Monthly Archives: December 2013

How Can I Get Doors of Opportunity to Open for Me?

Called and Chosen to Execute – Bezalel

For a minute imagine that you are an architect. What a great honor it would be if the pope asked you to build the next great cathedral or the Queen of England asked you to build her a castle! It would not only be a great honor but it would the opportunity of a lifetime. Your name would be immediately stamped in history and people would read about you and get to know your works long after you were gone. Moreover, you would not have to worry about finding work anymore, and financial worries would be a thing of the past.

This is exactly what happened to Bezalel. Once day, Moses called out to him and told him that God had selected him to build His (God’s) house.

I bet the other skilled architects must have wondered within themselves, why Bezalel and not us; we are just as highly skilled as he is! Not finding a suitable answer to this question, it would not surprise me if many of them simply put it down to luck. But luck had nothing to do with it.

Luck hardly ever has anything to do with being chosen. What may look like luck is usually the hand of God in action.

I reckon many of them were called to be great architects. I would wager that many were filled with the spirit of wisdom, ability, knowledge, understanding, and intelligence in all works of craftsmanship. Yet, only one was called by name (chosen).

If you have been filled with the Spirit of God, then you have been filled with the spirit of wisdom, ability, knowledge, understanding, and intelligence to prosper you in everything you do. It means you have the ability to be called by name just as Bezalel was called by name. Even so, to be chosen you must not just have the ability of Bezalel but you must have the character of Bezalel.

To have ability is to have potential; to be chosen to fulfill potential requires character

Bezalel’s Character

Honesty and Integrity: Large sums of gold, silver, bronze, and clothing were required to build God’s house. Bezalel knew how much of each material was needed to build the house to specifications based on his skill. When the people started to bring more material than was required, he promptly told Moses to tell the people to stop the collection (Exodus 36:5-7).

Bezalel could have stashed away some of the superfluous material for himself. He could have colluded with the other artisans to make a profit. But he did not do this. He did not allow his eyes to become greedy nor did he covet the gold and silver. His thinking did not become selfish. He did not say: what am I getting paid to do this work? He did not convince himself that it was his right to take of some of the collected material. He did not want to defraud the people of their belongings by continuing to collect unneeded supplies.

Would you have done the same if you were Bezalel?

Patience  and Obedience: Moses looked at the work Bezalel did and saw that he had done it just as God commanded, therefore Moses blessed him (Exodus 39:43). Since we know that the children came to the wilderness of Sinai in the 3rd month after the start of the journey out of Egypt (Exodus 19:1) but the tabernacle was not raised until the 2nd year of the exodus (Exodus 40:17), we see that it took a while for Bezalel to be paid for his work. He did not know he was to be paid and was only paid after the work was completed. Thus the honor of doing the work in obedience to the will of God was enough for him.

Can you say the same? Are you focused on what you have been called to do or are you focused on the blessing?

Moreover, he did not doubt the instruction that Moses gave him. He could have said to himself, I know a better way to do this work, let me change this and change that. No! He let God be God, forgot about his own opinion, and did exactly what God commanded through Moses. He would have missed out on his blessing if he had not obeyed without adding or subtracting a thing.

Is this you or do you mix your own way with God’s way?

Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it – Deuteronomy 12:32

Good Steward: Moses only saw what Bezalel made when he brought it to him (Exodus 39:43). Thus the only way Moses knew how much gold and silver was used (Exodus 38:25) is because Bezalel was a good steward of all materials used. Bezalel was an overseer of the work that was being done and ensured that nothing was wasted.

Are you a good steward of everything God as given you? Are you a good steward over your time and resource? Are you disciplined enough in your stewardship?

The way we answer these questions will ultimately determine whether we reach our full potential or if our lives will be summed up by could have, should have, and would have!

Food for Thought: Dedicate yourself to honesty, integrity, patience, unwavering obedience to God, and good stewardship and you will see great doors of opportunity swing wide open for you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Called and Chosen, Success, Teaching

Three Questions You Should Ask Before Marriage

I had the privilege of witnessing a friend’s engagement atop the Sugarloaf Mountain. It was a cool and comfortable night. The spectacular city of Rio de Janeiro offered a breath-taking view.  The large statue of Christ was lit in its full glory. The night sky was in its full splendor as it wowed visitors with a wonderful lightning display in the sky.  For my friend, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect!

