Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kingdom Principles for Business Prosperity

Part 2 on Finding Your Purpose in a Chaotic World. Purpose is linked to many things. Some people are called to the arts, music, ministry or a variety of other things. How can you know where you fit? If you missed the article on Finding Your Purpose in a Chaotic World, go back and read yesterday's post. This is a continuation on the same subject, a little different application. We will be going through this same topic for a while so that people can understand more about finding purpose and how their gifts and talents are placed there by God as a means of directing them to fulfilling the plan of God for their life. Before we embark on today's lesson, let's take a look at some important background information concerning God's covenant with Abraham and how it applies to us. (Genesis 12:1-3.)

IF Abraham was obedient (Get out of your father’s house, go on a journey with God)…then all the covenant promises would be fulfilled. The rest of the promises hinge upon obedience to what God tells you to do.

1. Promise of multiplication (many descendants). Also long and healthy life. Gen. 15:15 & 24:1
2. Blessing, wealth & importance.   Gen. 13:2
3. Fame or honor   
4. A blessing to others
5. Those who curse you cursed by God (divine protection & retribution to enemies)  He is a shield of protection, Gen. 15:1 and our great reward
6. Limitless opportunities to bless others


Why is God’s covenant with Abraham important to us? Because this promise was not limited to Abraham; it was promised to Abraham’s seed through Issac, his son. Abraham had two sons, Ishmael & Issac. The son of promise came by faith. By it's very nature, genuine faith is an act of humility. If you know anything about faith, it's that it requires risk. Total dependence on God. Pride cannot wait on God. Pride will cause people to try to work their own solution to a problem but as Abraham discovered, trying to make a promise come to pass on our own efforts can bring forth an Ishmael that causes great consternation and problems for a long time afterward. Pride assumes one can do whatever they please and have God bless their efforts. Pride keeps us from receiving what’s ours through God's promise - but His promise is only fulfilled by faith and patience. Pride often masquerades as fear and resists believing God. It sounds so logical but logic will talk us out of obedience and logic will talk us out of taking a step of faith. Pride masquerades as fear to keep us in indecision after we clearly know that God has spoken to us. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. True humility is believing God, trusting Him and obedience even though it requires great risk on our part. We are inheritors of the covenant promises because we come by faith, choosing God's methods above our own.
(Read Gal. 3:16 & 3:29).

Abraham’s promise came to Issac, and Isaac also learned what it was to trust God and walk by faith. God showed up in Gen. 26:23 and renewed the covenant with Issac. Isaac prospered just like his father. It was a generational blessing that continued because they walked in faith. Even the men of the community recognized that Isaac prospered because God was with him. (Read Gen. 26:28)



Many years later, along came Isaac’s son, Jacob. Jacob worked a sly deal with his brother, Esau, and scammed him out of the first born blessing, then ran to his uncle’s house a long way off to hide from the wrath of his brother. During this time, Jacob met Uncle Laban’s daughter and fell in love. He ended up working for Laban for many years but the whole time Laban was deceitful and kept changing Jacob’s wages. Many times over, Laban convinced Jacob to stay but look at his reason why! “Please stay, if I have found favor in your eyes, for I have learned by experience that the Lord has blessed me for your sake.” Gen. 30:27. (Here comes the moment Jacob has been waiting for!) Laban says, “Name your wages and I will give it.” 


Let me just interject something here. An old proverb states “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Another quote by play writer George Chapman states, “The great mother of all productions is grave necessity.” 



Great leaders do not emerge when things are running smoothly. Great leaders emerge in times of crisis, chaos and when there is a great need for change. You must learn to look at discomfort and frustration as opportunities for change, and those unmet needs as indicators to start looking for answers outside the box. YOU WILL NEVER FIND THE ANSWER YOU NEED INSIDE THE BOX OF ALL YOUR LIMITATIONS. You will never find the answer you need if your God is too small. If God isn’t big enough to bust out of your religious theology and comfort zone, then you have put Him in a box and tied His hands. HE WILL NOT WORK UNTIL YOU TAKE THE LIMITS OFF. You have to tell Him it’s ok to do some changing around and let Him lead. Ask Him to be Lord of all your impossible situations!

