob a clear vision that he was to leave the practice, move to Colorado, and began an organized profit-making company and an organized nonprofit ministry simultaneously. It was a major move, one that Bob undertook without the funds that Bob you with the necessary for both. It was also a matter of complete obedience to the vision that God had put before them. In many ways, Bob and Lynne were brought back to ground zero in their finances and business life, although this time they had the difference of knowing that the Lord was firmly in control of their lives and their marriage.
Members of the church that Bob and Lynne attended at the time gathered around them to pray for them as they prepared to move to Colorado, and to pray for God's prosperity in both the prophet company and nonprofit ministry – even though neither was officially established at the point. Both were dedicated to the Lord as ventures to be done totally and completely "unto Him."
As Bob chose a Board of Directors for his profit-making venture, he named to pastors on the board was very important for Bob to have good counsel of the Lord as part of his business team. Not knowing then what he knows now about the Lord's leading, he's Dale knew that it was more important to have the principles of God in their did in and through his company and then to try to build a company apart God's principle, which essentially means to build a company apart God's wisdom.
GOD's UNIQUE PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE
Ask God today in which ways He desires for you to be a "minister." He has gifted you with His Holy Spirit and has imparted you a ministry gift. (See Romans 12:6-8.) He has placed you in a body of believers and giving you opportunities to use your gifts.
Ask God today in which ways He desires for you to link your job, career, or business to ministry.
Ask God today which ways He desires for your entire family to be involved in ministry with you.
God's plan for your life is a unique plan. No two plans are exactly alike. But all of God's plans have this in common: Jesus Christ is central, the source of your vision and call to ministry. The Holy Spirit is the motivating source and enabler of your ministry. And the rewards of doing what Jesus calls you to do and the Holy Spirit enables you to do will be eternal.
Make all of your life count…forever.
Giving Birth to a God-Given Vision
Burdens Give Rise To Vision
Visions are very often born of burdens. They tend to be birthed and ash heaps of broken dreams and disappointments and failures.
This certainly was true in Nehemiah’s life. It was the news that the wall of Jerusalem had been broken down and the gates of the city burned with fire that drove Nehemiah to fasting and praying and mourning and weeping for many days.
Saying The Problems That God Calls Cap Problems
Until we see a problem, need, or opportunity…we will not act on it or begin to explore ways we can remedy it, resolve it, or remove it. Nehemiah didn't know what to do until he realized first that there was a problem.
We know that when it comes to alcoholism, the first step an alcoholic must take is to recognize that he has a problem.
We know that when it comes to marriages, the first step is a couple must take toward making their marriage stronger is first to recognize that the marriage is subject to flaw.
It is only when we are willing to face up to our own imperfections and failures and faults that we are driven to seek God's forgiveness, solutions, and healing. It is recognition of our sinful state before God that "convicts” us to seek out God's mercy.
The first step that a person takes in launching a successful new business is to recognize that a problem currently isn't being addressed or that efforts to address the problem are being poorly executed.
The first step that a person takes in starting a new ministry is to recognize the lack of ministry in a particular area or to a particular group of people.
If you are lacking in vision, ask God to reveal to you the way He feels about a particular problem in the world. Ask God to show you an area in which He desires to seek something done that isn't currently being done!
Nehemiah, a Jew, was the cup bearer to King Artaxerxes. In his position, he had the opportunity to encounter messengers who brought news to the King of various outposts in his kingdom. Nehemiah asked one group, "How are the people doing in Jerusalem?" And the news that he heard brought English to his heart. He heard that many of the people of Jerusalem had been taken captive, and that those who had managed to escape captivity were in great distress. Their dignity had been stripped from them and they were living as refugees in their own land and city. He heard how the walls of Jerusalem were torn down and the gates were burned. He wept bitterly over the devastation of God's city, Jerusalem, and God's people, and the Israelites.
What Is at the Root of the Need?
Why would Nehemiah cry over bird gates and token down walls? To answer that question, we must first ask, "What is the advantage of a city having walls and gates?”
The first of foremost advantage of walls and gates is a curative. Those who lived within the city walls were able to defend themselves against enemy attack. They were able to determine for themselves who came into the city and their four, determine what types of influences might be exerted upon the residents of the city.
The last thing the enemy of our souls once is for God's people to come together as a united front to mount a defense against him and to keep out his temptations and evil appliances. Walls give us that protection.
A second benefit of having the wall is: the people inside the law have a strong against you. They have an enlarged understanding about who they are and what they are capable of being for doing together. Walls defined city boundaries. Those who were within the walls were residents of that particular city. They had a place to call home, a place to "be from." In Bible times, people greatly valued the privilege of living within a walled city, a well-defined place. The definition of the city added to their own death mission as a people.
Those who had been living in the general boundaries of Jerusalem – with its crumbling walls – were living in hiding, cowering down in hopes that their enemies would leave them alone and ignored their existence.
According to various history of old documents, the walls of Jerusalem had laid waste for 14 years by the time Nehemiah received this news. The people who lived in the area had become so accustomed to the broken down walls and burned-out gates that they hardly noticed them anymore. They had long ago given up any idea of rebuilding the city.
Many people who are surrounded by or overwhelmed by problems have become so accustomed to their problems that they see no way out. They have been sick so long they can't imagine getting well. They have been on welfare so long they don't even believe it's possible to work and to earn enough money to pay their bills. They have been doing things the way they have been doing them, at a fairly low level of success, that they can't imagine living or working any other way.
People who are in such a situation need to hear a vision spoken to them. They need to begin to believe that change is possible and that a better future can be forged.
The enemy of our souls doesn't want us to know who we are or how strong we can be in Christ Jesus! He doesn't want us to have a clear-cut vision about where we're going or what we are entitled to do and to have in the name of Jesus. The enemy greatly desires that those who call themselves Christians live with low self-esteem, low self-worth, low levels of prosperity, and a great deal of confusion and discouragement.
When we understand how important walls were to a city at that time, we understand more clearly how devastating it was for a city to be without walls. The Israelites had not only suffered a military defeat, but a great moral and spiritual defeat.
For Nehemiah to build up the walls of the city was far more than a building project involving stone and wood. It was a building project for the lives of God's people. Collectively and individually. It was a re-creating of the identity and security and strength of the Israelites.
To What Need Do You Gravitate?
God expects us as believers in Christ Jesus took gravitate naturally towards need.
Both knew that there were thousands of people across the nation who needed the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) implants he had designed. He would never have sought to develop new implants if he had not known that people worried pain and in need of a new form of help.
Bob knew that there are literally millions of people across America and more millions around the world who are experiencing marriage difficulties and who need to be encouraged to stay in their marriages, work through their problems, and trust God to be a covenant partner with them in the healing of their marriages.
Mike had a keen awareness that there were great numbers of people in the greater Denver area who needed to receive the Lord Jesus Christ into their lives and who needed to move into greater wholeness and enlarged vision.
What need do you perceive today? In what area do you sense that the Lord’s heart is broken with sorrow?
What a Nice Your Passion?
Very likely our passionate response toward a need is going to be almost spontaneous.
Consider her David regarded the threats of Goliath. The Bible says he spoke with soldiers nearby, saying, "What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is the uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Samuel 17:26).
David felt an immediate repulsion regarding Goliath. He didn't go home and think about how he felt or ponder the situation at hand. His loathing for what Goliath was saying and doing was immediate. He could hardly believe that the soldiers in Saul's army were able to listen to Goliath's threats and taunts. He wondered if the King had failed to post a reward to Goliath's head and that perhaps it was the lack of the reward that was holding back their hands from battle. David saw the problem. But he also had a deep "feeling" about the problem. Righteous indignation with in you, take a closer look at the passionate response you feel. Is this an area of need that God is leading you to address? Is this the area where God desires you to plant good seats and produce an eternal harvest?
"Carrying” The Burden Overtime
Notice that Nehemiah "sat down and wept, and mourned for many days" (Nehemiah 1:4). A vision is born of a passionate concern that stays with a person. The concern is not passing. It is not a light concern. It is an intense desire to see an intense need or lack or problem righted or resolved according to God's plan.
The pastor who was a "burden” for the lost will not be able to shake that burden. He will find himself drawn again and again to pray for souls to be saved. The vision God gives to such a person is a soul winning vision.
The physician who has a "burden” for helping people who are suffering in a particular way will be the one who has a "vision" for that specific avenue of healthcare.
The intensity of our ongoing commitment to a cause or to a vision is going to be directly related to the ongoing intensity we feel regarding the burden we can see. If we are able to look at a problem and then looked away and ignore the problem, we are not going to be committed to the resolution of that problem over time and through all types of struggle. We are able to see a need and then move on to see another need, we are not going to have what it takes to get that first need met. We must not only see a need by have a deep feeling of "burden" that the need must be met, even if it takes an entire lifetime of effort to meet it.
Is It a Problem to God?
Ask yourself and God whether what you are perceiving as a problem is truly a problem to the Lord.
Is it a problem merely a personal annoyance to you, or is it a matter of eternal consequence to God? Is the problem linked to personal differences or personal issues, or is the problem linked to a breaking of God's commandments?
Is the problem a matter of personal preference or style, or is the problem a matter that causes people to be estranged from God and to commit evil against one another?
If the problem is truly a problem to the Lord, then you can be assured that the Lord will help you in every way He can to resolve that problem, meet that need, or fill that gap.
Pray over the Vision
Immediately after Nehemiah heard the news about Jerusalem, the Scriptures say that he had this response: "I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven" (Nehemiah 1:4).
Nehemiah did not immediately broadcast his feelings about what was happening in Jerusalem. He did not spread further than news that he heard and which caused him immediately to feel sorrow. No! He began to pray. He took this information "from the Lord" back "to the Lord."
Our response to a feeling of burden always must be prayer. The burden may be about a spouse, a child, a parent, a loved one, a person in your place of business, a person in your church, a friend, or even an acquaintance. The response to that burden is to pray!
Are we to pray and to nothing else? No! As we pray over time about the problem, we are to continue to do the work we have always done.
Nehemiah mourned and wept and prayed for many days – perhaps even several months – but he never stopped being a cupbearer. He continued to do his job to the best of his ability and he enjoyed the Kings favorite.
The fact is, the King was quick to notice that Nehemiah's expression had changed from one of joy to one of sorrow. It was one the king asked Nehemiah why he was experiencing "sorrow of heart" that Nehemiah had an opportunity to petition the King on behalf of Jerusalem.
Very often a person with a burden will have no skills and a very little information at the onset about how to remedy a problem. There is only an intense feeling that the problem needs to be addressed and resolved.
Furthermore, at the outset there is often very little that the person with the birding can do, materially or tangibly, to act against the problem however, the person with the burden has two great advantages: the person with the burden is the one who prays and therefore, he or she is the one who moves God to action by his or her expression of faith. And then, the person with the burden is someone to whom the Lord can send or provide people with the necessary resources and skills.
In the natural, Nehemiah appeared to be the servant of the king – and he was. In the spiritual realm, the King was going to be the servant of Nehemiah, providing for him all of the material, financial, and political resources necessary to get the job done.
When the time came that the king asked, "What do you request?” Nehemiah took two giant steps toward the resolution of the problem he saw: he "prayed to the God of heaven," and then we spoke openly to the king that the King would send him to Judah to rebuild the "city of my father’s tomb" (Nehemiah 2:4-5)
Pray before You Petition
When someone comes to you and asks what they can do to help you as you confront a problem, or when someone comes to you and asks how they can be a part of your vision – first, pray to the Lord for courage and boldness and specific direction as to how best to proceed, and then, be very direct with the person about what you want from him or her.
Nehemiah did not ask the King to rebuild the city of Judah, which is Jerusalem, through neutral third parties. Nehemiah volunteered to get involved and be the "point man" on the project. He was willing to get his hands dirty and to make the effort and take the risks necessary.
Never expect someone else to do the vision that God has given to you. Expect God to send helpers and providers and assistance. You must be willing to become 100% involved in the effort personality and directly.
Pray That God Will Give You “Witty Invention”
Have you ever stopped to think about some of the very simple things that have been invented and have become commonplace in our world? Virtually all of them were developed because a person saw a need. Toothpicks. Paperclips. Rubber bands. “Sticky notes.” Snaps. Staples. Velcro. Dental floss. Facial tissue. Pencils and pencil sharpeners. Ballpoint pens.
The King James version of the Bible refers to such ideas as "witty inventions." The Lord gives us such ideas! Ask Him for them.
As you perceive a problem, ask the Lord to show you how you might resolve that problem. Be open to every idea He sends your way.
Pray with Others for God's Guidance
In New Testament times, the Romans developed a type of "locking shield" that was used by soldiers to create a united front. The individual shield of one soldier could be linked to that of soldiers on either side so that that entire reign of soldiers could move forward into battle behind the safety of their shields, almost as a moving wall. This proved to be a highly effective offensive tactic in battle.
What a difference it makes when groups of people come together to support one another fully in their pursuit of God's vision! That is when people are united in their efforts to encourage one another, pray for one another, and to support and help one another at the Body of Christ becomes strong and missions are accomplished, battles are won, and new territory is claimed for the kingdom of God.
As you pray for God's guidance in how to respond to the burden you feel, joined with a group of others who can help you carry that burden spiritually. Join with those who have faith that God is going to act through you and in you. Join with those who believe that God desires to see you defeat the devil in every evil or negative situation.
When you feel a burden…pray.
It is as you pray that God will prepare you, and prepare all situations associated with the problem, for His answer.
THE INCUBATION PERIOD
Before any birth, with we experience an incubation period. We call it pregnancy in the natural. We may call it "tarrying” or “waiting” in the spiritual realm. We may call it “the thinking stage” or “holding stage.” But whatever the term we use, the period between conception and birth is a preparation time.
It is a preparation time that prepares us spiritually for the challenges ahead.
It is a preparation time in which outer circumstances and situations can be adjusted in preparation for the birthing of something new – including the preparation of others around us to adjust the vision that is coming.
It is a preparation time so that when the gun is sounded, the race might be run swiftly and in victory.
At the time when Bob was practicing dentistry in northern California, he got stuck in a severe snowstorm in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Within an hour, the snow had covered the road and visibility was so hindered that he could not tell road from shoulder. Driving through the mountains would have been suicidal under those conditions since the roads were bordered by mountains on one side and thousand foot "drops" into deep canyons on the other. The only wise thing to do was to stop and wait – either wait out the storm, or wait for the snow plows to come by and then follow it.
Those two choices are available to most of us in times of critical decision-making. Either we need to wait until we have a clear understanding about which decision to make, or we need to wait until we have reliable advice to follow. To make a decision hastily, without consulting the Lord and relying on His wisdom to manifest itself, is to risk driving in ministry, a marriage, or a company off the edge of a cliff.
Take time to weigh all options. Take time to let the facts sift and filter and become clear. Take time for patterns and trends to emerge and for genuine understanding to come to you.
Seek out Wise Counsel
Seek out experienced, skillful, godly, wise advisors – mentors, consultants, spiritual leaders, experts – who can help lead you in the path you should go. It is one of the wonderful back of human ability and experience that we are capable of learning from one another. Take advantage of this God given gift to humanity.
Advisors are not necessarily living human beings with whom you have direct contact. Some of the best advisors are those we find in the Scriptures – the stories and words of godly men and women through the ages who have voiced or followed the wisdom of God. Jesus Christ is the best business advisor you will ever have. He is also the best marriage counselor and the best priest or pastor you will ever know. Read and reread what He says in the Bible. Using a to court, search out the Bible's advice on every topic related to your decision. Get the whole of God's wisdom on a matter before proceeding.
Different perspectives. A specific revolution or insight may be given to one person, and a slightly different revelation or insight to another. God's revelations and insights are never in conflict with one another, but they often are given to us as "facets" or as "partial information." The intent of God is that we share the revelations and insights we receive with other believers so that together we have a greater understanding of the whole of God's truth.
Consider the example of two people sitting at opposite ends of a table looking at a centerpiece of flowers. They each are looking at the same flowers, but they are seeing them from different viewpoints. As they share what they see, each person is able to see "more and quote and to see the whole with greater clarity. This principle is true for all areas of truth – whether they relate to business, ministry, or our personal lives. We need the spiritual perspective of others to enhance our perspective of what God desires to do and how He desires to work in us and through us.
Proverbs 15:22 tells us,
Without counsel, plans go awry,
But in the multitude of counselors they are established.
This admonition of the Lord is stated in a similar way in Proverbs 20:18,
Plans are established by counsel.
By wise counsel wage war.
Ask questions of yourself and to others. Seek answers until you know with certainty that you have all the information you need to start implementing the vision God has given you. This is not all the information you will ever need. But you have sufficient information to start.
One couple that we know found a house that they desired to purchase, but the more they consulted architects and designers and contractors, and the more they calculated the cost of renovating the house to meet their specific needs and desires, the more they realized that they would be far better off o to build a new house in the style they liked and with all of the amenities they wanted built in from the outset.
Not only can you receive information from others, but also motivation and encouragement, and even ideas that can spawn a vision. Seldom are these things birthed in a vacuum. Something someone says to us – perhaps a sermon we hear, a conversation we have – triggers in us an idea, a goal, a “quickening” of our spirit to get something in particular done. It may be something that we read in the Scriptures – the Word of God may come ringing through the ages to us as if He is speaking directly into our hearts, with the words almost leaping off the pages of our of our Bible.
As that inspired idea begins to take shape in our spirit, we see it in clearer and clearer detail - even to the point where we see ourselves succeeding in what it is that we feel we are to do But so often, the vision dies there. It doesn’t become a reality for the plain and simple reason that we don't do anything with the vision God imparts to us. We let it fizzle and disintegrate until we can barely recall what it was that once inspired this, energize us, and give us a reason for our life. We say we slowly, "I once thought I…” Few things are more mournful and statements of regret made about old and unrealized visions. We need people around us who will continue to motivate us to pursue God's vision.
We need each other in the Body of Christ. We need to hear what God is inspiring others to do, and equally important, we need to hear how God is speaking to them to turn their visions into reality. We need practical and step-by-step instruction for how to trust God in certain situations, how to take specific action in other situations, and how to determine whether we are to act or to rest in our trust.
We are not to be stagnant church sitting in pews on Sunday morning. We are to be active and alive, helping and energizing and motivating one another to pursue the vision that God has given us – patients that veritably take on some form of "missions" or "ministry" for the Christian.
Yes, we need to be around those who share our enthusiasm for seeking and implementing God stations. We need to draw not only from their expertise but also from their faith and encouragement. We need to hear what the Lord might say to us through them, and specifically through words of wisdom and words of knowledge that Holy Spirit may impart.
Here in the Denver area where we, Bob and Mike, live and work, Mike has established "The Achievers Group" – a dynamic and powerful group of business leaders dedicated to profitable, purposeful, financial increase by learning and using God's principles of economics. The group exists so that men and women might come together periodically to encourage one another in their businesses, and to encourage one another to use their businesses in a way that bears eternal reward. If such a group is not available where you live, consider starting one. We need one another!
Pray Always for God's “Ways”
The Bible teaches us that God's ways of bringing about His purposes are unlimited. Very often God has something in mind or a path to pursue that is different than what we would think with our natural minds. We read in Isaiah 55:8, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’says the LORD."
Does this verse mean that we cannot know the mind of the Lord, or that we cannot understand how He does things or white He does them? Not at all! We read in Philippines 2:5, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "We have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).
We are called to know the mind of the Lord and to discover His high your ways and thoughts. We may not know the Lord's ways today, but we can know them if we are diligent in seeking them and in walking in them.
Research the Vision
Take time to do adequate research about the task you are facing and about what is with quiet to implement the vision you believe God is birthing in you.
You may think there is a need for a particular service or product but upon research, discovered that the need is not all that great or that the need is met adequately.
There is a city in itself that has two fine educational institutions and both of them have outstanding law schools. That to say, a great many of the graduates of those law schools have hung out their shingles in the same town where they went to school. The city has far too many lawyers per capita. A recent study revealed that the average salary of an attorney in the city was less than the wages of a warehouse worker! Any person graduating from a law school in the city would be wise to do the necessary research to uncover that fact.
Nehemiah certainly did his homework before acting on the building of the walls. After Nehemiah had been in Jerusalem for three days, he'll rose at night, took a few trusted men with him, and went out by night to survey the boundaries of the city. He went through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and that Refuse Gate and he viewed the broken walls and the burnt gate. Then he went to the About 10 Gate and to the Kings Pool, and then through the Valley and reentered the city through the burnt out Valley Gate. The Bible tells us that at this point, no one in Jerusalem had been told what God had put into his heart about rebuilding the walls and gates.
Nehemiah went at night so that even the officials of the cities would not know what he had in mind. He did not tell the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or any others who were going to do the actual work of rebuilding.
There is a period when we need to keep God's vision to ourselves – we need to Harper it in our own souls and minds and hearts until the patient takes full shape and we can see clearly what must be done. It is a period in which we need to do research, prepare, plan, make necessary arrangements – and do so as quietly as possible.
Three great benefits come from keeping this time of research a "secret and quote from other people.
One, we avoid any possibility of criticism or scoffing that might discourage us at this early stage and cause us to turn away from God's mission.
Two are allowed our own mind to encompass what truly is involved they had. We gain the information we need so that we are not taken by surprise and deterred or "detoured" from the most efficient, effective route to success. If we fail to do our homework, we can be caught off guard and put into a state of confusion by unforeseen obstacles, unknown facts, or unanticipated difficulties. As a wise military expert once said, "To know the enemy is to have half the battle won."
The more we know about the state of things as we begin a mission, the more we can plan accurately.
Finally, there is a third benefit in doing research out of the public eye and without public awareness: we give no notice to our competitors or to our enemies that we are about to invade their territory! Nehemiah did not know who among the residents of Jerusalem might be spies of the enemy. He wanted to have all of the information he needed in hand before announcing the real reason for his trip to Jerusalem.
Nehemiah only took with him a "few men" (Nehemiah 2:12). These were people he trusted and who no doubt had traveled with him from the King's court. They were people he could count on to validate his research and defend him against attack. It is always valuable during a time of research to be in close fellowship with a few trusted believers whom you know support you fully and believe intensely in God's mission.
Test the Waters
As part of doing your research, you may need to "test the waters" – run a trial study, conducted a research study, build a prototype and test it, send for a sample product and use it, visit a factory, or locate suppliers and check out what they have to offer.
As you take these steps toward your vision, ask the Lord to guide you into the development of a product or service superior to any currently available. This may not mean creating a product, but modifying, redesigning, or upgrading an existing product or service. Lay a solid foundation of quality in all that you do. That foundation will stand the storms of competition as well as the test of time.
In Luke 6:47 – 48, we read, "Whoever come to Me, and here's My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a worse, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock."
What is built, lasts – including lives, marriages, businesses, and ministries.
In some cases, the development of your product or service may not be a redesign as much as repositioning of the product in the marketplace. Find a new purpose, a niche, a new method for implementation. Carve out a unique place for your product or service.
Ongoing creativity is going to be necessary in your business or ministry. Continue to be creative in all you do. I knew ways to be creative in expressing love to your spouse, in expressing the gospel to those who need to hear it, in advertising your products, and in offering your service.
Not all of the good ideas have been taught yet!
Not all of the good products have been invented yet!
Not all of the good services have been provided yet!
If mankind is created all the things we have today by using an average of only 5% of human brain and potential, just think what can be done if we begin to pursue the remaining 95% of our potential!
Explore God's word For Ideas
God's Word is filled with ideas related to the creation and implementation of a new business, the development of a new product, or the establishment of a new product. Read God's Word again with your business, career, or job in mind!
