Okay, so this message for business, as it relates to business, is titled Do You Have an Unfair Advantage? I would think that as believers in this Word that we ought to have an unfair advantage in the marketplace, don’t you agree? In our relationship with the Lord and in our relationship and with the Holy Spirit we ought to be being led in such a way that that advantage is being manifested.
In addition to that there’s Scripture, many Scriptures that talk about that, that the secrets of the Kingdom are given to us. What I wanted to focus in today on is that kind of combination, is the unfair advantage that we have plus the fact that the Kingdom is given to us. I’ve listed, in fact it’s all Scripture, I don’t always just give all Scripture. I’m not going to just read the Scripture, but I’m also going to help provide some of my own insights to you. In this message I thought that the Scripture was a pretty good story to just base off of.
By begin I looked at some Old Testament Scriptures regarding the Father’s promise to each of us. I just came back from a trip to Israel, doing business there again, and for me when I go onto the land of Israel I all of a sudden my ears get opened and my eyes see. I don’t know, I just come back with such a greater understanding of who I am and who the Lord is. I’m able to tie in some of that.
I thought that Scripture is great, but we also have to tie it to our daily lives. That’s the beauty of the business world is we get to tie Scripture into our daily lives. We get to experience it. As it relates to the fact that in Daniel, his promise that God reveals deep and hidden things. “He knows what lies in the darkness and light dwells within Him.” Then I love this out of Isaiah 45. These are all out of the NIV. It says, “I will give you the hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places.”
Do you want hidden treasures and riches stored in hidden places? Secret places? I do. “So that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel.” I thought this was pretty cool. What was the reason for the hidden treasures and the riches stored in secret? So that we may know that the Lord, the God of Israel is who summons us by name. That kind of fits in with where I’m going with this.
Our business in Israel has had its ups and its downs, but I’ve been going to Israel for about 14, 15 years now and not to bore those who know our whole story, but we were pursuing a very large environmental project in Israel with the Ministry of Environment for over 10 years. Spent a lot of time, a fair amount of money in doing that and we ended up not receiving that project after a large investment.
Now, it wasn’t a waste because it was again through that time I got to know the Lord and really had my business take off based on what the Lord was showing us. On the human side you have to, you know, when you sow into something for so long and you put so much money and you don’t see a result, it kind of hurts, right? There’s probably something you guys could think about right now where you put that time and effort into it and you really didn’t get what you had hoped for a return.
One of the things that came through that process even before we didn’t end up with the work is it was in this project, it was a Biblical river that needed to be cleaned up and I felt that there was a calling on us as Christians to be able to come in and bring that cleansing, which we do to properties all over, wherever we work around the country. Through that experience about halfway in I learned something for the first time. What I learned is that I began to pray for the completion of the cleanup of that Biblical river, that land, and it was the river that Elijah is where Elijah battled the bells and where Deborah and Barak battled and killed Sisera.
It’s in the Jezreel. It’s 10 miles from Nazareth where Jesus grew up and began His ministry. It’s a very Biblical place. What I learned for the first time that I have since applied as often as I can is that I began to just pray for the outcome for the goodness of the Kingdom. Meaning that I just prayed for a successful project. I stopped praying that we would receive the contract and we would do the work and we would benefit from it and I just prayed for the completion of that project.
Which was maybe a good thing because we didn’t get the work, right? What was really cool this last trip is through this time we actually have now working for us in Israel the former chief scientist for the Ministry of Environment who is a religious Jewish man. He’s extremely well respected. He’s a PhD microbiologist. He is probably the number one person if you could pick somebody to represent you, you would want this gentleman because he’s high integrity and very professional.
He also was the project manager for this cleanup project and then he had retired like a year ago, but he was impressed with us and we were impressed with him. He reached out and now he represents us. Because of his relationship as the project manager we got a VIP tour of the project just two weeks ago. I continue to pray. On my phone I have locations and every day, pretty much every day I continue to pray for that project that it would be done in righteousness and with excellence.
What was really cool was to go out to that site and the company that originally won the contract was a Canadian firm and they actually got kicked off the site. They were just escorted off the site because of problems. Which number one showed me that it was probably a good thing we didn’t win that contract in the end because there was a 100% cash bond on that project. It was a 45 million dollar project. You had to put up 45 million dollars in cash into an Israeli bank account that you had no access to, but the government did.
