45 Years…

I read something interesting tonight about Caleb.

He was one of the original spies that Moses sent to Canaan.
He returned with enthusiasm and confidence that God would give the Israelites victory. You may recall that most of the other spies did not have faith that Israel could conquer the land. Their lack of faith caused the Israelites to have to wait for 40+ years to inherit it.

Caleb believed all along. He had faith, but he still had to wait. 40+ years go by. The Israelites (led by Joshua) enter the promised land & God delivered their enemies over to them one by one.

Caleb remained patient. A few more years go by. Israel had conquered most of the promised land. Caleb finally speaks up.
He goes to Joshua and asks for Hebron. Hebron was not under their control yet. Caleb received approval to go to battle and take over Hebron.

He was 85 years old when this happened. He did just that. He fought. He won. Joshua gave Hebron to Caleb. It took Caleb 45 years to inherit God’s blessing. He believed God would give it to him.

He had to wait 45 years. He then had to ask for his blessing. He then had to fight to win his blessing. He finally received his blessing.

Sometimes God requires you & I to have faith that He will bless us. However, we still have to wait. We still need to ask. We still need to be willing to fight for God’s blessing to receive it.

He will work through us to accomplish these things.

Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah – Silence & Assesment

Nehemiah 2: 10-16

Nehemiah arrived safely in Jerusalem. He took 3 days & then he started the task of inspecting the walls. Nehemiah practiced 2 leadership qualities during the inspection process.

1) Nehemiah kept silent.

I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. (Nehemiah 2:11, 12 NIV)

Nehemiah intentionally did not tell anyone what God had put on his heart to do for Jerusalem.

What does the bible say about being quiet?

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Proverbs 17:28

“A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.” Proverbs 12:23

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” James 1:19

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

2) Evaluate/Determine the problem

By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. (Nehemiah 2:13-15 NIV)

What does the Bible say about self inspection?

“23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:23-25

“3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3

“6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

*** God gives us peace, guards our hearts & our minds when we pray!

Nehemiah kept quiet & inspected the problem. He said nothing to the people who would do the actual work of rebuilding the wall.

The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work. (Nehemiah 2:16 NIV)

You & I can become better leaders by learning from Nehemiah’s example of being quiet & getting a full assesment of the problem at hand.

What areas of your life could greatly benefit by trusting God through silence & evaluating specific problems?

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Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah – Nehemiah 2: 1-9: Be Prepared! Opportunity knocks & Nehemiah is ready.

We learned about how Nehemiah responded when he heard the bad news that his people were living in great trouble, disgrace & that the wall around the city of Jerusalem was destroyed & that the gates were burned with fire.(Nehemiah 1:2-3)

He mourned, fasted, & prayed. His prayer was very specific. He reminded God of His faithfulness, he asked God to hear his prayer, he confessed the sins of the people, he reminded God of His willingness to bring the people back together, He asked God to hear his prayer & He asked God to grant him favor before the king.

Nehemiah acted in humility & great faith by praying this way.

What happens when you & I humble ourselves before God?

James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

How does God respond when we come before Him with great faith?

Hebrews 11 is full of fantastic examples of people who had great faith in God & what the Lord did to bless them & answer them.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)

Nehemiah provides an outstanding example of leadership by having faith in God & asking the Lord to grant him favor before the king. Nehemiah was praying. Nehemiah was prepared!

Let’s stop for a second…

What is it that God is putting on your mind & heart? What do you yearn for? Are you getting ready for this dream & passion that the Lord has given you? Can you imagine how different our lives would be if we were always prepared for God to open up doors because we have asked him to?

I want to strongly encourage you make the time today to listen to the following story by Corrie Ten Boom. It will radically change your mindset (jump to the 23:00 minute mark if you are unable to listen to the whole message).

Nehemiah was before the king & his moment had come. The king asked Nehemiah why he was sad (Nehemiah had never been sad in the presence of the king before). Nehemiah was afraid, but he explained that he was sad because of the existing state of his people & his city. The king responded by asking Nehemiah what he wanted.

Can you believe it? Nehemiah asked God for favor before the king & now the mighty King Artaxerxes (arguably the most powerful man in the entire world at that time) is asking Nehemiah what he wanted. What a miracle! What an amazing sign from God that He was listening to Nehemiah & that He was helping him.

Proverbs 21:1 says, “In the Lord ’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.”

God is in control of all things… Including powerful kings.

Nehemiah prayed to God & said to the king (very tactfully – think Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People) …

“If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time. I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. (Nehemiah 2:5-8 NIV)

The king not only allowed Nehemiah to take time off to rebuild the wall… He also gave him letters for a safe journey & the materials needed to rebuild the wall!!

God is in control. Nothing is too big, too great or too expensive for Him.

Let us encourage & remind one another to seek God first, to have faith that He will provide for the things that He has put on our hearts to pursue & to be prepared for the moments when God opens the door for you & I to claim His answer to our prayers.