He longs to be BIG in your life! He longs to hear his children ask Him to do things so big that they can’t possibly do it on their own strength. He puts us in impossible situations so that we have to ask Him to do the impossible. If we’re too afraid of looking foolish or getting out on a limb, then what we’re saying is, my pride and my comfort zone is more important that really letting You get the glory for doing something great in my life. This is where faith is activated, and faith is the commodity of the kingdom. It's the only real currency you will ever need to operate in God's economy.

Difficult situations are the opportunity we need to inspire creative solutions. Ingenious solutions. Difficult times require inspired ideas for change. Unless we are pressed to do something different, we won’t look for a new solution. You literally need to be between a rock and a hard place in order to get a miracle. In other words, if there is no need for a miracle, you won’t get one. Discovery of creative solutions often contain the same elements of being pressed by your circumstances. Discomfort in your situation is God’s gift to you to inspire the change He wants to bring!


The discomfort of Jacob’s situation made him want to run from it, but in the midst of his troubles, an angel showed up in a dream one night and gave Jacob the strategy to outwit the guy that was swindling him out of wages and peace of mind. No doubt Jacob prayed for a solution, although the scripture doesn‘t specifically state that. He knew God because Jacob had encountered him many years before. It stands to reason that although the scripture doesn’t state it, Jacob had been praying. After all, an angelic encounter is often the result of answered prayer! I believe it wasn’t just the covenant with God that gave Jacob success but it was a generational inheritance of anointing for business that Jacob received from his father, Issac. His grandfather, Abraham had it and was very wealthy. Jacob inherited a lot from his father and grandfather including the knowledge of how to excel in multiplying flocks. That was one of the commodities of their day.


There were many years of Jacob getting a taste of his own medicine, which in the process of time served to humble him and change his nature. Jacob had to have realized that what Laban was doing to him was along the same line of what he had done to his brother. But even with all that, God still hated injustice, and Laban was acting unjustly towards Jacob. You see, Jacob was God’s son, but it doesn’t say that Laban was. They were in the same family line but they didn’t have the same God. Laban worshiped idols. So one day God shows up in a dream and gives Jacob a strategy to improve his business that begins to help him recover his losses. Read Gen. 31:11. But Jacob didn’t share that tip with even his wives until he had gotten very prosperous because of it.

What is interesting here is that Jacob’s name meant “he who supplants.” It meant one who gained by deceit and trickery. Then God showed up and turned it around to show a positive meaning, “The Lord supplants.” That word means displacement. Proverbs 13:11 says “Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished.” God was about to diminish Laban’s wealth because it was gained by dishonesty. Hear me now! This is important if you are an employer! God looks at how you gain your wealth and at what cost. Who is paying the price for your success? Who are you stepping on? Are you treating others fairly? Laban had  changed Jacob’s wages many times over. Have you ever had a boss offer an incentive when times were hard, trying to get you to work harder - then when he got the blessing in the house he changed his mind and gave you less than what was promised? That’s greed and dishonesty, and those that operate their business by taking unfair advantage of others will find their finances slipping through their fingers because they are not honoring their promises. The cries of their laborers is coming before the Lord of Hosts. Prov. 13:22 says that the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous. That’s us. God wants to give us strategy for success in business that will supplant, or displace those that gain their living by deceit and trickery and let us inherit that wealth. Wealth never goes away, it just changes hands. Strategy allows us to understand how we can partner with God to have those finances change hands and make it into ours. IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE PRINCIPLES OF GOD, YOU WILL NEVER EFFECTIVELY OPERATE IN THE ECONOMY OF GOD. God is under no obligation to bless those that don’t know Him, and He is under no obligation to bless those that have no interest in serving Him. He is obligated by His oath and covenant to those that covenant with Him. (re-read chapters 12-15 of Genesis).