That was your guarantee of performance, which is never done in the US. It’s always a security, so that Canadian firm now is out 45 million dollars while they negotiate a final settlement. Number one is trust God. Even though you want something, it may not be what you think it is. The other piece now is then we got to go out to the site and they brought onboard an Israeli construction management firm. I’m telling you that job is being run topnotch. It’s going even better than what they expected. It’s ahead of schedule. The work is getting done.
I’ve got to tell you, as I walked around and I met those guys, I felt like a dad. I felt like, you know what? All those prayers are being answered. That it’s being done with excellence and it’s a good thing. I bring it back to the messages that when we look at these Scriptures and the Scripture we’re going to go into there’s two parts to our prayer and there’s two parts to our journey in your job and in your marketplace.
One of it involves you and one of it involves just the Kingdom of God. I think when we get our minds around that and we begin to walk in that and experience that, we gain a greater understanding, but we get a greater sense of peace and a greater sense of satisfaction that I don’t have to be successful in my life just because I won the contract. I can be successful in my life because I prayed and I saw the outcome of it and I gained nothing personally from it other than the satisfaction that it got done God’s way.
That brings me to this Scripture in Mark that I think many of us have heard before, but I hope to add a new revelation to it. In this book there are titles and section numbers. When it was written 2,000 years ago those weren’t there. Chapter 4 wasn’t there. The subtitle The Parable of the Sower, it wasn’t there. The title Lamp On A Stand, it wasn’t there, okay? Just so we’re clear.
These were added later to help us and the numbers, the Scriptures didn’t have 4:2-3, okay? These were added to help study, which is a good thing. It’s a good thing. As I looked at Mark and as I began reading this, what I hope to show you is sometimes those subtitles get in the way because Mark 4 to me for about the first maybe the entire section is one message.
It’s going to be pretty incredible when we see that if you take those subtitles out what an encouragement, even greater encouragement it is. Let’s go through that process. I’m sure you’ve all heard The Parable of the Sower that Jesus taught, that the farmer goes out to sow his seed and as he’s scattering the seed it falls on the path and the birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on the rocky places, not much soil. Sprung up quickly, but the shallow, because the soil was shallow. Sun comes up. What happens? The plants are scorched. The wither away, had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, chocked the plants, didn’t bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil, came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying 30, 60, 100 times.
To me early in my walk and even now I love the last part. Grew 30, 60, 100 times. Is that good for you guys too? That’s what I want. I think everyone here wants that. Then I ask okay, how do I get that? All right, so as we go further then, at the end of that Jesus says, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” I always thought well, that’s interesting. Discard that. I don’t really know what that’s all about. I’m going to go with the other one, but it’s one of the keys. We’re going to come back to that.
Then in 4:10 when Jesus is alone with the 12 they ask Him about the parables. Now this is one of the keys. He said that, “The secret of the Kingdom of God has been given to you, but those on the outside everything is said in parables so that you may be [inaudible 11:36] but never perceiving, ever hearing but never understanding lest you might turn and be forgiven.”
The secret of the Kingdom of God is given to us. In my job, in your business the secrets of the Kingdom of God is available to us. If I had the secrets to the Kingdom of God I would think my job, my career, my impact is going to be greater, wouldn’t it? Is that what we want? Okay. Now you’re on the same path as me. I want 30, 60, 100. I want secrets to the Kingdom because I can do even more.
Let’s continue because it gives us some of the answers we’re seeking. In this case Jesus said to them in 13, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?” This is the key. If we’re to understand anything in the parables and in the teachings in the back of this book, apparently according to Jesus, this parable holds the key.
Wow. That jumped out at me. There’s a lot of good parables, but this one holds the key to my understanding, to my hearing and seeing. Again, Jesus then goes out and He describes this. He says that the farmer sows the Word which is the Word, I looked it up is logos, is word, matter, a thing and the Word of God. I think that’s important.
Some people like to see the Word is sown. As soon as they hear it Satan comes and takes away the Word that was sown in them. You probably know people where they initially discover this book and they come to faith, but then they fall away. I think that’s what it’s talking about. Others sow seed in rocky places. Hear the Word, they have great joy, but since they have no foundation, no root, they last only a short time. When trouble comes because it will, they quickly fall away.
I know some people like that. I’ve been like that. Still others sown among thorns. They hear the Word, but the worries of this life, and I think as I look at it when you’re somewhat mature in your walk and knowing God, this is where many of us get caught up. The worries of life. Deceitfulness of wealth, we have to come to grips with wealth. Then the desire for other things. It’s like wow. Other things of what?