Reading His word prepares us.
Praying & seeking God’s will prepares us.

He rewards those who earnestly seek Him,
Jared

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:9-12 NIV)

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Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah – Nehemiah 1: The Response to a Major Crisis

Nehemiah had a powerful & influential government job. He was the cupbearer to the King.

He received some very bad news when his brother came for a visit.

Nehemiah asked his brother about how things were going back home in Jerusalem. He learned that his people were living in great trouble, disgrace & that the wall around the city was destroyed & that the gates were burned with fire! (Nehemiah 1:2-3)

Nehemiah was devestated to hear this news about his family, his people & his city.

Do you remember where you were & how you felt on 09/11/2001 when the World Trade Center was attacked & destroyed? Did it catch your attention? Did it upset you? Did it break your heart for the victims & families? We can relate to Nehemiah on some level & understand his state of mind after hearing this terrible news.

Nehemiah was absolutely crushed. His response to this news is a major take away for you & I today.

What did Nehemiah do? Let’s look at Nehemiah 1:4 –

1) He mourned

What does the Bible say about mourning? Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

2) He fasted

Matthew 6:16-18 says, “16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

3) He prayed

Matthew 7:7 says, “”Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

What did Nehemiah pray about?

1) He reminded God of His faithfulness – Nehemiah 1:5
2) He asked God to hear his prayer. Nehemiah 1:6
3) He confessed the sins of the people – Nehemiah 1:6-8
4) He reminds God of his willingness to bring the people back together – Nehemiah 1:9
5) He asked God to hear his prayer – Nehemiah 1:11
6) He asked God for favor before the king. Nehemiah 1:11

What can you & I learn from Nehemiah’s response to bad news? What leadership qualities does Nehemiah display through his initial response to a crisis?

I am looking forward to learning more from Nehemiah over the next few weeks.

Jared

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20, 21 NIV)

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How to Live in the Presence of God

Surely the righteous will praise your name, and the upright will live in your presence. (Psalm 140:13 NIV)

How can you & I be righteous? How can we be upright & live in the presence of God?

The answer is simple.

We can’t.

We cannot be righteous or upright on our own. (Romans 3:23)

How can we live in the presence of God if we cannot be righteous or upright?

Christ alone.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5, 6 NIV)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

Our hope is in Christ. We can live in the presence of God because Jesus has done what we could never do. We are righteous & upright because of Jesus.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9 NIV)

How do you & I live in the presence of the Lord? We seek Christ. He is our righteousness. We are upright in Him alone.

Thanks be to God.

5 Ways to Walk in Wisdom

Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. (Proverbs 28:26 NIV)
 
How can you & I walk in wisdom?
 
1) Seek God first everyday by reading the Bible
 
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33 NIV)
 
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11 NIV)
 
2) Ask God for wisdom
 
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5 NIV)
 
3) Seek wise counsel from others
 
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22 NIV)
 
Mastermind groups are great as well (http://youtu.be/X25Jo9npRbw).
 
4) Seek wisdom through Media
 
I do not have a verse for this one, but I can encourage you to read good books or blogs from good authors, listen to audio books & podcasts that are reputible. You can get Free books from your library. You can download free audiobooks by using the free Overdrive Media (http://omc.overdrive.com/) app (note: you will need your library card) Or use a subscription service such as audible.com. Podcasts are free & have every topic under the sun!
 
5) Seek wisdom by attending church, conferences, seminars & networking groups
 
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17 NIV)
 
Walking & Seeking,
Jared
 
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. (Colossians 4:5 NIV)
 
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16 NIV)Image

The Flour & the Oil

I love the story of Elijah & the widow.
A heavy drought came upon the land & the Lord told Elijah to go to Zarephath. God told Elijah that a widow would supply food for him. (1 Kings 17: 7-9)

Elijah went to Zarephath & found the widow gathering sticks at the town gate. He asked her for some water & a small piece of bread. The widow replied that she only had a small amount of flour & oil left. She was gathering sticks to start a fire, make one last meal for her family & then die. (1 Kings 17: 10-12)

Elijah told the widow to not be afraid, but to proceed with making bread for him & her family. He told her that God said the flour & oil would not run out until the day that the Lord sends rain on the land. (1 Kings 17: 13-14)

The widow did what Elijah asked. The flour was not used up! The oil did not run dry! (1 Kings 17: 15-16)

The story of the flour & the oil is a lesson for you & I.

What is it in your life that seems impossible? What are the things that hold you back or keep you in fear? We should be encouraged that God knows what we need (Matthew 6:8), provides our daily bread (Luke 12: 22-31) & all things are possible for Him (Matthew 19:26).

We are blessed when we not only know this about God, but believe it wholeheartedly (John 20:29). Let’s encourage one another to remember this whenever we feel weak or insignificant… God does something amazing with small things.

Jared

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NIV)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)

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