Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Faith”

Prayer – Opening Your Heart

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:35-36 ESV

Does God always answer our prayers?  Yes, but sometimes His answer is “No.”  Even Jesus, the Son of God, was told “no” by His Father when He asked not to be crucified (Luke 22:41-44)!  God always listens, He always answers, but there are times when His better way is that we don’t receive what we request.

God listens to our hearts not our words when we pray.  Prayer is sharing our heart, our thoughts, and our feelings with our Father in heaven.  Prayer is being real, open, and transparent in our communication with God.  As we talk with God, we can tell Him how we really feel.  He can take it! We can ask Him for big things – impossible things. He’s not overwhelmed or stressed out by our great requests. He can handle whatever we bring up.

  • What promises does God make in the following passages to those who pray? — John 14:12-14; 1 John 5:14-15
  • In the following verses, what conditions are mentioned for answered prayer? —  Matthew 6:5-15; James 4:3

Questions to ponder:  Why do you think God takes a long time to answer some prayers?

Passages for further study: Mark 11:22-24; Luke 18:1-8

God’s Resources and Power

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6:15-16 NIV

There are one-hundred billion stars like our sun in the Milky Way galaxy.  Traveling at the speed of light it would take one-hundred thousand years to cross the galaxy.  Our God made it all.  He spoke and it came into existence from nothing. He has unlimited resources and infinite power.  All of creation is His and He can do with it as He wants. 

When we are thrust into situations where we need to rely on God’s resources, we often respond like Elisha’s servant.  We can be fearful as we look at our own limited resources compared to the need of the hour.  We tend to look at the visible rather than trusting our invisible, heavenly Father.  Our Father’s resources are always sufficient to meet any need. 

  • The Lord possesses all that He created.  What do the following passages say about God’s ownership of His creation? — Psalm 50:10-12; Psalm 24:1-2
  • When facing challenging circumstances, we must be controlled by faith, not fear.  What do the following passages about trusting God and His resources? –- Psalm 23:1-4; Matthew 6:25-34

Question to ponder:  What makes it difficult for you to trust in God’s resources and power?

Passages for further reflection: Psalm 46:1-3; Romans 8:31

The Promises of God

Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. Joshua 21:45 ESV

Someone has said, “Promises are like pie crust–lightly made and easily broken.”  Promises are only as good as the character and the resources available to the one who makes the promises.  When God makes promises His perfect character and unlimited resources stand behind them. 

The Christian life begins by trusting the promises of God.  By believing Jesus’ promise of forgiveness and new life, we have our sins forgiven and are born again into God’s family.  We not only begin our relationship with God by believing His promises, but we also continue to live our daily lives proving the trustworthiness of His promises.  We can trust God’s promises for He never changes!

  • Eternal life and the forgiveness of sin are obtained by believing the promises of God.  What does God promise in the following passages? — John 5:24; John 6:40
  • When we examine God’s promises, we may be tempted to ask, “How can God do this?”  We need not focus on the “how,” rather, we concentrate on “what” and “Who” we are believing.  What promises about God’s answers to prayer are in the following passages? — Psalm 50:15; Luke 11:9-10

Question to ponder:  What is keeping you from trusting the promises of God for your life and leadership?

Passages for further reflection: John 16:24; 1 John 2:25

Roses from Ashes

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21 (NIV)

Can God take something terrible and turn it into something good?  Joseph had every reason to be bitter and angry at God and towards his brothers for all that had happened to him; but he wasn’t.  Instead, he saw God’s purposes in all the events of his life.  God had saved Israel from starvation because of Joseph being taken into Egypt as a slave many years before.

God was in control of all that happened to Joseph and He is in control of all that happens to us (even when we don’t think so). Though we may not understand it all at the moment, we can trust in His power, love and goodness.  By growing in our understanding of God and His character we will learn to rest in His plan for our lives.

  • Often tragedies strike believers and we question why would God allow it to happen?  How can the truth of Romans 8:28 help if something unexpected and difficult comes into your life?
  • God is all-powerful.  But we must also remember that He is good.  To only believe in God’s sovereign power and not His love and goodness leads to fatalism.  What is said about God’s character in the following passages?  — Psalm 115:3; Psalm 119:68; 1 John 4:8

Question to ponder:  How does having a deep trust in the power and goodness of God help when we face hard times in life?

Passages for further study: 1 Samuel 2:6-8; 1 Chronicles 29:10-13

Trusting God

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. … Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. Genesis 22:7-8, 13 (NIV)

Trusting God often scares us to death!  We are trusting Him for the unseen, something in the future that is unknown (at least unknown to us).  Living by faith is a lifestyle.  It is a process, not an event.  We never arrive at a point in this world where we can stop trusting God.  Four times throughout the Bible God says, “the righteous will live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).