A blending of personal and corporate achievement.
Good morality and team spirit.
Short-range and long-range planning.
All of these concepts are essentially neutral. They can manifest themselves in a spiritual dimension as well as any business dimension. They also apply to one's personal and family life.
And where do we see all these principles at work? Where do we find truth about them? In God's Word!
What about Situations Requiring Immediate Action?
At times, of course, decisions must be made quickly. But those decisions are not usually the major decisions that established the future of a marriage, company, or ministry. Take time in making major decisions.
“But what," you may ask, "if God speaks to me very clearly and directly about what to do?"
Even then, way in your spirit what you believe you have heard God say to you. This is not discounting God's message to you. Rather, it is seeking confirmation of God's message. The truth of the Lord is always established by two witnesses. Either God will confirm to you His Word directly by continuing to speak to you from the Scriptures or through prophecy, or he will use someone to speak His Word to you – perhaps through a sermon you hear or a Christian television program you watch or a book you read by a Christian author. God's desire is for you to know with certainty that you have heard from Him and He will always confirm to you the truth of His Word to you.
Even when you are 100% certain about why it is that God has spoken to you, make sure that you know when you are to act and how you are to implement what God has told you to do.
An incubation period is always for the health, safety, and future success of the baby about to be birthed. Babies that are birthed to soon suffer problems, even death. The same is true for business and ministries. Take the time you need to get your heart rate and your research in order. But recognize as you do that every incubation period is just that –a period. Eventually the time for birthing comes!
CREATING LANDING PADS FOR GOD'S BLESSINGS
Many of us have had the experience of being in an airplane that has two circle and airport one or two times waiting for an opportunity to land. God's blessings are also circling over God's people, waiting and looking for a place to land.
What keeps us from receiving the blessings of God?
Purity and holiness are required for God's blessings to flow freely. They are the foundation that is required for prosperity to develop.
Years ago Mike was in a small prop airplane preparing to land in a bushy area on an island off the East Coast of Africa. The pilot "buzzed" the strip several times both to announce the arrival of the plane and also so that he could visibly make certain that there were no animals on the strip and that all of the potholes had been filled in and that the strip was clear of debris. One small hole, one small bush, could cause a catastrophe during landing.
In a similar fashion, it's time many of us took inventory of our own lives. We need to make sure that our lives are a suitable place for God's blessings to land.
Prayers of Introspection
Part of our prayer life as we carry a burden must be prayers that invite God to search our hearts and to reveal to us any sin in our lives that might keep us from being 100% successful.
Read carefully when Nehemiah prayed. It is one of the most important prayers in all the Bible related to your vision and your success in completing your vision. Nehemiah prayed:
I pray, LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You will keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your Commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father's house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the Commandments, the statues, nor the ordinance which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, "If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My Commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name." Now these are Your servant and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. Oh Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant them mercy in the sights of this man [the King]. (Nehemiah 1:5 – 11)
Note 5 things that Nehemiah prayed and the order in which he prayed them:
First, Nehemiah began his prayer with praise. He acknowledged that God is a great and awesome God. It is important for you when you are praying about a burden to recognize that God is bigger than the problem about which you are praying. Unless you have keen awareness that God is able to resolve the problem you see, your prayers will be weak and ineffectual.
Second, Nehemiah admitted that there was a sin problem and that he, in some way, was associated with it. Every negative situation in the world today has a sin problem at its root. The outer problem may have been one of broken walls and burned gates, but the deep inner problem was one of sin and corruption. It was sin and corruption that led initially to the walls being broken and the gates being burned.
We may see a problem of abuse in our world today. But the deeper problem is a problem rooted in sin: it is a problem of hatred and bitterness and anger. Those are the things that give rise to abuse.
We may see a problem of divorce in our world today. But the deeper problem is a problem rooted in sin: it is a problem of infidelity and estrangement and hatred and anger and bitterness and resentment. Those are the things that give rise to marriage problems.
And what is our problem in these problems? If you were filling a burden about a problem, you in some way are can acted to the problem. You may not be the person who is abused or the abuser, but for you to fill a burden in this area, you very likely have known or know a person who is abused or an abuser. And in that way, you are associated with the tragedy of abuse. You have the awareness of the underlying sin causing abuse.
The only way out of sin is to confess it and to be forgiven for it. Nehemiah confessed the sins of his "father's house" saying, "Both my father’s house and I have sinned" (Nehemiah 1:7).
The psalmist gives us this wonderful hope:
The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears,
And delivers them out of their troubles.
The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
He guards all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned.
The LORD redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of them who trust in Him shall be condemned. (Psalm 34:15, 17 – 22)
The Lord not only watches, by He listens to the righteous. He not only listens, but He delivers. He heals the broken heart, protects the physical body, spares from affliction, and redeems the soul of the righteous person!
Tucked into this same passage of the Psalm, however, are these words of warning to the evil doer:
The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. (Psalm 34:16)
Do you truly want to succeed in the pursuit of God's vision for you? Do you want to turn a burden into a glorious miracle? Then begin by confessing sin and receiving the fullness of God's forgiveness.
Removing the Sin Barrier
We are far too quick to tolerate sin. We dress it up and call it by other names. Sin, however, is sin. It is a stench in the Lord's nostrils. It is never something that the Lord can tolerate or dismiss.
One of the dangers related to sin is that we play the "comparison game." We look at our sin and then we look at the sins of others and we conclude, "I'm not doing all that bad. I'm actually pretty good." We declare our own righteousness rather than confess our sins. We have it exactly backwards! It is the Lord who declares a person to be righteous. It is our responsibility before Him to confess our sins and to rely upon His mercy to forgive us.
Some Christians find it strange that Nehemiah sought God's forgiveness on behalf of his forefathers. Look closely at what Nehemiah said, however. He said to the Lord, "I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You" (Nehemiah 1:6).
To confess sin is to admit sin. It is to acknowledge that sin has been committed against God. For Nehemiah to confess the sins of the children of Israel was to acknowledge that the entire nation of Israelites had sinned against God, and since he was an Israelite, he was part of that sin.
There are many people who need to confess that sin has existed in their family as a whole. They need to own up to the fact that a "strain of sin" may have taken root in the family for several generations of repeated sin, spawned from one generation to the next through bad example and bad teaching.
Bob came to this realization several years ago when he recognized that divorce had existed back in his family for two generations. He owned up to the fact of sin in his family tree and sought God's forgiveness for the "root of sin" that had been passed down through the generations into his own life.
Some people aren't aware that they have a built in drive toward particular kinds of sins through the ungodly behavior or influence of parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents. But such influences exist. The Bible speaks of them as the "iniquities of the fathers." Today they are known more commonly as generational sins, which are sins that seemed to be passed from one generation to the next in a family tree. These sins are even mentioned in the passage of the Bible that you know as the Ten Commandments:
You shall not make yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, the LORD of your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, for those who love Me and keep my Commandments. (Deuteronomy 5:8 – 10)
When we recognize and confess a generational sin, we are asking God to remove from our lives the very propensity or the inclination to sin in a particular way. We admit that we have not only been born with a sin nature, but we have inherited certain inclinations to engage in particular sins. And we then must ask God to forgive us for that sin nature and to transform us into new creatures according to the likeness of Jesus Christ. We must ask to be cleansed of the desire to sin.
The good news is that God forgives the generational sin nature just as surely as He forgives any other type of behavioral or attitudinal sin nature. Generational sins do not need to be perpetuated. They can be stopped by your confessing and receiving forgiveness for those sins!
At other times, certain behaviors that may not be "sins" against God also need to be acknowledged. Many people are the recipients of that instruction and bad training. They have not been properly taught the things of God when they were children and do not have a sharp sense of what is right and wrong before the Lord. In some cases, bad habit has been passed along from one generation to the next – perhaps even a tendency toward severe behaviors such as data management of money, bankruptcy, alcoholism, bad health habits, or poor stewardship of resources.
We need to own up to these areas of bad teaching or training, recognize that we have been influenced for years and perhaps decades of negative or harmful examples, and ask God to renew our minds and hearts with truth. We must recognize that it is God's desire to change us increasingly into the likeness of Jesus Christ and we must invite the Holy Spirit to end well us and manifested in us the character traits and habits that are pleasing to God.
Why is this important to vision?
Because we will never succeed fully in our pursuit of God's vision for our lives if we continue to cling to sin, negative habits, harmful patterns, or that instruction. As soon as we recognize these adverse influences upon us, we need to "confess them" – own up to them, and affect them, and then ask God to forgive us, help us, and give us the courage to repent, which is to "turn around" and go in the direction that God set before us.
The Bible tells us, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105)
If we have any desire to know how God desires for us to live…if we have any doubts as to whether we are obeying God's laws… We only need to look at the Scriptures. We need to read them, study them, no them, commit them to memory, and diligently choose to live by them. The Word of God will illuminate our souls and give us clear understanding about how we are to live.
We can never do anything of major sickness transfer God if we continue to harbor set in our lives. Isaiah 59:2 tells us,
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hid in His face from you,
So that He will not hear.
Later in that same chapter of Isaiah we read these sobering words:
For our transgressions are multiplied before You,
And our sins testify against us;
For our transgressions are with us,
And as for our iniquities, we know them:
In transgressing and lying against the LORD,
And departing from our God,
Speaking oppression and revolt,
Conceiving and battering from the hearts words of falsehood,
Justice is turned back,
And righteousness stands afar off;
For truth is fallen in the street,
And equity cannot enter.
(Isaiah 59:12 – 14)
Iniquity, Justice, and truth cannot be established as long as sin is allowed free reign. It is only in the wake of confession and forgiveness that God's righteousness can flow freely in our midst.
Any person who embarks on a vision from the Lord must do so with a clean slate spiritually. That is the only way to ensure that God will continually assist us in all of the many processes necessary to bring a vision to fruitation.
How Do We Know If We Need to Confess Sin?
So many Christians pray and come away from prayer feeling as if their prayers have bounced off the ceiling.
Have you ever prayed and nothing happened?
Have you ever used the name of Jesus and seen no affects from your prayer?
The problem is very likely an un-confessed sin. Search your own heart. Is there something that you know that you are holding back from the Lord, something you know is displeasing to Him by which you are not willing to confess to Him, something that you desire to continue to do rather than to repent of it and be free of it? Our prayers are hindered by sin that piles up between us and God and creates a barrier of separation.
Second Chronicles 7:14 tells us, "If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land." God's desire is to forgive and to heal and to restore not only to us individually, but to restore us as families, as churches, and as a nation. The beginning point comes when we confess our sin and turn away from it.
No Sin Is Too Small To Confess
No sin is too small to confess. No sin is too small that it can be “kept” in a person’s life. No sin goes overlooked or unnoticed by God. In the Song of Solomon we read,
Catch us the foxes,
The little foxes that spoil the vines,
For our vines have tender grapes.
Many of the sins that hinder the effectiveness of our prayers and our efforts are not major sins, but rather, “little foxes.” It is the little foxes that eat the grapes that are still in formation – I is the little foxes that eat the grapes that are still in formation – it is the little sins that keep unformed visions form forming fully.
We certainly see this principle at work in the field of metallurgy. When certain metals are pure, they are inert and they cause no biological problems in the human body. Early in his career as an oral surgeon, Bob developed a number of innovative implants for putting teeth in jaws. In fact, he held the first three patents in this area. To secure the teeth in one device, a metal threaded implant needed to be positioned in the chin.
Bob had great success in using these early implants in experimental work with dogs, and then later in human beings who were willing to try a new approach to their dental problems. The need arose for an increasing number of these devices so Bob contracted the production of the device to a particular laboratory. The lab wanted to produce the device in surgical steel, which was an acceptable approach.
The first of the new steel implants was used in a patient in and then several weeks later, Bob noticed upon examining the patient’s X-rays that the bone around the implants was beginning to disintegrate. The implants were coming loose and they needed to be removed.
This had never happened before. Bob sent the implants out for analysis to several metallurgical labs and the results came back that the metal used for the implants had one quarter of one percent copper in it. It was not pure. That very small amount of copper had created the problem and made the entire device not only unusable but harmful.
To the naked eye, the steel implant that Bob had used appeared to be acceptable and even go unnoticed. Under the scrutiny of God’s absolute justice, however, sin is glaring.
A Reminder of Mercy
As Nehemiah prayed and confessed his sins and those of his fathers to God, he also reminded God of His promise – He never forgets His promised or overlooks those to whom He has made promises. The reminder was primarily for Nehemiah’s sake. It was Nehemiah who was reminding himself as he reminded God that God is a God of great mercy, loving-kindness, and forgiveness.
As you pray and confess your sins to God, expect God to forgive you. He is a merciful God and He delights in forgiving you so that you can walk free of sin and enter into His blessings. As God forgives you, forgive yourself. Move forward, confident of His grace.
And, out of your knowing that you have been forgiven and cleansed of all sin, begin to make specific petitions and requests of God.
Nehemiah asked the Lord for two things: that He would remember His people and hear their prayers, and that He would grant mercy to Nehemiah as he approached the king. Nehemiah recognized that as a servant of the king, there was nothing that he could do about resolving the problem in Jerusalem without the king’s approval and consent.
These aspects of Nehemiah’s prayer are important to you as you carry a burden to the Lord in prayer. Begin your prayer with praise. Confess any sin connected to the deep underlying problem you perceive and ask the Lord for forgiveness. Acknowledge the Lord’s promises regarding the care and provision and protection of His people. And then, make very specific requests of the Lord about the action you desire to take to remedy the problem.
Be willing to Be Refashioned
Nehemiah felt a burden for Jerusalem even though he wasn’t remotely qualified, in the natural, to fix the problem in Jerusalem. He wasn’t a building contractor - he was a cupbearer. There is no indication that he had any skills whatsoever
In supervising large groups of people, arranging for building supplies, or knowing how to build walls and gates. Nehemiah worked as a man who brought wine to the king and took a sip of it before giving it to the king so that if the wine had been poisoned, he would be killed instead of the king. His was a position that required sheer courage and loyalty and virtually no skills.
Nehemiah, however, was willing to be refashioned and “retooled” and “remade” for the task ahead. Are you willing for the Lord to do a refashioning work I your life?
Part of God’s refashioning work will come as sin is removed from your life. Part of His work may involve the facing of other challenges and obstacles that lie in your path to success.
Impurities are drawn out of metal and can be removed from them only through intense heat. So many of us want the gold, but we don’t want the fire necessary to produce the gold! Diamonds have to be cut in order for them to have the beautiful facets that reflect the light and give value to the diamond.
Are you willing to be broken and tested and fashioned and remade for greater usefulness to the Lord?
The Lord spoke to Jeremiah, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand.” (Jeremiah 18:2-6)
Are you willing today to be refashioned into the vessel that the Lord desires to use for His purposes? Are you willing to be “refashioned and “remade” into the person He desires to implement His vision on this earth.
REFOCUSING ON THE 3 F’s
A little boy was walking down a dirt road one day, dragging a gnarled old stick behind him. The little boy no doubt could identify with the stick – his own leg was crippled and he walked with a lopsided gait. A gnarled little boy dragging a gnarled little stick. To the observer, the scene might have seemed pitiful.
One man observing the little boy, however, noticed that the boy had a wide grin on his face. He approached the boy and asked him, “What are you grinning about?”
The boy replied, “Isn’t it neat, sir?’
“What’s neat?’ the man asked,
The boy responded with an even broader grin, “That a crooked ol’ boy with a crooked ol’ stick can draw such a straight line.”
Sure enough, as the man looked at the line the boy was drawing with the stick, he saw that it was straight as an arrow.
No matter who you are today – no matter how “flawed” your life may be – you can still produce eternal good for the Lord.
Refuse to Focus on Faults
Every person has faults. But no successful person focuses on them!
Faults include our shortcomings – those things that we believe we are uneducated, untrained, unqualified to do.
Have you ever stopped to consider the fact that Noah didn’t have any experience about shipbuilding prior to his building an ark that stood the ravages of the worst storm in recorded history?
Nehemiah the cupbearer didn’t know about wall building.
David the shepherd boy didn’t know about being king.
Peter the fisherman didn’t know about being the shepherd of god’s people.
Nevertheless, they obeyed, and God caused their “new careers” to prosper and to become a blessing to others.
As a believer in Christ Jesus, you are challenged to face these three truths about the talents and abilities you have been given. They more than compensate for any faults or shortcomings you may have.
Furthermore, your talent and your purpose are linked.
A carpenter does not choose a hammer form his workshop unless he is expecting to use it as a hammer to hammer nails. God has created you to be a particular way and to have unique and specific talents. In using tose talents, you are fulfilling the purpose for which He made you.
On two different occasions in the New Testament, Jesus gave parables about talents. One of key truths in those parables is this: every servant was given at least one talent. The same is true for us today. Every person has at least one talent, some more.
The trouble with some Christians is that they don’t like the talent they have been given. Rather than be down on yourself or discount your ability, rejoice in the talent God has given you.
We all can look back and recognize that we seem always to have enjoyed doing certain things or learning about certain subjects. We are born with talents and propensities. They are God’s gifts to us.
What was God’s gift to Nehemiah?
God had gifted Nehemiah with a desire to serve. His heritage as an Israelite was part of God’s gift to him. And when you combine Nehemiah’s basic gifts of service and his heritage as an Israelite it isn’t much of a leap to see why Nehemiah had a burden to serve His people.
The basic talent of Nehemiah was developed in Nehemiah’s service to the king. He became a faithful cupbearer, and it was his faithful service in this area that put Nehemiah into position to succeed at his God-appointed vision.
When you work to develop your talent, you are going to be nurtured in a position that will prepare you for what it is that God is preparing for you!
God has not only gifted you with certain talents and abilities, but He has also arranged for specific opportunities that can best be addressed by your talents and abilities. God is always at work in you to prepare you for the future. He is also always at work preparing your future for you!
The story is told of a man who stuttered badly. Nevertheless, he desired to work as a Bible salesman. The people who owned the Bible company were a little concerned but they decided to give him an opportunity. To their surprise, this man soon became their top salesman.
The head of the sales department called the man to his office and asked him what technique he was using to sell Bibles. The man stuttered greatly as he explained, “I j-j-just r-r-ring the b-b-b-bell and when they c-c-c-come to the d-d-door, I ask, ‘Do you want to b-b-buy a B-B-Bible or have me r-r-r-read it to you?’ They n-n-n-nearly always b-b-b-buy.”
This man had taken his condition and turned it to his advantage! He had found a way to be successful in spite of his weakness – indeed, by using his weakness and turning it to an advantage.
The Bible tells us, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34:19). The word affliction actually means “weakness” in this context. May things come at all of us to weaken us, or to create a “lack” in us. When we continue to minister to others in boldness in spite of our affliction, in spite of our weakness, in spite of what we DON’T have…just watch how God works! Psalm 34:19 doesn’t end with a word about our afflictions. It goes on to say, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” The Lord provides His strength to fill up our lack, to make strong our weakness, to use us mightily in our affliction.
When our afflictions are of no account to us, they are rarely of any concern to others!
Make No Excuses about Your Talent. So often we use our “condition” as an excuse. We aren’t smart enough, not talented enough, not rich enough, not brave enough.
Mike once had a couple come to him at his church and the husband said, “Pastor, pray for us. I’m out of work and I need a job.” Mike asked, “What kind of work can you do?”
His wife immediately spoke up and said, “He can’t do much of anything. He didn’t finish high school.”
Mike thought to himself, With that kind of encouragement at home, who needs discouragement! This wife only saw what her husband wasn’t rather than what he was. If she had only sought to encourage her husband in what he could do, how much better they both would have been and how much happier in their relationship.
This couple had failure thinking. They saw themselves as handicapped and limited.
In reality, was this man a failure? No! He had at least one talent. It just needed to be discovered and encouraged and used.
Was he handicapped? No more than we all are. His major handicap was “failure thinking.”
Was he limited? Only in his vision for what God might do in him and through him.
Years ago when Bob visited Ukraine, he encountered a surgeon in a hospital who was earning approximately fifty dollars a month for his services. Later during that same visit he met a taxi cab driver who was also earning about fifty dollars a month! He asked his guide about this equal pay, since each job required vastly different amounts of schooling. The guide gave him the standard communist line: “All jobs are equal. Each person does the job he enjoys doing and each job is important to the society as a whole.”
Although we certainly aren’t advocating communism, there is definitely a similar thread of truth in what the apostle Paul said about the jobs we fill in the church: “Now indeed there are many members, yet one body…God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (Corinthians 12:20, 24-26).
All ministry gifts and talents are vital to the Body of Christ. All are important. However, not all jobs are ‘equal” in terms of equality of reward or pay – we see in Jesus’ own teaching that some are given five talents, some two, and some one. But, all jobs are “equally capable of reward.” Any job that is done with a wholehearted effort, with faith, and in obedience to the Lord, is a job that is rewarded and honored. Honest work comes in a million varieties and each is valuable before the Father.
The longer you work at your talents, the more skilled and efficient you become. A plumber who has worked at his craft for fifteen years is going to be much quicker and much more skilled in his work than the man who has only been working at plumbing for fifteen days. The same for a pianist, painter, podiatrist, printer, or preacher!
Refuse to Focus on Failures
So many of God’s people today are living in rubble. They are living in the midst of “burned out stones.” That’s not God’s plan. He never calls His people to live in ash heaps! God’s plan is that people build, create, establish, found, generate, or produce.
It’s time God’s people turned their eyes to the burned out rubble around them and begin to see them as the elements of a building project!
What do you see when you see a blank piece of paper? And artist will see an opportunity to create a drawing, a writer will see a page to be filled with words.
What do you see when you see a vacant piece of ground? A farmer will see an opportunity to plant crops, a builder will see an opportunity to create a planned development or construct a building, a city leader may see an opportunity to develop a park or a playground for children.
What do you see when you see a group of discouraged or needy people? Do you see people who can be motivated into an area of productivity or creativity, people who can be encouraged to generate something positive around them?
Can you see the walls of Jerusalem rising from rubble? Can you see something good coming from the ashes of your past failures?
We must be willing to move out as Abraham did and trust God to lead us step by step into a “new country.” God spoke to Abraham:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
The Lord certainly held out a phenomenal blessing to Abraham. But look what was required of Abraham for him to receive this blessing: he was told to leave his country and to leave his father’s house. He was to cut all ties with his past heritage and associations, and to move out into a new territory that was unknown to him at the time – a land that the Lord had promised to “show” him as he went.
In leaving his family, Abraham did not leave his wife, Sarai. She most definitely went with him – she was not of his “father’s” house, she was his own spouse, his own family. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, also went with them as well as the “the people whom they had acquired” as servants. To leave family and his father’s house was to cut all ties that held him obligated to people who did not want to move out in faith with him as he pursued god’s unfolding vision.
Are you willing to leave behind your present status…your current position…your job…your ‘place” in order to be obedient to God’s vision?
Refuse to Focus on Fears
May people think that the opposite of fear is, hope. The true opposite of fear is faith. Faith is what overcomes fear and replaces fear in us. And one to the greatest fears that a person pursuing a vision is likely to have is a fear of failure and rejection in the face of a risky venture.
Nehemiah had never seen the walls and gates of Jerusalem before they were destroyed. He really had no idea how large the city was or how much work might be involve in the rebuilding of the walls and gates. There is no indication he had ever been to Jerusalem before or that he knew anybody in the city. Nehemiah knew that he and those with him, as well as all of the inhabitants of the city, were extremely vulnerable to attack. What an act of faith on his part that he might even be willing to undertake this task!
