Key 31 – Integrity

Victor appeared on Monday as if nothing untoward had occurred. At the weekly morning meeting you announced your news. Out of the ten staff only two didn’t congratulated you.  When you spoke of running an honesty agency, no white lies, exaggerated claims, or bamboozingly clients to buy or sell, Phil glanced at Victor and mirrored his stony face. For several days after signing his contract Victor remained morose, but brightened up when he sold two houses that you had failed to do.  By Friday everyone, including you, had sold at least one property. When the sales were completed this commission would cover half the Agency’s monthly expenditure. The Anderson’s selling their property, even at the original price, would also generate a huge income, despite their losing several thousand pounds from the inflated value. On finding the original couple weren’t interested, you suggested a ‘blind’ auction and contacted the seven bidders to put in written offers. Three didn’t reply! Two weeks later the bids were opened, and the highest offer was in excess of Victor’s duplicity. The Andersons’ were delighted, as were you, in proving to the staff that honesty pays. The Agency, and you, reaping the commission, confirmed God was no man’s debtor.

In praying each day for the staff over the weeks you become aware that both the sales figures and morale within the Agency is growing.  Despite the obvious competitiveness of the business, a friendly atmosphere prevails and is becoming known for its helpful and honest approach. The three purchasers who lost the bid for the Anderson’s property have also asked to be informed if something similar comes on the market. In initiating a client feedback form you are pleased to see when returned they also have positive comments. Mr Chandler visited, he was pleased with your results and the injection of capital from the Anderson’s fees. He did raise an eyebrow seeing Victor, before murmuring, “beware of little foxes” at which you stared at him, his reply a ‘knowing’ look.

When you socialise down the pub someone always asks, “Are you bored with church yet?”  They find it hard to understand that church is people who are like family.  Speaking about the success of the Saturday youth club at the barn, they are surprised to hear about a Christian band with an atmosphere similar to night club, but without alcohol or drugs.

Word:  “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9 (NIV)

Worship:  “Your Word”  Hillsong Worship 7 mins

Key 30 – Compassion

Excited, you tell people in the church about your job, and at the same time ask them to pray as you are concerned about your colleagues’ reaction as several are older than you. Over the weekend you have suspected Victor and Anna have been in collusion over sales.  You feel sorry for Victor’s wife and two children as his wrong choices will affect them.  The words ‘To whom much is given, much is required’ drops into your mind. When Lot lost everything, Abram rescued and restored him. As yet no-one knows Victor’s left. He could have decided he didn’t want a manager ten years his junior, but you will only know the truth if you visit him.

Even before you press Victor’s doorbell, he whips open the door to snarl, “What do you want?  Here to gloat that ‘honesty is the best policy’?” You reply, surely my ‘honesty policy’ isn’t worth giving up your job.  With a sceptical expression he scowls, “Why would you want me back?”  Bluntly you explain, when employed it’s easier to find another job, and useful if your reference reveals good work ethics.  Debbie, his wife, overhearing invites you in.

As tea is made you offer him a contract for three months with a day’s notice on either side at the basic salary and commission of a new senior sales negotiator. Victor’s bluster about you and your new role is spiced with expletives, to which he adds that money will barely cover the mortgage.  Debbie tells Victor to shut up, and near to tears asks, “Why did you have to go and leave?” In the tense silence Victor doesn’t answer and you say nothing. Debbie angrily states, “Like now, I guess you lost your temper. If that life line is still on offer – take it!  It’s better than being out of work. Sell your ridiculously expensive car – that money will tide us over.”  Victor hitting the table with his fist stalks out.  To help Debbie you tell her you know a car salesman who gives good advice and won’t bamboozle her.  Debbie sobs, “Is that what Victor does?”  Tactfully, you inform her a good salesman respects their clients wishes and speaks honestly.  Tearfully she nods, and you tell her if Victor accepts your terms to be in work tomorrow.

