Deliver me and rescue me from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful. Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of the walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress on our streets.
Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the Lord. Psalm 144: 11-15; Psalm 3
Deep down many believe that with growth comes an increased danger of the walls being breached. Someone has said that in the world, high places are slippery places. Not so with God. He wants us to have the capacity to handle blessing, which starts with the knowledge that every sheep, pillar, ox, and field is his. Every paycheck,...
According to their ability, they gave to the treasury for this work Ezra 2:69
We pulled off the busy main road onto a side street in an industrial area in Lagos. The streets had potholes where water had gathered, sidewalks were nominal, and street vendors sold evening snacks to passing pedestrians. The church where we were speaking was located in a former factory or warehouse. It was a warm evening and the expansive hall had fans whirling overheard to compensate for the absence of air conditioning. Lyn and I preached to a congregation of mostly younger people. By US standards the setting was very modest.
Two things happened as we left the building: first, the pastor handed us an envelope with a “very small token of thanks for our ministry.” The second was that they pointed out a large brick and mortar building under construction behind the hall we had spoken in. It looked to be massive. “That is our new building,” they told us. When we got...
You don’t need a genius IQ to figure out that the world is divided, split, fractured. Arguably, this has been the case since man broke the unbroken human-divine connection in the Garden. Since then it has been a ripple of billions of sub-fractures that have splintered society. Then came Jesus and he united the unthinkable, made one the implausible, and formed a family from diversity. There has been nothing else that comes close to His unifying embrace of humanity.
Yet here we are in 2022 with our paltry opinations dribbling precious unity away like desert sand running through arthritic fingers. We have avid covid camps, rabid pandemic politics, and infallible science splits where our opinion is the right one, of course. We are experts in masking, vaccinating, and herd immunity when the only real herd we have is the hubris herd stampeding through the narrow canyon of our limited perceptions. “We” know best; “they” are uninformed. “We” are...
give careful thought to your ways
In the previous devotionals, we addressed objections #1—the timing is not right—and #2 – place is not that important any longer. The third objection is this: “Putting money into buildings is not good stewardship, so I am putting my money into more direct spending on immediate needs.” This is not a bad argument, but it fails to recognize the difference between capital and working capital. We know that the nature and use of each of these is different. Scripture calls it “seed for sowing” (that is capital) and “seed for bread” (that is, working capital). A best practice for kingdom people is to (a) build capital, and (b) give capital towards capital projects. Yet many believers amass capital, often in foundations or investments, then mainly give it to “daily bread” needs, rather than to planting a wheat field or building a bakery. Why is this? First, there is more immediate...
so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord Haggai 1:8
In the previous devotional we addressed objection #1: The timing is not right. Moving forward to today’s world, we have a second objection: “Place is not that important to God in these New Testament times. Brett, the temple was an Old Testament thing…now God lives in people, so why do you need a place for rēp?” (Or, ‘Why does this ministry need a building?’… whatever your situation may be.)
There is some truth to the shift in emphasis on place. Going back to the beginning, however, every square inch was God’s, and all of it was man’s responsibility to manage. Then Adam yielded that right to Satan. God elected to live mainly in one place, the temple. Later the second Adam, Jesus, redeemed everything through his sacrifice, reconciled the cosmos to himself, and restored our management responsibility back to us. Place became hugely important to God...
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.’” Haggai 1:2
We were flying back from Texas and I felt I should read Haggai so I turned there, not knowing that the topic was going to be property. The specific matter at hand in Israel was timing about a property improvement. God’s place needed some serious repair, and some were not in favor of it. God used this passage to highlight for me how those engaged in believing God for property for ministries, and sometimes even for homes, face common objections. There is “push back” from others that has two components: as God puts it to Haggai, “These people say…” We need the ability to discern the assumptions that underlie the “These people say…” statements so that we can speak truth and liberty into our own lives, and into the minds and hearts of others. We face an interesting dilemma...
who turned the rock into a pool
Do you have any circumstances in your life that seem to be impossible? Are there people that make your life hard? Do you live in a nation where the government is opposed to your way of life? Take courage from this tremendous truth: the presence of God turns the impossible into provision.
What would be a less likely source of water than a rock? My humanist friends will be saying, ‘You see, the water was there all the time, and the rock simply obscured it, so Moses probably carried a crowbar, and shifted it to get the water.’
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.
The nature of things changes in the presence of God. Rocks can become not just liquefied, but a pool, a spring for the refreshing of a nation.
God still changes rocks into water. If you are like me, you will admit that there are...
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
It was December and I was preparing for our annual planning meetings. This is easier to do when the year has been good and there is money in the bank.
This particular year I was half expecting criticism from my colleagues because things were not as good financially as they could have been. I sensed that people were fatigued and were looking for a change. Before the meetings began I sought God and I comforted myself in the Lord, and this phrase is what turned it for me: “my honor depends on God.” Not on the Profit & Loss, not on the bank balance, not on external success, and not on the esteem of my colleagues, but on the Lord.
As it happens, it was not the most jovial of planning retreats. There was somewhat of an air of criticism. I led us through Psalm 62 and we pondered its meaning. Only afterward did I realize that people were critical, but of themselves, not of me. They had...
…this leaning wall, this tottering fence. Psalm 62:3
Let’s face it, we all have days when we feel like we are about to fall over. There are times when we think we are bound to become just another fallen layer in the archeology of life. King David knew that if he didn’t collapse because of his own frailty, then there were plenty of people who were happy to help him crumble. “How long will you assault a man? Would you throw him down—this leaning wall, this tottering fence? They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place…” How did David deal with this opposition? Rather than try to pump himself up, he made sure his frail fence was located in the right place.
5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
The question is not...
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better…” Luke 10:41, 42
One of my memories of a rēp Venture in South Africa is of Errol Smith “hanging” at the location where we gathered. After months of work leading up to the Venture, he expressed his joy in just being there, seeing what God was doing, and soaking up God’s presence. On a regular day, my guess is that Errol is as good a Martha as you can get. The good news is that he can flip the switch and be a Mary too. There are multiple types of work, and there is nothing wrong with being busy. Busyness is not the same as hurriedness, says Dallas Willard. We can be busy on the outside yet unhurried on the inside. Likewise, we can be calm on the outside, but internally we have checked out of conversations because we are distracted and at the next venue already. The question is not...