Nehemiah faced a tremendous risk of failure. He ahd no training and no experience in doing what he felt God was leading him to do. If you feel fear in facing what appears to be a vision that has risk, remind yourself that God does not call people to failure. He calls people to success. He expects to help us achieve what He calls us to achieve.
Faith vs. Positive Thinking. Faith is not the same as positive thing.
A mistake that many people make is assuming that if they just think enough ”good thoughts” their vision will become a reality. The fact is you can think good, positive thoughts for decades and not be one inch closer to the realization of your God-given vision. A vision requires faith.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, “I can do all thins through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Underline those two critical words: through Christ. It is our belief in Christ that compels us to pursue our vision in the first place. I t is our belief in Christ that gives us the courage to continue to pursue our vision. Unless we have a clear understanding that our vision involves Chris t and is a part of Christ’s call on our life, we will not have faith to pursue that vision, and we will not be able to think positively about our vision over the long haul.
Positive thinking can cause a person to start pursuing a dream and even to keep pursuing a dream that is temporary. Now by temporary we mean temporal – bound in time and space as we know it.
Faith is required for those visions that have an eternal quality to them. The Lord Jesus taught, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and panted in the se,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6). Mustard seeds in the Bible lands are extremely small – small as a grain of white pepper. Yet Jesus said, faith that size can say to a large tree of problem, “be gone,” and it will have to go.
Do not despise the size of your faith…nor the size of your ability. Act on your faith. Use your ability. It will be powerful to accomplish God’s purposes.
Don’t look at the seed that falls from the tree. Look at the tree that resides un-birthed in the seed. Indeed, there’s more than a tree in a seed – there’s an entire forest!
God’s Awesome Pledge Toward Your Success
As Joshua was preparing to cross over the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land with the Israelites following his leadership, the Lord said to him three very important things. He speaks those same things to us today as we prepare to move past our faults, failures and fears, and enter into His promises for us.
First, the Lord gives assurance of what WILL be accomplished. A genuine vision form the Lord will bear within it a firm conviction that God is able and that God will succeed in doing His part in resolving the problem or need ahead. Surely if God succeeds in doing His part, we cannot fail in doing our part!
The Lord said to Joshua, “Every place that het sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you…No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life…I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:3, 5-6)
When God gives you a vision for your life and calls you to pursue it with all your might, He will assure you of the same things. Your mission will be successful, you will remain in authority until you have done all God has called you to do, the Lord will be with you every step of the way, and you will produce something that blesses in an ongoing way those who follow you and fight you.
Second, the Lord gives a command regarding our obedience to His Word. The Lord said to Joshua, "Bistro and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate any day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (Joshua 1:7 – 8).
We are to know God Word and live by it. It is to become the focus of our thoughts and the main topic of conversation of our mouths. We are to think about God's commandments, speak about them, and live them out in our daily lives.
No business plan, no statement of purpose, no reason for ministry, no project or mission or task or enterprise must supersede or take central place in our thinking. The Word of God must be the way we choose to live every second of every hour of must be the way we choose to live, every second of every hour of everyday of our lives. We must never lose focus on what God directs us to be and to do as faithful followers and Disciples of Christ Jesus.
Third, the Lord gives us forewarning about fear and discouragement that may still lie ahead. The lord said to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD you God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Three times in the first nine verses of the book of Joshua the Lord says to Joshua. “Be strong and of good courage.” Those attributes are direct opposites to fear and discouragement. We are never to give in to our fears or to be slowed down because we feel dismayed or disheartened at our lack of progress or a slow rate of progress. We are to be courageous and strong in faith and in our trust that the Lord is with us always – wherever we go, whatever we do, and in any situation or circumstance we may encounter.
The story is told of a simple man who lived in the 1800’s in England. He had no education and very few abilities. To further complicate matters, he was crippled in one leg one arm and he received virtually no training or help that qualified him for any type of work. How one point he had attempted to work as a farm laborer, but he was not able to keep pace with others in the field and had been fired.
This man, however, was not content to be "cared for" by others. Neither was he content to wallow in his own faults, shortcomings, or past failures.
One day as a young man in his early 20s, he was watching the horses move through the city pulling carriages and carts of various kinds, and he came up with an idea. If he could do nothing else to support himself, he could borrow a shovel and a barrel and scoop up the droppings from the horses and resell them as fertilizer to those who were ardent gardeners.
A certain amount of risk was involved in this. After all, as a crippled person he was not going to be able to move as quickly as some and he faced some danger in working in the midst of city traffic. Still, he knew in his heart he could do this!
And so, he developed a business. Very soon in the process, he was able to return the shovel and barrel he had purchased his own equipment. He developed a line of customers. Over time, he was able to hire others to do the shoveling work and to live off a portion of what they earned while he spent his time expanding his customer base even further.
Not only did this man become prosperous in his business – most assuredly living at a much higher standard of living than he would have if he had remained dependent upon public alms – but he provided a valuable asset to his city and eventually, he even managed to gain a small stipend from the city for “street cleaning.” It was an area of expansion that included other forms of refuse. The diversified in the end, he died living in a home that he owned with sufficient land for his own garden – which he fertilized from the proceeds of his own business! He refused to focus on faults, failures, or fears. Instead, he focused on strengths, faith and successes.
If a simple person with physical constraints and no education could do that in the 19th century any nation with relatively few opportunities for upward financial mobility… What might you do today!
THE KEY TO GOD’S TRUST
Can God trust you today with His vision?
Can He trust you with increased wealth and success in all areas of your life?
The key to winning God's trust is this: obedience to God's commandments.
So many people go to church every Sunday and hear God’s Word preached and sung and talked. They say that they believe what they hear, but they rarely seek to apply what they hear to their lives. Monday through Saturday. We are to go beyond what we experience on Sunday morning. We are to be doers of the Word. (See James 1:22.)
Obedience is evidence that we honor God in all things. Our obedience says to the Lord, "I honor You. That is my heartfelt desire. I want to do only those things that are pleasing to You and which bring glory to Your name." Make the seeking of God your first priority.
Colossians 3:17 tells us, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father in through Him.”
Too often we have an idea and then we ask God to bless it. The far better approach is to ask God for His idea in the first place. His idea already carries in it His blessing!
Too often we come to the Lord and ask him to bless us and honor us. The approach we should be taking is to honor the Lord and as we do, He will bestow His blessing.
Every believer must know the basic principles that God has given us because these basic principles apply to every area of like, including a person’s business and financial life. And the most basic principle of all is this: honor God by obeying God.
Those who were purchased as slaves were required to him make a verbal pledge to their new masters, “I will hearken to your voice only and do all that you tell me to do.” What a position of submission and obedience!
That is the state in which we are full for the Lord is believers in Christ Jesus. We are His servants. We must be willing to say to Him, I will hearken to You voice only and do all that You tell me to do.”
Jesus is not only the Savior of our souls, He is to be the Lord of our lives. That means He is the Master, we are the servants. He give direction, we obey. He tells us where to go, what to do, when to speak, how to live…. And we must follow.
The Source of All Wealth
Because this is primarily a book about how to turn earthly profits into eternal rewards, our focus is going to be on those Commandments of God that require our obedience in stewardship. One of the first things we must recognize about God and wealth is this: It is God who gives us the power and ability and ideas that produce wealth. Deuteronomy 8:18 states very clearly, "You shall remember the LORD your God, for he is HE who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
This verse not only tells us the source of our ability to become prosperous, but tells us the very reason for all prosperity – that God’s covenant might be established on the earth.
Later in Deuteronomy, we read about very specific blessings that are part of the covenant God made with His people. Here in your spirit with the Lord said to His people through Moses:
"Now we shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obeyed the voice of the LORD your God:
“Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.”
“Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.”
“Blessed shall your basket and your kneading bowl.”
“Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.”
“The LORD will cause your enemies to rise against you to be defeated before your faith; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.”
“The LORD will command the blessings on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”
“The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the Commandments of your LORD your God and walk in His ways. Then all people of the Earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give you Wayne to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heat the Commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them." (Deuteronomy 28:1 – 14)
What a tremendous blessing! It is a blessing that touched every area of their lives, and especially so their work. The Lord promised to increase everything they did, to defeat their enemies, to give them great health and strength, and to establish them as a "holy people." This is total prosperity – prosperity in material possessions, prosperity in physical health, prosperity in relationships, and prosperity in spirit.
And what is required for the Israelites to receive such a blessing? Only this – to diligently obey with the Lord told them to do.
And if they didn't obey? The consequences of disobedience were just as dire as the promised blessings were great. The Lord made it very clear that if the people failed to obey His voice and to follow His commandments, everything that could be blessed, would be cursed. The curses that follow in Deuteronomy 28 are a mirror image of the blessings that Moses recited to them.
The Lord also told His people that they were to serve Him with "joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything" (Deuteronomy 28:47). We must never fail to be thankful for the blessings of God. They truly are that – blessings from God. They are not something we deserve apart from our relationship with God; they are not something we are totally in our strength. Moses warned the people very directly on this point:
“Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His Commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest – when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful homes and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who has brought you out of the land of Egypt… Then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the Mike of my hand have gained me this wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14, 17)
What is the greatest way to keep from exalting our own wealth making ability and to stay humble before the Lord? It is to give as God commands us to give.
God's Commandments about Giving
God's commandments about giving concern to types of giving: tithing and giving offerings. One is required of God, and the other is a blessing greatly by God.
The Tithe is Required
One of the things that the lord requires of all believers is a tithe – ten percent of one’s earnings.
For you truly to prosper fully in the vision to which God calls you, you must tithe faithfully. It is God’s way of bringing about a cycle of blessing in your life. The very number tem, on which the tithe is based, has a meaning in the Scriptures of “increase.” What we give to God is always used by God for our increase.
There are those who say, “But I’m a New Testament Christian. Tithing isn’t in the New Testament.” Tithing isn’t mentioned specifically in the New Testament because it was automatically assumed to be something that all believers did.
God has never ceased to require a tithe – one tenth of all material blessing – of His people. Read what the Lord said through His Prophet Malachi to His people who had stopped tithing:
“Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“If I will not open for you’re the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroyed fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field.”
Says the LORD of hosts;
“And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:8-12)
A great blessing comes to those who tithe. It is an overflowing blessing, one beyond the ability of those who receive it to hold it. It is a spillover blessing. Jesus also spoke of this spillover blessing when He said, "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom" (Luke 6:38)
We all know what it means to have basic needs. Every person needs food, water, air, shelter, and clothing. Certain things must be done to meet the basics of life.
In like manner, there are certain spiritual basics that must be met for a person to have spiritual health, safety and blessing. The work of the Lord that addresses these basic needs is accomplished through the giving of the tithe into the work of the Lord. As we read in Malachi, the tithe is given so that there might be "food in My house." It is the tithe that provides for the basic needs of God's work, which is the spiritual nourishment of His people.
Are you truly making your tithe count? Are you planting into ministry offers that are meeting your basic spiritual needs? Are you bringing your tithe into the storehouse so that you and all your other believers with whom you are in fellowship are having their basic spiritual needs met?
What about the prophet of your business? Are you tithing that profit to a ministry that meets basic spiritual needs in the lives of those who work in your business and are associated with your business?
Offerings Extend the Work of the Lord
Beyond the tithe, however, we are to give offerings. These are gifts to the Lord's work that go beyond 10%.
They were used by the Lord to extend His ministry beyond the basic spiritual nourishment of His people to reach those who are lost, without hope, and who are in desperate need of healing and wholeness physically, spiritually, financially, materially, emotionally, and in their relationships with others. Offerings are the feel of evangelism, of our rich, of "extensions” of God's work into the right harvest fields all around us.
Are you a regular giver of offerings?
Are you giving offerings to ministries and outreaches that are bearing good fruit, including the saving of souls and the deliverance of people from the enemy power?
Are you offering from the profits of your business or company or other moneymaking enterprise? Are you focusing those offerings on services and activities that bring people into a closer relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ?
Giving with a Generous Heart and Open Hand. The exact percentage or a mound of a person's offerings is a matter to be decided between God and a person or couple. What we do know from God's Word is that God loves a cheerful and eight generous giver. He delights when we want to give freely and frequently to the furtherance of His work. Isaiah 32:8 tells us, "a generous man devises generous things, and by generously he shall stand him.”
We must never lose sight of this truth: God calls His people not only to make a good living but to give a good giving.
Every time we give with a generous hand and a cheerful heart, we break down the hold of materialism that the devil tries to place on us. Materialism is having an "I've got to have more and quote syndrome. It is a manifestation of greed. The cure for it is to open our hands and our wallets and GIVE.
Have you ever thought of your checkbook as a theological document? It is! It indicates who and what you worship and how much you are willing to trust God in all things. Martin Luther taught that a man has three conversions - one of his head, one of his heart, and one of his wallet. The most difficult, perhaps, is the conversion with the wallet!
Giving protects and frees us from financial enslavement. It destroys the devil's hold over us and strengthens our faith.
Establish a Giving Goal. What is your giving goal? Most of us have learning goals. We say, "I'd like one day to earn X amount of dollars a year.” But what is your "giving goal"?
Recently we encountered a man who prayed to the Lord, "Lord, I desire to give away $1 million a year to Your work. If You will continue to increase my business, I will be faithful in tithing and giving offerings to reach that goal."
He made his giving goal his primary concern. And sure enough, over time, his business has increased slowly and steadily, with a few dips and a few dramatic rises along the way, to the point where he is now on the verge of giving his million dollars a year into God's work. And now, he is revising his giving goal. He desires to reach the point where he can give far more than $1 million a year!
To Whom Shall We Give? What about helping another person with his or her vision? Very often that is precisely the way the Lord leads us!
If you believe that God is leading you to help another person, asked in obedience. Your obedience and faithfulness is helping someone else has the Lord please may very well be the key to the Lord unlocking to you the greater vision He has for you.
When Mike and his congregation began to plan for a purchase of a church building they had been leasing, Mike and the leaders of the church felt led by the Lord to set a goal of having $150,000 as a down payment on the loan by the time of "closing" on the property. They struggled for several weeks and finally scraped the together $4000.
Then Mike went to Mexico to visit a friend of his in ministry there. They were struggling financially. Mike felt impressed by the Lord to give the $4,000 to these missionaries.
At first, he rejected the idea, thinking this surely must not be from God since his own church was in need. But the more he prayed, the Mark Vincent he became that this was the leading of the Lord. He prayed in giving the entire $4000 to these missionaries.
What did God do? God begin to move on the hearts of those in his church back in Denver to renew their commitment to giving toward the purchase of their church "home." By the time they got to the closing date on the loan for the building, they not only had $150,000 they had set as a goal, but they had several thousand dollars extra!
More recently, Mike's church made a commitment to seed a financial gift into another ministry. The very next Sunday his church experienced a $5000 increase over the offering amount received on an average Sunday! That increase has continued as the church has continued to "seed" into other churches that are struggling. God will always honor your efforts to keep those who are weaker or in need in the body of Christ!
In addition to his own Covenant Marriages Ministry, Bob has found great delight in helping several pastors and other ministries in his giving. Why do this? Because the Lord has revealed to him from time to time that the seed from his harvest at TMJ Implants needs to be planted in soil other than the soil of Covenant Marriages Ministry.
God honors our giving, but especially so, our giving that is in obedience to His leading. Wherever God instructs you to plan your offerings, do so!
Three Things Your Giving Does
Your giving automatically triggers three responses in the spiritual realm.
God does not give us anything that does not have the potential for eternal blessing in it. To do so would be to say that God can give us something that doesn't bear His nature word out has no part in Him. That simply isn't possible! All that God gives us as a "seed" of eternal benefit in it. In like manner, all that you give to the Lord becomes something that God can and will use for eternal benefit in your life or the lives of others that your giving touches.
Jesus illustrated this by turning His attention to the giving of a poor widow. The Bible says, "He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood" (Mark 12:43 – 44).
A number of years ago, a group once decided to put the principles of God to a test. They took one cubic inch of wheat seed and planted it in 4 x 8' plots of ground. They took the harvest from that plot, which was about a 30% increase, and that they set aside a tithe and offering of that harvest and sowed it the following year. They found a larger spot of ground. In less than ten years, they found that by following this very simple principle of God, their harvest had grown to the point where they needed 22,000 acres of ground to plant the “seed” portion of the harvest they had gathered!
We must become increase thinkers! Ephesians 2:20 speaks of increased thinking. "Mail to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” Are you trusting God to do exceedingly abundantly above all you can ask or think?
In always, your obedience to God in stewardship and in giving results in an "overflow blessing." Proverbs 3:9 – 10 teaches us,
Honor the LORD with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
When we are faithful to the Lord in our giving and honor him with our firstfruits, He is faithful to us in His giving and in honoring us with His blessings.
In Isaiah 55:10 – 11 we have a wonderful picture Of the Way, God provides for us. The Lord says:
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and but,
That it may seek to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
The Lord has provided a word that directly deals with the needs that you have.
In the Bible we find numerous verses that deal with spiritual salvation and deliverance from the devil's oppression. We find verses that deal with physical and emotional healing. We find verses that deal with financial prosperity. Some of these verses tell us of God's desire to act and others give His promises to act. Some of the verses tell specifically that we are to do in order to receive God's best in our lives. But all of those Word taken together from our benefit is a Word that is given to us so that our lives might produce. The Word is given to us so that God's desire for us might be accomplished in us.
Do you have a verse from the Lord that is "your verse and quote to which you cling with faith and hope that the thing God has revealed to you as His vision for your life will happen in the fullness of His timing and according to His methods and plan? If not, find one! God Word has the potential to bring forth life and a harvest of benefit.
Seed and Bread. Notice that God provides two things from the harvest: seed to the sower and bread to the eater.
For millennia, lies farmers have always used the first proceeds of a harvest to purchase or laid aside seed for the next crop. Even today, farmers use the money they gain from harvests in order to make sure they have sufficient seed, fertilizer, and other resources necessary to plant again. Indeed, if a person is sorting through a harvest with the intent of setting aside seed for a future planting, that person source out the best of the harvest to use for seed. In that way, harvests increase and overtime, the very best varieties of seed are developed.
God gives you a harvest with the intent that you set aside the first and best part of your harvest in order to replant! The harvest He has for you today is not your last harvest – it is next in a string of harvests He has already ordained for your future. Our part is to make certain that we do not consume all of our harvest, but that we are diligent in setting aside a portion of the harvest for investing in God's work and in God's plan for our future.
We must never spend our "seed for future harvest" on our lusts and desires. Those who do are candidates for bankruptcy and poverty! It is because we are spending money we do not have the seed that we should be in vesting or saving for the future harvests, that we find ourselves in debtor status as individuals and as a nation.
This is not only a principle that operates in the natural, it is a principle that is spiritual. Whatever we receive in the form of harvest is to be used for planting a "crop and quote that will produce eternal benefit. The Israelites were told to bring the firstfruits as their offerings. They were to give the first time as a tithe. They were to bring the unspotted lambs and the finest of their crops.
The second aspect of the harvest is the "bread to the eater.” God intends for us to consume and to enjoy the remainder of its harvest to us. This does not mean that we are to squander that harvest in riotous living, but it certainly means that we are to delight in what God gives us. After we have tithed and given to God the offering that He lays upon our hearts to give, we are to feel free to eat the harvest given to us and to do so with joy. Proverbs 10:22 tells us, "The blessing of the LORD makes one which, and He adds no sorrow with it.”
Rejoice as you give, knowing that your giving is doing a good work in your life. In 1 Chronicles 29:9 we read, "Then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the LORD; and King David also rejoiced greatly."
A Cycle of Trust
Your obedience to God is a matter of trust. It is a statement about how much you trust God with your material possessions, and in that, how much you trust God to provide for you and care for you. The more you express your trust in God, the more He knows He can trust you with even greater blessings. Your giving set into motion a "cycle" of trust.
We trust God by giving.
God trusts us with more, which means an opportunity to give more.
We trust God by giving more.
God trusts us with still more.
The cycle never ends.
Do you truly want to walk with the fullness of God's overflowing blessing? Then obey why it is you already know God has called you to do! Keep His Commandments about stewardship and giving.
IMPLEMENTING GOD's VISION
Developing God's Plan for Success
A vision without a plan is a fantasy. There are many people who are living in a fantasyland because they have never put a plan into effect for the vision that God has given to them for their lives.
So many Christians say, "I believe God wants me to do such and so"…and yet they never followed through on that believe to actually do what they believe God wanted them to do.
There are a number of reasons why people fail to experience God success in the pursuit of their God-given vision.
Perhaps the first and foremost reason is this: We want to do God's will our way.
Oh, we say it out loud and may even believe deeply in our hearts, "I want to do God's will.”
We believe that God's will is the only will that we will prevail. And we believe God's will is the only will worth pursuing.
But when comes the time for implementation, and although we say we want to do God's will, we asked on the belief by doing things our way. We have a vision for the end Colfax God desires. But we failed to ask God how we are going to get that goal. We make a false assumption that we know how best to do what God has called us to do.
So many people enter marriage, a business, or in ministry with an ideal in mind. They see their marriage as happy, with husband and wife in full agreement and children growing and thriving in an atmosphere of love and godly discipline. They see their business prospering and making money and growing and producing quality products or services. They see their ministry as producing fruit that is spiritual in nature – souls are being saved, lives are being changed, and people are being healed and blessed and made whole in Christ.
Having their ideal in mind is important. A gives us a full picture of the goal we desire to achieve. But equally important is knowing how to get from point A to point B-how to get from where we are right now to the ideals that God has for us.
Do you know what to do to create a marriage that is in agreement? Do you know how to create a home in which children live in an atmosphere of love and godly discipline?
Do you know what to do to create a business that produces profit? Do you know what to do to create a business that produces profit? Do know what to do to grow a business that is truly helpful to people in goods and services it provides?
Do you know how to develop a ministry that is effective and that presents the life-changing power of Christ Jesus in a way that is irresistible?
Knowing how to act in pursuit of a vision is just as important as knowing the ideal of a vision fulfilled.
We must never lose sight of this truth:
God is never obliged to help us solve our problems our way. He is always faithful, however, to help us solve went He perceives to be the problems if we are willing to solve them His way.
Jesus had this to say about the need for thoughtful planning:
"For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – blessed, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, "this man begin to build and was not able to finish." Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with 10,000 to meet him or come against him with 20,000? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:28 – 33)
Planning is a means of "counting the cost and quote – of being realistic about the vision God has given you.
Be practical! Be concrete. Be specific. Be precise in your calculations. Count all the costs ahead of you. Don't go into battle unprepared. A vision requires a total commitment on your part – recognize all that a total commitment is going to cost you, such as the "loss” of the other activities you no longer do and other items you no longer purchase because you are totally focusing your time, energy, and resources toward reaching your vision.
Read where these Proverbs have to say about planning:
A man's heart plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty,
But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
Take time to plan. Some people say, "I am too busy to plan.” A good plan is not a waste of time – a good plan makes maximum use of time! Asked the Lord to direct every step toward the vision to which He has called you.
The Need for Sharp Focus
Goals are means of putting a vision into sharp focus.
Light is all around us. For some of it is from the sun. Run some electric lights. Generally speaking, light is pervasive and fairly uniform. But what happens when we focus and intensified light? It is then that light truly becomes powerful.
Most of us played with magnifying glasses as children focusing the sunlight through the glass onto a lead or piece of paper and watching the power of the sunlight intensify into a small flame. Those who work with lasers know the power of focused light; the intensely focused light of a laser has great power to cut through all kinds of substances with amazing precision.
When we focus a vision into specific goals, we find an intensifying of power.