Abraham had passed the test of trusting God for the son he was promised.  God tested Abraham to see if he would still believe, even if Isaac was taken away.  Abraham eagerly accepted this new trial of faith, leaving “early the next morning” (:3). 

  • God’s command to Abraham required an act of obedience on his part (Genesis 22:1-2).  Abraham responded by doing as God asked (:3-11).  Faith and obedience are linked together. — Mark 1:14-20; Hebrews 11:8-10
  • In life’s trials of faith, God’s answer often comes at the last minute.  Notice when God stopped Abraham (:10).  The following passages speak about God’s timing. — Joshua 3:14-16; Daniel 12:1-14

Question to ponder: Why do you believe God waits, often much longer than we desire, to answer prayer?

Passages for further study: Romans 4:20-21; 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Leading with an Eternal Value System

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. (Luke 16:14-15 NIV)

In Luke 16, Jesus has a lot to say about money, how to manage it well, and warnings about how it can entangle your heart. How we steward the money God entrusts to us will determine whether the Lord can entrust us with more Kingdom responsibility. For the management of money is a little thing in light of the world, but a big thing when we talk about Kingdom values.

Kingdom leaders live and lead from an eternal value system; one that sees money as a wonderful tool to advance the Gospel, but a terrible master that can grab our hearts. Jesus reminds us that, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24 NIV)

Luke, a Gentile who did not grow up with the Jewish Pharisees, adds this commentary concerning their values – they loved money! What a reputation for ones who are supposed to be God’s representatives, pointing people to Him. Note that Jesus says they justified their love of money to others. No doubt saying that they needed their great wealth and pursuit of it for righteous causes. But God knows our hearts. He knows our true motives – our temporal values that seek comfort and luxury in this world. The world says, “He who dies with the largest pile wins!” Jesus says, ” What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.”

Now let’s be clear. Money in and of itself has no moral value – it’s not good, bad, or purple. It’s our hearts attitude towards money that makes it useful or evil. If we fall in love with money, prioritizing it in our lives and leadership decisions, then it becomes a snare.

Kingdom leaders need money to accomplish our God-given mission. Jesus’ mission was supported by the generous gifts of several faithful women (see Luke 8). Paul gratefully received the financial and physical support of several of the local churches he helped establish. But it is how we handle these resources that reveals our hearts. Judas was the treasurer for the Twelve, “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:6 NIV)

Contrast Judas’ behavior with that of Paul regarding the handling of an offering for the poor believers in Jerusalem. “We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” (2 Corinthians 8:20-21 NIV) Paul went the extra mile to avoid any accusation of mismanagement of God’s resources.

How are your checks and balances regarding money and its use in your leadership? Who is making sure that you are acting in a way that is above reproach?

Is your heart filled with an eternal value system or one that has become entangled in the world’s temporal values?

Leadership Destiny

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” … For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:28, 37-38 ESV

And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. … When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” … Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:2, 4, 10 ESV

Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. … Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?”… And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them…” Genesis 37:5, 9-10; 42:9 ESV

Note that with both Mary, Moses, and Joseph the Lord took the initiative to call and direct His people, setting before them their personal destiny – God’s purposes in and through them. Their destiny was not immediately fulfilled, rather they had to trust that the Lord’s plan for them would happen even though it seemed to be long in coming. Their individual obedience to submit to God’s plan required faith and courage, regardless of the acceptance or support of others.

As Kingdom leaders we can expect the Lord to call and direct us into the path He has for us. We can trust that His plans for us cannot be frustrated or blocked completely by any opposing forces. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 ESV He will fulfill His promises. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 ESV

The journey may not unfold as we anticipate, but the destination is sure.

God’s delays do not mean God’s denials!   

Don’t doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light!

Trust Him!

Prayer Life of a Kingdom Leader

It would seem that one of the most challenging spiritual disciplines for Kingdom leaders to build consistency in is prayer.  Often our prayers are more perfunctory in nature, similar to saying grace before a meal, but without much unction or personal depth and lacking strategic intent.

We are reminded in Ecclesiastes 5:2 (ESV), “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”  Though we may pray with words, God is listening to our hearts.

In Luke 18:1 (NIV), Luke interprets the meaning of the parable of the persistent widow going before the judge, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  Jesus knows it is hard for us to persevere in prayer when answers are a long time coming.  Therefore, we are encouraged to keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking until we receive, find and the door finally opens (see Luke 11:9-10).