Word:   “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”  Matthew 7:12  (NIV)

Worship:  God of Justice” Tim Hughes  5 mins

Key 29 – Delight

Your colleagues’ saw Mr Chandler’s visit as normal, but it was astonishing!   He told you he was making you manager of the Agency. Shocked you stammered, ‘Why me’ and confessed you weren’t sure you are up to it.  His response was “I believe you are, and I am sure as God blesses you, we will be blessed.”  As your eyes widened in surprise he smiled, stood and handed you an envelope, adding. “Make a success of this Agency and we’ll have you training staff at all our branches.” Shaking your hand, he suggested, “Now, lock up, go home and tomorrow you can acclimatise to your new role.”  Stunned, you decide to cycle straight to the farm to tell Tom and his parents. And in the envelope, you find a new contract with a substantial basic pay increase, a dedicated agency car or generous mileage scheme, and a bonus cheque three times your monthly average sales – enough to buy a second-hand car!

The following day you decide to save your news to tell everyone on Monday.  As it is Saturday you close at 4.00 pm and drive to a second-hand car forecourt where the salesman’s patter has a similarity to Victors.  You decide on seeing a large car dealership to experience their salesmen’s technique which turns out to be just a smile and, ‘Let me know if you need help?’  You take him at his word and point to the car you wish for, but can’t afford!  He talks about trade-ins before suggesting you sit and have a coffee while he sees what’s on offer. On his return, with several options, the last, the unaffordable wish, suddenly becomes plausible, and you leave to consider it.

That evening you consult Tom’s parents who agree the brand-new car is a good deal, and euphoric you stay on to tell the band of the Lord’s provision. They insist you join them to praise the Lord and the barn fills with the Lord’s Presence which brings them to agree it is time to open up these evenings to the young people. Tom believes you should be the host as you have the ability to engage and encourage others.  In twenty-four hours, joy has replaced misery, work and play have a purpose and with money no longer a problem, you will have more to give to the church and the Barn Project!

Word:  “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Ps.37 (NIV)

 Worship:  “My Delight is in You” Passion Worship  7 mins

Key 28 – Perseverance

Two weeks pass, you’ve continued to work tirelessly, but reaped no sales. It is getting harder to remain ‘at rest’. You disguise your inner misery to those around you, which is made worse by having to supplement your income with your meagre savings. All the while Victor is boasting of his prowess.  Apparently, he has found eight potential buyers and inflated the price of the Anderson property. He now gleefully awaits the sale and his huge commission.  Several colleagues comment that Victor is taking over the more lucrative marketing opportunities. With a dismissive shrug you point out you have assessed, and added so many houses to the sales list there is no shortage of work.  Only because Judy can’t understand, and keeps asking, you finally explain to her that Anna believes your religious beliefs and ‘honesty’ is a stumbling block to selling properties. Judy doesn’t think that just, but unlike Abram can’t rescue you!

Saturday, after worshipping the Lord and giving Him your money worries, you head to the farm to eat and meet with those involved with planning the youth night.  Encouraged by them, you stay for their band practice and are uplifted by the praise and worship.  Exhausted, you are about to cycle home when your heart is warmed by Rob, who not only gives you a bear hug but insightfully whispers, “Whatever the problem, God knows, and I’m praying.”

At the end of another emotional week, you oversleep on Friday, and still tired it’s difficult to even manage to say ‘good morning’ to the Lord, yet feel assured He knows and sees your ‘lot’ in the work place.  After a busy day you return to the Agency and pass Anna leaving, carrying a large cardboard box.  She scowls, “Mr Chandler is waiting for you.”  Your stomach plummets. In her office, he welcomes and indicates for you to sit.  With a smile he reports, “I have been gathering customer feedback and am impressed how people rate your integrity and honest approach.  Alerted to your downturn in sales your colleagues informed me of your loyalty to the business, and made me aware of the record number of selling opportunities you have engendered.  I have also spoken to the Andersons’ who have requested you close the deal on their property.”  Inwardly, you thank them and the Lord, but before you can speak Mr Chandler states, “Victor has left.  Anna is transferring to another branch.” That information renders you speechless.