God has said in Deut. 8 that He takes us through the wilderness to test us and humble us so that we would know that man does not live by bread alone (our needs being met) but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. He wants to know that we will follow instructions! He said he did it in order to do us good in the end. So there are times where our trust in God is tested, our integrity and character are tested, and we learn to change our behavior so that it aligns with faith and God’s character. If we do not have sufficient character, which includes generosity and compassion towards others in need, we will be stingy. We will not be the blessing to others that God requires us to be. We will allow roots of greed and the love of money to corrupt character and horde the blessings instead of releasing them to others. That is why it is so important to BLESS and SOW in times of famine. You sow your way out of every wilderness season. Don’t let fear impoverish your future or your harvest. If you don’t sow you can’t reap. If you don’t sow you demonstrate to God that you are not yet trustworthy to handle greater riches. Those can be some lean years - but after we pass the tests, God’s intention is that we would be able to inherit wealth. Deut. 8:18 says, “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, (WHY?) that He may establish His covenant, which He swore to your fathers as it is this day.” It’s the same covenant with the same promises as He made to Abraham.


In the practical that may equate to receiving raises, promotions or bonuses; including a new job, gaining new clients or contracts, and God’s favor to bring increase to Christian businesses. He always made Israel to stand out and be so blessed that others would know they were blessed because God was with them.  Laban was shrewd, but he wasn’t wise. If he had any wisdom at all, he would have inquired and wanted to have a personal relationship with the very God that was blessing Jacob, but he only wanted the financial gain. Laban understood that he was getting blessed because of Jacob’s God and didn’t want him to go; not because he wanted to know the God who fought for Israel but because he wanted the financial increase to remain in his house. God will not be used like some talisman for good luck. He wants to prosper His children,  but He also knows what motivates us. He knows if wealth is our treasure and the love of money or if it’s really Him. We have to make sure our priorities are in the right place. One of those priorities is to ask for wisdom. Solomon was blessed with wisdom but he had the sense to ask for more. He didn’t ask for riches; he asked for wisdom to know how to govern God’s people, and because he asked for wisdom, God gave him everything else he didn’t ask for - everything, by the way, that is contained in the covenant promise: wealth, fame, honor, blessing to be a blessing to others, land, property, etc.  You would not give a great deal of wealth to a child, a person that had a poverty mentality, addictions, or someone that was a chronic homeless. Why not? Because they would not have the wisdom to know how to manage kingdom wealth or resources. Good intentions are not enough. You must be tried in the furnace of affliction and go through certain tests because only a person that has suffered will understand humility and compassion towards others. If you never understand what it feels like to be in a humble place and have to receive from others, you will never learn how to bless others without making them feel small. God wants us to give, but not at the cost of depriving others of their dignity. Wealth without the wisdom to know what to do with it will result in it slipping right out of a person’s hands. ASK for WISDOM before you ask for anything else. Demonstrate to God that you understand what is truly important.

  For more great insights on how to prosper in difficult economic times feel free to browse the other articles. Many of our own personal testimonies are included and will encourage you to know certain principles of breakthrough as well.

PRAYER:

Father God,

I ask You for wisdom to know how to correctly handle any situation I may encounter. I need wisdom and strategy in order to be successful in my future, and even just in my daily life with my family, work and personal relationships. But I also ask You for strategy to succeed in business, sensitivity to Your Spirit, to know how to correctly understand what You're communicating, and a heart that is quick to obey You. I ask You for wisdom to know what to do and how to manage what ever success You allow me to have. I acknowledge it is You that gives me power to gain wealth, Lord. Help me to have the quality of character that pleases You so that I can be a blessing to others. I also ask You to increase my faith so that I will not shrink back when taking a great risk is required of me. Show me how to prosper Your way, Lord Jesus. I thank You for helping me find my purpose and walk into the newness of whatever You have planned for me. In Jesus name, amen.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Finding Your Purpose in a Chaotic World

Today I'd like to begin a message that I will refer to as "Finding Your Purpose in a Chaotic World." I find that so many people have no idea whatsoever what their spiritual gifts are or how to discern what compass to follow in life. They just wander aimlessly without a real plan, never getting any closer to figuring out why they seem so unfulfilled. It's because it's all tied to what God has put inside of you. Finding your purpose cannot be done without discovering a wonderful relationship with Jesus! That's the first step.