Here are three foci for the prayer life of a Kingdom leader:

Pray for Yourself

  • Personal Growth and Change – Christlike character, Wisdom – Galatians 5:22-23; James 1:5
  • Personal Promises – 2 Corinthians 1:20; Acts 13:46-47
  • Personal Needs and Desires of Your Heart   –  Philippians 4:19; Psalm 37:4

Pray for Others

  • Family members –  Matthew 10:34-39; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30
  • Those we lead
    • Their Spiritual Growth and Change – Christlike character, Wisdom
    • Lordship of Christ in all areas of life as they follow Him
    • Vision for Disciplemaking and Spiritual Generations – that they may see the harvest
    • Their Personal Needs and Desires
  • Lost friends and acquaintances

Pray for the World-wide Harvest and Laborers

  • Current Laborers (disciplemakers) in the harvest –  Matthew 9:35-38
  • New Laborers (disciplemakers) for the harvest – Isaiah 6:8
  • Surrender of yourself and your willingness to volunteer for engagement in the harvest
  • Strategic prayer for unreached peoples – that they will have the Gospel –  Isaiah 49:6; Psalm 2:8
    • Joshua Project
    • Population of the world‎: ‎7.75 Billion
    • People Groups of the world‎: ‎17,441
    • Unreached Groups‎: ‎7,414
    • % Unreached Groups‎: 42.‎5%
    • People in Unreached:  3.23 Billion
    • People in Unreached:  41.6%

This is not a prayer time, but rather, the prayer life of a Kingdom leader!  Prayer is a moment-by-moment connection and communication with the living God.  It is learning to cultivate that connection as we go throughout our busy days.  Yes, we will have focused concentrated prayer times, but we want to establish a prayer lifestyle, learning to pray continuously as we go about our days.

This is not saying prayers, but rather, praying – pouring out our hearts to God!  “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  Romans 8:26  ESV

So, how’s your prayer life?

Why Are You So Afraid?

Fear is a God-given emotion that has the benefit of protecting us from potential threats.  Only God does not know fear, for nothing is a threat to Him.  To be afraid of something is not sin.  But fear can become sin if we let it control us.  So, when Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid,” He is not suggesting that we ignore our fears.  That would be impossible.  But He is saying that we are not to be controlled by fear, rather, act in faith – faith in Him who knows no fear!

In the gospel of Mark, we find these references to fearful situations that the disciples faced.  Reflect on the circumstances of each incident that created the fear response.

Mark 4:40 ESV     He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  –  fear for physical safety

Mark 6:50 ESV      …for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  –  fear from a very unusual experience

Mark 9:32 ESV      But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.  –  fear of being thought of as stupid or incompetent

Mark 10:32 ESV     And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him…  –  fear of possible death from persecution

Mark 16:8 ESV     And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  –  fear of other’s opinions

Kingdom leaders face fear daily.  Nothing new here.  The only question we must answer is how do we respond?  Does our fear control us and dictate our actions?  Do we look to our own resources to deal with our perceived threat?  Or do we use these situations to remind us of our need for help from the Lord and the empowerment that can come only from Him?

We are not talking about putting on some ‘brave front’ or false bravado.  It’s OK to acknowledge whatever threat we encounter.  Foolishness denies the reality.  But faith names the threat and calls upon the Lord to help.  He has promised never to leave or forsake us.  He has promised to answer when we cry for His help.

… and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.   Psalm 50:15 ESV

What are you afraid of today?  Call for His help!

A Kingdom Leader’s Perspective

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.   Ecclesiastes 7:14 NIV

When times are good, we tend to be focused on the immediate and what is seen.  We are enjoying life and on ‘cruise control’ in our leadership.  We make our plans and execute them with vigor.  We testify that God is with us and point to our results as evidence of His blessing.  Our prayer life is full of thanksgiving and praise for the good that we are experiencing.

But then something happens.  Life and ministry turn difficult.  We face unforeseen challenges and difficulties.  Our well-proven plans don’t work the way they used to.  We compare previous outcomes with our current ones and see a downward trend line.  “Is there sin in the camp?” we ask.  It must be something we are doing wrong.  We must not be working hard enough.  And so, we double our efforts and trust that we will turn the trend line towards the positive.  But still nothing seems to change. How discouraging.

Why would God allow such a thing?  Paul had times of great fruitfulness and times of difficulty in his ministry.  Here’s his perspective in 2 Corinthians 1:7-11 (NIV) on why he faced the hard times.  “And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.  We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

So, when the times are bad, the Lord is creating an opportunity for us to run to Him in prayer, trusting that He will deliver us from our current trial.  With these turbulent days greatly impacting all of us, one question arises.  “How’s your prayer life?”

So… How’s your prayer life?

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