Leadership requires integrity. A word given is the word that must be performed. Such is not always the case. Leaders engage, then back off in the face of difficulty. Parents threaten but fail to follow through.
At times like these, the leadership position may continue, but authority to lead is broken because the word of the one leading has proven false. Those under their charge are left to fend for themselves, hanging over the edge of a precipice of integrity created by the leader’s weakness.
Leadership pivots on integrity. Failure to stand firm in what you’ve said—to keep your word and fulfill your commitments—becomes a slippery slope through which other areas of a flawed character eventually come to light.
In the Bible, the word “integrity” most often means “blameless”—innocent, not guilty. Leaders must realize that integrity of heart is demonstrated in consistent and principled standards, a covering of blameless protection for them and those following their lead.
Isaiah 55:11 | Romans 4:20-21 | Verses@Once
Happiness and joy are not the same. Happiness is a result, like cause and effect, when something or someone makes us feel happy. Happiness is a feeling—ever demanding, a moving target—so that today’s contentment can overnight become tomorrow’s complaint.
Happiness is often defined by favorable facts: if the report is good, man is happy. But happiness cannot lead to security or well-being. Since human desire is never satisfied, happiness is more often an insecurity, an external experience that shifts and changes with external conditions. So, what is genuine happiness?
Joy is the only foundation for happiness. Joy is produced from within. It is internal, created by conditions that powerfully impact, even command, conditions on the outside. In the Bible, joy is a fruit of the Spirit. That means that when the Holy Spirit controls your life, the fruit of joy produced in the heart is obvious.
Happiness is fickle, but joy remains.
Happiness happens to you; joy is produced in you.
Happiness is fleeting, but the Spirit’s power naturally leads to grateful joy.
Joy supports faith for truth. Joy makes the believer confident in God’s promises, that everything in His plan works together for good for those who love Him and trust His purpose and calling for them.
Cyrus, the Persian, was positioned by God. As king, he had power over resources and regions. Unlike kings before him, this unlikely pagan leader shepherded the Jews rather than oppressing them, and his edict to rebuild Jerusalem holds a unique place in Jewish history.
Fortunately for Israel, the heart of this pagan king was in the hands of the Lord. Fortunately for them, as they emerged from Babylonian exile without means of any kind, the necessary supplies were provided, given by a man who should have had no heart for them at all. Because God stirred his heart, Cyrus arranged for their supply in the re-building of Jerusalem… “with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God.”
As Cyrus was instrumental in rebuilding Jerusalem, modern-day leaders like Cyrus are being called by the Lord, even though they have not known Him. With hearts stirred and empowered by God to accumulate wealth and use it to bless rather than oppress, they join in the building of His Kingdom, seeing to provision and arranging for supply.
Cyrus, positioned by God. For such a time as this.
2 Chronicles 36:22-Ezra 1:4 | Ezra 1:7 | Verses@Once
Jesus said, “… the ruler of this world approaches; He has no power over me.” Our Lord declared absolute authority over Satan, and He conveys that same absolute authority to believers—in His Name, through the work of His Spirit.
Jesus also said that the world does not recognize and is not even looking for the Spirit of God, but a disciple bases everything on the Spirit’s work: “He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
Knowing that we have authority, our recognition and acceptance of that authority is critical. Those who observed Jesus’s ministry knew that His works and words were with authority—sometimes offensive to the mind but consistently revealing the heart.
We have His authority: “Anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done and even greater works…”
Cain murdered his brother Abel, his own flesh and blood; for the shedding of innocent blood, God placed a mark on Cain. His sense of well-being was sacrificed in the violence, and Cain’s mentality changed—”a fugitive and vagabond you shall be.” His livelihood would now work against him, would turn on him, and consume his profits.
Cain’s anguish was immediate. Acknowledging his feelings of separation from the Lord, paranoia followed. As was the case with Abel’s murder—when an innocent person is harmed, the one responsible descends into fear’s torment that at some point and in some way, he will be the victim, at the hands of someone stronger.
Many are distressed—financially, by terrorism, because of rampant disease. For some, trouble today can be traced to a condition like Cain’s. As believers, we see it from a divine perspective; knowing the cause makes a difference if we are to find the cure. Prayerfully, we search for markings where and with whom it all began.
Many are distressed, overwhelmed on every side. Never stop reaching for them. Never stop because the Lord does not stop. And do not settle for convenience or lesser philosophies for the sake of the moment. The goal and great possibility remain—righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, for all. That’s our prayer!
It’s the message we do not stop sending!
