Consider Joseph and Daniel

 bf4c2c0d49ddc40039be85fb34affcf8

Colossians 3:22-24 (HCSB), “Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while they are watching, in order to please men, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will gain the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thankfully, those of us in most of the world don’t have to worry about being slaves. However we can apply this passage of scripture to employees, servants, and anyone who is under another’s authority. The world would be a better place and much more productive if we did this. There wouldn’t be such a spirit of “socialism” in the world either. Everyone would do their part to the best of their ability. There are way more people who could be working at something than there are those who truly can’t work at anything.

In America we complain a lot, about a lot. We tend to complain about Mondays, why? Because we have to go back to work. We complain about having to work at all, or we complain about the hard hours, or those who don’t work as hard as we do, or that we aren’t appreciated, or recognized, or praised…need I go on? This week I was reading my Bible and came across that scripture in Colossians, which led me to these:

Ephesians 6:5-6 (NIV), “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.”

Hebrews 13:17 (KJB), “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Do your job even if no one is looking. Submit to those in authority over you, even if they are wrong. Now, I have to clarify that we don’t have to go against our morals here, that isn’t what I am talking about. What I am saying is we don’t have to be right. As an example, let’s consider a couple of men from the Bible.

Joseph and Daniel were both slaves. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, actually only one, the rest of them wanted to kill him, and ended up with years slavery. First in the home of Potiphar where he did such a good job the Egyptian put him over his whole household. Then when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, and Joseph literally ran away, she accused him or rape and Potiphar sent him straight to prison. In prison he quickly rose in authority until he pretty much ran the place. He was released from his confinement after interpreting some dreams of Pharaoh’s. He saved not only Egypt from famine, but his own family as well. His ending was that he was second only to the Pharaoh himself, who pretty much ruled the known world at the time.

Daniel was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and taken from his own homeland and relocated to Babylon. He too due to his obedience quickly rose in rank and authority. He ended up serving under seven different rulers and kings, none of them Jewish. Like Joseph, he stood for righteousness and continued to serve God where he was. And like Joseph he also interpreted the dreams of a king through God’s revelation. He didn’t use his captivity under a gentile foreign king as an excuse not to serve God along with serving the king. He was almost killed for continuing to obey God when the king made a law that contradicted God’s law. God however, intervened and saved Daniel’s life.

If we look at these two men we see a pattern. They didn’t just obey God. Had they snubbed their noses at their captors, they would have at best, not risen in authority, and at worst, been killed. Yet, when it came to sinning against God they both refused. Daniel calmly continued to pray three times a day as was his custom, and Joseph refused to allow temptation to commit adultery with another man’s wife. They didn’t fight their captors, they didn’t refuse to work, they didn’t try and sabotage their new governments, but they did obey in every way that didn’t go against their faith in God.

How much more should we obey our bosses, teachers, parents, government officials, Church leaders, and God himself? We who are free from the law and are not obligated to follow it, but have the grace of God and His love inside of us; shouldn’t we be even more obedient? We are representing Heaven and our Heavenly Father let’s represent Him well. When we do that our bosses, leaders, etc. can do their jobs with joy. God will get the glory and people will be blessed.

It’s always right to do the right thing. It’s always best to do our best.

I am not sure who coined this phrase, but the school I taught at for years had this as our motto: “Good, better, best, I’ll never rest, until my good is better and my better is best.”

I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV), “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

 

Make a Difference: Ways You Can Help

somebody[1]

Yesterday I wrote about making a difference in someone’s life. After giving it some thought I realized that it can sometimes be hard to know how or what to do. So today I am giving you some ideas, websites, and some encouragement. First and foremost, if you want God to continue to bless you and to give you seed to sow, you need to be giving God His 10% and that does not go to a charity. It goes to your local church, the one you attend on a regular basis. Next, you should be regularly supporting that same church in any outreaches and missions.
Charities that I support or have supported (Please do your research! Some “charities” give more to their administrators than to the people they are supposed to be helping)

Samaritans’ Purse

Feed the Children

If you are crafty, can knit or crochet:
Hats for the homeless

Knit a Square

Send a card, package, or a letter to a serviceman or woman:
Any Soldier

Help a wounded soldier:
Wounded Warrior Project

Another opportunity if you can either knit or crochet is to make hats for newborns and donate to hospitals, or for adults and donate to nursing homes.