Other things of God’s Kingdom. What we just talked about is there’s my part and then there’s God’s part. It’s like ahh. When I lose track of God’s part, making it unfruitful, but okay, unlike the others they hear the Word, they accept it and they produce the crop, 30, 60, 100. Okay, so now I have more understanding. Desires of this world, worries of this world, deceitfulness of wealth, I need to deal with these things in my heart. These are preconditions of the 30, 60, 90, 100 times.
I would highlight those. Where am I in these areas? Normally we stop because that’s the Parable of the Sower. I continued to read through this. The Lord kind of brought me to Mark. I don’t know if you know this, but Mark is considered to be the first gospel. Mark was the first book written, which is why I went back to Mark to really study it because everything else then comes off of Mark.
As I went to the next section, this always kind of was confusing to me, it’s about the lamp on the stand. It’s like it kind of comes out of nowhere, you know? God says, “Do you bring a lamp and put it under a bowl or bed? Instead, don’t you put it on a stand?” I’m like where’d that come from? He says, “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed. Whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.” Uh oh, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Here it is again. “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Here’s the main point. “Consider carefully what you hear,” He continued. “With the measure you use it will be measured to you and even more.” That’s the key. “For whoever has will be given more. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” This always gets a lot of people. It’s like wait a minute. Even the guy whose got … This table has so much. You’re going to give them more? These guys over here are struggling. Does that sound like a God of grace and mercy?
I struggled with that. Let’s go back into the key. See, I think remove that subtitle Lamp On A Stand. Jesus is continuing to describe the latter case about the good soil and hear the Word, accept it and produce a crop. Because when you hear the Word and you produce a good crop and you’re successful in manifesting God’s purposes as well as yourself, now you’re the lamp. What’s God going to do with the lamp? He’s not going to hide it. He’s going to put it on a stand.
Now all the world is going to be able to see and the people around you and the community around you and your family is going to be able to see that you’re the lamp. You’re then going to be producing that crop. The key to being that lamp continues to be careful what you hear. Even more importantly consider carefully the measure. “With the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” That’s really what came back to us. As we’ve been describing for over a year now in our business we felt that the Lord was taking us back to recreate our solid foundation of why we do business and how we do business.
One of the things that comes out in that process is remember at the event we had last month we said that everything that’s important gets measured. Look at your car, look at an aircraft. Anything that is important is measured, altitude, oil pressure, speed, whatever. In your car today thousands of things are being measured because of the computer system, right?
In the Kingdom when you set about doing your career and your business, you need to set up a set of measurements. Regularly we’re using in a business, we’re using our income statement, balance sheet, shareholder equity, return on income, return on investment. All these standard things. None of those is bad, but what I see here is that with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. If my measurements in my career and in my business are about wealth only, are about the worldly things, then Jesus is saying that with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
Now measured back to you is the worldly things. On the other hand, if my measurement systems are to be a good steward with the finances and to increase and to be profitable because everything about that is Godly, 30, 60, 100 time increase, there’s nothing wrong with profiting God’s Kingdom. In fact we’re demanded, commanded and demanded to do that.
The key becomes how we use our measurements. If I’m only using worldly measurements I’m going to produce worldly results and it could be measured back to me. If I use Godly measurements, and Jesus is all about serving and He’s calling us to serve. As we talked before the interesting thing about serving is that if you look at Apple and if you look at any good local business, success is based on the fact that they’re serving somebody and providing more value than what they’re receiving back.
The key to business whether you’re a Christian or not a Christian is if you give more value than what you’re receiving back, you’re going to have lots of customers. From a Godly perspective, if I’m using Godly measurements in my business about serving and I’m tracking our progress and how we are serving others, how we’re serving our employees, how we’re serving our clients, how we’re serving the owners, how we’re serving those we work with, our partners, our support partners, our banks, our bond agents, our insurance companies, our whatever, our suppliers, if we’re serving all of those in balance, now I have a system that’s not taking advantage of somebody else. It’s all about meeting the needs of others first and then my needs get met.
If I measure that, then what’s measured back to me? More Kingdom. I get to do more Kingdom stuff. Not less Kingdom stuff. It’s how we measure. What’s the root. How we set it up and then we hear. Then we’re able to understand better how we’re to serve others. See how it circles back around. This is confirmed also in the Old Testament in one of my favorite versus out of Exodus. In Exodus 33 remember Moses goes up kind of like maybe like me, he goes to Israel. This is in the Sinai, but he meets with God and he gets this great insight. Everything is clear now.