A target gives us focus. And archer who goes out to practice archery is going to find that his arrows are "aimless and vote unless a target is set up out in the field. He'll never know if he is developing good archery skills unless he has a target at which to aim. The same is true for goals we set regarding our vision from God. We need to establish certain goals so that we will have a gauge for evaluating our efforts.
Stop to consider for a moment that all of the ability and talent and manpower necessary to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem had been present in Jerusalem for years. It had been dormant power. It took a voiced vision and a plan for implantation to turn that dormant power into active power. It took FOCUS.
Three Issues That Need to Be Addressed by a Plan
Any good plan will address three major issues related to a vision:
A Good Plan Defines “What”
Every organization, business, or ministry can benefit from developing an overall "business plan."
A business plan not only anticipates production and profitability, but also I didn't eyes goals related to marketing, expansion, development of new products or services, and other key areas directly related to the endeavor.
Every church, every ministry, and every family should also have a "plan" – a set of goals. A plan sets out specifics. It prescribes a sequence of steps for moving out one level to the next, one phase to the next.
The challenge is for us believers in Christ Jesus is to develop a ministry or giving dimension to our plan.
For 12 years, Mike's church has had a business plan in place and each of those 12 years, his church has grown in size and in outreach. For 15 years, Bob has had a business plan. He has worked that plan and also allowed that plan to grow as his business and ministry have grown. Today he has founded and manages for companies, each related to the other in unique ways. Planning works!
Most of us are familiar with the phrase, "Plan your work and then plan your plan." That's not a totally secular idea. God operates by the same principle! His plan has been unfolding through the ages. God has not been "winking at and quote from generation to generation. No! He has had a plan in place from the beginning and that plan continues to unfold according to God's purposes and timetable.
A Plan Identifies “When” and “How”
A plan not only sets a goal but identifies specifics related to how the goal is going to be met, and by when. As part of setting these goals, there are several things that a person must do.
Identified Distribution Channels. As part of defining "what" it is that you hope to do so, be sure to identify the distribution channels you seek to use or develop.
In most cases, a person must create a growing sense of "need" in those who become customers or clients. Find a way to explain your vision, present your product, or promote your business so that others are led step by step toward agreement with the vision, purchase of the product, or hiring the service.
The people who are experiencing a need may be so numbed by their situation or circumstance that they don't even know why they have a need.
People aren't saved, until they first face the fact that they are lost.
People may not want your service, until they first confront the fact that they have a need for your service.
People don't know they need a variety of products, until they are introduced to the products and see how those products can be put to use in their lives.
Just stop to think about all the things we think we need to date that we hadn't even known we needed 20 years ago!
Be bold in introducing people to your idea and your project and your business and your ministry.
As one person said, "We have to go out and be contagious. And quote that is a true principle whether it refers to presenting the Gospel to a person who has never heard about Jesus, or a person who has used a similar product and was disappointed and is therefore negatively predisposed toward your product. Develop a plan for bringing customers to your product over time. Ask the Lord to direct you to those who need your product and are ready to buy. Develop alternate distribution channels He reveals to you.
Identify the First Step or First Stage. Clearly defined way it is that you need to do first. There is a famous song from The Sound of Music that says this about learning music: "Start at the very beginning. It is a very good place to start.”
Check Your Plan for Personal and Corporate “Balance.”
A personal plan for your life needs to him clued a balance of work and recreation and rest. It needs to be a plan that allows for you first priority to be the Lord and your personal priority to be your spouse and family.
Honoring the Sabbath in all you do – in your personal life as well as your business life. Some ministries "operate" on Sunday. If so, you still need to have a day of rest when you can become rejuvenated and "re-created and quote spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.
Ask the Lord to guide you in every aspect of your business plan. Make certain that as people follow you, you are leading them to the Lord and not away from Him.
A Good Plan Identifies “How Much”
A good plan identifies goals for profitability, which inevitably requires goals related to cost and pricing.
In the beginning of TMJ In plants, Bob found that one of the major challenges he faced was the pricing of the him and he had developed so that they were both affordable to the user and profitable to the company. A balance must always be sought. Be sure to factor in all the regulatory procedures and processes that are necessary to ensure quality and safety. (Over the years, Bob has found that these entities alone have cost more than $1 million!)
Mike's church offers a day care service. One of the challenges they have faced is offering something unique and valuable at an affordable price. They know today that they are not the cheapest service available in the area, nor are they the most expensive. But what they have done is designed a unique approach to day care that addresses very specific needs for a fair price.
Identify Potential Contributors and Other Sources of Financial Assistance. Most people do not have adequate resources to launch a new enterprise without seeking contributions or other sources of funding.
Nehemiah did not attempt to go to Jerusalem totally in his own strength. He knew he needed the Kings support and provision.
As you approach potential funding sources, be aware that they are likely to ask you the two questions that the King asked Nehemiah.
And Nehemiah had an answer to the question. The Bible says he "set him a time."
A person who comes alongside you to help you with the vision God has given you is likely to ask specific, practical questions that might be paraphrased, "How much and for how long?" those are two questions that people desire to have answered, even if they don't voice them that succinctly. They want to know what specifically it is that you want of them. Be prepared with an answer.
Most people who help with a vision desire to know the length of time their financial commitment is required. They certainly may desire to "re-enlist and quote or to volunteer again after their initial term of commitment is over, but they like to know at the outset why it is the visionary is expecting of them. Have an answer that is doable for the person.
Nehemiah not only stated the time that he would be away on the mission, but he asked to things of the King that he knew only the King could possibly supply. He said,
"If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the Kings Forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gate of the city dealt which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy." (Nehemiah 2:7 – 8)
Nehemiah requested a political favor – a granting of authority to make the journey ahead of him, and he asked for a material favorite – enough timber from the forests under the Kings control to complete the building project he had in mind.
When a person volunteers to assist you in the pursuit of your vision, consider what it is you need from that individual. If it is a certain task, define that task in clear terms. If it is political influence or influence upon their contributors or volunteers, ask for that influence. If it is creative input or wise counsel you need, ask for that. If it is money or material resources, ask for that. If it is strong prayer support, ask for prayer. Don't ask of a person something they cannot give. Ask something they have at their disposal.
Don't ask for what you don't need. Don't attack on things to your mission that are not directly related to what God has called you to do. Don't ask for things that are frivolous or unnecessary to the task at hand. Nehemiah knew that he needed beams for the gates associated with the Temple, for the city wall, and for the house he would occupy during the building project. Those were his basic needs. And the king granted his petition.
Note that Nehemiah considered that the Kings provision to him was the result of the "good hand of my God upon me" (Nehemiah 2:8). He recognized God as the source of his supply, even though the King had been "used" to grant that supply. He knew that it was God who has given him a favor and God who had moved upon the heart of the King.
Never look to a person or group of people as the source of the supply you need to complete a mission the Lord has called you to pursue. Look to God alone commission point he may use people you know. He may use people you have never met! His avenues for provision are endless. But He alone is the true source of all supply.
INVOLVING OTHERS IN YOUR PURSUIT OF THE VISION
We all know the phrase, "No man is an island." The fact is, none of us can ever fully complete a vision from God in isolation. We are expected to function as the Body of Christ. We are expected to work with others – to help others and to draw from others – in doing of those things that God desires to be done on the Earth. Sooner or later, others will be required to assist you in some way if you are truly going to do all that the Lord gives you a vision to do.
Three Ways We Must Involve Others
There are three key "people aspects" associated with the establishment of a God-given mission or cause.
A person must be willing to relate fully and openly with other people – both to those he will serve and those who he will work.
Nehemiah was in Jerusalem for three days before he took any open action whatsoever that was related to his purpose. He simply settled in among the people. He walked among them, lived among them, ate with them, lodged with them. He had an opportunity to talk to them and to see him in action as he related to other people.
Always be aware that your life is in full view of others. Nothing secret… Not really.
The more you are with people, the more various aspects of your personality and character come to light.
The person who is right with God has no cause for shame or secrets. He or she knows the forgiveness of God and knows the purposes of God are going to be fulfilled. There is an open confidence in those who have been forgiven of their sins and are being healed and made whole by the Lord Jesus. They are willing to let others know them and to communicate openly with others.
"But," you may say, "I'm just not a very good people person. I'm an idea person."
The fact is, you are going to have to become a people person if you are going to succeed in God's mission for your life or in an eternal task He puts before you to do. You are called as a believer in Christ Jesus to live in unity with others who are believers – you are called to be part of a local "body of Christ," part of the "family of God," part of a "community of saints." Learning how to communicate with other people, and how to develop a mutual giving and receiving relationship with others, are vital lessons every believer must learn.
It is in identifying with the people of Jerusalem as his first priority that Nehemiah laid a foundation on which he later could build consensus.
Through the years, countless missionaries have told about following the same process in their overseas work. Those who have been most effective in pioneering mission, peoples who have been previously unreached with the Gospel-those who have simply gone to live with the people as equals. They have built credibility with the people by allowing the people to watch their lives and to see their Christian character in action.
Once a person is known as a person of integrity, honesty, and loyalty, that person is far more likely to be heard when he presents the gospel.
The same principle applies to business, ministry organizations, or other organizational efforts. Those who see you as a leader or visionary of high integrity are going to be more loyal to you and are going to be far more willing to give you their best effort and best contributions, both financially and other types of contributions.
Recognize that there is strength verse of like-minded people. As the Bible states so beautifully, "Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him, and a threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Make certain that the people you choose to help you implement your vision are people who truly believe in the vision. When two visions are operating in the same group, you have a two headed monster! Amos 3:3 says, "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" The implied answer is a strong "No!" Paul wrote to the early church, "Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit” (Philippines 2:2 – 3).
If someone is not fully on board with your vision they will become a heavyweight to you as you move forward. They will be a burden that must be carried, rather than an active and energizing force for forward motion.
Choose to higher or work alongside people of character and high moral and spiritual integrity. Work with those you can trust. Choose to work with self-motivated people of high principle and a strong work ethic.
Also choose people who can fill the gaps of your own weakness.
One of the things we often overlook in our pursuit of a vision is that God will call people alongside us who have unique and specific talents and gifts that are integral to accomplishing of the vision.
Too few people see their spouses as a "gift of God" to them. They fall in love and marry, hoping that their spouse will fulfill all their dreams. And then they awakened to the reality that their spouse has faults, the marriage has problems that need to be worked out, and that two people in a marriage are never a mirror image of each other. Our response to that reality should be, "thanks be to God!"
If a spouse was a true mirror image of us, our spouse would have all of our same faults and failures. We'd be in double the trouble! What we must recognize is that our spouse has been given talents and abilities and ideas from God that are intended to be helpful to us, not only in our work by in the refinement of who we are as people. Each spouse is anointed for different aspects of a marriage. Each supports and builds up the whole of the marriage relationship and the family.
What one said, "Honey, I’m the scout out on the fringes looking for the enemy attack for the best path to take the next day. But if you're not at home keeping the home fires going, our campus going to fall apart and will be in disarray and not be able to move forward at all." There's a nice balance to be achieved in every marriage if the strength of one partner feel the weakness of the other.
A woman once said about her husband, "I was attracted to him in the first place by his tremendous energy. He really seemed to have goals and to be pursuing them; he was a "go-getter." Later, this same woman complained about her husband, "I'm exhausted. He's always going somewhere and doing something. He never seems to relax."
Had this has been changed? No! Her perspective has changed. He still had the same driving energy he had always had. She had just chosen to interpret it differently.
What this woman eventually did was to readjust. She begin to see that her husband's energetic pursuit of goals had made her life and her marriage of 20 years far more exciting than a might have been otherwise. She also began to realize that just because her husband was always going and doing, she did not need to try to keep stride with him. What made her happy and fulfilled – and what also blessed her husband the most – was for her to be a stable rock, a stationary point to which he could consistently return for solace, comfort, rest, and stability. She didn't have to try to "keep up" with her husband. Rather, she needed to put down deep roots into the Lord and provide a home base that he could count on month in and month out, year in and year out.
What about the husband? He also had to learn to be more sensitive to his wife's temperament and to her need for stability. He had to begin to appreciate her more as the source of great strength to him. He had to begin to praise her more and encourage her more in her role as a genuine homemaker – and also to praise God more for her!
If you are a visionary, you likely aren't going to be given a spouse from God who is very fickle. That practical minded spouse may not understand your vision – you have the responsibility if you are the visionary to explain your vision more fully. The visionary, in turn, may become frustrated at all the "details" the practical minded spouse brings up for decision-making. The greater fact, however, is this: the visionary needs a practical spouse to keep him or her rooted to this Earth, and the practical person needs a visionary to keep him or her looking upward to higher things and more noble pursuits.
Thank God for your spouse. Thank God that He has given you precisely the right person for your good – it may not be always to your liking, but God's purposes are always for your good. God gives us spouses who will complement and help us in areas where we have gaps or weaknesses.
This same principle applies to business. One of the best players a person in business can ever pray for is this: "Lord, send me the people You want to have associated with this business." "Trust God to send you people with just the skills and insights and talents and abilities and perspectives you need to make your business stronger and more vibrant.
Part of your knowing who you are to higher is knowing your own weakness is and strengths. Seek out and hire those who know how to do what you don't know how to do, as well as those who can help you by adding their strength to your strength.
Those who are creative and theoretical need to be balanced with those were practical. Those who know what should be done need to be balanced by those who know how to do what needs to be done, and both need to be supported by those who can and will do what needs to be done to the best of their ability. It takes a group of people working together, each supplying the best of their unique God-given traits and abilities to make the most of any business venture.
Certainly we see this in the church as a whole. The Lord has made it very clear in His Word that we aren't supposed to be able to do it all, be all, or accomplish it all in our own individual strength. We need one another. As Paul wrote to the Romans: "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophecy in proportion to our faith; our ministry, let us use it in our ministering to: he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:6 – 8).
In writing to the Corinthians, Paul said this:
There are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the prophet of all… But one and the same spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, though also is Christ…
If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not out of the body? And if that ear should say, "Because I am not an eye,, I am not of the body,” it is therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? (1 Corinthians 12:4 – 7, 11 – 12, 15 – 19)
Begin to recognize that the people God has put into your life have been put there by God and for God's purposes. He is using them to impact your life in a way that will refine you, mold you, make you more effective, and bring you into wholeness. And simultaneously, He is using you to impact their lives in these ways. Only God can orchestrate such a miracle – be it in a family, a business, or a ministry. He alone is the master at putting together people into groups so that person impacts the others in positive ways to produce growth and fruit.
TURNING YOUR VISION INTO A VOW OF COMMITMENT
Commitment to a vision must be a total sold out commitment. Nothing less will do.
If your commitment to your vision is not complete, you are not yet ready to implement your vision. Ask the Lord to reveal to you what it is that is keeping you from making a total commitment to the doing of His plan for your success.
The Hallmarks of a Total Commitment
What does it mean to be totally committed to the pursuit of God's vision for your life? There are several hallmarks for you to consider:
First, a total commitment is based upon a firm belief that your vision WILL last and succeed. You must have a vision that your life is going to glorify God and that what you were called by God to do something that is worthy of your effort, time, and struggled because it is important to God.
Certainly know two people should ever enter a marriage until they firmly believe that their marriage is going to last and that will be successful or a "good" marriage. A couple entering marriage should have a vision of their marriage bringing glory to God. Unless both people entering the marriage have a sense of the importance of the marriage to the Lord, they are not likely to best the effort, time, and care necessary for the building of a good marriage.
The same is certainly true for a business venture or a ministry. Unless you believe you were building something that is going to indoor and that is going to be successful and that it has importance to God…there is going to be little impetus in the long run to stay with that business or that ministry when tough times come, as they surely will.
When Bob begin Covenant Marriages Ministry, he began it with a very strong vision that someday, inform us of God's timing, divorce would become a rarity rather than a normal occurrence in the Body of Christ. He saw in his mind’s eye that divorce was like the Berlin wall – a great structure that divided God's people. Few people thought the Berlin wall would come down in the 20th century; far fewer still thought that it would come down in a matter of months. But it did, and communism crumbled around the world in like manner in a matter of a couple of years. And Bob believed to them, and continues to believe, that the fullness of God's timing, God's Word will prevail and divorce will be recognized as this deceit and lie of the enemy that is it truly is
When Michael came to Denver, he had a vision for taking Christ to a specific geographical area. At the same time he arrived in Denver, he didn't have a church, he didn't have a place to live, he didn't have a group of people with whom he was spiritual fellowship. But he had a vision. He begin to fast and pray and find seats, and do all that he knew to do, the church begin to develop. He believed them, and continues to believe, that God will be faithful to His Word and that the more Christ is lifted up, the more He will draw all men to himself.
What is your vision? Do you see it is ending in success? Do you see it as a lasting and enduring throughout the only time but that its effects will last into eternity? Do you see as something that is important to God?
Second, a total commitment is based upon obedience. You will not be committed if there is any wavering in your desire to obey the Lord.
In the case, when the Lord revealed to him that he was to begin these two ventures simultaneously – one for profit, the other solely for ministry – he had an experience in which the Spirit of God "pinned" him to his bed. He was unable to move until he voiced his obedience to God. And it was then that the words of Isaiah 60:1 pledged his mind and heart: “Rise, shine, for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you."
Your experience may not be as vivid or as dramatic as that which Bob experienced, or which the apostle Paul experience on the road to Damascus when the Lord blinded him with a heavenly light and spoke to him directly. You can be sure of this, however: until you are fully committed to opening whatever the Lord tells you to do, He cannot trust you fully with success related to His vision for your life.
Obedience is a matter of doing, not merely believing are hoping or wishing or planning. Obedience is lifelong, and so are commitment and God vision.
Myles Munroe once asked, "Where is the richest soil honor?" Some might say the oil fields of the Middle East. Others might cite the gold or diamond mines of South Africa. Others might name the vast timberlands of the fertile plains of the North American continent as, rising the richest soil on earth.
Munroe, however, concluded that the richest soil is to be found in cemeteries. There are businesses that were never started, ministries that were never developed, ideas that were never turned into reality, creative concepts that were never burst into real projects or products or services, dreams that were never fulfilled.
The difference between obedience and disobedience is a matter of life and death for your vision from God. Those who obey and are committed to obeying with every breath they take and every step they make are those who will live out their vision and turn dreams into work.
Third, a total commitment results in a statement about your vision that you can stake as a "vow" to God. Vows are a part of God's plan throughout God's Word. A vow is a verbal pledge that you will pursue a vision or a plan that with all that you are, to the best of your ability, for as long as it takes to accomplish the vision. A vow is a statement of your intent to remain true to the pursuit of the vision regardless of circumstances or situations that may arise.
In many cases, a person who is committed to the pursuit of a God-given vision never voices a vow. Nevertheless, a deep and abiding commitment is made to the vision. The person takes the stance, "I am going to do what God has put in my heart to do regardless of what may happen. This is the purpose for my life and I will pursue that purpose until the day I die. I will fulfill what God has put before me to fulfill."
There is great value, however, in actually saying words of commitment related to a God-given vision. Those words might be said privately in prayer. They may be voiced in agreement with another person, perhaps a spouse who shares God's call for the same vision. They might be voiced in a small group of deeply committed Christian friends who will stand with you on the pursuit of your vision and uphold you in prayer as you step out and active we work to turn the vision into a reality.
The spoken word – and especially the word that is spoken with faith and deep inner commitment – is a powerful force.
How committed are you to the pursuit of God's vision for your life? Do you consider it a "that would be nice" proposition? Is it a "noble goal" or a "worthy pursuit"? Or is it a life-and-death matter to you? Do you want to see God's vision realized in and through your life more than you desire any other goal?
When you are truly serious about the pursuit of a God-given vision, you will have a deep commitment to it. You will want to make a vow of your commitment to pursue that goal until it is accomplished to the best of your ability, the best of your faith, and according to God's plan.
We know that a marriage that is sealed with a "solemn vow” – a vow is made before God, in accordance with God's commandments, and with deep inner commitment – is a marriage that becomes a covenant.
It is a binding both, one in which God becomes integrally involved and which God is in agreement to uphold. A binding oath puts God on the side of those making the commitment. It involves God in the process and says to the world, "God is the foundation on which this battle is made."
In similar fashion, a vow made regarding the pursuit of a vision, including a vision related to business, is a vow that is made before God and is in full accordance with God's commandments. It is a vow that is in agreement with the principle of the Bible, and also a vow that recognizes the living "rhema” words spoken to the individual but the goal that God desires to be pursuit and accomplished. Such a vow is a statement before God and others, "God, I believe You have called me to do this. I believe this is the purpose You have for my life. I acknowledge You as not only the full partner in this process but as so Leader, Counselor, and CEO of this version, and I put myself in alignment to follow wherever You may lead me in the pursuit of this vision You have given to me.”
Forth, total commitment to a vision is based upon a result that when problems related to your vision arise, you will choose to fix the problem rather than abandon the vision. We have become accustomed to divorce in our nation and in our churches. The biggest evangelistic tool for some churches even seem to have a banner that says, "Divorce Recovery Workshops.” Instead, we should be advocating, "Marriage Healing Workshops." When problems strike, don't run from the problems, or attempt to overthrow all "causes" related to the problem… Fix the problem!
Taking a stand that you will do all that you possibly can to live by a marriage vow is a commitment that is part of our covenant relationship with Christ. A similar stance should be taken when it comes to a vow that a person takes regarding a vision from God. It is a stance that says to our own self as well as to others, "With Christ on my side, I cannot fail and will not quit."
Several years ago, Bob found himself in a divorce court saying these words to the judge, "My covenant marriage did not begin in this court and it will not and in this court. And quote the divorce was granted legally…but to Bob, that had nothing to do with the spiritual reality at stake. He continued to trust God to heal and restore his marriage, and eventually, his marriage was restored and he was reunited with his wife. Taking a stand that we will not give up on a God-given vision or that we will not back out of a God honoring the vow related to a God ordained commandment is a stance of faith in action. It is a matter of enduring in those things to which God has called us.
Now there are several things that maybe were choir in "fixing and quote of the problem. When problems arise we must always seek to understand the nature of the problem and the cause of it. We must seek out answers from God's Word and from wise counselors who can help with a diagnosis of and a remedy for the problem. Too often, we create problems through our own lack of knowledge, and even more often, we tend to wallow in problems because we simply don't know what to do to turn the situation around. Pursue answers to questions that have gone unanswered, solutions to problems that have gone unsolved.
Sometimes we discover that a major part of the problem is our own self! In that case, we must be willing to bow before the Lord and say, "Lord, please change me. Help me to see things the way You see them and then to say and do things the way You would say and do them.”
We also must accommodate the fact that change is not only inevitable, but in most cases, it is desirable. Change is directly related to growth and development. Sound principles that are deeply rooted in God's Word never change, of course. But methods to change. Protocols and procedures and technology and processes and systems change. People very often come and go in relationship to our vision – not those with whom we have covenant relationships, but those who may be in an employee – employee or relationship or a provider, client, or vendor relationship. We must be open continually to the "new thing" that the Lord has for us and to the "new information" that can help us in the resolving of problems.
In many cases, the building of a business is mostly about encountering and overcoming problems – one by one by one. It may be a problem with supply at some stage, a problem with delivery at another, a problem with demand, a problem with product, a problem with personnel. Problems are God's opportunities for growth and refinement.
Persist through the problem! Take one step at a time, but always in a forward motion toward the solving of problems.
A famous theologian once noted, "Even the snail made it to the ark." Although timing can be crucial at times, in many cases, it doesn't matter if you move slowly or quickly as long as you move toward your goal and you persist in the pursuit of your goal.