Word:   “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? …. Why do you make me look at injustice?  Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? …. the Lord answers, ‘I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.’  Habakkuk 1:2, 3 & 5 (NIV)

Worship:  Strength of my life – Vertical Worship

Key 27 – Righteousness

In asking God to walk in His righteousness on Monday you can honestly wish Victor luck with the large house sale, despite it will be he, not you, reaping the commission. Your words and attitude stirs up surprise in your colleagues.  However, you spend as much time as possible away from the office visiting, assessing and take photos of houses. When at the Agency you remain pleasant while busying yourself putting houses on the ‘for sale’ books.  You determine not to be drawn by questions and comments about Victor taking over the other houses you haven’t sold.  In using a company car, you shop at the large supermarket on the edge of town and are surprised to see the Andersons, the couple who owned the multi-million-pound house you had hoped to sell.  Immediately they voice their disappointment at you not showing around potential buyers, and add a very damning account of Victor’s sycophantic approach and what they describe as his conniving methods to initiate a sale. You apologise, and explain you haven’t any jurisdiction over your workload, or Victor. When they indicate they might go elsewhere you suggest, before making that decision, they write and express their views to Mr Chandler who owns the Agency, and quickly excuse yourself.

That evening you return to Margie’s reading plan. Matthew Chapter 13 is very appropriate – a parable on seeds, weeds, treasure and the Kingdom. Sowing seeds for the Kingdom haven’t touched your colleagues’ hearts, but every house valuation you made this month is bringing an opportunity for a harvest of sales.  Reminded of Matthew 5 you turn and read, ‘blessed are those persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of God!’  You thank the Lord before reverting back to Genesis.  In Chapter 14 you discover Abram didn’t begrudge Lot having the best land, and quickly rescued him and his possessions when taken captive.  Later when Abram heard God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, believing in Lot’s righteousness he begs God to save him. Lot and his family were so corrupt he offered his daughters to men! Later they committed incest with their father.  God so loved Abram he answered his prayer to rescue Lot knowing that Lot would still make wrong choices.

In seeing how Abram responded throughout this situation you pray to continue to have the right attitude towards Victor despite his shady and arrogant behaviour.

Word:  “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” Titus 2:12

Worship:   “Battle Belongs”  Phil Wickham  4 mins

Key 26 – Truth

It’s becoming obvious your values and paths are differing to your colleagues bringing discomfort to them, and to you. Some weeks ago, you assessed a large property for sale and despite several attempts to stir interest the market has gone cold. This morning Anna, the Manager announced, as Victor was the oldest, and more experienced agent, he would take it over. Your protest was met with “We have a business to run. Your turning to religion seems to have affected your sales.  I can’t trust you with this one.  We need to upscale the business it’s best you use your design abilities for a promotional leaflet.”

Upset, it was fortunate your day involved appointments outside the agency, but tonight you can’t face meeting even church friends. The Lord is your refuge, but in anxiety and anger you groan as it seems words and honesty have failed you. The best way to pour out your woes to God, is to speak in tongues.  It is then the Holy Spirit reminds you about claiming Biblical promises and that familiar song, originated in heaven, plays in your head. ‘It’s a new day dawning, whatever may pass and whatever lies before you, let me be singing when the evening comes’.  It is evening!  Worship, will bring that peace which by-passes understanding. You sit, stand, and move into a ‘worship’ workout until you drop with exhaustion. While resting you sense God saying, “Good, now you have got that out of your system, believe that whatever lies before you, I am always with you and will never leave or forsake you.”

Normally you dip in and out of the Bible, but tonight return to Margie’s reading plan where you have only reached Genesis 12 and read of Abram being called by God on a journey and taking Lot with him. During their travels, flocks and families grow and lack of space causes them to part company. Abram lets Lot choose, he takes the lush valley, leaving Abram the mountainous region. What appeared to be second best God uses to envision Abram about his future generations who will live and own the land as far as he can see. You have had envisioning dreams, God is with you too, and even if in life, your work situation seems unfulfilling and barren, His plans and purposes for you are bigger than that.

