Shemitah and world events 2015

People like Jonathan Cahn is influencing thousands of Americans with his message and New York Times best-seller books that correlate the Bible with major historic events in the US.  One of these books, “The mystery of the Shemitah”, describes how the timing of the Shemitah, or the Jewish Sabbath year, correlate to major events in the world for years.  Also, according to the Jewish calendar, September 2014 to September 2015 is said to be a Jewish Sabbath year.  This upcoming year, starting September 2015, is considered the year of Jubilee. The Jubilee itself, instated by God, had great significance and impacts during Biblical Old Testament times.

You may have heard about the tetrad lunar eclipses or so-called blood moons and their significance. During 2014 to 2015, this rare event coincides four times with the Jewish feast days, in addition to it falling in a Sabbath year. History has shown that when these occurrences overlap, major events that determined world history took place.

But are these topics really relevant despite their presence in the media today? What is a Sabbath year and does it still serve a purpose? How can one take a Biblical view on these matters and relate them to our daily lives?

Firstly, it’s good to admit all these are thought provoking topics and many times raises more questions than answers. However, when digging into the Bible one finds truths and principles that may still apply and help us today in everyday life.

A Sabbath day was given to the Israelites as a day of rest. But in Leviticus 25, the Lord declared a Sabbath year rest also – which was to be observed once every seven years, instead of every seventh day. The Sabbath year included rest for nature (land and animals) and the people (masters and slaves or employers and employees today) for a period of one year. Though God provided for basic needs with reserves from the previous year, this extended resting period effectively halted the economy, bringing it to a standstill – drawing the focus back to God as provider. In today’s terms it could refer to economic downturn or even recession, but is the Shemitah, and its implications, still applicable today?

One may say the Shemitah triggered an economic and financial crisis every seven years since no Israelite was allowed to work or invest in future economic yields. The economic crisis of 2008, which coincided with a Shemitah year, affected many countries including SA.  Many people had to significantly lower and reduce lifestyle and luxuries, many were retrenched, sold houses and cars and businesses downsized significantly. Amid this time, many people turned back to God, seeking him, seeking his help, provision and grace and acknowledging him again as the only true form of security and provision.

What is interesting is part of the Biblical Sabbath year had basically the same outcome as current day economic downturns such as that of 2008. In other words, the historic Sabbath year also triggered a series of events that caused God’s people to seek him earnestly and to acknowledge his provision and security; the creator and maintainer of mankind.

The Israelites dedicated the whole year to ponder and re-establish the fundamental truths around God’s role in their lives. Through this process, God effectively pruned a relationship with his people.  These foundations may have given them the necessary Godly perspectives to deal with the wealth and riches that may flow from the upcoming seven years before the next Sabbath year takes place.

In the past, the principle of Sabbaths stripped us from the material things of the world and helped God’s people to discover more of who he is. The effect helped us to stay focused on Him. Today the newspapers and many economists indicate, as do people like Jonathan Cahn from a more spiritual perspective, that the current world economies are unstable and volatile and could lead to another economic downturn. It may be wise to use our God-given wisdom to discern spiritually and practically the times that are due, but also to prepare. Let’s learn from the principles of the Biblical Sabbaths what our approach should be. Let’s individually respond to God’s guidance, which he reveals to us in quiet time on personal level and also to his broader corporate body.

Wiehann van Zyl

Call42

Faith@Work – Salt and Light

FAITH@WORK – Salt and Light by David Malherbe

I believe that our perception of faith and church is to a large extent determined by what we grew up with. I once listened to a sermon on TV by a Navy Chaplain, preaching to a group of soldiers on a pier of a harbour. He asked the question, that if a person who had never in his life set foot in a church, should accept Christ as his Lord and Saviour, how would he decide which church to join? His solution was to read the book of Acts and then to look for a church that resembled the same. It made me think about my view of church.

I think the same applies to us as Christians’ view of faith at work, which was probably formed by the tradition that faith and work were two things that should not mix with each other.
The reason why we think this way, is because of the Greek philosophy of Dualism that we unknowingly grew up with, according to C. Peter Wagner in his book The church in the Workplace. According to this philosophy by Plato, the world is divided into two levels.

The Greeks place spiritual things in the upper of two levels, when identifying unchanging spiritual truths and call it “form.”  The lower level of the two is called “matter” which has to do with the temporal and physical. The workplace therefore, resorts under the lower level of “matter” meaning it is carnal, dealing with earthly things like business and money. Therefore people say that religion and work does not mix, but this is a humanistic approach. The Hebrew mindset on the other hand states that “Life isn’t divided into secular and sacred. It’s all a place of service for God.” The Hebrew see both the spiritual and the natural (including work) realms as one entity under the hand of God, meaning that our work is a form of ministry. It is as sacred as singing in the choir. So to understand our role as the church in the workplace, we need to switch our paradigm to the Hebrew mindset

We can therefore compare the church in the world with a sports team. The people in the church on Sunday are like a team in the cloakroom, planning a strategy and encouraging each other. Yet, the rest of the week we are that same team playing the game on the field. If we should say that the sacred and the secular do not mix, it is like saying that the game plan we decided on in the cloakroom, stays in the cloakroom and we do not take it to the field.