Fifth, a total commitment to a vision is ultimately a commitment to trust the Lord – and specifically, to trust Him to do those things that only the Lord can do and to commit one's life totally to following the Lord's daily guidance. Regardless of any type of vision that God gives to us, we each must, it eventually to the place where we stand before God and say, "I have done everything I know to do. Now I put my trust in You." We must do our part, and then we must trust God to do what only God can do.
Only God can soften or change a human heart.
Only God can transform a mind to create the mind of Christ.
Only God can remove certain obstacles or create certain opportunities.
Your commitment to your God-given vision is not only a commitment to give your best and your all, but a commitment to trusting God to give His best and His all to help you in those areas where you cannot act.
A Public Declaration of Your “Vision Vow”
Eventually the time comes when a person with a God-given vision must announce his purposes publicly, and to do so in such a way that he gains as much support as possible from those with whom he is in relationship.
Nehemiah did this in an extremely wise fashion. After establishing rapport with the people of Jerusalem, surveying the walls, and developing a plan for proceeding, Nehemiah rose and said to the people:
"You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach." And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also the king's words that he had spoken to me. (Nehemiah 2:17 – 18)
It is only as a vision is poised to others that it can become a rallying cry to draw others to you. Those who lived in Jerusalem no doubt that from time to time, "We really ought to do something about the walls" or, "I wish we could rebuild the walls.” none of them, however, had voiced a vision for rebuilding the walls. It was the lack of a voice related to a vision that was no doubt the key factor in the failure of the Israelites to rebuild the city.
Seven things about this brief statement from Nehemiah are not worthy:
One, Nehemiah spoke to those who were in Jerusalem with him. He didn't send a press release to the entire region, fully announcing his plans to all competitors, enemies, fix, or detractors.
When you're ready to officially tell others of your plan, only tell those who are going to be directly involved in implementing the plan and those who will benefit from the plan. Let all others find out about your mission by witnessing you at work or witnessing the work you do!
Two, Nehemiah identified with those whom he spoke. He spoke in terms of "we," saying, "You see the distress that we are in" (Nehemiah 2:17).
Three, Nehemiah clearly identified the problem. He gave a succinct summary of what every person in the sound of his voice knew to be a problem they mutually faced: "Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire" (Nehemiah 2:17). In identifying the problem, Nehemiah was also putting "limits" on his purpose among the people. He didn't tell them they needed a bigger and better marketplace, wider and more evenly paved streets, or better proofing on their homes. He didn't announce plans to rebuild parks or construct fountains. In stating clearly the problem, Nehemiah also limited and focused the mission ahead.
Don't tell people you are going to save the world… Tell people you have a heart to reach a particular neighborhood with the Gospel.
Don't tell people you're going to wipe out all hunger… Tell people you have a vision from God to make certain that every child in your city has adequate nourishment.
Don't tell people you're going to eliminate all homelessness in your state… Tell people you have a vision from God to make certain that every person in your town has made available to him a warm bed and a roof over his head.
In the area of business, define your domain. Don't lay out a business funds to take over an entire industry. Tell people exactly what you're going to manufacture, sell, provide, or construct. Be specific in identifying your product line, the services you will provide, and the level of quality (and guarantee on that quality) that you will offer. Identify the initial groups of customers, clients, or patients you plan to serve.
The more clearly you define your vision for others, the more they will be able to see how that vision relates to their own life. They'll find a place where they can "plug-in."
Four, Nehemiah identified the first step that needed to be taken to right a wrong. He said, "Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem.” (vs. 17). Dates can't be held until a wall is in place, so there was little reason for Nehemiah to talk about gates. He addressed the first step that needed to be accomplished.
As you begin to communicate with others about your vision, tell others specifically what the first step will be. You might announce an entire building project, but clearly defined "phase 1" and what it will take in terms of time, energy, and money.
Five, Nehemiah gave a personal motivation for rebuilding – it was a motivation with which every person in his audience could identify. He gave this is the prime reason for rebuilding the wall: "that we may no longer be a reproach." He pointed toward an inner need that was linked to the other need. Nehemiah was saying, in effect, "our reputation and our identity are at stake. Let's show the world again who we really are."
As you embark on your vision give people a personal reason for why they should unite with you in the tasks ahead.
Six, Nehemiah told the people of the Lord had dealt with him. He gave a personal spiritual testimony. He let the people see and "feel and quote what was in his heart. He told them "of the hand of my God which had been good upon me and quote (Nehemiah 2:18). Nehemiah gave his testimony in the framework of God's goodness and he shared with the people his firm belief that God would be with them and help them, and that the end result would be good because it was of God.
Few things are more compelling than a person who speaks from the heart and who is able to tell how the Lord has called them to a particular vision. Few things are more encouraging than a person who has confidence that a good God is about to do a good work among His people.
Seven, Nehemiah told the people of the "Kings words." He let them know that the King was in favor of what they were about to do and that he had supported Nehemiah with letters to the governor's and timber from the King's forest.
People who rally around your vision will want to know that you have basic resources in place – that you have done your homework, amassed what is necessary for the task (at least to a degree), and that you are not simply "blowing smoke" or pursuing a vague pie-in-the-sky dream. They want to know that certain practical steps have been taken and that the basic groundwork has been laid.
It is far more effective for a person to show an architect's rendering of a building than to say, "I hope we can build a big building that will be beautiful."
It is far more effective to say, "Here's the logo and motto for our new enterprise" than to say, "We are going to come up with a statement about our reason for being.”
It is far more effective to show a brochure for a sample of your product than to say, "We have an idea."
The People's Response
Was Nehemiah’s very succinct, seven part passage effective? Yes! The people responded, "let us rise up and build," and they "set their hands to this good work." The people were enthusiastic and immediate in their response.
When you have a burden from God that is turned into a vision and direction…when you have done the basics of getting an initial support that is necessary…when you have taken the steps to move into position to begin active pursuit of your God-given vision…and when you identify with the people you are going to serve and work with, do the on-site research necessary, and state your vision to others in such clear, concise, encouraging terms…you can expect others to rally to your cause!
Not every person who hears you may respond, but certainly enough of those who hear you – and especially so if you have targeted your audience carefully and have appealed to them personally – are going to respond so that you have a beginning point for act of "good work."
Get ready for that day! It is your facial launch of the vision into the public arena. It is a day for history…and as you pursue God's purpose, it is a day for eternity.
OVERCOMING EVERY OBSTACLE
Anticipating the Enemy Attack
The enemy of our souls always comes at us to stop a vision of God. In fact, no true vision from God is ever turned into a reality without opposition that is primarily spiritual in its origin, but which may appear practical or political in its manifestation.
The first of foremost reason is that God-given vision has an eternal component to which and is related to the spiritual salvation, deliverance, and healing of mankind Christ Jesus. The enemy always opposes anything that has the potential to bring glory to Christ Jesus!
Furthermore, obstacles and opposition tend to arise very quickly. Opposition usually rears its head almost immediately after he vision is "birth" or "announced” and begins to take shape and function.
Because the earliest time for the enemy to destroy your vision is when it is in its infancy.
When Bob and Lynne moved to Denver from northern California to pursue the vision God had given to them, they immediately encountered a financial crisis. What little money they had saved to start their venture was used up very quickly, in part because Bob got sick and had an unexpected hospital stay.
We must always be alert to the attack of the enemy against God's vision, and be quick to call it for what it is.
What God Says about Our Vision and Enemies
The good news always to those with a vision from God is this: God is on your side! God is committed to your success and to your victory over the enemy. He asks only that you trust Him, move forward, and do what He tells you to do in fighting the enemy.
In Exodus read God's plan for the Israelites to possess the land He promised to them:
"I will send My fear before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land. And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea to the sea, Philistia, and from the desert to the River. For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me. For if you serve their God, it will surely be a snare to you.” (Exodus 23:7 – 23)
There are seven key principles in this passage that are extremely important as you begin to walk into the vision God gives you for your life and ministry.
First, and pursuing God's vision for your life you must understand that you are entering “occupied territory."
The Israelites were entering an occupied land. The Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites who dwelt in the land were numerous and powerful. They had controlled the land for several hundred years at this point and for all entrenched. They had a number of walled cities that were well fortified.
On the spiritual realm, you will be entering an occupied territory at any time your pursuit of God's call on your life. The enemy has staked a claim and has a strong influence for evil in the area in which you are moving in ministry.
In a very practical way, we also enter occupied territory any time we start a business or a new enterprise. Competitors are usually all around us. Detractors and naysayers and critics are likely to come out of the woodwork the minute we hang our shingle, or move into our office or place of business. Others will fill jealousy toward us and attempt to undermine our presence and our efforts, although the feelings they have may be subconscious.
In a marriage, we need to be aware that we are going to encounter enemies. There will be those who would like to see our marriage destroyed. The enemy may put all kinds of temptations and obstacles in our path.
It in ministry venture, we are also going to encounter enemies. There are those who will balk at change or the establishing of something new. There are others who will criticize every move or question every decision you make.
We need to be prepared to face enemies.
Second, the Lord has a plan for the defeat of our enemies. As much as we need to be aware of the enemies who occupied the territory ahead of us, we also need to be encouraged by the fact that the Lord has a way of overturning those enemies. God said to the Israelites that He was going to send His fear before them.
That's exactly what the Lord promises to do on our behalf when we establish our vision and operate in it the name of the Lord. In the spirit realm, the enemy will shudder. He will be frightened at the prospect of what the Lord will do for you, in you, and through you. God will cause confusion in the enemy ranks and make your enemies turn and run.
In the practical realm, we can also count on the Lord to move great obstacles from before us. Competitors may very well fall by the wayside as we move into their markets – some may not even know why they have decided to change their business plans or to move their location.
Third, the Lord will strengthen you as you face your enemies and defeat them one by one. Our growth in implementing a vision is a slow, steady, and measured process. So was the conquest of our enemies.
God told the Israelites that He would not drive out all the enemies immediately. Why? Because they would not be able to take control of all the area immediately. They needed to grow and multiply and spread out in a measured, study – growth fashion in order to kill all the ground and control of the predators that might attack their flocks and herds.
God has a timetable for our growth that may not be our timetable. We can know with certainty is that God is preparing us even as He is preparing in advance what He has for us.
At times, we may need to acquire certain information or skills before we move into a new area.
At times, we may need to acquire more physical space or facilities in order to grow.
At times, we may need to get our attitude squared away before we can be entrusted with greater responsibilities.
At times, we may need to hire the right people, or have more people, in order to handle the increased workload.
At times, we may need to complete the creation of certain products or refined the design of existing products before we can move ahead with a "new and improved model."
At all times, we need to be growing in our trust in the Lord and in our understanding of how and why God works as He does.
Fourth, the Lord alone sets the limits for the vision He gives us – not our enemies! The Israelites were given boundaries by God that were very specific: "from the Red Sea to the sea, Philistia, and from there desert to the River” (Exodus 23:31). The territory was best as seen on a map of the region. But from the Israelites’ point of view, the territory was unknown at the time of God's promise to them. They had never seen the areas that were at the outer limits of God's vision for them. They had no idea just where the sea, Philistia, and the area from the desert to the River were located. They had no aerial map of the land. All they knew was that the boundaries had been set by God and that they would be moving into the land under the Lord's leadership and expanding in it.
That is understanding we must have as we embark on walking out God's vision for our lives. We do not know the full extent of it – even if God told us in specific terms what we would one day experience and do for Him, we could not encompass all that God might mean. We know only that God has set the boundaries and that they are vast. We know only that we will be moving into the vision one step at a time, one conquest at a time, under the Lord's leadership.
Your enemy does not determine the extent of your vision. God does.
Fifth, the Lord expects us to do our part in conquering the land presently held by the enemy. The Lord promises His people that He is going to do a great deal to drive out their enemies before them, and there is also a role He expects His people to play in the conquest. He expects them to move forward and when necessary, to fight for what is rightfully theirs.
The Lord tells the Israelites, "I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land" (vs. 30).
He was counting on the Israelites to do their part by increasing and entering into inherit. To "inherit” in this case literally meant fighting for the land and conquering its cities. The Israelites were going to have to face battles, and women. They were also going to have to multiply – to raise children and to increase their flocks and herds.
Six, the Lord expects us to stay faithful to Him and do Him alone as we pursue His vision for our lights. We are not to look to the world for advice or approval. We are not to count on the world to applaud our efforts or to support us. We are not to adopt the "ways” of the world in the way we run our businesses, lead our ministries, or establish our families. We are to follow God's ways exclusively.
Above all, we are not to start thinking as the world thinks. We are not to adopt the world standards of success, but rather, God's standards. We are not to adopt the world’s way of thinking about competitors, employees, volunteers, clients, vendors, patients, students, or any other person with whom we come into contact. We are to follow the Lords direction in all cases, at all times, with all people.
We definitely are not to enter into "covenant and quote relationships with those who are unbelievers. We read this admonition also in 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 16,
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?
Don’t take on partners who are unbelievers. Don’t engage in ministry efforts with those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as you do. Don’t marry an unbeliever.
Does this mean that you cannot be employed by and unbeliever or employ unbelievers? No. It does mean that you must not consider yourself yoked to them and to the pursuit of their greater vision of success for their lives. God may very well put you into a place of employment to be His witness in that marketplace and to the group of people you will encounter there. God may call you to work in a particular field in order to again the skills and information you will need later. It is critically important, however, as you work with unbelievers that you not adopt their ways of thinking and their approach to life.
There are very practical ways in which involvement with unbelievers can become a “snare” to you, as the Lord said to the Israelites.
Don’t let your business venture or any other commitment in your life take away your Sabbath. Never allow work or any other obligation to take you away from church or fellowship with other believers.
Don’t compromise your standards of morality and character whey you participate in conventions, company retreats, out-of-town business trips, or dinner parties.
Don’t allow business colleagues, or anyone else for that matter, talk you into activities that are not in line with God’s statutes. Don’t allow unbelievers to talk you into purchases that are not authorized for you by God.
Much of the world’s business is related to human pride and human goal-setting and toward making a “good appearance.” Pride is abhorrent to God. Human goals that are not in keeping with God’s plan are never going to be achieved in a way that is lasting and solid. Purchases made in order to impress others are going to disappear over time. Jesus taught very plainly, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Seventh, if we will do what the Lord directs us to do, we WILL be successful in fulfilling God’s vision for our lives. The Lord assured the Israelites, “I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand.” (Exodus 23:31)
The Lord is on your side when we choose to be on His side!
The victory will be ours, the territory will be taken and occupied, the land will flourish, and the rewards will be too numerous to count…if we are willing to pay the price of complete obedience and trust.
TUNING YOU NAYSAYERS AND MANIPULATORS
In recognizing more fully the people God puts around us to help us with our vision, we must also be alert to two groups of people: gainsayers and naysayers. All great leaders seem to be surrounded by both gainsayers and naysayers.
Gainsayers are those who say, "We can do this. We can succeed.”
Naysayers are those who say, "There's no way. This is doomed."
There are varying degrees, of course, in gainsaying and naysaying. A gainsayer may simply be someone who is positive and optimistic about the future of your venture, whether it is a business or ministry. A naysayer is a negative or pessimistic person.
You have the power to choose which group you will listen to and how much you will listen to them. You can choose not to listen to naysayers and those who my attempt to manipulate you in their gainsaying.
In most cases, naysayers do not discriminate in their naysaying. They are negative and pessimistic about all new ventures, new opportunities, or changes. They resist growth and change to the best of their ability.
Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were classic naysayers in that they told the people what they “shouldn’t do” or “couldn’t do.” (See Nehemiah 2:19.) Naysayers never speak what can be done or might be done.
Any time we get our eyes on what we can’t do, we will never move forward to do what we can do. Our statement to God and to the world must become, “I can do all things through Christ.” (Philippines 4:13).
Most naysayers do not have the positive gold they are pursuing in their own life. There simply struggling to "get along" day by day, week to week, month to month. They are willing to abide by the status quote – indeed, they seek to help maintain the status quo. In short, they are not people who have a God given vision for their lives. And if such a vision was ever imparted to them in the past, they have stuffed it away in the "not possible" file and they have failed to act on the vision. Some are bitter in their disappointment that things haven't turned out differently in their lives; others are resentful of success of others. Still others are fearful of the impact that your success may have on their lives. They may fear that in pursuing a vision you will leave them on the sidelines were that your success may be detrimental to your relationship with them. The motivations for naysayers are many, but none of them are likely to do you any good as you pursue your own vision from the Lord.
To turn a deaf ear to naysayers does not mean that you should be rude to those who speak negatively to you or be openly critical of them. Simply ignore what the naysayer says. Do not take to heart what he believes about God's vision for your life or your commitment to pursue it.
Realism or Naysay? It makes during naysayers, we must be cautious on one point: we must not at North those who give us realistic advice that is for our benefit. A wise counselor is one who will caution you against certain processes, procedures, or decisions because he or she knows from experience, past teaching, or training that certain things don't work, or don't work as effectively as other things. The wise counselor, however, imports advice not in an attempt to quench a vision or to instill pessimism, but in an attempt to guide a person positively toward the accomplishment of the vision.
Do not automatically assume that everything negative that a person says is an assault against your vision or against her desire to pursue a vision. Listen closely to what is said. He wise counselor may simply be unwise in the tone of voice he uses or the words he chooses. It is the intent of the heart that must be discerned. At times, wise counsel can sound like or be interpreted by us as being negative, when in fact, it is simply good advice about what not to do.
The best way to discern between naysaying and wise counsel that maybe couched in "don't,” "watch out for," or "stop to consider” or seemingly "negative" terms is to ask questions. At times, you may be wise to ask a person bluntly, "Are you telling me this because you don't want me to set this goal or to reach this goal? Or, are you telling me this because you want to help me reach my goal by giving me wise advice?” The naysayer is likely to respond that he or she doesn't think much of your vision, thinks you should do something else with your life, or doesn't think you have any chance of reaching your goal. The genuine wise counselor will respond, "I want you to succeed. I just want you to succeed with as few problems and delays as possible." You'll be able to tell a lot from the attitude of the person as he or she speaks out about your vision for your commitment to it.
Here out a person fully. Don't draw conclusion too quickly. The more you listen, the more you'll discover if a person has an ulterior area motive regarding you or your vision from God.
Gainsayers Who Manipulate
Just as we need to be cautious in our questions about naysayers, we also need to be cautious in the conclusions we draw from gainsayers.
Gainsayers are not always our best allies. Some gainsayers are positive, upbeat, and enthusiastic toward us and the vision we are pursuing solely out of self-interest. They wanted to succeed so that they will succeed by hanging onto our coattails. They encourages forward because they hope to write in the wake of our success. This is not necessarily a terrible thing – but we should be aware that it is happening. Gainsayers who are motivated in this way are not likely to be hard workers. They are more like cheerleaders – they encourage us forward, but they often aren't willing to get into the game and get their own uniforms dirty or their own bodies bruised. Also look to see if they gainsayer backs of his enthusiastic optimism with real effort or the offer of real assistance that can help you in your pursuit of God's vision.
Another type of gainsayer is the person who is actually trying to manipulate you toward the pursuit of his vision, whether them toward the vision God has given you. This person encourages you toward a goal, but usually with a qualifier, "But, have you considered also doing this?" Or, "What about including such and so in your plan?" At times, this advice may be a way in which the Lord speaks to you about how to enlarge your vision or focus your vision, but always be aware that the advice you receive from a gainsayer may be rooted, at least in part, by that person's desires and goals.
Recognize that a gainsayer who is attempting to manipulate you into the direction he wants to go, but which is not God's plan for you, functions in your life as a "false prophet." It is one who says, "This is the way," but in reality, it is not God's way but their own way they are advocating. How should we deal with false prophets? Jesus gave the best advice:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from the souls? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." (Matthew 7:15 – 20)
Watch those who were gainsayers around you. Where do they really put their time and effort? Is it toward your vision and their role in it, or is it toward their own vision? Do they seem to have a goal for their life in which you play a role, or do they believe they have a rule to play in helping you fulfill your vision? Look at the fruit of their lives – where they put their money, where they put their time, where they put their talent. What is it they are most concerned about producing work on pushing?
Don't allow yourself to be manipulated away from God's central purpose for your life. Don't get sidetracked onto someone else's vision.
Not every "good" idea is the best idea. And not every good idea is the right idea for pursuing God's vision in your life. As one person once said, "Every good idea is not a God idea."
It's very easy to recognize a good idea and then get sidetracked in the pursuit of that idea. We all of the good ideas and positive and put that you receive and then ask the Lord, "What is it that You want me to do?”
When We Are Most Vulnerable
We are especially vulnerable to naysayers and manipulators at certain times in our own personal lives, ministries, and businesses. We need to be aware of these times of vulnerability:
Don't allow naysayers and manipulators to establish a toehold in your life at these times.
Trust God to lead you into the right decisions you will need to make. Refused to make decisions when you are exhausted, in slump times, or experiencing a lack of creativity. Ask God to restore your energy and your creativity. Ask God to show you how to work "smarter" as you age and how to maximize your time and be more efficient as you grow older. Ask God to provide what you need.
Your best answer to naysayers and manipulators is simply to say this: "I am trusting God." There is no argument that can stand against such a bold statement of faith.
FACING VERBAL CRITICISM, THREATS, AND CHALLENGES FROM COMPETITORS
There will always be people who do not want you to succeed. So many people lunch out into business and ministry projects assuming that the world will be thrilled at what they are undertaking. There will always be those who are against what you are doing that is for good. They have their own ulterior motives and purposes that are contrary to yours.
Nehemiah encountered this opposition from the beginning. No sooner had he crossed the "River" into the area of Judah then he was met by representatives of the governors of that region. Sandballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite heard of his coming and the Bible tells us they were "deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel" (Nehemiah 2:10). They didn't want Israel to succeed! They didn't want the people there to be helped, defended, or even considered worthy of the King's attention.
The Nature of Criticism
Criticism is, by its very nature, negative. We may talk about "positive criticism" but genuine positive criticism is never voiced as criticism – rather, as focused encouragement toward the development of a good habit, good practice, or good idea.
Criticism takes a number of forms, some of them very subtle, others very direct. If we find ourselves wondering if we have been criticized, in all likelihood we have been!
Detractors often say what Sanballat and Tobiah said about Nehemiah. Sanballat took the approach, "Who do they think they are?" He questioned the ability of the "feeble" Israelites to do the job. He said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they completed in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish – stones that are burned?" (Nehemiah 4:2). He had absolutely no genuine belief that the Israelites could do what they were setting out to do. He evaluated them as being too weak, unqualified, incapable, and having no materials with which to work. Naysayers genuinely underestimate greatly the ability of a person who is called by God to pursue a particular vision.
Tobiah also took a common approach, he said, in effect, that the work of their Israelites would be inferior. He didn't level his criticism at the Israelites directly, but rather, indirectly out when they were producing. He said, "Whatever they build, if even a Fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall" (Nehemiah 4:3). He greatly underestimated the quality and the soundness of the workmanship they might produce.
Your detractors are likely to voice the same criticisms of you as you pursue God's vision. They are likely to criticize you personally as a person who is unworthy, unqualified, inapt, unskilled, and without sufficient ability or value to pursue the goal you have announced. Others are likely to question the quality of the work you do – they may criticize the services or products you offer, even without seeing or studying closely these services or products. They simply will refuse to see you as a quality person or your work as quality work.
Our response must be that of the Israelites, who prayed, "Here, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plundered to a land of captivity! Do not cover their iniquity, and to do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders" (Nehemiah 4:4 – 5).