There was a healthy number of people with us on the mountain that night who witnessed his girlfriend’s excitement as she said ‘Yes’ to the man of her dreams.  After a longing look and loving embrace, the unbridled joy etched on the faces of the newly engaged couple was so undeniable evident that it could only be missed if perhaps aliens invaded the city!

We cheered, we laughed, and we sang.

When I returned to Baton Rouge, I was met with the grim reality of the experience of marriage for many. A casual friend I had not seen for a while walked up to me at the end of service with heavy tear-laden eyes. Hardly able to get the words out, he stuttered and whispered his way to telling me that he and his wife were getting a divorce after almost seven years of matrimony.

I could not help but think of the contrasting scene and news in the space of a few days. One, a happy beginning and the other, a sad end.

That roughly 50% of all marriages end in separation is a warning of how quickly dreams can turn into nightmares! Since no one starts with the intention of turning their dream into a nightmare, the divorce statistic is proof that something is amiss in marriages.  While the answer to the conundrum of failing marriages in not clear cut, there are some questions everyone about to enter into marriage should ask and answer honestly to see if they have a good shot at winning in the game of love.

Am I in love?

The word in love suggests that one can be out of love. And truly, many people say they have fallen out of love or are no longer in love with their partner.

The kind of love that one can fall in and out of is that which is based on feelings (emotions), sentiment, and fondness. In the Greek language, it is called phileo love. This kind of love is based on what your partner adds to you. While it may not necessarily be selfish, it has a tendency to be self-centered.

This kind of love is often dismissed in some circles because it can be fleeting, is many times based on circumstances, and is self-centered. But I will not do that here.  If you do not ask yourself if you are in love is to deny that you have needs and wants from a relationship. To avoid this question is to lie to yourself!

It is okay to ask if you have feelings for the person, if you are fond of the person you are with, and if you look at your partner with affection. Here is the crucial part: You must not stop at if but you must ask yourself why.

Why points to the heart of the matter. How you answer the why says a lot about your partner but says a lot more about you. It reveals whether you love yourself or are simply operating out of fear! No one is ever truly fond of a person who mistreats them unless they themselves have been disturbed by something in life or they have no way to escape. If you are fond of the person only for what they can do for you, then you have become selfish!

Fearfulness (lack of trust) and selfishness (unwillingness to compromise or yield) will always ruin a relationship.

When you ask yourself why, look at the content of your partner’s character! Look at who they are and what their life shows you. You can gather a lot of this information by listening to the person’s words, and looking at how they spend their time and their resources. This is because often repeated words, time, and resources always reflect priority and heart.

Having phileo love seldom guarantees the success of a marriage union. There is the need for agapeo love

Do I love My Partner?

The question, do I love my partner is different from am I in love with my partner. While one can fall in and out of phileo love, we either agapeo love or we do not. It is that simple! While phileo love is based on feelings, sentiment, and fondness, agapeo love is all about commitment and dedication and does not consider circumstances!

A rock solid agapeo love is needed to ride the waves of life and the roller-coaster of phileo love. Unfortunately, too many people spend their lives building and developing phileo love – through emotion charged compliments, flowers, gifts – and spend very little time developing agapeo love.  The reason commitment never seems to last these days is because the commitment is based on feelings, sentiment, and fondness (phileo love).

Agapeo love is based on who you are versus who the person is. It is about what you add to the person versus what the person adds to you. This kind of love which is unconditional is always willing to reconcile, forgive, and work at issues unto restoration.

It does not confuse weakness and wickedness in a person. Since it does not seek its own, it does not seek perfection. It recognizes the journey of love and is willing to suffer.

The question agapeo love asks is this: A person will disappoint and hurt me, so who I am willing to suffer for? Jesus (who had agapeo) love for humanity thought is worthwhile and worthy to suffer for humanity though we did not deserve it.

If you are not willing to go through hard times, willing to hurt, willing to suffer, willing to forgive, willing to lay down your life, then you do not love your partner. You only love what your partner can do for you (phileo)!

The question, do I love my partner can only be answered Yes if you truly have love for mankind in your heart.

How Do I See My Partner?

A different way of asking this question is who is my partner to me? Do you see your partner as friend, lover, leader (spiritual and otherwise), powerful, royal, helper, anchor, and asset? Or do you see them as timid, fearful, abdicator, scattered, and double-minded?

It is important to be honest with yourself as your answer will determine whether you can (1) respect your partner (2) whether you will follow your partner’s leadership (3) whether you will be comfortable in yielding.

