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But it was because the Lord loves you

The Lord set his affection on you and chose you because the Lord loved you. Deuteronomy 7:7-8

God gets bad press. The ‘liberal media’ has been around since the Garden of Eden. “Did God really say…? You know why he said that, right…he wants to dis-empower you!” As Israel came out of Egypt Moses tried to help untangle their preconceptions about God from their experience of Egyptian gods. He also tried to lay the groundwork for the fledgling nation to avoid future entrapment by other gods.

The 10 Commandments and related instructions were therefore very clear: keep God as the one and only, and don’t flirt with foreign gods. “Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them.” This is the M&M verse (if it helps you remember it better): no money, no mercy, no marriage, no mingling. Israel knew slavery—they had been at the receiving end of it for many years. Back in the tent as they thought about...

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Big ask—big reward

You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.  John 14:14

Who wins when I ask for big things? I have thought it was me, of course. Recently, however, I have been seeing a different dynamic at work when looking at three passages that follow each other in the book of John. When you see them together it will blow the punch line, but it is worth doing anyway:

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, … You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:12-14

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. John 15:7

Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. John 15:16

Three times in quick succession Jesus urges us, “Ask Big!” These are pretty astounding promises. With such a blank check in our hands, why don’t we ask for outrageous things more often? We could go into the normal list of things: we have a poverty mentality, we don’t think we are worthy, we do...

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Better without the bitter

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.   Hebrews 12:15

Things don’t always turn out the way we expect. Tonight as I write this devotional Bob Norsworthy and John Simpson are heading for Jakarta for two weeks. The plan was to continue consulting to a major corporation, and to recruit clients and encourage consultants for our first Indonesia Venture in December. The only snag is that the client has just been told that their assets are frozen, and they are therefore unable to hire us. After deliberation, Bob and John decided to press forward, take the twist in the road, and prepare for the rēp Venture. 

We have two choices: take the twists prayerfully, or get twisted. We have been given so much: a not guilty verdict, heaped blessing, life itself. Despite the fact that we should be grateful, seeds are dropped onto the sand of our lives each day, some healthy, some designed...

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Be generous enough to kill

Each person should do as he has decided in his heart, not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

During a recent time of prayer, I gained a little more insight into a phrase that has been rattling around in my mind for some time:  “The world’s business system is based on buying and selling, but the kingdom of God is based on giving and receiving.”

Why is it especially important for businesspeople to be generous? I believe that part of the answer lies in this truth: to be effective against the motivations of this world, we must secure victory over getting things for ourselves. Stated a little differently, to have spiritual authority in the marketplace, we must not be under the authority of money. Put yet another way, Mammon (which means greed deified) rules...

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The Lord has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death. The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 188:18-22

The stone the builders rejected—we know this is a prophetic truth regarding Jesus himself.  But does it have a more universal application?

Think back to the things that have happened in your life—your business, career, or other aspects of your ministry—where you feel that your contribution (your stone) was rejected. People did not get who you were, what you were offering, how you could serve.

Now see how God takes what could be a stumbling block and turns it into a cornerstone, particularly if we see the discipline of rejection as having come from Him. The world's cast-offs can become God's cornerstones. 

Then we will sing the triumph song:

"The hand of God has turned the tide!

The hand of God is raised in victory!

The hand of God has turned the...

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A capital idea

give careful thought to your ways
Haggai 1:5

What is 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 gratification. A hungry person with a grateful face today gives a better emotional high than one hundred hungry people getting bread every day two years from now.

A second issue with this logic is that it often results in people building their own capital base, and neglecting God’s capital base. In the book of Haggai (a variant of Jeshua, by the way) he...

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A derivative calling

“I the Lord have called you in righteousness.”  Isaiah 42:6

We live in a world where there is economic crisis partly because so much money is flowing around the world chasing speculative transactions that are not linked to payment for goods and services. A recent estimate claims that only 3% of the international money transfers each day are in payment for goods and services. The rest of the transactions are often connected to derivatives of something that may have a real value. (Derivatives are financial contracts, or financial instruments, whose values are derived from the value of something else (known as the underlying).)

There is no question that Jesus has a specific calling. Part of it was unique. He did some things that you and I cannot replicate: he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, made a substantial sacrifice by giving his life, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven. These no one else can touch or come close to. But what about the rest of his...

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Gaining promises

 and gained what was promised
Hebrews 11:33

Hebrews 11 lists the accomplishments of great heroes of the faith. This phrase in verse 33 challenges me: “and gained what was promised.” The principle is that what has been promised still has to be gained. I know that this is obvious, but when I read this I confessed to God that I had been passive. “If God said it, I will wait to see it happen, but there is not much that I can do to make it happen.” On the one hand, just waiting is very realistic. There is nothing I can do given the magnitude of the things God has promised. On the other hand, this verse tells me that people of faith somehow “gained what was promised.” So I reflected on the things that I am pretty sure God has spoken to me, and spent time praising God, thanking him for what he had promised. 

The second aspect that was highlighted to me is the source of the promises overshadowing the content of the promises. I acknowledged and...

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Fast company

Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Leviticus 19:2

God did an amazing job in completely changing the mindset of a whole nation. Here were people who had lived immersed in another culture. The Egyptian boys had the cool haircuts, they drove the fast chariots and had a nice tan. The Egyptian girls were allowed to have tattoos and body piercing. So how do you take a whole nation—men, women and children—and cause them to have different minds and different hearts from the culture they have lived in for 400 years? I believe there were some keys:

    • Persecution: I doubt that they would have been ready to leave Egypt had they not had a really rough time.

    • Leadership: they needed someone to say, “God has said…”

    • Miracles: the probability of the Israelites believing God without an awesome demonstration of His power was low.

    • An impossible dream: the dream of the Promised Land was huge....
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As good as dead

and he as good as dead  Hebrews 11:12

We know God specializes in taking things that are totally impossible from a human perspective and turning them into something totally miraculous. We just don’t like to be the ones in totally impossible situations. A good percentage of our prayers, whether for finances, for health, for favor, or for grace, are prayed so that we can get out of an impossible situation. 

The fact is, unless we regularly get into totally impossible situations where we are in trouble, unless God shows up with a miracle, we may not be living a life of faith. Not all situations of faith come about in the same way:

  • Category A: “Help, God!” – these are unplanned, unpredictable I-need-a-miracle situations where life happens and we find ourselves beyond our capacities or resources. Our car gets rear-ended, and we need grace; our child gets ill unexpectedly, and we need a healing, a criticism comes out of left field, or the bottom falls out...
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