Prosper

 

Hand giving moneyAs our economy tries to get growing again, it’s really heart warming to see people who’ve worked hard start to turn things around. The US economy went through a deep recession that still causes heartburn for many. There were people near where I live who lost years of disciplined investments well into the millions of dollars. The recession was down right depressing. The economy has definitely turned around and improved greatly. There are still pockets of our economy that are struggling to get going.

I read the story of King Hezekiah and his leadership in Judah (the southern kingdom of Israel). He inherited a big mess economically and spiritually. He decided to get back to the basics of worship and seeking God. He wanted to be a godly leader. He sought God’s heart continually about the right decisions to make. He wasn’t self-centered he was God-centered. Check this out…

20 This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. 21 In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered. (2 Chronicles 31:20 NIV)

I do not believe that you can “name it and claim it” because you believe God will provide it for you. I believe that God will walk with me through any storm I face. I also believe He will celebrate any victory with me as well. I want the Lord to walk with me throughout a regular day as well as a hard day. I want the Lord to walk with me on vacation from work as well as every workday. I want to faithfully honor Him with my decisions, my leadership and my temperament today. I believe that seeking God’s heart with all that I am I will be prepared when prosperity comes. I do believe that God blesses my business and enlarges my influence. I’ve prayed diligently for both of those. It’s my role to honor Him with integrity and honesty. I believe some people prosper in economic ways that destroy them spiritually. I never want to “gain the whole world and loose my soul”.

I don’t need the lottery winnings to prosper although I think it would be fun! I don’t need to give all that I have away to be generous. I really need to seek the Lord’s heart and His wisdom as I prosper so that my spiritual prosperity soars along with my financial prosperity.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Faithful First

 

faith messageThere are many distractions and temptations in our culture that can take my eyes off the Lord. I sometimes think I can do things in my own strength and with my own talent, but the Lord can always do much more with what “little” I have. I’m learning every day to be faithful to Him first and foremost above everyone and everything. He is the Creator of my life and He is also the Sustainer of my life. He has never let me down. He has done things different than I would have done them, but at the end of the day – I trust Him – period.

Solomon’s grandson Abijah was current King of Judah (the southern kingdom) and there was civil war between the nation of Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah. The northern kingdom had 800,000 troops and the southern kingdom had 400,000 troops. There was also a HUGE Variable – the southern kingdom followed the Lord. Abijah gave a speech to the northern kingdom and tried to avoid the conflict. Check this out…

10 “As for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the Lord are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them. 11 Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the Lord. They set out the bread on the ceremonially clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We are observing the requirements of the Lord our God. But you have forsaken him. 12 God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. People of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed.”

At the sound of their battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16 The Israelites fled before Judah, and God delivered them into their hands. (2 Chronicles 13:10-12,15b-16 NIV)

The scripture goes on to say that the number of losses to the northern kingdom was around 500,000! The odds were now in favor of the southern kingdom. I don’t always understand the ways of God, but I trust Him. I don’t always like the position I find myself in, but I’m still learning to be faithful to Him no matter what.

I believe that the Lord honors faithful and consistent obedience over my words and my service to Him. He longs for a personal relationship with me. I’m just an ordinary person and He wants me to know Him more. I believe that the Lord wants my obedience over sacrifice. I don’t know what I will face in my life today, but I know He will be with me to walk through it. I’m not going to worry or fret about what today brings, because I know that He holds today in His hand and He goes before me and He stands beside me. My role is the life is to be faithful and to follow Him completely.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Scary & Comforting

LipsI have had some things that scared me to death and I’ve had things that really comfort me. When I see the power of the US Military, it is really scary to think of all that they are capable of when it comes to fighting. It is also very comforting to know that the military is also protecting our citizens, and our borders. Over the years in my relationship with the Lord, there have been times when I’ve been scared of God. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to have a healthy balance of fear and respect for Creator God. The more I know Him, the less I fear Him. The more I know Him, the more I respect and love Him. I think I was fearful of the judgment of God upon me. I feel like the longer I walk with Him, the deeper I know His heart. His heart is full of mercy and grace. He defines love.

There is also a justice component to the Lord. I was amazed at Solomon’s celebration for the dedication of the temple. This party was epic for sure. Check this out…

1 When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying,

“He is good;

    his love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3 NIV)

This scene reminded me of the time when Elijah squared off with the prophets of Baal in a sacrifice contest. When Elijah called upon the Lord to show His power to the people, fire came from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. God is Powerful beyond description. His Love is deep and wide for sure, but He hates disobedience and deception.

There is something really powerful about the Presence of God and His Truth. When I witness His Power, I’m a bit fearful. When I experience His Love, I’m comforted.

There is more to this story. After the big celebration that lasted several days, the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and reinforced His Promise to Solomon. Check this out…

12 the Lord appeared to him at night and said:

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.