Here are some places to volunteer your time:
• Nursing home or hospitals-rock babies, push wheelchairs outside, visit or play board games with the patients.
• Daycares or schools- read with those learning to read students, help study, lunchroom supervision, playground supervision, decorating classrooms.
• Local food pantries- give out food, pick up food, load boxed, unload boxes.
• Abuse shelters
• Homeless shelters
• Soup kitchens
• Big Brothers or Big Sisters
• Sew clothes for the poor (there are several organizations who take donations, including “Little Dresses for Africa”
• Make Christmas shoeboxes (Part of Samaritan’s Purse “Operation Shoe Box”)

One on one:
• Offer to babysit for neighbors or young parents at your church (free of charge).
• Make a meal for a shut in, or new mothers, or anyone who is unable to cook for themselves, or for your busy Pastors and/or Church staff.
• Invite someone that doesn’t have a family to dinner.
• If you are a handyperson, offer to help with home repair.
• If you are mechanically inclined, offer your services to single moms, elderly, or widows.
• Volunteer in your Church’s nursery or youth program (if you don’t want to teach, make a snack, or decorate the rooms, do craft time).
• Volunteer to clean your Church, or to do the same for the elderly, or those new moms.
• Send out birthday cards to those without family.
• Take someone else’s children school shopping if they are low on funds.
• Bring a box of groceries to a needy family, or mail them a gas card.
• Find a missionary and support them financially, or donate goods to help their outreach (again, do your research!) If they only travel part time, offer to mow their yard, or water their plants while they are away.
• Take your Pastor’s out to lunch.
• Donate funds to your local Christian schools. They do not get government funding and still have to pay for staffing, heat, and supplies. (Here is the one I used to teach at, my daughter graduated from this wonderful school, New Testament Church Christian Academy P.O. Box 90 Merrill, Wisconsin, 54452. Your gifts here are tax deductible.)

Ok, I think you are getting the picture. The point is to invest yourself into someone other than yourself, or your own family, whether it is some “one shot” deals or ongoing commitments. Most Charities want you to commit to monthly giving, but I never do that. I send what I can, when I can, or when God lays it on my heart. Be led by His Spirit in your giving and you’ll never go wrong. Some of your giving is tax deductible, some is not, but don’t ever let that be your motivation in giving. Our motivation should always be the same thing that motivated Jesus, love.

Without any reservations, I will include our Church and our Ministry here.
What we do:
NTC Ministries is a relationship based Apostolic Network of ministers, churches and ministries Advancing the Kingdom of God across the globe. We are actively seeking to develop positive, cooperative, mutually beneficial relationships with ministers, churches and ministries. We facilitate connections and bring mutual support between ministries regionally, nationally and internationally. Those who God adds to our network become Partners working together with us in cooperation not competition to advance the Kingdom of God on earth. You have an opportunity to make an impact around the world.

By our collective efforts NTC Ministries has had a global impact with churches, ministries, Bible colleges, schools, orphanages, radio, television and outreach programs in Australia, Burkina Faso, Congo, Denmark, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Germany, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, United States, Vietnam and Wales.

• Planting Churches •Providing Apostolic Oversight• Prophetically Bringing Support to Your Ministry Goals. • Providing Biblical Counsel to those in Five-Fold Ministry • Leadership Development & Biblical Church Government • Planting Bible Colleges and Schools of Ministry

• NTC Bible College • National & Regional Meetings • Licensing and Ordination for qualified ministers • Providing inclusion in our 501c3 group exemption for churches and ministries • NTC Resource Center • Opportunities to Develop Your Broadcast Ministry • Missions Impact Opportunities

Who we are:
Founded by Apostle Dr. William and Pastor Pam Hohman in 1986, New Testament Church boldly proclaims a faith and grace based message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church’s ministries and outreaches include Christian day care, 3 and 4 year old pre-school, a K-12 Christian academy, a Bible college, a Christian radio station, and “His Hands Extended” food pantry. NTC Ministries supports missionary works in over thirty countries, including a Christian television station in the Philippines as well as works in a number of countries in Asia and Africa; these include orphanages, medical clinics, schools, colleges, and other missionary work. If you would like more information on NTC Ministries you can contact us at N2519 Hwy K, P.O. Box 90 Merrill, WI 54452. (715) 536-8554

Or follow one of these links:
Website

Facebook page

Opportunity Prayer

Father, I pray that You help me to walk as You want me to, live the way You intended, and to build Your Kingdom with all boldness and zeal. That I not waste one minute, one penny, or one opportunity to serve You and others in love and gratitude.