The game that we should play, is to be salt and light, as Jesus told us in Mat 5:13-16 and to go and make disciples of all the nations (not only those people who attend church) and to teach them to observe all things that He has commanded us. (Mat 28:19 & 20)

(David Malherbe is among other involved in Marketplace Ministry and lives in Wellington. He can be contacted via his web page www.jedidiah.org.za or T/F 021-873 0262 or on Facebook at “JedidiahCenter.”)

God is the source, revealer and implementer of our calling and purpose

God is the source, the revealer and the implementer of our calling and purpose on earth…

Jesus called all of us to come and die and then to follow Him. This is our primary calling. But the question is, what is my purpose on earth and how do I see what it really is that God calls me to do? Soren Kierkegaard put it this way: “The crucial thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die.”  Some people will call this my secondary calling. In other words, what must I do?  What is my purpose and how do I see what it really is that God calls me to do.

When people seek to know and do the will of God, they ask many questions. Henry Blackaby warns us to be careful not to ask the wrong questions.  A question often asked is: ‘What is God’s will for my life?” According to Blackaby, this is not the right question to ask. He thinks a better question is: What is God’s will?  Once I know God’s will, then I can adjust my life accordingly – that is to align with Him. The focus needs to be on God, not on my personal life. Understanding what God is about to do where I am, is more important than telling God what we want to do, for Him. It is always the best to do things God’s way.

God is rich in mercy and love and has showered his riches on us.  He has given us the “incomparable riches of his grace” (Eph 2:7). But in Eph. 2:10 the Bible says:  “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.   We are saved through faith for God’s creative purpose and crafted by “Gods workmanship” to do “good works”.  God’s deliverance from sin and self-service sets us free to give our lives to good works, to love God, and communicate love to humanity.  We were not saved for our welfare alone.  We were saved to serve, and in serving God by serving His human creatures we thus fulfill the destiny for which we were created. “We serve people out of God-engendered love.  It is this that turns drudgery into joy and gives meaning and purpose to our lives, for today and every day” (L. Brandt).

You may agree or maybe not with everything said in the previous paragraphs, but the prevailing question remains how to figure out God’s calling for your life.  At the Halftime Institute our experience is that people have to first solve certain issues in their own life in order to figure out their calling and to live a more meaningful and significant life in the process.

People need to solve three big issues: First you need to get clarity about who you are at the core.  What are your strengths and gifts? What is your God-given passion? This will help you to write a personal mission statement – your reason for being or purpose on earth. The second big issue to solve is to create capacity – how can you create extra time, extra money and extra spiritual overflow in order to serve God and others better? The third is to design the context in which to serve – what is the best platform for you to serve?  In what organisation, company or work environment can you live out your calling best?  What role in that organisation fits you the best?  If you think about these three issues you can think of three circles.  One can call the spot in the middle where the three circles converge, your sweet spot.  This process is about making eye contact with God,  joining Him, getting your unique assignment from Him, which He prepared in advance for you to accomplish (Eph. 2:10), and then to go all out with everything you have.

People who live in their calling or sweet spot live a life of significance. In this regard Dallas Willard said: “The critical difference between success and significance is that success has more to do with outcomes I’m in charge of, while significance has more to do with outcomes I’m not in charge of. The beautiful thing about significance is that we resign the outcomes to God. We let a power beyond ourselves take care of them. Success focuses on my action, my control, my outcomes, whereas significance is found in a much larger context. Us personally, should not steer that context, and the step of surrender is crucial because surrender allows me to release the outcome to God’s predestined purposes.

Tommy O’Kennedy

Managing Director Halftime SA

083 4610999

022 9312769

www.halftimesa.co.za

How does God use my business to shape my character?

The day you start your business, your aim is most probably to make as big a profit as you possibly can.  You are willing to take the risk, because you have this idea of doing better than working for a salary and perhaps somewhere in the back of your mind you have the idea of donating more to the Lord’s work.

But as time passes and you face the reality of an often unpredictable and unforgiving business world, you start to realise that it is not that easy to make a regular good profit, pay all your bills, and still give more to the Lord’s work as well.

My experience is that during those lean times, as a Christian, you start to search God’s Word for answers, because this is the source of all wisdom, as we read in Prov 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (wisdom)” and because Matt 6:33 teaches us to first seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be added unto us.

That is also when we start to realise where our provision really comes from.  We become known to parts of Scripture that never before really made sense to us, like Matt 5:3 that says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit (those who know how dependent they are of God), for theirs is the Kingdom of God.

Maybe you’ll learn something about spiritual warfare in the process as well, because the reality is that we have an enemy that does not like it, when God’s people prosper.

I’ve also experienced that to be in business as a follower of Christ, is a wonderful adventure.  I’ve learned so much about life and about God and the principles of His Kingdom, since my wife and I ventured out into our own business some nineteen years ago.  I’ll exchange that for nothing.

There is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom hidden in God’s Word that we never get to know, unless we venture out in faith where God leads us.  A ship is safest in the harbour, but that is not the purpose a ship is built for. Its mettle is tested on the high seas where it belongs.  Where do we belong?  In the world, in the workplace; yet not of the world.