Should we pray for the demise of our enemies and for those who speak out publicly against us as the Israelites certainly did? In the spirit realm, we most certainly are to pray that the Lord will wipe out all of the devil's influence and destroy his efforts against us. We are to pray for a company to and definitive spiritual victory over the enemy of our souls. The Israelites didn't pray, "O Lord, be with us" or "God, help us." They asked for the Lord to defend them in a powerful way to the complete output oration of their enemies, and as believers in Christ Jesus, we are in a position to petition the Lord in like manner.
Counteracting a Threatened Attack
The attack from Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites was not merely verbal. As the walls of Jerusalem began to be restored and the gaps in the walls began to be closed one by one, the enemies of the Israelites became angry and they conspired to attack Jerusalem and throw the city into confusion once again.
We must always be alert to the possibility that the enemy will not merely ridicule our efforts. He may evil others to assault our efforts in very real and intangible ways.
What course of action should we take?
Nehemiah took the best preventative action he knew to take, it was a fourhold effort.
One, Nehemiah led the people in prayer. In Nehemiah 4:9 we read, "We made our prayer to our God."
As you begin to work in your business or ministry, develop a group of prayer warriors to support you, your ministry, your business, your enterprise. In a family, husband might count on his wife and children to be his prayer warriors. In a ministry, there may be those who are designated exclusively to the task of praying, at least part of the day. In a business, the business day might actually begin with prayer that is voluntary, perhaps for 15 min. before the workday begins.
Two, Nehemiah set a watch against the enemies "day and night." He posted guards and said people "according to their families" with swords, spears, and bows to defend their loved ones and the work they were doing. Half of the workers worked on construction while the others have stood guard in full armor. Every worker on the wall had his sword at his side.
Give those who work with you clear instructions about what to watch out for and how to identify danger.
In your family, teach your children about the dangers of life. Don't expect them to learn about drugs and abuse and violence outside your home. Teach them and prepare them in advance for potential emergency situations. Teach them how to resolve conflicts, solve problems, communicate clearly, and how to "fight" for what they believe in without resorting to violence or the use of weapons. Teach your family about how to engage in spiritual warfare.
In a company setting, give your employees adequate training about how to prevent problems, both interpersonal problems and problems with equipment or facilities. Have adequate escape plans, emergency procedures, and crisis protocols.
In a ministry, give those who work with you adequate training in both spiritual warfare and in dealing with troubled or needy people. Don't assume that every person will automatically know how to deal with a mentally ill, severely oppressed, or demonically possessed person. Train them and what to do, whom to call, and how to rally help.
If you were pursuing a career or vision on your own, recognize areas in which you are weak or uninformed, and choose to become strong and informed.
Three, Nehemiah spoke encouraging words to the people. He said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the general population, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses" (Nehemiah 4:14).
Surely this message was one that Nehemiah routinely repeated. He no doubt road from building site to building site with the same message coming from his lips again and again, "Do not be afraid. Remember the Lord. If it comes to a fight, then fight!"
Periodically encourage others in the task at hand. Remind them we are not called to fear, but to faith. Remind them of the greatness of God. Remind them that if it comes to a fight, they are to fight for what they know is right. They are to defend the sanctity of their homes and families, the rights they have to conduct business or engage in ministry. This "fight" is going to be in the spiritual realm, first and foremost. But it may spill over into our nation's legal system or public debate forum. Many a battle can be won without a physical fight.
Four, Nehemiah had a crisis plan. Should an attack be launched, a trumpet would be sounded so that workers could be rallied to the point of attack. The trumpeter and his trumpet are by Nehemiah's side. He served as "command central."
Develop a crisis plan for your organization – one that addresses both physical and spiritual emergencies. In this day of increased violence and terrorism, you need a crisis plan in place that you can in act quickly and efficiently.
Every good sports team knows that both a good defense and good offense are required if the team is going to be successful.
The same with any other type of venture. A business must have a good business plan, but also a defensive plan against attack from critics, detractors, naysayers, and spiritual enemies. A ministry might have a goal and direction, but also a defensive plan against all spiritual foes.
In your family, have an escape route mapped out for your family should a natural disaster or a fire threat in your home. Have a meeting place, a "way out," a procedure to follow.
Nehemiah found that to be forewarned and forearmed was to experience no attack. Once the enemies knew that their plans had been discovered and that the people were armed, they ceased their plan. The work continued on schedule.
Very often we find that once we have a defense plan developed – prayer teams on their knees, encouragement voiced routinely, and a crisis plan in place – work progresses more smoothly. Very few emergency plans are every implemented. But thank God for them! Most workers do better work, and work more confidently, knowing that they are supported in prayer, a plan is in place, and that their leaders truly believe that God is for them and that any fight they face is going to be winnable.
Taking on the Challenge of Competitors
You will always space competitors. Many of them will be ungodly competitors – people who do not have eternal reward as motivation or goal. Some may be fellow Christians.
Take the approach that if God has called you to a particular vision, He has a particular set of clients, customers, patients, students, or parishioners that He expects you to reach. There will be plenty of room for other godly workers in His harvest field.
But what about ungodly competitors? One passage of Scripture that is quoted often among Christians is this:
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children,
But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. (Proverbs 13:22)
Let's take a closer look at it that we what is being said in the verse.
First, the things that we do for good are things that have a very long life – indeed, in genuine acts of goodness, as we have stated repeatedly, there is a seed of eternal value. We are challenged as believers in Christ Jesus to engage in those things that produce a lasting good. This not only encompasses physical and material wealth, but spiritual and emotional wealth, and above all, a commitment to being obedient to the laws of God and a desire to receive God's love and forgiveness.
Second, the things that a sinner produces are not of eternal value. Only those things that have a "God factor" in them can last forever. The wealth of the sinner is always dissipated in time and space. It fizzles, it dies out, it becomes scattered. And it is as the wealth of the sinner seems to evaporate from their hands that the righteous person is to "glean" this wealth just as if he is gathering up falling grain from a field.
We do not need to actively take from the sinner. Never are we to steal from the sinner or to use deceitful means to strip a sinner of wealth. Rather, we need only be there to "pick up the pieces" when a sinner fails to handle wealth properly.
Here's an example of this: and ungodly repair man, without genuine concern for the property and well-being of his customer, does slipshod work and then overcharges that customer. The customer is disappointed, angry, and frustrated. Now is the time for the godly repair man to enter the scene. The godly repair man, having concern for doing an excellent job and treating all customers fairly, does quality work for a fair price. The customer is one over, but that is not likely to be the end of the story. The satisfied customer is likely to give referrals to the good repair man, thus causing an increase in his business, and at the same time, he is likely to warn others about doing business with the ungodly repair man. One decreases, the other increases. What could have been the "wealth" of the sinner through repeat business and referral business suddenly becomes "laid up" for the righteous person.
The same principle extends into all areas of service and manufacturing. It extends to ministry as well. There's a person preferred to go to church that extends way love and welcome, or to a cold, indifferent church where God’s love is and felt? Does a person preferred to do business with a moral, honest person of impeccable reputation, or with a person who is immoral, dishonest, and of low reputation? With whom do you desire to entrust your children, your possessions, your business? With whom do you desire to spend time?
The righteous person needs only to do excellent work and give superlative effort and do so in a loving way and display high character traits and genuine friendliness and concern… and that person is going to prosper in whatever field he chooses! It may be furniture making, flower arranging, business consulting, social work, accounting, legal services, nursing care, or any host of jobs. The "wealth" of ungodly people in the same profession is going to lay waiting for the godly person to pick it up and run with it.
Three Things to Do in Facing Competitors
There are three positive things you can always do or responses you can make in facing your competitors:
At the time TMJ implants was started, Bob faced eight strong competitors. They were all trying to do what he was trying to do, except in different ways and with different products. They had what appeared to be a firm lock on the market. One of those companies along was doing more than $10 million a year of business.
Bob refused to look at the competition. He kept his eyes on his own product, his own ability to provide service, his own vision, his own God-given goals.
If Bob had studied the competition further, he likely would have become so discouraged that he would never have started on the path toward walking out God's vision. Instead, he stayed focused on his vision from the Lord.
To his amazement, a year after he started, he looked around and discovered that for various reasons, all of his competitors had disappeared. Some had gone out of business. Some had changed direction and were no longer doing what Bob was doing. His new company was the leading company in the industry.
Every time Bob put out a flyer or brochure or advertisement, he made a top-quality piece. TMJ Implants appeared from the very start to be a giant in the field of oral surgical prosthetic devices. Was this deceit? Was this a lie? No! It was a visible proclaiming of the spiritual truth that Bob knew in his heart would be the reality of God's vision. He knew that his company was a "giant in the growing stages" from God's perspective.
Did Bob "full" other people by the quality of the materials he produced and disturbed? Absolutely not! None of the items ever made a false claim or a false promise. None of the items had misleading or exaggerated information. The ads, brochures, and flyers were truthful statements – not only about the implants and the services Bob's company could provide, but the truth about the quality that Bob thought to infuse into his products and his service.
Never discount your vision in the eyes of others. Always lift up the truth of what you believe God is going to do through you and through your business, your ministry, or your family.
Give your best effort to everything you do and produce. Be Class – A in all that you undertake. Never cause others to say about you, or even think about you, "this is a nothing little venture or a low class operation." To project that image is dishonoring to the glory of God.
Hebrews 11:3 tells us, "By faith we understand that the worlds are framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible."
Have you ever stopped to think that God created virtually all that we know today in the natural world as being "tangible" and "real" out of a spoken idea or a "breathed-out” idea? That's what a word is – a breathed out, vocalized idea. There was no light, but God said, "Let there be light." There was no atmosphere, but God said, "Let the waters be divided and the firmament be made."
When it came to man, God formed man from the dust of the earth and then He breathed His own breath into man.
When God gives you a vision, He counts on you to breathe into it the life you believe it will have according to what he has shown you. From the very beginning, you must voice who you are and what you are a doubt – what you produce, what you provide, what you are a tempting to do – with the fullness of the vision that God has given you.
Help and flowers only grow above the tree line where they are seldom ever seen. Nevertheless, they bloom beautifully. Take them as your example.
Wherever you find yourself, live in the fullness of your integrity and faith in Christ Jesus. Don't take shortcuts in your efforts to get the best, do the best, or be the best. Give full effort and full enthusiasm and full employment of your talent to everything you undertake.
Live at the level where you intend to arrive!
Now this does not mean that you go into debt to create an "image" of success you have not yet attained. It does mean that you use your resources wisely for the maximum amount of quality you can afford. It does mean that you save until you can purchase what truly will be the item that you want to have for a long time. It does mean that you live at the highest quality of character at all times.
So many people say about themselves, "Well, when unsuccessful all live differently than I do now." In all likelihood, you will live exactly as you do now, regardless of what your bank account may one day say.
If you are overspending now when you have little money…you will overspend when you have more money.
If you are living from hand to mouth now when you have little money…you’ll live that way if you have or money.
If you are failing to tithe now on what you earn...you’re likely to fail to tithe later.
If you are stingy now toward others…you’ll likely be stingy later.
If you are taking shortcuts now and dealing in dishonest ways with what you have currently…you’ll likely do the same when you have more.
Be faithful in what you presently have, earn, and do, and then look for God to increase you as a reward for your faithfulness and good stewardship.
OVERCOMING THE INNER THREATS
The devil is a dream stealer. He has three major tactics that he uses especially as you begin to implement a God-given vision:
These tactics are ones that play out in the mind and heart of a person. They are "inner threats" we must guard against at all times. No person is so mature or so successful that he or she becomes invulnerable to these interact. Every Christian is capable of experiencing fear, confusion, and discouragement until the day he dies.
Fear Versus Faith
Most of us seem constantly to be in a tug-of-war between fear and faith. At times, faith is strong and we seem impervious to their. Then, without warning, fears can jerk us into panic and a feeling that we are back at square one.
When times of trouble come, remember the Lord's Word to you: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God" (Isaiah 43:1 – 3).
When fear strikes, we are also wise to burrow into God's Word and fill our minds and hearts anew with verses that speak of God's faithfulness. We must remind ourselves:
God is able to provide all that is necessary for any vision to become a reality and prosper and grow. In fact, if God calls us to pursue a particular vision, we can be assured that God has already made full provision for that vision. Jesus addressed this issue in the simple teaching:
"Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you then the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Luke 12:24 – 28)
For every baby bird that is born, God has placed booty and water in the Earth for the baby bird to eat and drink. He has given it and him born ability to fly. It has created it for a purpose.
For every Lily that sprouts up in a field, God has provided nutrients in the soil and sunshine. He has given it an ability to grow. He is created for a purpose.
And in similar fashion, God has already provided for you all that you will need to fulfill the purpose He had for you when He created you in your mother's womb.
All the wealth that is required to pay for the full expansion of God's kingdom throughout the Earth is already placed in the Earth.
All of the mineral wealth of the Earth – from oil to gold to gemstones to ever precious resources – has already been placed in the Earth.
All of the "real estate" wealth of the Earth has already been placed in the Earth.
All of the rivers and sunlight and wind that might be harnessed for energy have been placed in the Earth.
All of the plants and trees and organisms and animals that might be harvested or used for food and medicines and transportation and other material purposes have been created.
Furthermore, the abilities to trade and to conduct business and communicate and to calculate and to plan and to procreate and to reap and to sow have been given to mankind.
Last, but surely not least, God has given us His Word as a blueprint for how we are to live so that the blessings of God might float to us, and through us to others.
God has a million ways to bless us. It is up to us to put ourselves and keep ourselves in a faith position to receive what God desires to give us.
God Have Countless Ways and Means to Meet Your Need for Wisdom. At times our foremost need is a need to experience God's wisdom or receive God's creative ideas. Don't give in to fear. Have faith that God can provide His wisdom in remarkable and sometimes unusual ways. At the time the United States launched its first satellite into orbit, Bob wrote in his personal journal, "In man's search for knowledge of God's untold secrets, the heavens are not too high!" Never give up on your quest to discover God's wisdom.
The story is told of the man who went to sleep in a church service and while he slept, the Lord gave him a dream about how to resolve a problem he was tackling at work. And the result of that "solution" has become a product that many of us use daily! Along the way, the man has become very wealthy.
Proverbs 8:12 tells us that wisdom – which can be defined as "God's idea" or "God's will" – is directly related to two things: Prudence, knowledge, and discretion. Knowledge refers to knowing what God desires for you to do. Prudence relates to how to do something in the best way and most beneficial or acceptable way – it is knowledge of God's methods, including God's method for involving others in the vision. And discretion relates to knowing God's plan for when to act and how to involve others to reveal God's plan to others – it is knowledge related to timing and revealing.
The Lord promises to impart His wisdom to us if we will ask Him for wisdom. James 1:5 assures us, "if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." We must ask in faith, however. Wisdom is imparted to us as all other gift from God – as we believe for it and receive it.
We all need wise counsel in every area of our lives. We need this wisdom not only as we prepare to move out into a vision from the Lord, but every step of implementation and work along the way. It is not a weakness to seek out a counselor, as some think. Rather it is a mark of wisdom and strength. Every marriage, every business, and every ministry can benefit from wise counsel, no matter how great or large were influential or solid that marriage, business, or ministry a be at any given time. There is always something to improve, something to strengthen or renew, and some way to grow.
Listen to their advice that is given to you. Wait a carefully. Ask the Lord to help you sift the grain from the chaff. Sometimes hearing the perspective of another person can be very helpful. Always look for the kernel of truth that is present in what some suggest – it may be kernel that can be planted and bear a great harvest.
Trust God for answers to ALL the obstacles that appear in your path – He has a way for you to burrow through them, climb over them, go around them, tunnel under them, or cause them to disappear from before you.
Any time that you feel you cannot do what the Lord has asked you to do, remember: God is the enabler! He knows you can't do what He has called you to do in your own strength…but He also knows that you and He together can do all things. He may just be waiting for you to ask Him to take a more active role!
Clearing up Confusion
Confusion literally means "against fusion. And quote fusion is the coming together of elements in a way that is bonding and harmonious and powerful. To be against fusion means to create a situation in which we find fragmentation, disharmony, and a loss of potency. Confusion does all three things to us. It fragments our heart and mind; it fragments our purpose and our direction. Confusion brings about disharmony among people. It spawns arguments and strife. Confusion also causes a lack or a "wasting" of energy. It brings people – whether in business, ministry, or marriage – to a point of stagnation and apathy. Nothing good comes from confusion!
God is never the author of confusion – the enemy of our souls is the one who brings us into areas of doubt, disarray, distractions, or dysfunction.
Doubt. The enemy always tries to get us to doubt God's vision or to doubt our ability to do what God has called us to do. He attempts to get us to second-guess our efforts or to discount our progress. Stay on course. Don't allow yourself to be swayed from what you know to be true.
Disarray. The enemy always tries to create upheaval. It may be confusion about who is in charge, which direction to go, what resources to use, where to make changes, or when to act. If a general spirit of disorganization or dysfunction is surrounding your ministry, business, or marriage – take the matter directly to God. Any time things aren't working as they should, recognize that the enemy may have caused your camp to be in disarray. Do your best to return to a state of clear organization and straightforward communication.
Dysfunction. Competition and rebellion caused dysfunction in a group. They are two sources of confusion in organization. If those with whom you are in argument then become rebellious, asked the Lord to heal that situation. Ask the Lord to help you reestablish an atmosphere of encouragement and edification so that the whole is built up rather than torn asunder.
A strong spirit of competition within an organization can be detrimental to the whole. Competition may be acceptable among groups, by a can be death within a group.
Point toward your common goal and your, and concerns. Keep the focus on what unites you rather than allow it to diverge into what separates you.
Continually give your employees and colleagues a strong understanding of the vision you have as the leader. Remind people frequently about why you are doing what you are doing. Hold up the greater goal.
Express pride in the work that others do toward the accomplishment of the goals you have established. Reward those who meet goals on time, within budget constraints, and with high quality of performance.
We are the only creatures God made who can think creatively – to generate ideas in our minds that we can execute in reality. Take advantage of God's gift to you. Ask Him to guide your creative thought processes, including the ways to hire the right people and then continue to motivate them, reward them, and build them up.
Dealing with Discouragement
If the devil cannot move you into doubt, create disarray, or cause rebellion and competition in your organization, he'll do his best to cause you to become discouraged. He’ll present to you every reason and imagination possible to cause you to lose heart or to lose interest in God's vision. He'll bring to your mind all sorts of ideas about failure and rejection and loss of reputation. He'll fill you with fears about your future and the well-being of your family. What the enemy cannot accomplish with doubts, disarray, and intra-organizational dysfunction, he'll do his best to accomplish through dismay – a pervasive "give up" feeling and a conclusion that the vision from God isn't "worth" all the trouble, turmoil, and difficulty you were experiencing internally and externally.
We must keep in mind always and remind ourselves frequently:
Our success does not lie in what we do, but in what God will do with the aftermath of what we do.
A woman once approached Bob and said, "Aren't you discouraged that you haven't seen more marriages come back together?”
Bob replied, "No, I am not discouraged, I am called only to speak with the Lord directs me to speak and to take the stands. He has told me to take and to do whatever it is that He shows me to do. The restoration of marriages is God's responsibility. He does things in His time, in His way and according to His purposes."
Shake off any spirit of discouragement that tries to attach itself to you. If a person is walking around looking discouraged, others are going to avoid him. He's going to feel rejected and, even more discouraged. And in this negative downward spiral, any project in which he is involved is going to suffer and go down with him.
Project optimism and faith and hope. Remind yourself of the simple fact that frowns repel and smiles attract. Your expressions of optimism, faith, and hope will attract others. And the more they are attracted to your up the nature, the more they are going to be interested in your business or your ministry.
Keep Your Eyes on the Big Picture
We never become anything we don't first "see" ourselves as being.
See yourself as being successful.
See yourself as being holy.
See yourself as doing what God has prepared and called you to do.
Successful people often look back over their careers and say, "it was little by little. And quote the growth process is usually slow at the beginning, although it often accelerates. The progress is sometimes imperceptible at the outset, although it may be great over time.
Walter Payton was one of the greatest running backs in football history. He rushed for literally thousands of yards in his career. One game announcer was recounting pagans any achievements one day. The second announcer then added, "Yes, and he gained those thousands of yards with someone knocking him down every 4.6 yards!"
“It's Got to Be You, God”
There comes a point in every person's pursuit of a vision where we have to say, "It's got to be You, God."
God never asks us to do something that we can do solely in our own strength. He always allocates a major component of the vision for Himself.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with fear, confusion, or discouragement, call out to God. Cry out to Him from the depths of your being and then expect His answer to come. He will hear your genuine hearts cry and help you.
SEVEN KEYS TO OVERCOMING OBSTACLES
Just as the visions we receive from God are unique and are especially suited to our talents and desires, so the obstacles we face tend to be unique. There are, however, seven key principles that relate to our overcoming obstacles no matter what their size or nature.
Refuse to Look Back
After the children of Israel had left Egypt, some of them continued to look back to Egypt when times got tough. In Numbers 11:5 – 6 we read how the people grew weary of manna and they yielded to intense cravings, saying with tears, "We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!"
They didn't seem to remember the slavery they had experienced in Egypt or that miraculous way in which God had delivered them from slavery. They remembered only the variety of good food!
Charlie after Bob and Lynne moved to Denver to begin TMJ Implants and Covenant Marriages Ministry, they found themselves questioning whether they had made the right move. Bob got sick and the money they had made from the sale of their home was spent on his hospitalization bills. They found themselves in Denver with the vision to start both a company and a ministry, two friends, and no money. They began to remember the "good things" of their days of successful oral maxillofacial surgery practice within Northern California. They finally concluded, however, “We have cut our ties to the past." They had to remember the way in which God had directed them.
You may experience a similar temptation as you begin to walk in the vision God sets before you. Don't give in to it! Refused to look back.
When Mike came to Denver, he knew that he had to "burn every bridge and quote behind him. Not literally but the spirit realm. He had been part of a large flourishing Church 1300 miles away. He had enjoyed a good reputation and a good life in community where he and his family had started to put down roots. He knew that unless he turned his back on any possibility of ever returning to that place, he would be tempted to do so. He knew that the people he was leaving would have gladly accepted him back, saying, "Well, you tried." For Mike, to move to Denver was not a matter of trying but a matter of succeeding.
When you know there is no option other than to succeed, then you truly dig in your heels to take a stand, begin to move forward, and work with everything in you to build something that lasts.
Hold On to What The Lord Has Given You
As Mike was preparing to move to Denver, he had a personal meeting with a man who had been in ministry for many years. He gave Mike this wise advice Alma "Mike, as you go to Denver, you had better have something you can hold onto, because the devil is going to care you from one end to the other. You'll need to hold onto that one verse or that vivid vision God has given you if you are going to survive."
That's good advice for every person who launches a new mission for God, whether it is a business, a ministry, or other type of enterprise or career. Have something to which you can clean that is a "holding point" for your faith.
It may be a key verse of Scripture that the Lord has brought to your mind repeatedly as the vision has taken shape in your mind and heart.
It may be the words of a prophecy or a prayer that has been spoken over your life.
It may be a service in which you experienced the laying on of hands at the time of your making a commitment or a vow to live in obedience to the Lord's call.
It may be the remembrance of a vision in which God "showed and quote you the needs of others or revealed to you what He desired to do.
It may be a photograph of a loved one who has suffered and perhaps died as a result of the problem you are about to address.
Whatever it is…consider that item as a "trigger” for the renewal of your faith. Every time you look at that object or open to that outburst or recalled the experience, say to the Lord, "I know You have called me to do this. I know You are in this with me. I know You are going to bring this vision to its full realization and that it will be for my eternal good and for the eternal good of many other people.
