GOD DELAYS

Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.JOHN 11:6
“Why doesn’t God heal me? I have prayed and prayed and I am still sick. Do I not have enough faith? I am so tired of this,” said my wife who had gone more than three years battling her illness.
 
Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s brother, had become terminally ill. Jesus, who considered the three siblings His dear friends, was two miles away in Jerusalem during the time of Lazarus’s illness. After Jesus heard the news that Lazarus was ill, instead of running to the aid of Mary and Martha, Jesus waited several days. Meanwhile, Lazarus died and was placed in a tomb. But, Jesus’ response to the news was that “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). Jesus had to look beyond Mary and Martha’s current grief in order to fulfill God’s purpose for Lazarus’s sickness.
 
Mary was in deep mourning over the death of her brother. When she ran to meet Jesus when He finally came, she immediately cried out to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” But there was a preordained purpose behind Lazarus’s death. Only Jesus knew about the plan. He healed Lazarus that day.
 
When we experience sickness and do not see a breakthrough, we can only seek Jesus for our healing and leave the outcome to Him. We must trust that He knows the answer to our need and the timing for its solution.
 
There are times when we experience supernatural healing and other times that we simply do not get a breakthrough. In either case, our devotion to Jesus must not change.
 
God-delays are always pre-ordained for a greater purpose. If you find yourself in this place, bring your concerns to Jesus and leave them there. A day will come when Jesus will reveal His purposes in your situation.

Hillman, O. (2011). Tgif: today god is first. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.



CRYING OUT TO THE LORD

But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer.JUDGES 3:9

I often receive requests to help someone whose life is in a difficult place. After a few questions I am able to discern if the Lord has called me to get involved. More often than not, I am not to be involved. Many times I find this person has not experienced enough pain to want to do anything about his or her situation. Until the person is really ready to cry out to the Lord for a solution to the situation, he or she will simply talk about desiring change but will never take the necessary steps needed for change.
 
If you invest time into someone who has not yet come to the place of wanting a spiritual solution to his or her problem, you will become emotionally exhausted. The apostle Paul understood this principle when he actually “turned such people over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh” (see 1 Corinthians 5:5).
 
The people of Israel were finally in enough pain to cry out to God for relief from their oppression. Like so many times throughout the Scriptures, God answered by raising up a deliverer. “But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. The LORD gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died” (Judges 3:9-11).
 
Are you in a difficult place in your life? Are you only talking about changing or are you really ready to cry out to the Lord for a solution? Start now the process of changing your situation for the better and asking for help if needed.

Hillman, O. (2011). Tgif: today god is first. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.



OBEDIENCE TESTS

They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the LORD’S commands, which he had given their forefathers through Moses.

JUDGES 3:4

There is a spiritual truth God revealed in the conquest of the Promised Land recorded in Judges 3: “These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan” (v. 1).
 
They didn’t pass the test: “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs” (v. 7). Martin Luther said there are three things necessary to create a successful minister of God: prayer, meditation and temptation. You’ll really never know the strength and reality of your faith until you experience difficulty in life. You’ll never know for sure whether God can be trusted or if you’ll fall to temptation.
 
The apostle Peter thought his faith in Christ was solid until the temptation came to deny Him. Jesus knew Peter was not mature yet and that he would deny Jesus three times in one day. Peter didn’t believe it. Sure enough, Peter denied Jesus three times. Peter could not believe he could do such a terrible thing. In order to discover this about himself, he needed to be placed in a situation to reveal his true condition.
 
God allows circumstances to develop around your life to give your faith opportunity to be proven. It is only when we are tested in battle that we become skilled warriors. You can be confident God will allow trials to come your way through situations like an unreasonable boss, a client who refuses to pay, a false assault on your character, or a difficult relationship that requires unconditional love. These battles are sent your way to test what you know in the mind in order that they might become part of your heart.
 
If you fail the test, do not be overly concerned. It, too, is part of the maturing process. Learn from it and grow through the experience just as Peter did.

Hillman, O. (2011). Tgif: today god is first. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.



DEFINING YOUR SELF-WORTH

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

PSALM 139:14

What measurements do you use to define your self-worth? Do you define it based on your financial assets? Is it based on what you have achieved professionally? Perhaps you define your value based on the number of children you have.
 