I Corinthians 9:19-23 (ESV), “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”

A Servant King?

lava-pes1-300x207[1]

Can a King be a servant?

When Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, became king of Israel, after God had promised to divide the kingdom due to Solomon’s idol worship, he was faced with an important decision. How should he rule his people? His father began humbly asking God for wisdom to rule the people, but ended up in all kinds of pride, self-centered catering to his every whim and ultimately turning away from God, (though he did come to repentance at the end of his life). Rehoboam also starts out with some wisdom, he asks for advice. First he asks the older counselors who sat under his father. We can see their reply in I Kings:

I Kings 12:7 (NASB), “Then they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”

Unfortunately that is the end of his wisdom in seeking counsel. Next, he goes to the young men he had grown up with. Just reading their answer makes me cringe:

I Kings 12:10-11 )NASB), “The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to this people who spoke to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!’ But you shall speak to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! ‘Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”

How do you follow in the footsteps of the wisest, richest man ever? According to his son, you rule the people with an iron fist, in their face, and demand total submission. Sounds like a good plan, right? The Israelites cried out and turned against the house of David. From that day on, the kingdom was divided between Judah and Israel, two kingdoms and two kings. You can continue reading in I Kings and in II Chronicles if you want to see how that all ends.

My point is that we cannot lead by force! Jesus never did. He led by example. He never demanded that people follow him. I can just picture Him with a big smile on His face and a friendly hand on Matthew’s shoulder saying, “have you had your fill of this mundane life, how about walking away from collecting taxes and come with me?” or what about Peter and Andrew, James and John, same smile, same call from a friend, “put down those nets, and lets go catch some souls!”

Jesus is a King, He serves. Why? Because that’s where The Father’s heart is, helping people. God’s desire is that our lives are better. So, each one of us are called to be servants. Jesus repeatedly talked to His disciples about being servants and serving others. When the multitude was hungry and the disciples wanted to send them away, Jesus told them to feed them. At one time, after hearing them argue about who was the greatest, He said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” (Mark 9:35).

We all lead. At least we are supposed to. We might not all have a leadership position at work or at church, but we are parents, we have friends and family, we are part of a community. How are you leading? Our Senior Pastor always says, “Leaders must go there first. Leaders must do it first.” That sounds pretty simple. If we want our community to be more loving, friendlier, then we need to be more loving and friendly. If we want our church to be debt free, we have to give our money. If we want our co-employees to stop talking like they live in a gutter, watch what you say.

We don’t have to be a walking bible to witness and change our atmosphere; we just have to live right. Living like the world never got a single person saved. Our faith during a hard time, our expecting good when the world expects the worse, or support and prayers during someone else’s crisis, all show a relationship with a Savior. How we act matters.

If you are in a leadership position, don’t follow the advice of the young men Rehoboam grew up with! Don’t lead like his father, Solomon, who only cared about his chariots, his palaces, his riches, his pleasure, and his foreign wives.

Look again at Jesus. Why do we commit to follow and serve Him forever? Because, He first served us. He treated us kindly; He showed us mercy, and most of all He gave up His life for us.
When is it right for a king to rule with force? When the people rebel. There will come a day when the King of Kings will come in His power and glory to show Himself as The King to the whole rebellious and hard hearted world.

Revelation 19:11-16 (KJB), “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

I for one, want to know Him as the King who serves those He loves. The Mighty Warrior King from the book of Revelations is the King who protects and defends me. I will never have to be on the other side of His righteous anger! Praise God!

As leaders, there may be a time to correct and discipline, and even a time to cut loose. However, it’s never our place to try and take the place of God. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is the One to carry out punishment. As I have said so many times before, we would mess it up. Leave that to God and lead with the motivation of building The Kingdom, not your kingdom. Have a servants heart, the heart of God, and those who follow your lead, will serve The King forever.