He’s got it’s really not 10 commandments. It’s really like 10 words, 10 ways that you’re to know God. He’s excited. He’s running down. He’s got these 10 tablets you know? He comes down, what does he find? The people are already corrupt. They’re already worshiping a golden calf which is like the absolute worst thing you could do. You could be like, “Dear God, what’s the worst thing I could do to offend you? I think I’m going to take everything you gave us to sustain us and we’re going to build this golden calf. We’re going to worship it. While our leader is meeting with you and getting the directions for life we’re going to worship somebody else.”
He comes down. He’s a little mad, right? Think about how he feels. I’m thinking of a father, he’s like, “Okay children, you behave. Now I’m going to go up.” Wow, what are you doing? Of course God says that Moses, let me wipe them out. I’m going to make you a great nation, but I’m going to wipe these people out. Of course Moses is able to negotiate with God because he what? Because he knows God.
Then here’s the key, and it ties back to what we have here, is Moses then asks for the most important thing. It’s just like in our lives, if you’re struggling and you’re in a place of difficulty, are you not the most available to God at that point? Isn’t that when you really find that you, what options do you have? It’s kind of one of those situations. That’s kind of where Moses is at.
What’s the most important thing that Moses comes back with? This is what he says is that, “Lord, teach me your ways.” All these things just happen. Lord, teach me your ways. Why? So that I may know you. This is the key that takes us back to Mark is here, but teach me your ways. Let me do my job your way. Let me do my business your way, that I may know you. Then it goes on in that I would continue to find favor because if I know God, if I know His ways and I’m obedient to His ways, then I’ll continue to find His favor and then I’ll get the 30, 60, and 90 increase.
It’s a circle because then the more I do that, the more I’m the light that’s set on the stand, the more that God’s going to give us. Part of the limitations that we experience in our jobs and in our careers and in our businesses is that we’re stuck in this dual loop of doing it worldly ways and we’re not doing as much for God and doing it His way. As soon as we step up, it’s really what I see, I see it a multiplication of God Himself involved in our daily lives. He’s more involved 30, 60, 90 times because we’re more available to Him.
If you want to jump out, if you want to really now propel your job and your career and your journey, your whole purpose for being, we’ve got to get out of measuring it the worldly way and we need to start establishing measurements God’s way and then comparing our progress to that. Then you’re going to see the breakthrough. This is exciting stuff. That’s where when it says, “With the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Then lastly, again, take out the title, The Parable of Growing the Seed. It’s like okay, interesting, but now when we tie it all together, so we have sowing the Word, obeying, good fruit, lamp on a stand, now measure it and even more is going to come, but here’s the best part. He said also, “This is what the Kingdom of God is like. Man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day whether he sleeps or gets up the seed sprouts and grows though he does not know how.” It’s not even about my efforts.
It’s all about Him. Yeah okay, what’s my responsibility. I have to go out and sow. I have to go out and step and invest and do these things, but even though I sleep, even though I slumber the seed grows. I don’t even know how. “All by itself the soil produces grain to stock the head, the kernel in the head. Soon as the grain is ripe he puts sickle to it.” The other piece here is as soon as the grain is ripe. Part of this is we have to wait. When we’re sowing into these areas in your job, in your career, in your business, and we’re doing four right now in our business. We’re doing do with territory and two with new technology.
Some of them we’ve waited for years. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’m inpatient. Are you inpatient? It’s like now, it’s got to be done now. That’s enough. The key here is as soon as the grain is ripe, then he puts sickle to it and the harvest comes. Wait for it, but understand that it’s not our effort. When we put all these things together we don’t even know how it’s happened, but it’s happened. Have you experienced that? I’ve experienced that in our business. It’s almost like the more I pull back almost sometimes the better it goes.
I believe that the key to this incredible journey we’re on in serving God and being partnered with Him in our job and our business, is tied into these areas. Truly I think part of the problem that we don’t see is many businesses producing this 30, 60, 90 is in these areas, but I believe that God’s desire is to reveal the deep and hidden things to you. It will be not just in the business area. In my times in Israel I’ve had the Lord share with me some things about His plans for Israel and for other things.
I get quite humbled. It’s like “Lord, why would you show me these things? Who am I?” At the time you think I’m to do something about it. I can share with you, when you’re a friend, a friend just shares what’s on his heart. He doesn’t expect you to always do something about it. This is our journey and I hope this has been a blessing to you.