Set Your Face to the Future
Once you have set your face to walk in the vision God has given you, don't look to the left or to the right – only I had into the vision God has put before you. Take the words of the prophet Isaiah as your own:
"For the Lord GOD will help Me;
Therefore I will not be disgraced;
Therefore I have set My face like a flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed."
Do not allow yourself to be detoured or sidetracked. Look forward only! Isaiah 43:18 – 19 says,
"Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now we shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert."
The enemy is a master at bringing distractions into our mind in an attempt to get us sidetracked into areas where we don't belong or involved in efforts that are not central to our vision. Every person has a tendency to gravitate toward those things that seem quicker and easier, cost less, require less effort, or which seemed to be shortcuts. Those things that are most likely to distract us are things that are closest in nature to the true path we should be following.
The best ally of the enemy is the lie that is closest to the truth. The best counterfeit is the item that is most like the real article. If we are distracted by one idea that is similar and seems good…and then another idea that is also similar and seems good…and then several more ideas that are similar and seemed good…pretty soon we will find ourselves so distracted that we will be in a state of confusion about what to do. Our focus becomes cluttered and in the end, we lose focus.
Be aware that God's way is rarely going to be the easiest, cheapest, or simplest way as the world defined easy, cheap, or simple. What the world says is quick and easy is usually anything but quick or easy in the long run and paternity. Jesus taught clearly, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to distraction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13 – 14).
Nearly every successful person in pursuit of God's vision can look back and see a string of "opportunities" that have been presented to him or her as distractions to keep that person from pursuing God's vision. It might have been a job opportunity with a high salary, an unusual business opportunity, a high-profile position. In those times, a person must be keenly discerning.
Money is often a key element that the devil attempts to use to get us sidetracked. We can easily be lured by the promise or hope of a "quick" money, easy money, or sure money. Or, we can be discouraged and distracted with our concerns over not having what we believe is enough money.
But for Mike came to Denver in the mid-1980s, he was offered a position with a salary well to six figures. Instead, he arrived in Denver with a few hundred dollars in his pocket…and a clear vision about what God wanted to do in and through his life and family. Had he pursued the distraction, he may have made several hundred thousand dollars a year. But he would not have been fulfilling God's purpose for his life, and he has a strong knowing that he would have felt a deep, inner dissatisfaction and unrest in his spirit that likely would have created multiple problems in his own life and in the lives of his family members and others around him.
Do detours and sidetracked enterprises lead to failure? Not necessarily. There are some things that God permits us to do. We may find some success in these areas. Furthermore, if we trust God, He can always find a way to bring us back to the center of the path we should walk, and He can use detours and sidetracked enterprises for our benefit.
Nevertheless, the only sure way to great success is to be found in finding and pursuing God's perfect will. Avoid detours and sidetracked enterprises as much as you possibly can. They will detract from the greater good you can achieve.
Speak God's Goodness in the Face of Evil
No sooner had the rebuilding of the walls in Jerusalem begun than Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard about what they were doing. They laughed at the people and despised them. They launched an evil attack against them – it was a battle of the "minds," a spiritual battle in the heart and soul at this point. They taunted the Israelites, saying, "What is the thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the King?" (Nehemiah 2:19). The attempt of these enemies was to convince the people that they were going to suffer or experience a bad result from their efforts. They did their best to instill fear in the hearts and minds of those who were rebuilding the wall.
Nehemiah responded to their fear induced words with faith building words. He said directly to these enemies of the people, "the God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or Memorial in Jerusalem" (Nehemiah 2:20).
The time seems to come in every new venture that the Lord directs when we must rise up and say to the enemy of our souls, "God is with me and He is going to win this battle. I and others are going to do what God has called us to do. You have no part in this!"
You may need to speak those words aloud to the devil when he comes to taunt you in the wee hours of a sleepless night. You may need to speak a version of these words to those who openly denounce you. You may need simply to set this result in your heart and encourage those who are closest to you in the pursuit of your vision, "We are going to build. God will help us and bring us to victory. The devil and those who serve him have no past, present, or future in this!"
Those who are naysayers have no part or portion of what you are doing in pursuing God's vision for your life. What you are doing for God and with God has absolutely nothing in common with things that are being done for the devil and with an intent of evil.
Nehemiah did not stand in his own authority. He didn't even call upon the authority of the King or tell him of the king's provision and approval. He stood on his authority as a child of the Most High God, the Holy One of Israel.
If you stand in the face of your enemy totally on your own strength, you will fall. If you are relying on the strength of the net earthly ally, no matter how powerful, wealthy, or influential that person may be, you will fail. Bowyer trusting God and stand on the fact that He is the One who has led you and is going to continue to beat you until the vision before you has been turned into a reality and a blessing.
Don't Limit God
In Psalm 78:41 we read these sobering words:
Again and again, they tempted God,
And limited the Holy One of Israel.
Are you aware that you can limit what God desires to do in your life? So many people believe that God can do anything and that He will do whatever He pleases. That isn't exactly accurate. God can do anything. God does not do everything He desires to do because He has established freedom of human will. He will not cross the barrier of our own choice. He will not align himself with sin or evil. He will not superimpose His will upon us against our desire.
What is it that we do to limit God? Psalms 78 describes five things that the Israelites had done to bring about God's wrath rather than God's blessing:
How often are we guilty of the same things!
God is limitless, but we can limit what God does on our behalf or in our lives or through our efforts. All things are possible to God, but we can tie God's hands by believing in impossibilities.
Leave the Consequences to God
Our part is to obey with the Lord tells us to do and to follow where He calls us to go. God's part is to do what He chooses to do with our efforts. The rewards and consequences of all that we do in obedience to God are up to God!
God has told us we are to lay hands on the sick and pray for them. Those that mean that if we lay hands on sick people and pray for them to the best of our ability and in the name of Jesus, and they are not healed, that we have failed? No. We have been obedient to what God has told us to do…and the consequences are up to Him.
God has told us to speak the truth. If we speak the truth in a situation and we are punished or rejected for doing so, does that mean we have missed God? No. We have been obedient to what God has told us to do…and the consequences are up to Him.
If God tells you to start a particular ministry or a particular business, and then you hit a time of trouble or experience a failure, does that mean you missed God? No. You have been obedient to what God has told you to do. Leave the consequences up to Him. He has an unusual way of working things out.
Print and several of her friends once felt the Lord leading them to produce a small magazine for children. They give their best effort and most creative energy to the project, along with their faith and prayers. For reasons that were largely beyond their control, the investors who were backing the project were forced to withdraw and the project failed. But was it really a failure? No! Several years later, God brought the excellent work they had done to the attention of an established publisher and they were hired as a group to produce several children's books. When yet another publisher saw the quality of the work they were producing, that publisher also asked them to work on various projects for children.
Leave the consequences to God. Opiate Him and give your best effort to "whatever your hand finds to do."
Keep Doing What You Know to Do
The Lord has given to Bob many years before he moved to Denver the idea for the products that were manufactured today by TMJ Implants. Bob begin to ask in his oral surgery practice, "How can we best help people who have trouble with their temporomandibular joint?" He saw many people who were suffering with TMJ problems over the years. At one precise moment God imparted that idea to his mind of creating a medical device to reconstruct the joint and to help solve the TMJ problems and pain he encountered in his practice.
As we have stated repeatedly in this book, very often the vision that God gives to His people is related to a problem. The vision of the Lord is a means for resolving or remedying the problem, and for bringing greater health, joy, and wholeness to people who are experiencing pain, disease, trouble, sorrow, fragmentation, or failures.
At the time Bob began TMJ Implants, he had virtually no money Erie it the company was operating out of a spare bedroom in the home where he was living. He and Lynne had managed to scrape together only about $3000 to launch the business, and they invested that money in a color brochure that they mailed to 5000 oral surgeons across the nation. The brochure described the device that Bob intended to manufacture…but Bob received virtually no response to his mailing.
He then decided to rent a meeting room in a hotel where a convention of oral surgeons was scheduled and to present a workshop in the implant device he had created. He mailed out another thousand brochures…but as the meeting time drew nearer, he had only one person interested in attending his presentation!
Was bought discouraged? Absolutely. Everything he had tried best bar to launch his business seemed to be failing.
And then, as Bob was about to cancel the meeting room and presentation, he received a call from the secretary of the chief of oral maxillofacial surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. Now he had two participants! He decided to put on the entire to enhance our program he had prepared, which included video and lecture, in a bedroom suite area, rather than the larger meeting room. That night, he gave his entire presentation to these two men with such enthusiasm and candor as he could.
As he left the meeting, the chief of oral maxillofacial surgery said to a friend of Bob, "That guy is either not or he really has landed on something." The idea was so foreign to him but sounded so reasonable that he decided to pursue the idea further.
Over the next 10 years, the surgeon and Dr. who attended the presentation purchased more than $1 million worth of implant devices to help their patients!
If Bob had not walked in that small way – speaking only to two people with the fullness of his energy, information, and enthusiasm – the vision God had even to him might never have been realized.
In Zechariah 4:10 we read, "For who has despised the day of small things?" The answer is to be in bird as that small things can lead to great accomplishments and that we must never despised small beginnings or small efforts that are made in earnest faith toward the reaching of God's vision.
Bob did what he knew to do – at every step of the way, and especially in giving the presentation he knew to make – even if his efforts had only reached two people.
Emphasize the Basics. One of the things we have observed through the years is that when a person who is successful in sports hits a "slump time” he always does the same thing: he returns to the basics. He practices the foundational principles of playing his sport.
We need to do the same thing any time we hit a "slump" in pursuit of our vision.
When things are not going well we need to get back to the basic and emphasize again those things that we know to do.
If we are experiencing a business slump, we need to get back to the basics of doing good business.
If we are experiencing a slump time in our marriage, we need to get back the very basics of courting and instilling romance and communication and time together into our marriage.
If we are experiencing a slump time in our spiritual life or in our ministry, we need to get back to the basics of increased daily prayer, daily Bible reading, fellowship with other believers, service and ministry to those in need, and opportunities for spiritual refreshment.
In slump times, we need to remind ourselves of precisely why it is God has placed before us to be and to do.
Return again to your basic business plan, your written "vision statement" for your company or ministry, your first notes and definitions about what it is that God has called you to do. Remind yourself of marriage are vows, your vows of commitment to your vision, and the first statements you made publicly about your God-given vision. Go back to the beginning point and rekindle the passion he wants felt toward the vision God placed in your heart.
John wrote these words of the Lord to the church a Ephesus, a church that had grown large and influential through the ministry of both Paul and John:
"I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars them a: and you have preserved and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake, and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent." (Revelation 2:2 – 5)
The church at Ephesus received high praise from the Lord for the things they had done. But he received a strong rebuke for why it had not done – they had strayed from the basics and from the original passion it had held for the things of God. The people had allowed their deep, zealous, ardent love for the Lord to diminish in them. They had fallen away from the basic disciplines they had once done faithfully and with joy as they grew and matured in the Lord.
We must never think we have outgrown the basics. We must be diligent always to do the basics and to make them the cornerstone of our life and the pursuit of our vision.
You may follow, but you cannot fail if you are pursuing God's vision for your life. To fall is to stumble momentarily in your pursuit of a goal. It is to become deterred, delayed, or detained. But to fail is to fall and not get up. It is to quit. It is to see absolutely no benefit or result from your efforts.
To fail is simply impossible for the true believer who desires to implement a vision from God. Why? Because God can cause all things to work together for those who believe. Romans 8:28 is a tremendous promise to a person with a vision: "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
If your heart is right with God and you are doing the best you know to do and trusting God the best you can, following His leading to the best of your ability, He can use All things to bring about benefit, both for you and for His kingdom. All things. Not just some things. All things includes your mistakes, your errors, your misjudgments, your slipups, your groups. God never wastes anything that you do – He finds a way to turn it to good.
ENDURING IN THE WORK OF THE VISION
The Call to Work
Mark Twain once said, “When all is said and done, more is said than done." We are to be doers, workers, producers, increasers.
The Bible's admonition is that faith without works is dead. We are to be doers of the Word. Those who heard Nehemiah's call to work responded to it. We read in Nehemiah 4:6, “Neither I, my brethren, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me took off our clothes, except that everyone took them off for washing.”
In 52 days, the wall was rebuilt. 14 years it had laid in rubble. In less than two months, the wall was restored.
Why is it that might be turned around by concerted, hundred percent effort?
What is it that you can produce if you give your best and come to meet effort to it?
What might be accomplished if a group of people truly became of one heart, one mind, and one hand in an effort?
Only God can begin to know! And oh, that we find out through the doing!
Eventually the time comes for planning and praying to give way to working.
BUILD THE PRODUCT!
PROVIDE THE SERVICE!
ENGAGE IN THE MINISTRY!
DO WHAT GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO DO!
Work With Faithfulness
Jesus taught that if we are faithful in little, we will be prepared to be faithful in much.
So many people want to be successful – but they dream of success in great glowing terms and if they aren't successful in that degree of success that they have imagined, they don't consider themselves successful. Rather, they become discouraged.
The way toward great success is paved by little successes. Whether in businesses, marriages, or churches, people do not often fail in the big choices or the big decisions that face them. They fail in the little choices, decisions and actions. They fail on the daily basis in the areas of life that may even seem routine or mundane.
Truly to be successful, we must learn first how to be faithful in the small things we are given to do. We must do what is put before us to the best of our ability and with our greatest enthusiasm.
Remind yourself again what Jesus taught about this:
"For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made five other talents. And likewise he went received two gained two more also. But he lived received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his Lord's money. After a long time the Lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
"So he who had received five talents came and bought five other talents, saying, ’Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents beside them.’ His Lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you are faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said ‘, Lord, you delivered me to talents; look, I have gained two more talents beside them.’ His Lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’
“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you had to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
“But his Lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you want to have deposited my money with the thinkers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has 10 talents.
‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.’” (Matthew 25:14 – 29)
Notice three things about this passage:
First, every servant was giving SOMETHING. Each person has been given talents, aptitudes, abilities, propensities – at least one, and in most cases, more than one. Never allow yourself to get your eyes on what somebody else has or what somebody else can do. Focus on what you have been given by God and what God has enabled you to do. Be faithful in the pursuit of your own talents – each one of them!
Second, every servant who choose to DO something with his talents, DOUBLED his talents. When we pursue our talents and develop our abilities, and then as we employ these talents and abilities in efforts that are honoring to God, He imparts to us the wisdom and ability to do profitable work.
We certainly can err in one of two ways: we can fail to get all of the information or see you we need for our talents to be 100% usable, or we can fail to work. If we can seek God's wisdom and rely on God for the health, strength, energy and opportunity to work…we will be successful. God's law of multiplication is in effect to those who give what they have to give – in other words, to work with what they have been given for work. A number of promises from God relate to this principle. Here are just two key versus to remind you of God's sowing and reaping principle:
[Jesus said,] “Give, and it will be given to you: Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke it's: 38)
Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap…And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:7, 9)
The only place that "success” comes before "work" is the dictionary! In real life, work is the avenue to success – faithful, steadfast, daily, consistent work.
Third, the servants who invested their talents were both given a greater opportunity. The master said the identical thing to both the servant who had turned five talents into 10 talents, and to the servant who had turned to talents into board talents: "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord" (Matthew 25:23).
Those who do not despise small beginnings, but war faithful in little things, will be given the opportunity to be faithful in greater things. And as our opportunity for work and faithfulness and success grows, so does our joy!
When Eddie reached the age of 22, he decided that he wanted to farm. He had worked as a farm laborer and for meant for a major grower in his country, but he longed to be a grower himself. He had a strong feeling that this is what the Lord wanted him to do with his life – in part, because he loved everything about farming. He enjoyed the planting, he worked with machinery, the cultivation of crops, the potential for harvest, the business relationships involved in purchasing seed and fertilizer, the selling of crops, and the hiring and supervising of laborers.
Ed saved as much as he could from the wages he earned in working for someone else so that he had a small amount he could invest in seed and the leasing of equipment. He found 40 acres of land that the owner would allow him to farm on a leasing arrangement in which Ed would pay a percentage of the crop sales. And he began to work!
He quit his other position, lived very meagerly that first year as he was planting and growing his first crops, and he did all of the work himself. His crops had high yields and prices were good, and Ed made a good profit on his earnings, so much that the local bank approached him about a financing plan to help him farm 120 acres the following year.
Over the next 20 years, Ed farming operation expanded to the point where he was farming more than 8000 acres of irrigated land, raising crops as diverse as cotton and alfalfa, grapes and sunflower seeds, garlic and sugar beets.
His son learned about farming as he worked alongside his father and the other laborers had hired. He had become an expert grower and eventually became the president of one of the major fresh produce companies in his state.
Ed farmed until he was 80 years old. His was a lifetime commitment to a career he loved.
But in addition to its production of high-quality agricultural drops, he has this dimension to his life – he developed a strong Christian witness as a fair and generous employer, and as a honest and reliable businessman in his community. He also gave large quantities of edible plants he raised two ministers in his church and to needy people in his community, and especially to those organizations that serve the homeless. From the profits he made in farming, he tithed regularly to his church and gave generous offerings, including offerings to ministries that were evolving and developing agricultural programs overseas as a form of Christian outreach.
In all the ways he could, Ed turned earthly profits and work into internal reward.
No Retirement from God Service. For the Christian, there is no such thing as "retirement." No person ever gets to the “end” of God's call on their life to give or to produce or to work at turning a vision into reality.
A woman once said to her pastor, “I’ve taught Sunday school for 20 years and I think it is time to retire.”
He said, “Why are you going to retire?”
She answered, “Well, I’ve taught for twenty years. That’s long enough. It’s time for someone else to take on this responsibility in the church.”
The pastor asked, "Has God told you to retire from this ministry?"
"What do you mean?" She asked
"Has God spoke into your heart that you are to do something other than to teach?"
She thought for a moment and finally concluded, "No.”
The pastor asked, “Are you still a good teacher?”
She straightened her back as she answered, “Why, of course I’m a good teacher.”
The pastor said, “Then I can’t accept your resignation. There is no resignation from the use of your God-given talents or of pursuing a ministry that God has qualified you to do, and through which God has blessed others.”
Romans 11:29 tells us, “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” There’s no giving up, resigning, or “resting on our laurels” in our pursuit of God’s vision.
Put your hands and feet and mind and spirit to work today.
And, expect to work in pursuit of your God-given vision the rest of your life.
BUILDING ON THE FOUNDATION OF A GODLY VISION
Three great principles are revealed in Scripture about the way a leader should build on the foundation of vision he has received from the Lord. These are very practical, and extremely vital principles for you to follow both as you begin to do the work and as you endure in doing the work you are called to do.
Little by Little
A God-given vision or goal must be partitioned into doable segments. As we read about the work that Nehemiah and the Israelites did in Jerusalem, one thing stands out: everybody had a part. In the first few verses of Nehemiah 3 we see a representation of the pattern that was followed in the building of the wall:
Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Date; they consecrated it and hung it stores. They built as far as the Tower of the hundred, and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of Hananel. Next to Eliashib the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.
Also the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. And next to them Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz, made repairs. Next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs. Next to them Zadok the son of Baana made repairs. (Nehemiah 3:1 –4)
Don’t take on an entire vision at once. Parcel into segments or sections and take them one at a time. Divide the work among all available workers, so that each person has authority over a portion of the work and responsibility for completing it.
In exit us, we find these words of the Lord to Moses about how He is going to deal with the enemies of the Israelites were currently in possession of the Promised Land: "Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you will inherit the land" (Exodus 23:30).
In what ways do we increase little by little?
In the ability to a door and us and fast in God's ways. The vision that God imparts to us is very likely to be an unfolding vision, one becomes bigger and bigger as time passes and as we are prepared spiritually to enter into bigger and bigger tasks and responsibilities. The bigger the vision grows, the bigger our faith must be, the stronger our courage must be, the greater our motivation must become to pursue the vision of God!
So many people want to "inherit" things that God doesn't necessarily have for them. They are looking to God to be the "rich uncle" they wish they had who leaves them a part of money and property in His will. They are all hoping for a windfall.
God's vision for us is never a "windfall" – rather, it is a challenge that we are to pursue with all of our heart, mind, and soul, and with all of our faith, hope, and courage. The inheritance is ours. But it is an inheritance that we are going to have to claim, and in most cases, to claim through active spiritual warfare.
The first steps you will take toward the fulfillment of God's vision are going to be "baby steps" – sometimes teeny, tiny steps, inch by inch, idea by idea. Don't discount to those steps. Take them! Every person learns to walk the same way, starting with baby steps. We need to recognize in our world of "instant everything” – instant food, instant coffee, instant satisfaction, instant response times – that "overnight successes" are usually years and even decades in the making.
Many times a person needs to go through a number of failures on the way to success. Each of those failures can be a learning experience and can become an experience that leaves a person one step closer to a cold. Proverbs 24:15 tells us, "Do not lie in wait, oh wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous and the: Do not plunder his resting place; For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again." The righteous person is someone who trusts in God and obeys God, and therefore, even if he is "down," he is never "out to." God can cause him to rise again and again, and each time, to be closer to the prosperity and success that God has ordained for him.
It is important to remember that if you have broken a vision down into small steps, a failure in a small step is going to have a far less demoralizing impact on a person or an organization as a whole. It is also far easier to regroup, re-energize, and return to work after a "small failure.”
The workers of each portion of a job need to be identified, recognized, and applauded for the successful completion of their work. Suitable rewards need to be given openly and generously and with an attitude of "applause."
Be free in your praise of those who assist you. Acknowledge work well done and work brought in "on time and on budget."
Throughout the third chapter of Nehemiah we find the names of dozens of workers. Virtually everybody involved is named!
For most workers, a good work atmosphere – all of the opportunity to produce quality work – is a reward. Colossians 4:1 reminds us as employers that we are to grant our employees a work situation that is "just and fair." Just as we are wise never to overprice an item we produce or a service we provide, we must never "undervalue" or "under reward" those who work with us in accomplishing of a vision from God. The Lord does not honor or bless those who cheat their employees or disregard their needs for a safe, healthful, respectful, and rewarding work environment.
No work should go unrecognized. A person's role in a church – which may very well be there vision from God for their lives – may be that of an intercessor. It may be as a "helper" in a church. It may be as a Sunday school teacher for the three-year-olds or as an usher. A person who is faithful and steadfast in the world to which the Lord leads them is going to find great favor in the Lord's eyes, regardless of the nature of that role. They should also find favor and reward and appreciation in the eyes of those who lead them.
We do well to ask ourselves, "How do the rewards of the Lord manifest themselves in our lives?"
One of the foremost ways is the feeling of deep satisfaction and fulfillment. When we are walking in the vision that God has for us, we experience deeper inner peace and an abiding joy. We have an enthusiasm for doing what the Lord has called us to do. The tasks before us do not appear to be a burden, but rather are a delight.
This doesn't mean that we might not become weary or troubled at times in our pursuit of a vision, but overall, the joy of the Lord rests on those who are pursuing the vision they know God has given to them.
Another way the reward of the Lord manifests itself is in spiritual fruit, and especially, the winning souls and the establishment of wholeness in the lives of believers. If a branch is not bearing fruit of a genuine spiritual nature, it is not a worthy branch to cultivate. Jesus taught in John 15:2, “Every branch that bears fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit." The Lord's desire is that our efforts produce results, and that those results might be ever increasing. From time to time, we at variance a slump or a slowdown, but overall, the trend is to be one of increase.
In giving rewards to others, provide opportunities for them to experience, voice, and give thanks for those things that give them meaning and satisfaction. Identify the eternal fruit they are producing and honor it.
