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Happy work, good plan

For you, O Lord, have made me happy by your work.
Psalm 92:4 

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...

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Foundation fixers

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. Isaiah 58:12

God knows cities. He knows their foundations, good and bad, he knows their history, he understands their character, and he sees their potential. He sees—you could say has planned—that cities usually have economic foundations, sitting on trade routes or parlaying some geographic feature for commercial gain and the sustenance of peoples.

God also knows that most cities need regeneration. Where foundations were good, they have often been burned by the fires of corruption and greed, power grabbing and discontent. Where foundations are bad, “chains of injustice” and “the cords of the yoke” were and are the order of the day. Business can be for blessing, of course, but carries the inherent danger of amassing wealth, and with it, the power to oppress. 

We live in an era...

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Grace and blessing

that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
Psalm 67:2

What do you think it takes for God’s ways to be known throughout the earth? Teaching, training, more Bible colleges, simultaneous videocasts and podcasts to all nations? And what would it take for God’s salvation to be known among all nations? Mass evangelism, large crusades, a miracle-a-minute? Recently I was on vacation in Europe and had time to read and reflect. I barely got through this one psalm, struck by its richness.

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us, Selah
2 that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.
3 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.
4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. Selah 

5 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. 

6 Then the land will...

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Hope for place – team

To Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven... Ezra 7:12 

Spread all over the Old Testament are four books dedicated to this same incident of rebuilding the temple and the City of Jerusalem. When one reads Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah and Haggai together you get a fuller sense of how the massive building effort was successful, and particularly how the various ministers (remember, you are a minister) teamed together to get the job done. I want you to find your role in this business of God’s, this business of finding, funding and building places that serve his purposes.

Teacher Ezra

Prophet Zechariah, Haggai

Preacher Zechariah, Haggai

Apostle Nehemiah

Elders Many local leaders mentioned

Priests Many mentioned, besides Ezra

Intercessors All of the above

Financiers The leaders first, the Jewish people, foreign governments

Builders Some volunteer, some hired.

Building the kingdom is a team effort. While Artaxerxes recognized Ezra’s role as a teacher and...

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Hope for place – finances

For seven days they celebrated with joy the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because the Lord had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria, so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.    Ezra 6:22

 A seven-day party—that ought to get our attention! For Israel it had been a stop-start effort to get the temple rebuilt. Finances had been a factor on and off. Overall, however, they had favor from many rulers. Nehemiah said, “And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.” This was king Artaxerxes. Ezra had enjoyed similar favor from Cyrus, king of Persia—“the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia.” Later Darius said, “The expenses of these men are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury…so that the work will not stop.”

 

This support from what some today would call “high net worth donors” was only part...

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In this age

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” Luke 18:29-30

 I read this verse in Johannesburg while surrounded by a team of South African, Malaysian and US consultants who had left things behind to be part of a rēp Venture. They temporarily left their families, their homes, their jobs “for the sake of the kingdom of God.” It took courage, time and money. Was it worth it? 

 On our final day with the businesses the leaders shared what God had done in their lives and businesses over the course of the two week Consultation. Lives were changed, businesses repurposed, and God did a stream of marketplace miracles.

  • For some, thinking was radically renewed regarding God’s view of business, and their business in particular
  • Others had...
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Keys to the Promised Land

You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance…
Deuteronomy 1:17-21

The words Promised Land conjure up pictures of overflowing milk and dripping honey.  Reflecting on what ‘taking the Promised Land’ entailed, there seem to be a few realities to factor in:

  1. The land didn’t come to them; they went to the land.  
  2. The land already had occupants. This was no Goldie Locks-finds-empty-cottage scene.
  3. The sitting tenants were not hanging out “have my house for free” signs.  There was a fight for the land that was already theirs.
  4. The spiritual roots of the places they were to call home were not exactly Baptist.
  5. God seemed very concerned about pure obedience and not at all worried about resources needed to ‘take the land.’  The answer to the latter was always “The Lord your God has given you…”

There is a wonderful symmetry of the sovereign acts of God and the respondent obedience...

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It’s not about me

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?"
John 21:17-19

It's not about us. Peter had just experienced three incredible years with Jesus, but they culminated in a colossal failure. After a marketplace miracle that demonstrated Christ's authority and awesomeness, Jesus got Peter back to basics. “Feed my lambs.  Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep.” In the midst of this, Peter has a pity party. “Peter was hurt...” The way Jesus counters his introspection is by resetting the context. It's as if Jesus is saying, ‘This is not about how you feel, Peter, but it is about life and death, darkness versus light, the future of the Church.  Get over how you feel.’

When you get in the trenches with others doing kingdom business, there is potential for hurt. Let's relinquish our “right” to self-pity, our mandate to mope, and subjugate it to the broader agenda of God's business. “But I...

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The fine line between good and best

the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith
Hebrews 4:2

Reading the book of Hebrews one can’t help but notice the fine line between Christian and kingdom, between law and grace, between man’s way and God’s way. The facts about relationship with God through Jesus are right, are good, and are essential, but for living life they are not enough. The law is also good: the precepts, the principles, the ways of God…these are excellent, but on their own they only emphasize our need for something more. Best practices, human logic, intelligent thought, considered opinion… these too are good, but they are not enough to please God.

There is a fine line, but there is also a vast chasm between good and best, between rational and obedient. The writer of Hebrews expresses it well as he spoke of the nation of Israel. They had information, but they lacked inspiration. They analyzed the facts, but failed...

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Roots of disorder

I am delighted to hear of the careful and orderly ways you conduct your affairs, and impressed with the solid substance of your faith in Christ.

Colossians 2:5 

God is not a God of disorder. I, however, am often disorderly. In extreme situations I could blame it on God for making me a disorderly person, or explain it as creativity or spontaneity. No matter what my excuses may be, disorder dilutes the deposits of God. It pokes holes in the wine barrel, it makes the balance sheet leak, and it drains impact. 

There are many things that eat away at order, but I will focus on just a handful:

  • An untutored mind. Order springs from knowledge, and such knowledge is obtained both by discipline and by the Spirit.

  • Self-sabotage. Fearing the responsibility of success or the pride of self, we self-sabotage.

  • Refusing to grow up. “That’s just me” isn’t a good explanation to give to a Senior Partner who is intent on our growth.

  • A weak will. Jesus “set his...
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