Private Victories, Public Favor!

Daniel 1:8-9 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself.. And God gave Daniel favor in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs.

It’s the things that people never see that sets you apart. Everyone of us have the opportunity to make choices about what we will do in our personal lives. We can choose to go with the flow of the majority or choose to be set apart, whether anybody sees us or not. You can be sure that when God gives one of his kids favor publicly, there has been a history of personal victories in that persons life. We can choose to compromise or choose to conquer but the fruit of our lives will speak for itself. What do you need to have fresh resolve about in your personal life? Be encouraged that what you overcome in the secret place will be rewarded in the public arena by Gods grace and favor. He sees every sacrifice you’ve made and not even the littlest thing goes unnoticed. 

Spirit-Led or Self-Led?

I’m fascinated with God! I love the fact that my full-time life on planet earth is pre-occupied with my relationship with God. Could there be a better use of time than living each moment in the presence of God? 

One of the privileges God has extended to us is CHOICES! God has given us free will to exercise our power of choice. We can steward this gift or abuse it. The choices we make in life determine how we spend our moments. It seems like there are an infinite number of potential wrong choices to make in life but living with God at the epicentre of your existence empowers you to make choices that promote light instead of darkness. 

Whenever I read Jesus in the Gospels, I’m fascinated by his rhythm of life. I could spend the rest of my life telling you all that he did, and yet, he carried himself and his waking moments with such grace and purpose that who he was really marked what he did. How did he do it?

Jesus was led by the Spirit! Jesus had a relationship with his Father that made all the difference in how he approached his life. He only did three fundamental things that was routine (Synagogue on the Sabbath, early morning prayer and observe Jewish feasts) in his life but everything else was led by the Spirit of God. Jesus didn’t even speak on his own authority. He said, “What I say, I say as the Father has told me.” (Jn 12:50) Every moment was informed by the Father, not as a robotic event but as a fluid movement of synergistic relationship. The Father started the sentence and Jesus would finish the sentence. Jesus would pray the prayer and Father would answer the prayer. There was such love, unity and honour in the God-head that God’s purposes could be fulfilled through Jesus’ words, actions and relationships.

I believe this is the pattern we are to observe in our own lives today. I’ve experienced the benefits of approaching life in this way and I want to encourage you to do the same. If your life feels more self-led than Spirit-led than reflect on how you view your relationship with God. How you view God will determine how you live your life. There is a relationship with God where what’s in Gods heart becomes so intertwined with what’s in your heart that you don’t know where one begins and the other ends. All great relationships function in this way.

The Oracle!

Choose to become a Great Leader!

I’ve observed leadership is a choice, as much as it is a calling. Once you answer the call to lead, you are given a choice as to how much you want to grow as a leader, and this choice can be a wrestle as great as the wrestle to answer the call to lead. The reason why we wrestle with this decision is because we love comfort and convenience, which leads to a static approach to life. Leadership is about progress and requires a more dynamic approach to life. If you’re going to move from where you are to where you want or are being called to be, you need to choose to grow.

Good is the enemy of Great! Most organizations aren’t great because they’re content with good. Yet I believe any church, company or team can go from good to great provided they have a desire and intentionality. A great church isn’t a result of right location, right branding, right planning, right circumstance or a celebrity leader at the helm. It’s largely a matter of conscious choice.

A church becomes great because people within it choose to become great leaders. A great leader is a paradox of both humility and sanctified ambition, not for themselves but for the church or group they’re apart of. Just as a duck floats on top of the water with grace but is ferociously paddling under the water, so too is the great leader. They are humble and self-effacing but ferociously determined to accomplish a result for the sake of their team.

To become a great leader (which is possible for all of us) observe the following:

  • Repent of pride
  • Become results oriented
  • Be more plow-horse than show-horse
  • Look out the window when you succeed and look in the mirror when you fail
  • Reproduce yourself in the next generation and set them up to succeed.

Remember, Great leaders are very rarely recruited from outside the organization but are already being raised on the farm. Great leaders attribute any success as a work of Gods sovereign grace rather than personal greatness (1 Cor 3:7). Make the decision today to move from being a good leader to being a GREAT leader.

Grace!

The Power of Praise!

Acts 16:25-26 “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison was shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.”

This is a great picture of what the power of praise does in our lives. Paul and Silas were in the middle of a ‘midnight’ season. They had been imprisoned for delivering a young girl of demonic oppression, whom had been used for commercial profit in the city of Philippi. As a result, Paul and Silas had been placed into shackles in the inner prison and left to rot BUT at midnight, what could have justly become a pity-party became a praise party.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 says, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet will I rejoice in the Lord. I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

Anybody can praise when there is money in the bank, opportunities on the go and there’s nothing but daylight ahead but it’s another thing to praise God at ‘midnight’ when nothing is going your way. This is the situation Paul and Silas find themselves in and instead of complaining about their midnight season, they do directly the opposite and PRAISE God instead.

The word PRAISE means to give thanks. Praise is your confession and declaration of thanksgiving for who God is. Paul and Silas’ example teaches us powerful insights into the dynamic of praise in our lives:

Praise is always VERBAL – Praise is a confession, not just a thought. The bible doesn’t understand praise apart from opening your mouth and declaring the greatness of God. Our God is a speaking God. He said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.’ We have been made after the image of God and therefore, like God, have creative power in our words. When we declare the praises of God, we are affecting change in the atmosphere of our lives. Paul and Silas were praising God in such an overt way that the prisoners around them were listening to them. Paul and Silas didn’t care what anyone thought of them because they knew that the best thing to do in light of who God is and the circumstances they were facing, was to praise God anyhow. There is no power in our praise until we declare it out of our mouth. Praise isn’t a personality thing, it’s a bible thing. We don’t sing, clap, shout and lift our hands because of our personality but because it’s in the bible.

Praise is a CHOICE – It doesn’t have anything to do with your feelings. Midnight in the dungeon of a prison isn’t exactly conducive to feelings of peace and relaxation and yet Paul and Silas chose to assume the posture of praise. Psalm 34:1 says, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.’  Whatever circumstances you are facing, choose to bless the Lord and fill your mouth with continual praise. Your problems aren’t going to change by blaming God for them but your attitude will change towards them when you start praising God in the midst of them. God inhabits the praises of his people, not the problems of his people. God cares about the things you face but he is not essentially moved by them. He is moved by your faith because without faith, it’s impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him. Praise is the birthing position for breakthrough in your circumstances. God draws near to praisers, not whingers. Choose to become better, not bitter by choosing PRAISE.

Praise will set you FREE – As Paul and Silas praised God, all of a sudden, the foundations of the prison was shaken by an earthquake and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. The power for freedom comes through praise. Bishop Jakes says of this passage, “The earthquake wasn’t God getting them out, it was God breaking into their praise. God had to get into where the praise was.”  Praise gets your eyes off your midnight hour and onto the presence of God. Praise just doesn’t set you free, it has the corporate power to set others free as well. In your life and calling you will face challenges and issues that will feel limiting and burdensome but when you choose to verbalize your praise, you will experience freedom in your life and the lives of others.

Insight! (My close friend Ps Andrew Newbold has graciously contributed some key thoughts to this blog post)