After all, isn’t that ultimately where we are leading…to The Father?

Letting Love Motivate Us-Part II

GodisLove_slide1x_365_y_273

I think about the prophets in the Old Testament. They lived in a time when God’s chosen people were in blatant sin and rebellion. They had broken every command that God had given and on top of that had made idols with their own hands, worshipped the false gods of the nations around them, even going as far as offering their own children to the god Molech by casting them into the furnace. These profits had to preach a ‘turn or burn’ message. These were the words that God gave them to speak. But those men, most of them, prayed for mercy, wept and lamented over the sin of their people, sorrowed over their sure destruction. What kept them motivated? God’s promises. His promise to Abraham that he would father a great nation. His promise to David, that one of his descendants would sit on the throne forever. God’s promise to save a remnant who He would bring back to the Beautiful City, Jerusalem, and His promise of a savior, the Messiah. The promise of His continued love, to those who did as He commanded.

We have it so much easier. We don’t have to shave our heads, cook over cow dung, marry a prostitute, tell our families and neighbors that the enemy will triumph over them, will dash their babies to peices. We get to tell them that God loves them, wants to bless them. Our object lesson is LOVE. We get to show them how much they mean to the one who created them. We can’t be like Jonah, with his attitude of, “they should get what they deserve.” He is a great example of a prophet that was NOT motivated by love. God had to force him to go and tell Nineveh that He was giving them another chance.

God never asked us to quote scripture at people. We use scripture to learn about God, and who He is, encourage ourselves and one another, those in our family, who know the language of heaven. We use them to declare God’s will over our lives and those of others. Quoting scripture to someone who isn’t saved is like speaking French to a Mexican, they aren’t going to understand what you are talking about. God did ask us to show people how much He loves them. It is important we know scripture, that we are intimate with the Word. But that isn’t so that we can prove our expertise and by our understanding of scripture somehow convince the lost of God’s love. They don’t recognize God’s word as TRUTH. They don’t know it’s alive and living. Think of it this way. If you told your husband at the breakfast table that it was against Canadian law to eat toast on Tuesdays, what would he say. “I’m not Canadian.” Or if one of your children tells a friend, “you can’t watch that pg13 movie, my dad doesn’t allow it” what would you expect the friend to say? “He’s not my dad.” So why do we think giving an unsaved person scripture about do’s and don’ts will convince them they need to be saved. They aren’t part of the same family, or a citizen of heaven like we are.

There are Churches who quote scripture, (mostly out of context) who are portraying God as a hard task master who is ready to punish them for their sin or who hates them because of their sin. They interrupt funerals of fallen military men and women, screaming at mourning family members. They stand on street corners and spout off about the end of the world, doom and destruction. How many people are they bringing into the Kingdom. The media depicts God as a foolish old man, or an angry deity ready with a bolt of lightning. They depict Christians as bigots, and self-righteous, and unforgiving people. Or even worse, they show us as the crazy psycho people who live in corn fields, killing torturing others.

We are all appalled by those things, but is it any better when we turn a cold shoulder to someone in need? When we are more concerned with how someone looks or smells, than the condition of their soul? How are we portraying God when we are too distracted to help, too busy to go out of our way for someone who needs Him. God says that it is HIS GOODNESS that turns hearts to repentance. He uses us to show them His goodness.

I John 3:17 “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”

Hebrews 13:16 The Message (MSG) “ Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.”

We all have ample opportunity to show God’s love. It starts in our homes and radiates out through our lives to those we touch in small ways throughout our days. We have to be ‘rooted and grounded’ in His love. If we aren’t we’ll reflect the world around us, instead of the Father’s heart. God’s love is ‘shed abroad’ in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Not confined in a closet. Shed abroad. Scattered to the wind, cast on many waters, an endless supply, and more than we will ever need. His love doesn’t run out. It is there for us personally, and then more for us to share. We can’t always love people with our own human emotions, let’s face it, some people are hard to love. But we can always love people with His love. It isn’t an emotion. It is a gift, we just have to choose to use it.