There are many things we can use to define our self-worth. However, the Scriptures tell us there is only one measure for our self-worth. Each of us has self-worth because we are made in the image of God. And because we are made in the image of God, we are valuable. Whenever you and I place a value on ourselves that is based on some other performance criteria, we have moved beyond God’s view of our worth as human beings. You are never more valuable to God than you were the day you were born.
 
Many of us have sought to determine our self-worth based on the amount of money we have. This is a dangerous trap.
 
Paul warns us against seeking to build wealth in order to gain greater value. Paul came to understand that the greatest riches could not compare with knowing Christ. In fact, he considered all other material things to be mere rubbish in comparison: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).
 
Basing our self-worth on how much money we have or on our achievements is an easy trap. We are bombarded with messages that say we are defined by what we drive, where we live, how many toys we own, and the size of our investment account. The media message is designed to create dissatisfaction and lust for what we don’t have.
 
Paul said the purpose for his existence was “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10). In what terms do you define yourself? Is it based on knowing Christ alone?

Hillman, O. (2011). Tgif: today god is first. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.



GETTING REFUELED

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

MARK 1:35

 

How do you get refueled? When our cars run low on fuel, we simply drop by the local filling station to get more fuel. When our bodies are hungry, we feed them. How do we refuel our spiritual lives? We can learn from the example Jesus modeled in His life.
 
In the New Testament we see that Jesus had a very demanding schedule. He traveled from town to town, often walking many miles between the towns. He spent a lot of time with people. As a speaker and teacher, I can tell you that it is very draining to minister for extended periods. Your body and your spirit become fatigued.
 
The day before the above Scripture was recorded, Jesus had a full day of ministry healing the sick, delivering people from demons and walking to different cities (see Mark 1:29-37). The following day it says Jesus got up before the sun rose and went to pray. The disciples were wondering where He was.
 
When Jesus was on Earth, He was fully man. Everything He did was based upon receiving specific directions and power from His father to do them. He was not operating as God, but as a human being with the same limitations you and I have. So, Jesus knew one of the key ways to refuel His mind, body and spirit was by spending time in prayer to His heavenly Father.
 
This is a critical discipline for every follower of Jesus if you expect to have power and victory in your Christian walk. We each need to find a solitary place to focus upon the Lord, His Word and His input for our lives.
 
If this is not a part of your daily experience, why not start tomorrow with a few minutes of focused time of reading and prayer. You will be encouraged with the new spiritual focus you will have by making this a priority.

Hillman, O. (2011). Tgif: today god is first. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.



DEFINING MOMENTS

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

EXODUS 14:21-22
 
History often remembers people because of a defining moment that took place in their life. There are good defining moments and bad defining moments. September 11, 2001, was a bad defining moment for the United States of America.
 
Many people’s lives were changed as a result. Israel had a defining moment when they crossed the Jordan River and stepped onto the Promised Land. Moses had a defining moment when he parted the Red Sea with his staff. We could go on.
 
How would you like to be remembered? Is there a defining moment in your life that others will associate your name with?
 
Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus, is remembered as “Doubting Thomas.” What a shame. I wonder what other good things Thomas did. However, because Thomas doubted that Jesus had truly come back from the dead and needed Jesus to show the nail marks in His hands and side, he will forever be associated with this question posed to the Savior when he saw Him after He was resurrected.
 
For most of us we can still define our moments for the future. God may yet have a defining moment when you will discover something new or see the work of God in your life in a unique way. I think God likes defining moments. He wants you to have an experience with Him that is memorable.
 
Make a commitment to the Lord today to allow your defining moment to be one that has a positive faith experience, not a regret.

Hillman, O. (2011). Tgif: today god is first. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.



HIGHER EDUCATION

To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit.

1 CORINTHIANS 12:8
 
I walked out of the church parking lot after participating in a training class on hearing the voice of God. As I was talking to a friend, I looked over at a woman who was talking to her friend. The words “higher education” popped into my mind.
 
We had just learned that whenever something pops into our mind that seems foreign to our normal thinking, it is often the Holy Spirit speaking to us. We must connect the thought to an action that the Holy Spirit may desire us to take.
 