But somewhere along the way, hopefully, you’ll get to the stage where you’ll realise that there is more to life than money and success and that your business is not about you in the first place, but it is actually all about God. We are only stewards in a business, that in fact, has belonged to God all the way. That is when we can say with sincerity of heart, “I surrender all to Jesus.”

The day that we grasp this, the time has come that God can really start to use us for His purposes in business.  At the “Business by the Book” courses that I present, we sing in closing Robin Mark’s song “Jesus, all for Jesus, all I am and have and ever hope to be, all of my ambitions, hopes and plans, I surrender these into Your hands. For it’s only in Your will that I am free.”

I trust that you will also experience “the fullness of God that there is in Christ Jesus” by serving Him in and through your business.

(David Malherbe is among other involved in Marketplace Ministry and lives in Wellington.  He can be contacted via his web page www.jedidiah.org.za or T/F 021-873 0262 or on Facebook at “JedidiahCenter.”)

How does God use my business as vehicle for transformation?

Tom Peters in his book “Thriving on Chaos” says that for a business to be successful in today’s turbulent business environment we need to not only stand out, but stand way out.  To be able to do that, you need to produce excellent goods and services and not be ashamed about what you do in your business.

As Christian business people we should apply this maxim of standing way out especially in the area of integrity. Why should we be ashamed of doing honest business?  To be dishonest “because everybody is doing it” is not a value that a follower of Jesus Christ should adopt.  Mat 7:13 reads, “… for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are the ones entering in through it.”

That is why I like the “Unashamedly Ethical” movement.  In the face of corruption and low moral standards they take a bold stand for what is right.

If you follow the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) route, you will stand your ground and insist to do business according to what is right and lawful.

You will find that soon the dishonest customers will start avoiding you, but the honest ones will support you and they will bring their friends as well.  I don’t know about you, but that is the market and those are the customers that I like to do business with.  I have experienced this in my own business and many clients have become good friends.

An Unashamedly Ethical business may grow much slower than one that is chasing dishonest gain, but the chances of it lasting for the next generation is far greater,  You can look at almost any business that stood the test of time and find that good values and sound business practices form the foundation of success.

Unfortunately greed and the love of money often cause believers to fall for the mammon trap.  “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  Mat 6:24

Remember, God is more concerned about your character than in how much money you make.  He wants to use you and your business to expand His kingdom.  In every transaction that you do, remember there is always this Higher Purpose,  “… whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Col 3:23

(David Malherbe is among other involved in Marketplace Ministry and lives in Wellington.  He can be contacted via his web page www.jedidiah.org.za or T/F 021-873 0262 or on Facebook at “JedidiahCenter.”)

How can I experience more purpose at work?

No one can measure how much unexplored heights we might reach if we put the full power of our brain to work. With dependence on God, determination, boldness and positive expectancy, we can choose what we will do with our talents. Your potential is unlimited. Don’t place self-imposed limits. Strive toward His higher goals. Now, the test to experience more purpose at work and to find whether your mission on earth is finished – if you’re alive, it isn’t.  (Richard Bach).

So think about your progress as if you are not making the progress you’d like to make and are capable of making. It is simply because your goals are not clearly defined (Paul J. Meyers.)  Goals express confidence that you are the victor in a purposeful project rather than the victim of blind faith. (Dr. John Edmund Haggai).

You are who you are for a reason. You’re part of an intricate plan. You’re a precious and perfect and unique design, called God’s special woman or man. In discovering His design, you discover your purpose.

Make the difference. Stand out wherever you go. Be a lighthouse to the lost. Make it your burning desire.

Let me close with the goals setters’ prayer

Father in Heaven, I know that You created me with a specific purpose to accomplish Your mission on earth.

Help me to set my heart and eye upon a goal to glorify You.

Give me the wisdom, diligence and commitment to fulfil my goal.

Protect me from the snares of the Evil One, lest I be side-tracked from my goal.

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen

 

Blessings from Mario Denton

 

About Mario Denton:

Mario Denton was born in 1955 in the province of Cape Town, South Africa and has a solid Christian praying and committed family background. He came to Christ when he was 16 years old. Dr Mario Denton is the study leader of 160 MBA research projects, published 9 books, two case studies, a chapter in book and published 5 international articles and delivering papers at 32 conferences world-wide. He is an international teacher, industrial psychologist, two counselling diplomas and two master’s degrees, (MEcon and MBA) and completed his PhD as well as DBA in Organizational Behavior and Business Administration. He has presented People Management practices 44 times consecutively to MBA students and trained more than 1000 of which 300 MBA students in Emotional Intelligence. Since 1 October 2007 also Africa Director for FCCI (The Fellowship for Companies for Christ International) and is also part of the Advisory Committee of Call42. If you need guidance for your business, advice or would like to attend one of his training courses, please contact him at marden@mweb.co.za. You can also contact the Call42 office info@call42.co.za or visit www.call42.co.za if you want to know more about how you can get more involved in the National Kingdom workplace movement.