Word: “The Lord is near to all who call upon him…in truth. He fulfils the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.” Psalm 145:18-19 (NIV)

Worship:  “Trust in You”  Lauren Daigle

Key 25 – Trust

Your working life is becoming a struggle, but church involvement continues to grow.  Margie still seems wary of you, despite your confessing that you are often diverted from your intention to manage a whole chapter in the Bible a day.  In introducing Rob to Tom, it came to light that Rob, as a child, had a drum kit and dreamt of being in a band!  Delighted Tom felt Rob was an answer to prayer and now attends the farm band practices.  He is making new friends and last weekend helped paint a church room.  From that, a house renovator in the congregation offered him a paid and ongoing paint job, ideal for rainy days.

After church today, those in the band and those interested in Tom’s project had a home cooked lunch at the farm.  It was a time of comradery, inspiration and encouragement which brought Rob to thank you for all you had done for him. You shrugged, and explained it’s not you, but His heavenly Father who loves, cares and wants to bless him.  Rob grinned. “That’s true!  These days, people don’t just pay me, but feed and give me things. Tom’s just given me these new jeans.”

The Lord is definitely changing you. Your hardened heart is softening, the evidence is in the way the nightly news stirs your emotions from grief of a disaster, to anger of a terrorist attack and disgust at the unlawful activity within the nation.  The only action you can take is time to listen, pray for the weak, give to the poor and in experiencing hospitality, acceptance and love in your dreams, to do that for others.  Although you have written out your three dreams, they remain fresh and frequently bring you further insights.  However, at work you feel like a goldfish in a bowl.  Your colleagues watch and find ways to test your faith, it is easy to succumb to anxiety, anger, exaggeration or white lies when it seems ‘honesty isn’t the best policy’.  It appears the properties you have to sell are the difficult ones, and this month after your regular outgoings there will be little left for food. With your head in your hands you call out to God. An inner voice answers, “I take care of my adopted children, trust in me and my perfect love.”

Word:  “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear.”  1 John 4:13-18 (NIV)

Worship:  “No Longer Slave to Fear ”   Jonathan David and Melissa Helser  6 mins

Key 24 – Prayer

On waking each morning, you now welcome the Lord with ‘Good morning, Father, Son/Jesus and Holy Spirit, but have little time to spend with Him. On Saturday you usually give Him quality time, but this week you have to work.  Just as you are leaving Margie comes to mind.  You ask the Lord to bless her for at the Bible Study she had obviously drawn up courage to answer your question. Before she left you thanked her for talking about the Bible reading plan that you could follow.  Head down she backed away murmuring the need to go, and almost ran away.

In seeing Margie’s distress, you spoke to Liz, who observed, “Gareth’s comment was most unfortunate. Margie is shy, she leads a sheltered life. Don’t worry, I’ll visit and encourage her.”  After thanking Liz for the way, she had stepped in, she admitted, “I felt the Holy Spirit was speaking through me”.  Having said that, she suddenly looked anxious, and to reassure her you recount your similar experience in singing in tongues in the street.  At that she drew you aside to explain that although the Holy Spirit was taught on the Alpha Course the church eldership considered that was a personal belief which should be kept private.  At your frown, she smiled, “Come on Sunday before church, there are few people of like mind who meet in a small back room at 9.30 am to pray.”

In doing that on the last four Sundays it’s been encouraging to be with others, who wait and hear from God as you do.  It is amazing each person has a picture or scripture to contribute which fits together to inspire and aid the prayers.  The opportunity hasn’t arisen, but you sense when it is right you will be able to share your dreams with them. Liz is such an encouragement, for she told you she believes God has called and gifted you, but advised that a life of faith does have preparation and waiting periods which can last for days or years!  Tenacity in staying close to the Lord enables trust and faith to build a strong foundation which is essential for each stage of life. With a wry smile Liz added it was odd, for in a desire to pursue the purposes of God we need to learn how to rest in Him. It is then we will hear and see more clearly what His desires are for us.  (398)

Word:  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season; Its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].”    Psalm 1:2-3 (AMP)

Worship:  “WhateverYour Plan Is”  Josie Buchanan / moment

Key 23 – Listening

This week in realising God could be opening up a new dimension in your life you have considered the need, and perhaps responsibility, to know His word. You’ve heard people say God’s word never returns void, but if you don’t know it, you can’t release it!

