Thanksgiving was two days ago, but we should still be thankful. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Every second.
We should thank God:
EVEN IF we are broke,
EVEN IF we are sick,
EVEN IF life is not good,
EVEN IF our prayers are unanswered.
It is easy to thank God for physical things like cars, clothes, houses, and money. But those are here today and gone tomorrow. Even if it is tomorrow and they are gone, we still have much to be thankful for.
Those who go deepest with God tend to thank Him not only for the temporal, but especially for the eternal.
If you take a minute and read Psalm 107, 118, and 135 you will notice that the Psalmist was more thankful for the invisible eternal attributes of God than for God’s temporal physical provision.
Even if everything is going wrong, we should “give thanks to the Lord, FOR HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.” (2Chr 20:21)
Are you thankful for invisible things like faith, hope, and God’s love?
When things go wrong, we tend to create all kinds of complex reasons (excuses) for our lack of success. When things go right, the reasons are usually ridiculously simple.
Consider Hezekiah. He was a good king. One of the best. Here’s the Bible’s summary of his life and success:
“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 31:21)
Hezekiah’s keys to success:
1. He sought God
2. He worked hard
This simple formula worked for King Hezekiah 2700 years ago, and it will work for us today. If you are a church planter or campus missionary, an entrepreneur or salesperson, a songwriter or inventor who wants to succeed, I suggest you learn from Hezekiah: SEEK GOD and WORK HARD.
Some people are just too lazy to succeed. They are allergic to work. Others are working hard doing something completely contrary to God’s will because they have not bothered to seek Him.
While reading my Bible this morning, I scribbled some notes in my journal. Then I thought that both leaders who read this blog might find these thoughts helpful. So I’m transforming them into this blog, if I can read my own handwriting.
In Deuteronomy 17 God is giving his people guidelines for picking good leaders. Here’s my summary of those guidelines.
1. CALLING. “Be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses.” (Verse 15) We should not appoint a person to a leadership position unless and until God appoints and anoints them. In other words, divine calling is essential for good leadership.
2. VISION. “He must not make the people return to Egypt… you are not to go back that way.” (Verse 16) Leaders must be looking forward and leading forward, not backwards. Good leaders focus on where they are going, not on where they came from. They have a vision for the future, not just memories of the good ole days.
3. INTEGRITY. “He must not take many wives… he must not accumulate large amounts of gold and silver.” (Verse 17) Leaders must not use their position to pad their pockets or to seduce women. Sounds like a no-brainer, but sadly, many leaders seem to have no brain. When looking for a good leader, integrity trumps intellect and character trumps charisma.
4. WORD. “He is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of the law… he is to read it all the days of his life.” (verses 18,19) Good leaders become great leaders when they make writing and reading God’s word a part of their daily routine.
5. HUMILITY. “He should not consider himself better than his brothers.” (Verse 20) Good leaders are usually not aware that they are good leaders. They do not think they are better than others. They give credit to God and to the team.
Note: This is an important blog for all who do ministry, whether you are lifers or volunteers.
But, first a familiar story. Young Joseph had a couple of dreams. The dreams were from God. Like many dreamers, in his youthful enthusiasm, Joseph offended friends and family as he arrogantly promoted his dream.
Because of the dream, Joseph’s brothers hated him. They threatened to kill him. But, in an act of brotherly compassion, they decided to spare his life and sell him into slavery instead. His Egyptian slave-master unjustly threw him in prison.
Joseph’s dream had officially become a nightmare.
What do you do when The Dream feels like a nightmare? Here’s what Joseph did: he helped others live their dreams, while he waited on his.
The story continues. While in prison, Joseph’s cellmates had dreams. He interpreted their dreams, with one request: “when all goes well with you, REMEMBER ME and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison.” (Gen 40:14) Sounds like a reasonable request to me.
The last verse in Genesis 40 is all too familiar for those of us in ministry. “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.” (Gen 40:23) Have you ever been forgotten by those you serve? If you have been in ministry more than two weeks, you have.
Two years later, Pharaoh has a couple of dreams (the third set of double dreams that mark Joseph’s life). Pharaoh is distraught and seeks an interpretation. Chief Cupbearer suddenly remembers his former cellmate who helped his dream become reality. Chief finally puts in a good word for Joseph. Pharaoh summons Joseph and the rest is history. But Joseph had to endure two extra years of prison because he was forgotten by the man he had helped.
What should we do when we help people in their time of need, and they forget us in our time of need? GET OVER IT, GET YOUR EYES ON JESUS, AND KEEP MINISTERING!