Ultimately, the answer to our life quest for purpose can be found in 2 Cor. 5:18 where the Bible tells us that we are given the ministry of reconciliation. No matter what else we desire to do, this ministry of reconciliation - reconciling ourselves and others to God - should always be our heart and soul. When it comes to finding God’s answers for direction, purpose, employment, and ministry, look to the area of your gifting. What are you good at? What comes naturally? God has made a deposit in each person in the area of gifting to act as a spiritual compass. That compass, if you learn to listen to it, will lead you into areas where the anointing just flows. Where the anointing flows, there will be provision. God has purposed that each person would have an area of gifting, talent or ability that will provide for them in life. Don’t just look for a job, look for your purpose. Learn to ask the right questions and pray the right prayers so that God can answer His will. Don’t ask for what you don’t want. Be specific. Ask for what you want.

Many people may ask, “But what about ‘in the meantime,’ as I’m trying to shift my life towards my purpose?” My friends, do not worry that you will ‘miss it.’ God has always been working in your life to prepare you and give you life experience, training and develop skills for things you will need later on. He wastes nothing. And, it’s comforting to know that He is working in our lives even when we do not realize it. I can look back at jobs and experiences I had when I was much younger, before I even knew Jesus as my Lord, and I realize that even before I got saved and started to develop a relationship with Him, He was giving me practical experience for things I’m doing now. You can relax! But at the same time, it is often good to ask yourself if the decisions you make regarding how you spend your time, looking for jobs or developing practical skills are moving you towards the will of God, or away from it. If you have a choice between one thing or another, choose the thing that will move you closer to your goal of fulfilling what’s in your heart to do. Don’t move in an opposite direction.

What is the will of God? We know certain things, such as developing a personal deep relationship with Jesus Christ, worship, prayer, and reading His word. Those things cultivate the relationship with your Savior. Answers are found in His presence! (Read Rev. 4:1)The place of revelation to know God’s will is through worship, quiet time with Him and prayer.  Then there are practical things too, such as giving to the needy, helping others when and where you find opportunity, and praying for the needs of others. But I'm referring to understanding your spiritual gifts and the fulfillment of perhaps a specific dream or desire that you know God has put in your heart. I'm also talking about finding the job that makes your heart sing. These things are also all about finding and fulfilling your purpose. Not sure? What have you always wanted to do, if nothing was preventing you from doing it? What is the thing you are good at, the thing that makes your heart happy and you could do repeatedly without getting tired of doing it or having to struggle or strive to make it work? This is most likely connected to your area of gifting. Grace is always present for the task at hand. If you do not sense the grace or anointing in what you’re doing, it may well be a signal that you need to make a change.


When you find the area where you just “flow” and you enjoy what you’re doing, you will also find that you feel fulfilled. You will never feel fulfilled if you’re not doing what God created you to do, but He is at the center of all of it. Without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the desire of feeling truly at peace and fulfilled will likely escape you, because you were created to know Him. You were created to have relationship with Him. It's a void that only His presence in our life can fill.

If we want to truly find and fulfill our purpose, we must be committed to being serious with the Lord. We must leave some things behind. We must choose to be healed. We must choose to grow with the Lord. We must choose to let go of things that don’t profit or could hinder our future. You’ve heard the phrase, “dress for success.” Well, that doesn’t just apply to making a nice presentation on the outside. You have to be able to make the presentation on the inside, too. Because if your character and integrity aren’t developed, you will miss the mark even if you do land the job. Don’t let your character assassinate your reputation. Reputation may be what others think you are, but character is what you really are when no one else is watching. Be committed to the development of both. Man may look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. He will not promote you just because you look good. He promotes people because they are committed to excellence both in the matters of the heart as well as quality job performance. Scripture says, “Do you see a man that excels in his work? He will stand before kings.” Prov. 22:29. When you are committed to excellence of character as well as excellence in your area of gifting, your gift will make room for you and it will bring you before great men.