With a newly advertised Tuesday Bible Study you decide to go along with the hope this time it will be more relevant. In seeing Gerald, the theologian, standing at the front, ready to speak, you stifle a groan.  When he gives you a wink you are rather taken aback. After making his initial welcome he adds, “This Bible Study will explore the life of Jesus and how His teaching applies to life today.  The previous group did an ‘exegesis’ of scripture, when an Alpha participant pointed out the name sounded like ‘exit Jesus’ which isn’t our aim today.”  A chuckle rippled through those present and Gerald grinned across at you, before adding, “We are running this similar to an Alpha Course where we will have a main scriptural explanation, and then split into discussion groups. Our wish is that everyone attending will grow in understanding and faith.

While waiting for Liz, Gerald’s wife, to lead your group of seven, you ask them how they read the Bible. After a silence, Bert, an older man, states he has daily Bible notes from a well-known preacher. When no-one else speaks, you guess the others of varying ages dip in and out as you do. Unexpectedly, a studious and bespectacled young woman, you haven’t noticed before says in a timid, nervous voice, “Each day, I read three chapters in the Old Testament, and one in the New.”  A spotty teenager laughs, “Obviously you’ve nothing better to do.”  You inhale a deep breath, the woman goes bright red and hangs her head, and Liz arriving asks everyone to turn to Matthew 4.  While doing that she comments, “Margie thank you for sharing that, it is a wonderful way to get an overview of God’s word and starting in Genesis and Matthew, you can read the whole Bible in a year.  Gareth, believe me, nothing you do would be better than that!”  Gareth’s face puckers into a sneer, and Liz adds, “If any of you find the Bible hard to understand, find a translation that suits you. Speak to me afterwards about that.”

Word: “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  2 Tim 3:16 – 17 (NIV)

Worship: “I’m Listening”  Chris McClarney  4 mins

Key 22 – Vision

On Sunday, you noticed the young people sit with Tom in the side aisle at the back of the church. Afterwards, in talking to Fred you ask if there might be some way to include them, and their music. He frowns and quietly explains, “I regularly speak to the elders about involving the youth in worship.  However, their response is always the same – there are only a few young people in the congregation and the majority prefer hymns.  I have questioned that.  They see the growing numbers and feel they have no reason to change.  Nor, do they believe praising and worshipping a holy God can be achieved with a cacophony of drums and guitars!”  At your wide-eyed expression, Fred chuckles. “I know! I know!  They also try and placate me by saying they will pray about it.”  Unthinkingly, a derisive grunt escapes you as your belief is that’s a polite way of saying ‘no’.

You are leaving as Tom strides towards you. “Thank you for encouraging me on Thursday. I do believe heavenly songs are a sign of God’s desire to move among His people. My parents, are Christians, but aren’t church goers, however, they are happy to let me use one of our barns for the youth to have somewhere to go on a Saturday night.  I, and two others can play guitar, another, the piano and to form a group we just need a drummer.  Dad knows someone who will lend us his second-hand PA equipment, but before I can go any further, he wants me to have people around my age to support me. Would you be interested in joining us?  Surprised, you pause, and he rushes on, “I’d like to have a team of people, believe as you do, before opening it up. What do you think?”  Delighted at being asked, you let your ideas flow bringing Tom to laugh, “I guess that’s a ‘yes’! Can you come to supper at the farm next Saturday night?”

Walking home your excitement mounts. In being willing to wait, God has moved in a way you couldn’t have anticipated. It could take weeks to set up, but you are already picturing the barn filled with happy, laughing and praising people, with meals shared, friendships made, and those  interested in joining God’s family.  This could be your heavenly experience being released on earth.

Word:  “As the snow and rain that fall from heaven do not return until they have accomplished their purpose…so also will be the word I speak; it does not return to me unfilled.  My word performs my purpose and fulfils the mission I sent it out to accomplish.”  Isaiah 55:10-11 (TPT)

 Worship: You are My Vision”  Rend Collective   4 mins