Sometimes we can backslide into a place where we aren’t motivated by love anymore. We may be working out of a sense of duty or for self seeking reasons. A good litmus test is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

The Message (MSG)
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Have you given up on someone? Do you look back on their past mistakes? Are you waiting for them to fail? Do you lose patience and are easily irritated with others? (That was a big one for me!) Are you filled with pride and self-righteousness? Do you put yourself constantly before others? (Now I am not saying don’t take care of yourself, especially you mom’s, we have to have time for us and down time, that’s not what I am talking about). If you answered yes to any of these things, or all of these things, then check your motives.
We know we are walking in love when we expect the best for others, put them first and keep going, keep praying for them.

Isn’t that what God has done, and continues to do for us?

What Does God Want?

Really, what does He want? You could ask dozens of people and get dozens of different answers. Those answers would range from- obedience, praise and worship, money (tithes and offerings), time, energy, loyalty, attention, commitment, and the list could go on. All of those things are true, but doesn’t that make God sound like some ego-maniacal, dictator who lounges on a throne demanding attention and glory? Who wants that for a Father?
Simply put, God wants you. I know cliché. But He wants your heart. He asks all of those other things from you because those things benefit us. Let’s break this down a little. God doesn’t need your money, but He asks us to give 10% (tithe for the running of the Church and the support of the staff) and offerings (to help others), because He knows that “if we give, it will be given back to us”. (Luke 6:38). Also when we give to God, He promises to “Open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing” (Mal 3:10). God wants us to praise Him because praise “stills the enemy and the avenger” (Ps 8:2), it makes Satan shut up and stops his actions against us. He asks us to work because He works with us (I Cor. 3:9). He doesn’t sit while we work, in fact “He works while we wait.” We work because the Church toilets need cleaning, those little noses in nursery need wiped. Those things bring us together as a family.
God is love! He doesn’t just possess, show, or talk about love, He is love. It is the very nature of God (I John 4:7). That’s why He loves everyone. He loves the drug addict, the prostitute, the serial killer, the child molester, everyone! But don’t be deceived they are not His children, or part of His family. His children are the ones who have surrendered their lives to Him. Those are the ones he promises to take care of. Because He is love and He wants all to be His children, He asks us to work together with Him to build His family. He doesn’t want this love to remain one sided. What does it benefit them if He loves them, but they never experience love for Him? Those others who have Satan as their father (and they don’t even know it), they need to be reached. They need to know God’s love. How can they be reached if we aren’t co-laboring with Christ.
Our ‘work’ for God, those things all mentioned in the first paragraph, and any other thing God may have asked of us, should come out of our love for God. If they are coming out a sense of obligation, duty or fear, the motivation is wrong. Even worse if they are coming out of self-righteousness and pride, it’s going to be harmful to you instead of helpful. What motivates your work? It’s easy to “grow weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9) if we have the wrong attitude. I know I’ve been there. I’ve screamed in my head, “What do you want from me!” on more than one occasion. I had allowed the thoughts to take root in my heart that I was doing so much for him already, but that somehow that wasn’t enough, that He was demanding more. That I was lacking. Those are just a bunch of ugly lies, God doesn’t demand, we have a choice. At my worst moments of fear, illness, weakness and depression, God patiently reminded me that He loved me, that He wasn’t asking for a slave (being forced), but that He wanted a daughter who served from a heart of thankfulness and love. I had gone back to Egypt (slavery) when He wanted me in the Promised Land (a place of rest, provision and peace).
God showed His love for us through the ugliness and the shame on the cross. Jesus not only poured out His life’s blood on that tree, but also His great love and longing for us. When we know Him, (not know about Him with our reasoning mind, but know Him intimately in our hearts), we understand what He wants. He wants a relationship with Him, two way conversations, and fellowship. He wants us to spend time with Him, not in work or service but in relationship. Get these pictures in your head. First think about how you feel when your child obediently cleans their room, to the best of their ability. Now think of your little one sitting on your lap, with each of their little hands on either side of your face, looking into your eyes, and saying “I love you”. Which one touches you more?
Sure their room needs cleaned and we have to teach them responsibility, it’s for their own good after all (sounding familiar?), but first we want their love. The Church needs cleaned, bills need paid, and the lost need reached. But first and most importantly we need to accept God’s love for us, and love Him back, build a better relationship with Him. We don’t do that by work, but by sitting in His lap. All of those other things will get done and with the right motivation. Sounds easier, freer, and way more fun!
“Yes I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3