Now there is another meaning of this piece of scripture that I would like to address. (Speaking about Prov. 18:16) It was customary in ancient times (and sometimes still applicable today), to bring a gift or present to the person you were visiting. It was not only customary, but expected, that one brought a gift to the great man into whose presence you came. It was the gift that welcomed a person into the presence of a king or other person in high position and granted them opportunity to plead a case, seek justice, and request favor from the person to whom they were making a petition. Although I acknowledge what the original intent may have signified, I prefer to look at it in light of how the scripture is applicable to us today. We know of course, that the Lord hates bribery because it causes one to turn a blind eye to justice and can pervert honest ways, so the word in Proverbs 18:16 should be viewed in proper perspective. Aren't you glad the Lord doesn't ask us to bring a gift every time we want to enter His presence? I love the fact that the Lord welcomes us to His throne without requiring us to bring anything except ourselves, yet it is His gifts in us, that makes room (expansion, to find a place) or allows us to find favor in the eyes of others. That deposit of God’s goodness to us is ultimately (by His design) something that other individuals will also need. You have something that someone else needs, and it’s wrapped up in the anointing and gifting that God has put inside of you. Sometimes God has a very specific place in mind where you are to use your talents and gifts. Your gift is valuable and so are you! Never think that you do not have value. God has made you in His image and put His greatness inside of you! That is why we all need each other. When we all get connected the way we are designed to fit, where the anointing flows unhindered and the needs of the body, community and city are being met, it's going to look like Jesus. I need the benefit of your gifts and talents and you should be able to benefit from mine as well. That is why the scripture likens us to a body in which every joint "supplieth" (continues to supply) what the rest of the body needs to function properly. When the body of Christ is disjointed or disconnected, we can't function in perfect wholeness and soundness as we have been designed to. When you let the gift be unwrapped and let others see the beauty of the Lord working in and through your gifting, it becomes valuable to them, too, and they get to benefit from it. This is the love of God towards us. His magnificence is wrapped up in a gift and a talent that is uniquely yours. It's a little bit of Himself, deposited in each of us. So develop it with care, and with the utmost regard for how that talent or area of gifting will impact your future. Give yourself to excellence and it will allow you to find favor in the eyes of God and man. Favor opens doors to opportunities you may never have otherwise. Above all, treat the presence of Holy Spirit with the utmost respect and honor that is due Him, and He will promote you at the right time.



Take the limits off! Do not say, “I can’t do this,” or speak that certain things prevent you from fulfilling the dream in your heart. Your job is to nurture your future with life giving words. God’s job is to bring it to pass. Don’t let negative words create a cycle of unbelief and unanswered prayer! Words have power! What you say, either way, will come to pass. It’s the law of agreement. Jesus told us in Matthew 18 that where two or more are gathered in His name, whatever they asked for in prayer would be done for them. But the enemy knows the law of agreement too. A spiritual law can operate in a negative sense as well if you speak out unbelief or word curses on your future. You may have to repent and break some word curses you’ve put out there in order to begin a new cycle. SPEAK LIFE. SPEAK FAITH. What you speak is what you give power to exist in your life.

PRAYER:


Father God, I thank You for showing me my area of gifting. Lord, some dreams may have died a long time ago, but I ask that You resurrect the ones that are truly from You. Help me discover the areas where I'm really good at the things you've called me to do. Show me the hope of glory, the riches of the inheritance that You have put in me. Let every spiritual gift that has laid dormant be activated now, in Jesus name. Let every good gift from my Father of Lights be strengthened, refined, and matured so that I can use the gifts and talents you've given me to Your glory. Lord, help me find the specific place where my gifts and talents will be celebrated. Help me find the place where the anointing in my life will be welcomed, and You will be glorified. Please arrange destiny connections to bring me into the right relationships so that my gifts and talents can benefit the most people. I ask You for wisdom and discernment to know how to avoid certain situations that the enemy may bring in order to misuse the gifts for his purposes. Help me avoid any traps and snares the enemy would set for me in this regard, and please help guard me from exploiting my gifts and talents for selfish gain. Keep the wrong doors closed and open the doors you know I should go through. Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil, all the days of my life. In Jesus name, amen.