13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:12-14 NIV)

19 “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. (2 Chronicles 7:19-20 NIV)

The Lord is full of Grace & Mercy, however, He wants more than my words of commitment. He wants my actions to reveal my commitment to Him. He wants my heart to be devoted to Him and His call upon my life.

I think a healthy respect for the Lord is certainly in order. I don’t need to become so comfortable walking with Him that I forget just how powerful He is. I want to walk in obedience and surrender to His way – then I don’t fear Him but I’m definitely comforted by Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Leadership Charge

Work for a Cause Not For Applause Saying Quote Sticky NotesI enjoy listening to inspirational and encouraging speakers. I pay careful attention to the messenger as well as the message. I will give someone a closer listen if I believe they are genuine and real. If I feel like they are faking sincerity or faking honesty that simply destroys their message in my mind. I’ve learned over the years that I can usually find something good in every situation and in every person if I look hard enough.

King David called all of his leadership team to come to Jerusalem. It looks like he was having a leadership conference with all his key leaders. David is nearing the end of his life and he really wants to inspire and encourage his leadership team as well as his son Solomon. He gathers all his leadership team together and then lays out a charge to all of them. Check this out…

8 “So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever.

9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.” (1 Chronicles 28:8-10 NIV)

I was blown away by David’s inspirational charge to the leadership team and his son. He spelled it out very simply – seek the Lord God and follow Him. His message had multiple parts:

-Follow the commands of the Lord

-Acknowledge God

-Serve God wholeheartedly

-The Lord searches and understands your heart

-The Lord understands every desire and thought

-You will find the Lord, IF you seek Him

David was making things abundantly clear to his whole leadership team as well as his son Solomon. I believe there are great truths and insight for me as a follower of Jesus and a leader of others. He gives me a leadership charge from His Word each day.

Following the Lord is not about my gifts and abilities, it’s about His gifts and abilities. Following the Lord is not about who I am; it’s about Who He is. Following the Lord is not about what I know; it’s about trusting His Truth. Following the Lord is really about simple, humble obedience to God through His Word and His Spirit speaking into me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Enough

enoughI remember hearing about “the straw that broke the camels back” when I was just a kid. The idea being that at some point you’ve reached and/or surpassed the load limit of straw that a camel can carry. This is obviously a idiom phrase that means, “you can only take so much”. I think everyone has load limits on what they can handle. I can only take so much pressure and stress on my schedule before I start to “unravel”. I came across a passage this morning that stunned me a bit – the Lord had reached His limit with His people of Judah. Check this out…

3 Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, 4 including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive. (2 Kings 24:3-4 NIV)

When I look back over the history of God’s people – I think His patience was really very long. The king that was taken into captive also did evil in the Lord’s eyes. This king was the great-great grandson of Manassah who pushed the limit of the Lord regarding evil.

As I read this passage, I found myself thanking the Lord for His patience with me. Not one else on the planet knows me like He does. I also found myself thanking Him for sending Jesus. I don’t deserve the grace that Jesus brought, but I’m so very thankful for it. I am embarrassed by my continued sin. I am always pretty quick to repent of my sin. I’m so thankful that because of Jesus, the Lord is quick to forgive and forget my sin.

I must also be quick to forgive others who sin against me. When someone harms me or hurts me – the quicker I forgive them is directly related to the length of time of my heart healing from the hurt. I don’t want the Lord to reach His limit with me. I want to listen to Him and walk in obedience with Him. I want to run from sin and live in the shadow of the cross.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Success = Obedience

What's the Combination Secret Code Unlock PotentialI remember as a kid growing up how important obedience it. I remember that at times I received the punishment for disobedience. As a parent, I’ve learned just how significant it is for my kiddos. I know that even though “I turned out all right” that I broke my parents heart some growing up. They remained faithful and vigilant in following the Lord and I finally figured it out.

There is not some huge formula for success in the Lord’s economy. I don’t have to try to dress to impress. I don’t have to have a minimum financial level. I don’t have to be known by anyone other than the Lord. In the Lord’s economy He equates success with obedience. One of the young kings of Judah was like no other king and his obedience was the secret to his success. Check this out…

2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 3 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. 4 He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)

5 Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 6 He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. 7 And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. (2 Kings 18:2-7 NIV)

The world defines success with money, fame, friends and possessions. The Lord defines success with simple obedience and trust. The Lord wants a relationship with me that will change all other relationships. If my relationship with God is strong, then my relationship with my wife, children, colleagues and everyone who knows me is affected.

The Lord brings order to my life.

The Lord brings purpose to my life.

The Lord brings significance to my life.

The Lord brings peace to my life.

The Lord so wants to live in me and live through me to showcase Him to others. The benefits of obedience are limitless in God’s economy.

Pressing On!

Dwayne