Obedience Leads to Blessing

How Jacob Became Israel

I’m using the simple S.O.A.P. method for studying God’s word and wanted to share an example here. In short, I read scripture until a particular verse jumps out at me, then I write that verse down. S is for scripture. O is for observation. A is for application. and P is for prayer. This simple method for daily devotions has worked for me for several years now. Here is my devotion from today. 


SCRIPTURE

Genesis 35:5 Reads, “Then they set out and the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.”

In the preceding verses, God spoke to Jacob and told him to take his family up to Bethel to build and altar and settle there. Then, in an act of purification and dedication…and good leadership, Jacob commanded everyone to get rid of their idols. Then the text tells us they gave all of their idols and earrings to Jacob and he buried them “under the oak at Shechem.” (vs. 4) These were valuable items (at least in their eyes) that the people gave up. 

Verse five jumped out at me because it shows how God works in powerful and surprising ways when His people obey him. God worked mysteriously to provide safe travel for Jacob’s family. But that wasn’t it. The main event of this passage was still to come. Once Jacob followed through with full obedience and relocated to Bethel and built an altar there (vs. 7), God changed his name to Israel and confirmed the covenant he had made with Jacob’s father and grandfather (Abraham and Isaac) giving Israel (the person and the nation) the title deed to the land and all the other future blessings of the covenant.


OBSERVATIONS

• God responded to their act of purity, humility, submission, and dedication.

• Obedience ALWAYS shows up in concrete action.

• Obedience leads to the honor of seeing God move in powerful and unexpected ways.

• Obedience leads to protection from self-desctructive habits, and leads to future blessing.

• Leaders can make a big difference by casting an effective vision and making a bold “ask”.

• A leader’s obedience effects generations to come.


APPLICATION

• We need to simply trust and obey. God’s track record is flawless.

• What do we want more — creature comforts and a false sense of man-centered security — or the privilege of being part of God moving in powerful ways?

• Think of what Jacob and his family would have missed if they didn’t obey.

• God is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Think of what we miss if we don’t obey God’s calling.

• Our fears and sense of loss when leaving things behind are merely the enemy’s smoke screen to keep us from God’s best. Whatever we give up is ALWAYS replaced by something much better.

• Fall in love with obedience. It ALWAYS leads to future blessing.


PRAYER (Pray this for yourself and/or insert your own personal prayer)

Lord, help me obey in radical ways. I want to be part of your giant story. I want to see you move powerfully. Help me accomplish the hard task of obedience today — so I can bless you and anchor my heart and soul to future blessings.

Dim the appeal of instant gratification in the blinding light of future blessings which will never fade or disappoint. Amen.

The “Non-Prophet” on: World Kingdoms

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In chapter 2 of the Book of Daniel (written in the 6th century BC), the prophet, a Babylonian captive, interprets a vision of a statue for King Nebuchadnezzar who had the dream. The statue in the dream had a head of gold, a chest and arms of silver, a belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet mixed with iron and clay. Impressive right? No, what’s impressive is the interpretation of the dream.

What follows is a description of every empire from his time to the Roman Empire and into our day! Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2 describes the succession of four historical empires: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome followed by a loose conglomeration of nations.

Rome would be the strongest but would eventually break up into a loose coalition of countries (symbolized by the iron and clay feet) as iron and clay do not mix. So accurate were his predictions that critics assert they must have been written sometime in the second century. Even if that were true, what we see today in the feet of clay and iron was clearly predicted 2600 years ago.

We know from modern textual studies that Daniel wrote in languages no longer used by the second century. Also, the book of Daniel had long been part of the accepted Jewish Canon (collection of Holy books). Also, as mentioned above, the passage points to a loosely held coalition of nations (feet of iron mixed with clay) after the four world empires, exactly what we see in our day. Critics literally don’t know what to do with this passage.

How would Daniel have known that there would be three successive empires (each swallowing up the previous), followed by a breakdown of empire into smaller loosely connected countries (some strong, some weak)?