“His mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.”” (1 Chronicles 4:9)
Jabez was marked. The meaning of his name, “he will cause pain,” tagged him with every mention: “Jabez, you are one who will (always) cause pain!” But Jabez didn’t follow the prediction laid out by his birth name; instead, he called upon the Lord, asking that the negative prophetic pronouncement over his life be changed . . . asking God to change the nature predicted by a parent’s careless prophecy. In asking, Jabez was bold. He asked for the opposite of the original mark. He asked for a life marked by the Lord’s hand:
Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying
“Oh, that you would bless me indeed,
And enlarge my territory,
That your hand would be with me,
And that You would keep me from evil,
That I may not cause pain!” (v.10)
In Bible times, names linked individuals to destiny. The name change Jabez requested included a transfusion of God’s plan into his nature, a sovereign replacement of his mother’s choice in naming him. God’s answer meant the opposite of harm for Jabez—blessed, enlarged, and kept by God from evil, kept by God from causing pain!
Concerning a life that is on a wrong course for any reason—because of a parent or surrounding conditions, whatever—if asked, God will do the work. The possibilities are limitless; in fact, there are no limits whatsoever! All things are possible!
Have you ever done something because someone believed in you, or because someone applied positive pressure or demand on your talent or skill? The principle is a proven one. We do things that we thought we could not—things we might not otherwise attempt—because someone believes in and demonstrates confidence in us.
The principle is also spiritual. Surrounded by people of faith, we grow spiritually because mentorship encourages spiritual fruit in our lives . . . spiritually and practically, they place a demand on God’s gift-deposit within us.
In a similar way, there are times when we want to hear the Lord so desperately that we pull, or draw deeply upon Him, confident and trusting in His promises and determined to hear. In the example of prayer, Jesus taught the disciples to do just that. To press with expectation, to knock until doors opened and seek with determination until they received the object of their search.
The Lord’s response to your seeking occurs even before you seek Him; He sees your “heart-condition” and goes ahead of your circumstances. He calls you forth by His own faith to prosper the effort, is determined to bless you more than you can imagine, and does not hesitate to apply any necessary pressure to you or your circumstances to nudge and get you moving in the direction He has pre-prepared and waiting for you.
You might have a piece of the puzzle, but He has the big picture. You are not completely certain that you can do this thing, but He knows you can. You lack bold direction to begin, but He, as your Source, is leading fearlessly, even behind the scenes, and is determined that you will, in fact, hear Him!
“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:13-14)
Children are a great example of sensitivity to spiritual truth. Their hearts soften to receive from God more than we realize. Young hearts are accepting, their innocence a protection from prejudice. In other words, children respond simply to life in the spirit; they respond, “as a little child.”
Children are naturally open to the Holy Spirit because design-wise, creation’s “fearfully and wonderfully made” feature includes the capacity to believe truth and receive supernatural expressions from God. Tap into what they hear from the Lord, and you’ll be amazed.
I believe, for Christians, that the spirit life produces spiritual maturity that is confident regarding matters of the spirit and the supernatural. I also see many counterfeits and substitutes, making our spiritual discernment critical to steady the ship of truth in every nation, in every home.
The Lord reveals truth through the agent of the Holy Spirit, and we receive that revelation in the human spirit. That’s how spirit life works. In the same way, revelation can also be quenched—refused. Sadly, such refusal to yield to the Spirit insulates us from the supernatural.
For many Christians, for example, the main reach for—yielding to, and openness to receiving from—heaven’s supernatural provision comes in a time of crisis. In a crisis, panicked prayers reveal a low estimation of heaven’s supernatural power, expectation is desperate, and the habit is to think that way when really, we should know better.
God has more for His disciples than uncertain pleading—Christianity is not a cosmic experiment! He gives them life in the Spirit… a relationship born and sustained in His deep commitment to bless and our response to communicate and receive from Him.
Discipleship includes the spirit life—we begin as children but grow and mature spiritually. I encourage everyone to teach the Word and then require something of the teaching—expect results. Pray in the Spirit and encourage those you disciple to do the same.
We are blessed to be taught the spirit life.
The thing that we value is the thing that costs.
Christians who have understanding established (anchored) in the finished work of the Cross know that every outcome is already accomplished; and that anything less re-opens and raises doubts about the values and the truth that we lay down our lives to embrace. The investment is your life. It’s who you are!
The way to invest your life this way is to invest every part of your life in the Word. Hearing it (the Word) produces faith, so spend time doing just that. Give heed to its principles, instruction, and ideas. As you grow spiritually, add quality time in God’s Word to move from belief to revelation, and from revelation to impartation. You’ll gain greater understanding to rightly interpret things as they unfold, even before they unfold—prophetically.
So prepare. Glean more from the Word. Draw from that deposit both now and in the days ahead. Frame every assignment from the Lord this way, with His Word, spoken aloud, and the assignment will align with His Word and accomplish what it must.
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