Prayer and Praise for Every Goal Reached
Pause frequently as a group to give praise to God as goals are reached and to pray for God's continued favor and blessing. Thanks Him for giving you the ability and wisdom to do what you have done. Praise Him for His goodness to you!
Bob recently had great occasion to praise God for a goal reached. The vision that the Lord gave to Bob for TMJ Implants came nearly 40 years ago. It was only recently, however, that Bob took the implants before a panel of experts in the US Food and Drug Administration for approval. His first devices were placed in patients some 39 years ago, and are still functioning, which proved a strong testament to the quality and performance of the devices. After hearing reports about the devices, the panel of consultants voted unanimously that the devices were "approvable with some conditions." This was a major accomplishment. And for that Bob gives praise!
Bob has spent nearly 4 decades in faithful pursuit of God's vision for TMJ implants in bringing his devices to the point where his technique and products are now being used in most major hospitals in the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden, and after, Puerto Rico, and several nations in South America. To that, Bob says, "To God be the glory!"
One milestones can you know in your career or business for which God deserves great praise?
As we read about the work of the Israelites under Nehemiah's leadership, we see that a consecrated to the Lord various stages of the work as they were completed. As soon as that Sheep Gate was finished, it was consecrated to the Lord – which means that the workers and priests gathered to thank the Lord for enabling them to do the work, and they asked the Lord to bless the work and to protect it and bless all those who pass in and out of the gate. As soon as a section of the wall was completed, the work was consecrated. Take time periodically to gather as a group and to mark the goals that God has enabled you to accomplish. This is especially important as you acquire new pieces of machinery or transportation equipment or begin to occupy new facilities. Dedicate these items to the Lord's service. Recognize that it is the Lord who enables you to purchase the items and that it is ultimately for the Lords work that you will be using the items. Those who work for you in the accomplishment of your vision from the Lord will fill greater satisfaction if they can look at something they have done and know that it is complete, of high quality, and that the work was done in a timely manner. People enjoy taking pride in their work! They also appreciate being appreciated, and especially being named in front of others with words of recognition. They take better care of facilities and equipment that they believe is being purchased and used for the furtherance of the vision and ultimately for the glory of God.
These three principles in Nehemiah are excellent that there's in the motivation of people toward the on-going pursuit of a vision. The same holds are true if you are alone in pursuing a vision. Periodically pause to take stock of what you have done and to thank God for giving you the ability to do what you have done. Meanwhile you have done – list it, I didn't buy it, write it down. You may be surprised at all that has been accomplished. And finally, pray over the equipment you use and the facilities in which you work. Asked the Lord to bless everything you touch, and to give favor so that the material things you use will work as they are designed to work and they will last far beyond their expected "lifespan."
Choose to believe ALL your work in prayer. Pray before you do it, as you do it, and after you do it. Completely soak all of your plans and work, and follow-up by praying for God's blessings and God's direction. Asked the Lord to take what you have done and to use it for His glory and to further His purposes. Jesus taught us to pray, "Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.” Make that the heart of your prayers to the Lord.
Mike uses this phrase in his ministry, "You need to pray as if it all depends on God and then work as a that all depends on you." Prayer and work are to go together.
FOUR HALLMARKS OF SUCCESSFUL WORK
Successful work has for great hallmarks. These are the marks of success regardless of nature of the vision God has given you or the place you are located. These ingredients are required regardless of your sex, age, culture, nationality, or current position or job. They are:
Keep these hallmarks at the forefront of your thinking at all times. Write them down and post them where you can refer to them often. Brand them on to your heart.
You will only be successful if you are providing value to a customer, client, or any person with whom you are in relationship. Give your best. Be fair and honest in all your dealings. Read God's admonition on fairness and honesty in business dealings:
Dishonest scales are and abomination to the LORD,
But a just weight is His delight. (Proverbs 11:1)
Diverse weights and diverse measures,
They are both alike, and abomination to the LORD.
Diverse weights are an abomination to the LORD,
And dishonest scales are not good. (Proverbs 20:23).
Three times the Lord speaks in the book of Proverbs about how much He hates dishonesty in business dealings. Most businesses at that time was conducted on the basis of scales and measures that were used to weigh not only products but to wait out the precious metals or spices that were used as money. We must price our products and services fairly and make a fair profit if we are to succeed in the long run. Their profit-taking is a mark of true excellence, a mark that is often overlooked in and godly business environment.
Repeated in His Work, God calls us to excellence. We are to produce or manifest:
Ask yourself often,
What about me and the excellent eye for training in my life and work, attract others to Christ in me?
We all know the phrase, "ride the waves." Do you know what makes it possible to ride the waves, as a surfer or body surfer rides the crest of the ways? At the point where we ride the waves, the velocity of the wave is greater than the weight of the wave. It is when the velocity slows down, that the weight of the wave begins to "crash" on to the shore.
If you slow-down in your pursuit of your vision, you are going to find yourself experiencing an increasing amount of stress or "wait." There is no such thing as just "maintaining" a vision from God. A vision always has a forward and upward motion. God expects our vision to multiply and develop.
Self-motivation. Diligence is directly related to our ability to be self-motivating. Don't wait for others to tell you what to do at every step. Do what you know needs to be done to help the overall team reach its greater goals. Proverbs 6:6 –8 is a strong exhortation about the need for diligence and self-motivation in your work:
In Ecclesiastes 9:10 we read, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” Give your best effort to all that you undertake.
Three Areas for Diligence
There are three specific ways in which you must exercise diligence in your work:
Colossians 3:23 – 25 admonishes us, "Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.”
Treat every employee as if that employee is Jesus Christ in disguise. Treat every customer, every vendor, every client, every patient, every student, every colleague, every supervisor as if that person is the Lord. You'll find a great reward coming your way!
Use all that you have to maximize levels. In Bob's business, he felt the time had come for TMJ Implants to manufacture directly a number of the components used in the implants the company designs and sells. Prior to this time the implants had been "tooled” to his specifications by people who specialized in machine work. One of the first pieces of equipment that Bob purchased was a device that manufactured the screws that are used in the implants.
When that piece of machinery wasn't being used to produce screws were implants, it didn't lay idle! It was used to produce screws for bicycles, and for other items that were subcontracted by various clients. Bob made good use of the equipment in various ventures until the time grew when the implant company needed for use of the machine. Furthermore, the proceeds from those "outside income" jobs made the purchase of future pieces of equipment more readily affordable.
And opposite but related principle is to not use what you don't need. If you don't need an outside office – in other words, if you do your business or your ministry from your home – do so! Don't spend money where you don't need to spend it.
A man once came to Mike to tell him about God's leading him toward a particular type of ministry. He proceeded to tell Mike about the land he was looking at and the building he was considering, all in anticipation of the full growth of his ministry. Now, the man had not yet begun his ministry. He had done no work and therefore, had no successes to show for his faith and effort.
Mike advised him, "Conduct this ministry out of your home for a while. You have a home office – use it. Establish some successes. Then when you go to others to ask them for help in your ministry or to work alongside you in it, you'll have some successes to talk about. We'll be able to show how and where and what degree you are having an impact on the lives and needs of others. Don't get the cart before the horse.”
The man didn't listen to Mike’s wise council and he continued to pursue the purchase of land and a building that was far too large and far too expensive – actually it was unnecessary at that point in his pursuit of a vision. Eventually, all the man's money was spent and he had no success to show for his efforts, only a large mortgage. He became disappointed and eventually sold the property at a loss. He still has done nothing toward the fulfillment of the vision God has placed on his heart.
Years ago Bob raised Angus cattle in northern California. One day he was in a hurry as he fed his small herd and also he noticed that one specific how was not there for the feeding, he gave a little thought to it and hurriedly went on to the overnight business trip he had planned. The next afternoon, he went in search of back out and found that she had died in a forested area while attempting to. Both the cow and her calf were lost. When God gives you a ministry or a business to oversee, be diligent in overseeing it. Proverbs 27:23 – 27 says,
Be diligent to know the state of your flocks,
And attend to your herds;
For riches are not forever,
Nor does a crown endure to all generations.
When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself.
And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in.
The lambs will provide your clothing,
You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food,
For the food of your household,
And the nourishment of you maidservants.
A singular success or a level of success within a company does not automatically maintain itself. The riches that you may receive this year are not a guarantee of the same degree of the riches for every year the rest of your life. Neither is the position of power or the "crown" you presently have a guaranteed "right" reserved for you or your family for future generations.
Every season we must "gather in the herbs," every year we must "take the wool from the sheep," every day we must "milk the goats." We must be diligent in doing the work that is to be done in its season and to attending to the source of our profits.
Factories need periodically to be upgraded and updated and to be out fitted with new machinery. People need to be replenished frequently with praise and rewards and increased salaries and times for recreation and renewal. Facilities need to be kept in good order and be well-maintained. Take heed to your flocks and herds!
We are all required to have staying power. Then of us is given the privilege of "quitting" on a vision that God imparts to us. The Lord tells us in Hebrews 6:15, "And so, after he [Abraham] had patiently endured, he obtained the promise." Choose to endure with patients.
Most people know that a letter isn't going to be delivered by the Postal Service unless it has the proper postage on it. But have you ever stopped to consider that the stamp is only as good as the glue on the back of it?
We look at stamps and we can see colorful and beautiful bits of design, or numbers and symbols that signify the proper amount has been paid. What really counts, however, is the fact that the stamp or meter tape sticks until the letter arrives at its destination!
We need "stick ability" in our marriages are going to survive, our businesses are going to succeed, and our ministries are going to endure.
Give things time to unfold according to God's plan. God isn't finished with you, or others ask commission point God hasn't done all that He is going to do through you or as the result of your efforts. Galatians 6:9 says, "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
The Bible also says, "You need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise" (Hebrews 10:36).
We find in many areas of life that we only "hang steady" in doing the right things that we know to do, competitors and problems and distractions and doubts will simply fall away. It is the steady, unwavering, forward course that cuts the cleanest wake.
If you maintain your fidelity to your spouse and continue to seek ways to show love and appreciation to your spouse, the temptation to cheat on your spouse will become less and less appealing to you.
If you persist in giving good quality service and producing good quality products in your business, your competitors will not be able to rival your reputation, and your repeat business and referred business will take you to the top.
If you are steady in your ministry, consistently showing up and doing your best and trusting God for the result, you will find that good fruit is being produced for the benefit of those who need your ministry the most.
If you continue to learn and to grow and to deal with other people with impeccable character, your reputation is going to be strong and your detractor's and critics are going to fade into the woodwork.
Consistency in doing the things that we know are right to do. These traits result in forward, positive, success-producing enterprise.
Everything is subject to change.
If your marriage is experiencing problems, it is subject to a change for the better…if you will do certain things and make the necessary adjustments.
If your business is experiencing a downturn, it is subject to a change for the better…if you do the necessary things to bring about a positive reversal of the present conditions that are causing the downturn.
If your ministry isn’t as fruitful as you believe it can be, it is subject to a change for the better…if you will ask God to lead you back into total agreement with His purposes and plan, and you will then be courageous in making the changes necessary. Allow the past to teach you. Refuse to be discouraged. Choose instead to be enlightened.
There are three key things you can do to help ensure that you are in a position to experience positive change:
First, have a practice of periodically reviewing the past even as you anticipate the future. See if you can isolate particular needs related to the past. In which direction has the Lord seemed to move you over time? Allow the past to teach you valuable lessons that can impact your future.
Second, obtain regular feedback from your customers, clients, or others whom you serve. Feedback is a vital aspect of any communication process, including communication within a marriage or family. Learn how your customers think and how they feel. Listen closely not only to what they say but how they say it.
In a marriage, it is vital that husbands and wives learn about how best to communicate with each other. In 1 Peter we read, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them [your wives] with understanding.” (1 Peter 3:7)
In a business, it is vital that an employer or supervisor learn how to listen to customers as well as to those they supervise. Work with understanding.
As a dentist and oral surgeon, Bob learned early in his career the great value in listening closely to what his patients had to say. It was largely through hearing his patients describe their pain, discomfort, and dissatisfaction with existing procedures and products that led Bob to explore what could be done to help people.
Develop an ongoing relationship with your customers and those you serve, including those you help in your ministry. Get involved with them on a personal level. Know the names of their spouse and children. Ask about their family and their interests beyond the workday or the tasks you do together. Share your life with those who are connected to your vision from God.
As you relate to others, “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another” (Colossians 3:12 – 13). Manifest the fruit of God’s won Spirit in your life: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Third, encourage individual growth as you make adjustments in job descriptions and organizational patterns
In Bob’s business, he has found that the did not need a full-time person in some areas of his business, but rather, a part-time person…and yet at the same time, he also needed a part-time person in his ministry doing the same or similar work. He was able to provide full-time and him and with a split responsibility – half a day at the business, half the day with the ministry.
In other cases, employees are willing to learn new skills or to adapt the ones they were using in the ministry or business to help the other price. If significant crossover of skills and responsibilities exists for some of his employees. Others are exclusively the employees of either the business or the ministry. God can and will show you how to create ways to use all of your resources, including them please He sends her way.
A Symbolic Relationship
A symbolic relationship is one in which two elements work together in such a way that each element reaches maximum effectiveness or productivity while enhancing the work of the other. The four hallmarks of success have such a relationship. The more you pursue excellence, the greater your desire will be to make positive changes and to be diligent. The more diligent you are, the greater your drive toward excellence and the stronger your will to endure. The more you endure, the greater the excellence you produce. The more flexible you are, the more likely you are to entertain ideas that can promote excellence. The combined power of these four principles – each of which is directly related to what God desires for every person in their personal spiritual life – is unlimited. Choose to pursue excellence with diligence and indoor to the end, remaining taxable at all times to God's ongoing direction. He will fulfill God's vision for your life!
The Maturing of a Vision
A vision is a living idea from the mind of God. And all living things grow Erie it as we step back and began to walk in the vision that God has given to us, our vision is likely to expand. As we work, a vision often branches out and diversifies. This is a normal pattern in all life. If it truly is a God-given vision from the onset, it will not change in nature or character, but the scope of the vision will in large and various facets to the vision will emerge.
Living things also manifest a pattern of energy and momentum. But the related to your unfolding vision. Pursue of a vision produces a degree of energy. And, the more you are "hooked into" the things God desires to do in your life and through your life, the more you are going to discover that certain things become easier, run more smoothly, and get done more quickly.
In church, we often say that we want to "grow in faith" or "mature in the Lord." In business, we hear that people want to "grow the bottom line," take things to the "next level,” or earn more money.”
On the surface, these goals in the church and the business world may seem to be disconnected, but at the core of each is the very same principle: growth. Ant God has certain principles for growth that apply to both spiritual growth and business growth.
For Trends to Study As Your Vision Matures
A steady course as required Apple times, and the faster you move toward fulfillment of a vision, the steadier your course must become. There are four things you must study routinely if you are to enjoy the benefits of a steadfast, stable growth in your business or ministry.
Trends in Technology. God is not opposed to technology. He expects His people to work efficiently and effectively and to enjoy maximum productivity. Technology is not anti-God or anti-spiritual. They can be the means for the Gospel to reach more people, more quickly, and with greater impact! Utilize all that is available in technology to produce the best product or provide the best service you can. Always seeks to update your techniques and to improve what you do. Aim for maximum efficiency, productivity, and quality – not only in the technical aspects of what you do, but in the human relationships you seek to build.
If you are lagging in a particular area, seek wise counsel. Ask the Lord to lead you to the experts who can help you resolve the problems or strength in your weakness.
Trends in Morel. Don't overlook the rise and fall of morale in your own organization.
A young boy was once for on a worse at a stable that was open to public writing, and unfortunately, the boy had not been taught how to direct the course. I went point in his right, he began to spur the horse onward with the heels of his little boots, and at the same time, to pull back the reins in his hand as if to stop the horse. The poor horse was so confused that it reared up and the boy was thrown from the horse – thankfully, without injury. He ended up walking the horse back to the barn.
Part of what we need to learn as we move forward into a vision is when to spur others on and expand our efforts, and when we need to create times for relaxation and we creation as a group. Know when to retreat, and when to push hard for extra effort.
Trends In Business Markets. Be wise in your use of money. Adjust your budget frequently to reflect business trends. As Mike's wife often says, "don't purchase out of your caviar taste if you are still living on a pinto bean budget!"
Maintain a strong and ongoing sales effort. Always be on the alert for new markets and new customers, clients, students, or users. Recognize that in some cases you may need to develop or cultivate these new markets.
As an example, Bob's company recently launched a major educational effort in training programs in hospitals in the United States and Europe. There are thousands of people who can benefit from his implants but they don't presently know that these implants even exist. Dentists and oral surgeons need to be informed that the implants are available.
Trends in the spirit. Be sensitive to what it is that the Lord seems to be doing in the lives of the believers around the world. Adjust aspects of your vision accordingly.
God's Visions Unfold According to God's Timing
Don't be a walled into assuming that because God has worked in one way or on one timetable in your life in the past that He will always work in the same way or according to the same timetable.
God's timing in one stage of your business or ministry may not be His timing and another. God's plan or method for one area of your business or ministry may not be the plan He uses in all areas. When it comes to timing and methodology, but God does in one person's life may not be what God does in your life.
We find examples of this truth throughout God Word. God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel these words regarding His timing related to a specific prophecy: "For I am the LORD. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,’ says the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 12:25)
To the prophet Daniel, the Lord said this about the timing of a vision Daniel says: “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end” (Daniel 8:17)
To the prophet Habakkuk, the Lord said this about the timing of a vision:
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.” (Habakkuk 2:3)
All times God speaks and we are to act quickly.
At times, God speaks and we are to wait patiently and expectantly, knowing that what God has said to him us will come to pass in the fullness of time.
At times, God speaks and shows us that the vision for our lives will extend beyond our lives and that the fullness of the vision lies in the distant future.
However God speaks to you...respond in obedience. Don't rush ahead of God. Don't lag behind. Ask Him to reveal to you the perfect timing for you to act, and until then, wait patiently and expectantly for God to "set things up" on your behalf and for your greater success.
What do we do what we are waiting?
We praise God for what He has done in our lives in the past and we praise Him for what He is going to do in the future.
We pray, petitioning to the Lord to give us all that we need and will need to accomplish His purposes.
We study and prepare. We learn all that we can about particular matters the Lord reveals to us or leads us to study.
We focus our efforts and work diligently at the work which appears immediately in front of us to do.
And all the while, we continue to trust God to manifest His plan for the next move we should make and the precise time we should make it.
Sensitivity to the New Thing God Desires to Do
There are times when we simply need to do what God says to do, even without any direct evidence as to how God might use our efforts or why He may have given a particular directive.
Noah built the ark...and then God sent the rain and the flood on which the ark floated. If you'll build as God directs you to build, He can and will send a flood of business your way to validate and prosper and bring to success what you have built.
The theme of a movie several years ago was this: "Build it, and they will come." In many ways, that is our position when God tells us to act in the way that seems "new" or "unusual" to us. We need to build as He directs us, and then see what God will do with what we have built. Our position is not to question God's direction or to try to second-guess why He is leading in a certain way. Our position is to obey His direction.
At times, our own education and experience can get in the way. We are always subject to saying in our hearts, "I have learned how to do this. I should do what I have learned to do." The more education and or experience we have in a particular field, the more likely we are to rely on our education and experience.
The path the Lord reveals, however, is going to be the way He desires for something to be done. And it may be different than what our education and experience would escape.
We must always keep in mind two things. First, no matter how fine an education or how many years of experience a person may have, our understanding of anything is always going to be limited. It is going to be finite. Information changes. New methods are discovered. New facts emerge. New processes are proven more effective or efficient. And only an infinite God can ever fully understand all there is to know about anything. Only God fully understands the intricacies of marriage, the future for a business, or the purpose for a ministry.
Second, we must always recognize that our education and experience have been imparted to us by human beings, and in many cases, by people who are not interested in pursuing the things of God. Intellectual ability and practical experience are not the sum of human knowledge. We learn things through means other than our mind or rote reputation. God alone can impart to us a fullness of understanding that encompasses the whole of human existence: spirit, mind, and body.
We are called by God to humble ourselves and to empty ourselves of preconceptions, and to say to the Father, "What do You want me to do?"
However God speaks to you…respond in obedience. Don't rush ahead of God. Don't lag behind. Ask him to reveal to you the perfect thing for you to act, and until then, wait patiently and expectantly for God to "set things up” on your behalf and for your greater success.
What if We Err? What if we choose the wrong way? If you recognize that you are on the wrong path, stop moving in that direction immediately, repent before God for failing to hear His voice clearly on the matter, and then trust God to show you how to get back on track. God desires for you to succeed. He'll make a way for you to get back on the right road if you'll wait on His direction and be obedient to His correction.
Upward and Onward
Finally, as you mature in the vision God gives you, choose to walk boldly into the upward call of God. God's desire is to take you from height to height, from glory to glory, from strength to strength.
Be Prepared for Growing Faith Challenges. No matter how mature the vision, we never get to the point where we no longer face challenges that require our faith. God never ceases to "stretch" our ability to believe in Him and trust Him.
Early in Mike's ministry, Mike and the small group with whom he had started to worship had a need for a microphone stand. They had no money, but they began to pray and believe for funds to purchase a microphone stand that cost $27.95. Mike prayed and fasted for three weeks, trusting God for this one item. And God provided.
If Mike had not been faithful and trusting God for that small item, he would have missed an opportunity for his faith to develop and grow. It was by believing and trusting in God and fasting and praying for bigger and bigger things through the years of ministry that Mike's faith develops to the point to where he is now believing and trusting God to provide things that are gigantic compared to a microphone stand.
Trust and believe God for what you need now, at the small stage of your vision. Only then will your faith grow so that your faith can keep pace with your growing vision and your growing success.
Continue to Dream Big Dreams. Evangelist Jerry Saville has a plaque on his desk that says, "If you think too small, you disappoint God.”
God will not impart you to any aspect of a vision for your life that is too big for you to fulfill. He knows who He created you to be and as a part of knowing you, He knows both your capacity and your potential. He knows what you have been given the ability to do – which is something that few of us truly grasp about ourselves! There are times when He waits to impart certain aspects of a vision until we are personally strong enough, mature enough, or in the right position to receive that greater vision.
In the end, as God calls you to join with Him, dream big!
Stay Excited About What God Will Do! When Bob moved to Denver to begin his business and ministry, he began by having the implants he had designed manufactured by a lab in another city. The implants were shipped to him in bulk and he put each in a plastic bag and then prepared them for shipment. At one point, he could look at one small area of a bedroom floor and say, "There in the first little pile is the marketing department. There in that second little pile is inventory. There in that third a little pile is the shipping department." The entire operation could be encompassed in fewer than 15 ft.²!
Today, TMJ Implants occupies a building with 27,000 ft.². Did Bob know 15 years ago that TMJ Implants would be this successful? Did he know that he would eventually have for profit-making entities to feed into the ministry the Lord had showed him to do? Not in full detail! But what Bob did help from the outset was an enthusiasm and a joy that he was on God's path for his success and that God would prove Himself faithful to the vision He had imparted.
Get excited about God's vision for you. And stay excited about God's vision. It is a vision that will only get more and more rewarding as time passes.
Pursuit of God's vision will be the biggest thing that has ever or will ever happen to you.
It will be the best thing that has ever or will ever happen to you.
And it will be the most meaningful and eternally rewarding thing that has ever or will ever happen to you.
Choose to walk in God's vision for your life, every day of your life. It is a vision that will lead you straight into eternity and an unspeakable richness of reward!