Because Biblical prophecy is pre-recorded history…and compelling evidence that God guided the writings of the prophets.

10 Keys to Spirit-Led Leadership

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 10.32.17 AMLast month I led a leadership class for two weeks (of a six week class) and talked about 10 Keys to Spirit-Led Leadership. I hope to write a post on each key at some point, but in the mean time here’s a brief overview of the 10 keys.

Spirit-Led Leaders…

1. …Walk Closely With The Lord

John 15:5
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

Luke 6:47-49
47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

This passage is true for life and it’s true for leadership. Jesus tells us how to lead. He demonstrated how to lead when he washed the disciples feet. Servant leadership is not of this world.

2. …Discover Their God-Given Potential

Judges Chapter 6 (Read the whole chapter for context). Basically Gideon was hiding from the enemy just trying to survive and fly under the radar when God showed up and called him to his purpose as a leader. When Gideon was anything BUT a warrior, the Lord said to him “The Lord is with you mighty warrior.” (Vs. 12) God sees our potential, not our current state. He shows us HIS vision for our leadership, not how we view ourselves.

3. …Lead Those Closest to Them Best

Our leadership is only as good as our closest relationships and we’re only as deep as the last person we served. Our definition of success needs to be similar to leadership expert John Maxwell’s. “Success means having those closest to me love and respect me the most.” If we’re building an empire but our family is a wreck we have failed. If we’re doing something “great for God” but our marriage fails we have not succeeded. If we’re pioneering new ventures but have to step on people to do it, we’re losing.

4. …Know Themselves

As leaders we need to cultivate self awareness especially in the areas of personality type, spiritual gifts, awareness of our blindspots, and an understanding of our unique experiences and weird combinations. For example, David was a warrior…and he played the harp. Weird combination but God used both in his life to position him.

5. …Grow

We need to grow in our knowledge of scripture (2 Timothy 2:15). We need to have a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset.

6. …Attack Fear

We shouldn’t just “deal with” fear, we should intentionally attack it. Read Mark Batterson’s “In a Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day”. Beneniah (one of Davids mighty warriors) didn’t just kill a lion that came at him. HE went after the Lion. The only antidote to fear is heading straight into the very thing we are afraid of. Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s action taken in the face of fear.

7. …Encourage, Inspire, and Mentor

Encourage literally means to “add strength” or to “spur on to courage”. It’s not a Hallmark card, it’s a call to be strong, to keep going, to make a difference.

8. …Cast Vision Effectively

The prerequisite to casting vision is seeing the big picture. The prerequisite to seeing the big picture is spending time with the Lord.

9. …Are Essentialists

Leaders understand the power of  focus and clarity. We can go 50 directions an inch deep or one direction a mile deep. Know your core strengths, core values, marketable skills, and God-induced passions. Spend 80% of your time doing what only you can do. Delegate or cut the rest. Read Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown. See also, Good to Great, by Jim Collins.

10. …Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Leaders should set 3-5 goals (covering each leadership role or life area) each year that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant (to your calling/purpose), and Time-bound.

I hope you enjoy these leadership keys. Feel free to leave a comment or question below!

The “Non-Prophet” on: Israel’s Regathering

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Thousands of years before the events, we read…

Deuteronomy 28:64 “Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other.”

Isaiah 11:11a “In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time* to bring back the remnant of his people-”

Ezekiel 36:24 “For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.”

Isaiah 66:8a “Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day** or a nation be brought forth in a moment?”

Luke 21:24 says that the Jewish people “shall be led away captive into all nations


*there were 2 dispersions — The first occurred in 605 BC when Judah was conquered and the Jewish survivors were taken captive to Babylon. The second occurred in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem dispersing the Jewish people all over the known world. This may also refer to the 1948 era regathering and a second regathering at the end of the seven year tribulation after a mid-point persecution/scattering of the Jews. They did not have a nation for 1878 years until, miraculously, after WWII, the nation of Israel was re-born “in a day” (literally) on **May 14, 1948. There are also many prophecies in the Bible about Jerusalem being once again in the hands of the Jewish people.