Your answer will determine if your household with be peaceful, whether there will be secret resentment in your heart, if there will be insecurity in your relationship, and whether the union is more of a battle than it is a partnership.

In the bible, Peter saw Jesus as his Messiah – Lord and Savior – and so was able to stand in relationship and fellowship with him until the end. Judas on the other hand only saw Jesus as a potential king and so betrayed him and left him alone when Jesus would not do what Judas thought He should have done!

So, how do you see your partner?  

Conclusion

Jesus asked Peter the three questions above: Do you phileo love me (John 21:16)? Do you agapeo love me (John 21:17), who do you say I am (Mark 8:29). Being Jesus, he already knew the answers!  

Do you know the answer to these questions? If not, then you are wise to ask yourself about the one who is to become a rock in your life. Your answer may very well determine the future. Do you agree?

2 Comments

Filed under Love, Relationships

Two Very Good Reasons to STOP Reaping All That You Sow

Everybody wants to reap love but nobody wants to sow it; it is easier to reap than it is to sow!

As I pondered this statement, it came to mind that one of the reasons it is seems easier to reap than it is to sow is because reaping is the realization of the reward that sowing promises. Sowing is done in hope while reaping is done in faith – since faith is the evidence or realization of things hoped for (Heb. 11:1).

Light-bulb moment:  The end result of sowing in hope and watering the seed of hope with the word of God is a harvest of faith.

As I continued to ponder, I realized that just as the process of developing faith is not easy, the process of reaping is not easy. As an example, the process of reaping wheat is just as laborious as sowing it. It involves putting the sickle to work, gathering the wheat harvest, threshing the wheat on threshing floor, and separating the wheat from the chaff.

But just as the difficulty of reaping yields a tangible reward, the difficulty of developing faith results in triumph and victory in our lives (see 1 John 5:4). Moreover, the faith we attain is meant to help produce victory in other people’s life as well – just as the 5000 men on the side of the mountain ate from the fruit of the faith Jesus had in God.

Light-bulb moment: The seed of hope we plant is not just meant to produce victory in our lives but victory in the people around us.

In other words, people around us should be able to reap where they have not sown! That other people should be able to reap from the produce of our land is not my opinion but has biblical roots, Here is how God puts it:

And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not completely reap the corners of your field when you reap, neither shall you gather any gleaning of your harvest: you shall leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God – Leviticus 23:22

This passage (along with many others) reveals God’s heart for the stranger (anybody not related to us) as well as the poor. Indeed, He has commanded us to take care of our fellow man out of a heart of love.

As if love for our fellow man was not a strong enough incentive to obey this commandment, God also makes it worth our while when we do it. Here are two reasons it is good for us to stop reaping all that we sow!

God prospers and promotes us

God has promised to bless the work of the hands of those who have a generous heart and to bless all that they involved in (Deut. 14:29; Deut. 15:10). In other words, He will make all you invest in profitable, He will get you a raise at your job, and He will prosper your business.

God is saying that you should give of your time and your resources of the things that reflect His heart instead of trying to maneuver your way at work, play politics, and kiss up to the boss.

Boaz (in the book of Ruth in the bible) was a man who followed the commandment to leave gleanings in the field for the stranger and the poor. The bible tells us that he was a man of great wealth (Ruth 2:1)!

Light-bulb moment: If you want to become wealthy, develop a heart of generosity in love and stop reaping all you sow. Do not wait to become wealthy before you become generous.

It opens up doors of opportunity

The only reason Boaz was able to come across Ruth is because he left some gleaning in the field. If he had not, Ruth would simply have passed through his field. But Boaz was a generous man who left a lot to the stranger and the poor. He had so much left over grain in his field that Ruth spent the entire day there (Ruth 2:7)! This in turn allowed Boaz to inquire about Ruth – which in turn led to him taking her as a wife.

See, Boaz’s generosity and desire to please God in whom he delighted opened the door of opportunity for him to meet his wife. He gave what he did not need (barley) and he got what he wanted (a wife)!

If you are not meeting the right people, it may very well be that the right people (those who have a good heart) have no reason to stop by your place.

Light-bulb moment: A good reason to stop reaping all you sow is so that you may get those things you desire in your heart. 

Food for Thought: I open the door of opportunity to blessings tomorrow when I leave a little bit of my harvest for the stranger today.

Leave a comment

Filed under Victorious Living