“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
I was recently teaching in my church on a subject that is just so relevant to today that I am compelled to share the highlights with you.
In the book of Haggai, we learn that thousands of individuals returned from exile in Babylon to Jerusalem with tremendous faith in God that He would continue to do great things for them. It was a new beginning and they immediately rebuilt the altar so they could resume worship and have God at the center of their lives. They had the money and all other resources needed to rebuild the temple. However, as they laid the foundation, enemies of Israel began to stir up trouble and took legal steps which required them to stop the construction.
Now, fast forward to many years later. God wanted the construction to resume and so He sent one of His prophets Haggai to tell them to get to work. However, by this time, the people had given up and their main focus was on building their own elaborate houses.
In other words, their priorities were not in line with God’s priorities. God said to them twice…."Consider your ways". This means to take an introspection of yourself to determine the behavioral change that needs to take place so the will of God will become your will.
When speaking in our church about this significant event, I was compelled to tell a true personal story about me that is parallel to those being addressed by God through Haggai.
When I started Worker Ministries in 2000, I had a clear vision of what I believed was needed. I had a passion for wanting to go into many churches and speak on a subject that is so critical……how to discover God’s calling for your life, how to prepare for the calling, and how to fulfill it including living the Christian life in the workplace. After all, that is where most people live over one third of a lifetime!
So I began writing letters to local ministers (ten per week) asking to meet with each one for no more than fifteen minutes to discuss how I believed my message would have a positive impact on members of their flock.
OOOPS. Very few replies. So, I made telephone calls.... leaving my phone number, OOOPS. Sorry, few or no responses
While my score was not zero, it remained awfully low. Things were just not working for me or this ministry.
One afternoon, I met with a pastor who immediately invited me to speak at one of his Sunday morning services. That was a pleasant surprise because it is understandable that most pastors do not wish to give up many morning services to other speakers. After sincerely thanking him and before leaving, I decided to lay all of my frustrations on his desk. There is no substitute for going to a Christian brother or sister and asking for Godly advice.
I will never forget his words: “Jim, your problem is that you are spending too much time chasing after ministers. Remember that Jesus has told us that when the door is closed, brush off the sand beneath your feet and move on!”
After returning to my automobile and before I turned on the engine, I promised God I would now turn the ministry over to Him.
"For that ye ought to say,
If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that." (James 4:15)
Yes, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Of course, at that moment, I did not know His will……only the calling He had given me was a certain thing, without question. As I drove out of that church parking lot, I felt that one million pounds had just been lifted from my shoulders.
Not long after that encounter, I suddenly found myself speaking in places like Peoria, Illinois; Castro Valley California; Washington DC……then there was the Pasadena Convention Center. Years later, I would be with Pastor Chris Barasa speaking on his platform in Kenya when he brought together pastors from the sixty churches he has founded in Kenya and Uganda.
And? Of all places, God also placed me in the middle of Times Square to speak as thousands were located in that area. Aside from speaking engagements, He has enabled us to establish other avenues of service to thousands (described on our web site at www.workerministries.com) and that includes our monthly newsletter.
Yes, as soon as God’s priorities became my priorities, the doors began opening and they have continued opening throughout the 21 years of our ministry. Some have remained closed but that is only because of the will of God who knows what is best.
Now, let me return to those whom God needed to complete the construction of His temple in Israel. Remember, these are the ones who were only interested in building their own residence. (I am almost certain that many were lazy sluggards because, unfortunately, they have always existed in His world.)
Delayed obedience, for any reason, is disobedience!
God had to remind them that all was not well in Israel. They were having a problem growing crops and experiencing other difficulties because of a drought. This should be no surprise because there is a price to be paid when one ignores the plans of God. God blesses those who bless Him and we bless Him when our priorities are in perfect alignment with His priorities.
Perfect alignment is not limited to our relationship with God. When we cross paths with anyone in need, we need to forget our own concerns, our own problems and align with the other person. Let’s be honest. We can be in such a hurry, we can easily overlook the opportunity to reach out and touch someone including providing comfort to a hurting heart.
While conducting a customer service survey for a transportation organization, I can still remember that lady (boarding the bus) whose face was stricken with grief. She came to a seat across the aisle from where I was sitting. I said, "Welcome aboard and how are you today?" She replied, "Not very well......(pause).....my 52-year old son died from cancer last week". The customer service survey form which I had planned to give to her became the last thing on my mind. I immediately aligned .....I responded with an expression of regret and allowed her to use me in venting about the loss of her loved one. Who knows? I might have been one of the few individuals who would cross paths with her that day giving her such an opportunity as that.
As a result of aligning with God, it is He who has blessed us in Worker Ministries with the finances needed to conduct His work. This includes Operation Uplift in which we live with the homeless on the streets of New York City, Memphis, and Washington, DC. We teach them how to find employment and become productive citizens and prosper thus removing them from a hell on earth provided they follow our individualized prescription.
I am pleased to announce that we are now adding Charlotte, North Carolina to our satellite locations. We plan to conduct our first Operation Uplift there in the Fall.
Thank God He places special individuals in our pathway to help make our earthly journey a lot easier. Thank God for those pastors who have allowed me to speak from their pulpit. Thank God for that one pastor…..that Christian brother who did not hesitate to be upfront with me. And God, speaking through him, enabled me to finally align my priorities with God’s priorities so the doors would open to success in serving Him!
In closing, I invite you to join me on our YouTube channel. Click below and you will find 28 recorded messages including one-minute presentations for those who have a heavy schedule.....