but in the future Isaiah 9:1
I was reading Isaiah 9 and felt it had strong relevance to the challenge we see of getting people out of the common way of doing Christianity and into a kingdom walk. The big hurdle of “recruiting” people for this or that initiative has little to do with leave, time commitments, or finances; it has to do with the possible new future for people, and how our enemy is determined to help people avoid it. The two phrases that hit me from Isaiah 9:1 were “In the past…” and “but in the future.”
As we end another Venture season (which feels much like the Old Testament times when kings returned from war) I am so blessed that the future of many people has been radically changed by God’s interjection these past four or five months. The future of many consultants has been changed forever because of the training they received. They grew spiritually when they had to serve clients in a way that went beyond their skills...
Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting. Leviticus 26:5
Even business leaders whose companies are doing well wonder whether their current business performance can be sustained. What if Scripture showed a possible way to avoid business downturns? The first thirteen verses of Leviticus 26 hold the conditions and the promises of sustained business performance. Our challenge is that we read it and think it is Old Testament mumbo jumbo and therefore miss the truth.
The conditions don’t seem that onerous: No idols of any sort, observe the Sabbath, reverence the sanctuary, follow God’s decrees, and obey his commands. What does this look like if we put that into New Testament speak—make that 21st Century language?
If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children. Psalm 73:15
Asaph was a writer of popular songs, a lyricist in his day. Just because he was a popular religious artist didn’t mean that he escaped the bad day syndrome. He was in a funk, and he points out why. “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” You might have lost your job while someone you know was promoted. You might be taking steps of faith while others are looking after themselves, and they seem to be doing better financially. You may be hemmed in by limits, while others have no limits. What do you do? What do you say? Much has been said about the pivotal verse in this psalm, which is verse 17: “till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” What I want us to see this time is the key principle that allowed Asaph to even see this truth. It has to do with what he allowed to come out of his mouth.
We are living in times when many are being as “stubborn as mules” about things that may or may not be critical. Anyone with a passing thought can post it on social media and, if it is provocative enough, garner the support of international miscreants. We have learned how the more controversial thoughts get more reactions, so we opine without expertise, post without wisdom. Yet there is something winsome about combing grace and truth. Truth on its own can be harsh; grace without truth can be sloppy. The combination, however, builds up and infuses courage. When grace and truth are backed up by action the outcome can be nothing short of splendid.
We remember the unusual story about a mode of transportation being co-opted for a historic ride into town. More specifically, it was someone’s means of income or income-producing ass, that was conscripted into greater service. If this happened today the story might read:
“Go to the town ahead of...
The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9
Have you ever been to a gathering and felt that only a few people got touched, or worse, that everyone else was blessed and you were left stone cold? When others saw angels you saw the odd shapes of the people in front of you. When others felt snowflakes fall from the rafters in 100 degree heat, you thought the people in the bleachers were just spitting while they sang. What do you do with your expectations; how do you ensure you stay in a place of hope? Psalm 145 is the antidote to the “everyone else except me” blues. “The Lord is good to all.” This is God’s heart. His default setting is love and inclusiveness. His scope is set to All.
If you are still thinking “all except me” then read these verses and count the number of ALLs.
All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you. They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and...
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering 2 Timothy 4:6-8
It is true that we should leave the judging to God, but starting with yourself, if you had to draw a line down the middle of this page and on the one side list your friends who our looking after themselves and on the other those who are pouring out “like a drink offering”... which list would be longer? On which side of the line would you be?
The reality of busy lifestyles is the valid need to reinvest in ourselves, recharge our batteries, take some personal time. Living in busy urban settings where work creeps into personal space, where the freedoms and frustrations of being always on… we need some planned space in our spirits. I am for this.
But when does self-care become self-absorption? When do we go from self-love to selfish? Will our generation have the selflessness to be a poured-out generation? Here is an irony: I have never before seen so many people talk so...
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8
My colleagues and I gathered for our weekly prayer time in the office. It was December, the end of a busy year which had seen us in ten countries, sometimes more than once. The team looked tired as we read this Timothy passage together.
For I am already being poured out
We don’t always do the things God asks of us because we feel like it. We don't work only when we have the energy. We don't just do things from an overflow. Sometimes we choose to tip our vessels even when all that remains is the gritty dregs of the year. You might say, “Go get your vessel filled before you...
At that time, the son born of the ordinary way persecuted the son born of the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. Galatians 4:29
I spoke at a prominent marketplace ministry meeting on Fighting Giants with Business. During my talk I related many stories of God doing the miraculous in business. Afterwards one of the organizers, a professor at a Christian university, came to me and said words along these lines: “Brett, that was an excellent talk. I just wish that at the end, when you said how God miraculously revealed a new product to someone, you had rather said, ‘And then he went to college, got a Masters degree in Chemical Engineering, and developed a new product.’” What this man wanted was a hybrid: an eternity guaranteed by faith, but today’s reality run by reason. He was an engineer by trade and a recent professor at a university. He had no problem with businesses doing good – like a zero pollution engine – but how the...
For you, O Lord, have made me happy by your work.
One of the first ways humankind knew God was through his work. They saw what he had made: mountains, streams, fields, trees, birds, fish, animals and more. Perhaps they marvelled at how it all worked together in an ecological whole. As they grew in understanding of nature, they grew in appreciation for Creator-God. God’s work made them happy.
I will sing for joy because of what you have done
Then, as we understand from the opening chapters of God’s book, Adam and Eve learned to work as well. They were delegated responsibilities, and grew in their service and governance capabilities. Perhaps they learned the boundaries of their abilities as God’s gardeners. Maybe they experimented with what it meant to take wild nature and bring out its productive capabilities. It could be that they tried one technique, and Father suggested another, so the next day they tried that. As they observed seeding and...