I decided to be bold and walked over to the woman. “Pardon me, can I ask you if you have, by chance, had a good bit of education in your life?”
 
The woman responded immediately, “Why, yes. I have two MBAs.” I was encouraged to proceed.
 
“I believe the Lord wants to encourage you that He has directed you in your education and although you cannot see the results of that investment in time and money, He is going to use it for His purposes. He wants you to be encouraged to know this.”
 
The woman was very encouraged by the words I spoke to her. I walked away feeling good about being obedient to His prompting.
 
Every believer has been wired to hear the Holy Spirit’s promptings in our lives. One of the primary ways He encourages believers is through other believers. However, many of us have been duped into thinking we cannot hear God’s voice.
 
Today, be especially sensitive to that still, small voice inside of you. Whenever a thought or picture pops into your mind that seems out of character for you, consider that it might be the Holy Spirit speaking to you.

Hillman, O. (2011). Tgif: today god is first. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.



FROM ADVERSITY TO DESTINY

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.
JAMES 1:9

Although God takes no pleasure in our pain, we have to acknowledge that He sometimes allows painful circumstances to occur in our lives in order to shape us and make us more like Christ. Sometimes our times of despair turn out to be a much-needed light into our soul.
 
I once came across the following poem written by an anonymous Confederate soldier, a devout young man who fought in the American Civil War. The lines of this poem express the soul of a man who has learned to view his times of adversity from a different perspective:

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked God for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am among men, most richly blessed.

Do we trust God to lead us even though we can’t see the pathway in front of us? Do we trust Him to be all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful? Do we believe He does all things well? As Paul wrote, “Everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). That’s why God leads us through the dark places.
 
Only in the darkness do we learn to walk by faith.

Hillman, O. (2011). Tgif: today god is first. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.



WHO SHOULD BE IN CHARGE?

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.

PROVERBS 29:2, NKJV
 
We hear a lot these days about being politically correct. It seems we must be sensitive to every group, no matter how that group might negatively impact our lives or violate ethical or moral laws. When God created the earth, He did not care what people thought of His policies. His policy was the way!
 
But His primary motive was not to control but to bless mankind, His creation. His nature was only good. In Jeremiah 9:24, we find God’s nature described: “‘I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.”
 
He laid down rules in the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve to follow. As long as they followed the rules, they would reign over every living creature. They were representing the Creator in all aspects. God’s government was being expressed through His creation in humans, nature and animals. He was and is the ultimate righteous ruler.
 
God’s desire was to extend this mandate across the earth through godly leaders who could represent and legislate His kingdom in all spheres of life. This is why He said in Deuteronomy 28:13, “The LORD will make you the head, not the tail.
 
If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.”
 
God desires to raise up godly leaders who can represent His interest on the earth. He has called you and me to be one of His representatives.

Hillman, O. (2011). Tgif: today god is first. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.



TEACHING VERSUS IMPARTING

The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.
MARK 1:22

“It is not enough to simply teach; you must also impart to others,” said my mentor one day. One of the spiritual gifts God has given to me is the gift of teaching (see Romans 12:7). However, the Lord does not desire that teachers only impart knowledge to others. Knowledge alone will not empower others to be mature disciples of Christ.
 
The people recognized there was something different about Jesus. He was a teacher of the law as a rabbi. However, whenever He taught there was an authority that went beyond the conveying of information. He was imparting truth through the authority of His life. His words impacted others profoundly.
 
A Bible teacher who wants to have the greatest impact on those he or she teaches should teach transferable life application from the Scriptures that he or she has lived out personally. This is what gives you your authority to teach. I rarely teach a concept that I have not personally lived out and have an accompanying testimony. Paul believed and lived this principle as well: “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God” (1 Corinthians 2:1).
 
Each of us has been given an authority to impart the message of the Kingdom to others. Some of us have a particular anointing that God uses in the lives of others. Ask God to reveal your anointing so that you can impart it to others.
 
When you study under a teacher, make sure your teacher not only teaches but also imparts the life-giving power of the anointing in his or her life!

Hillman, O. (2011). Tgif: today god is first. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.