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April 8, 2020

The Presence of God is Our Mark of Distinction

Paul Cuny • Intimacy With God
Exodus 33:16 For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?

Moses was having one of his personal, face-to-face conversations with God. His comments were profound, and they are just as relevant today as when they were first spoken. Moses was saying that by the presence of God and by His personal involvement in the details of the culture of this new nation of people, they would be distinguished from all other people on the earth. In Moses' day, all other nations served heathen gods. There had to be something that would differentiate God's people from everyone else.
Exodus 33:16 For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?

Moses was having one of his personal, face-to-face conversations with God. His comments were profound, and they are just as relevant today as when they were first spoken. Moses was saying that by the presence of God and by His personal involvement in the details of the culture of this new nation of people, they would be distinguished from all other people on the earth. In Moses' day, all other nations served heathen gods. There had to be something that would differentiate God's people from everyone else.
Through the Torah (The Law), God began to give Moses and His people the requirements to create an atmosphere for His presence to dwell in. God promised that not only would His presence dwell in their Tabernacle, but in their farms, their businesses, their homes, their government and in every aspect of the culture of this new nation. The Lord was speaking to a people that would form a nation composed of farmers and herdsmen, as most nations at that time had agrarian economies. He told Moses that when His people lived by the guidelines of the Torah, their obedience would bring His presence, and His presence would produce tangible benefits to the economics of the individual, but also to the nation's economy as a whole. The presence of God was the mark of distinction.

In Deuteronomy, Chapter 11, the Lord said some astounding things to Moses about His intention for this new nation. God said He would bring about tangible benefits to this agrarian economy by His personal engagement in the details of it. The Lord says in verse 12 .a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year. The Hebrew word for "cares" is darash, meaning ".to tread or frequent."1 God said His eyes would always be on this land and He was going to walk on it frequently. This was the expectation He set for His people who were going to this new land. Today, believers in the marketplace can have this same kind of expectation for God's involvement when we create an atmosphere for the presence of God to dwell.

Through Moses, the Lord said He would attend to watering their crops by providing carefully targeted rainfall known as the early rain and the late rain (verse 14: .He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain.). God said He would send grass to grow for their herds so that His people would be filled (verse 15: . He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.) 
The Expectation of God's Involvement

Moses told the people that they could expect God's involvement in all the elements of this new nation that would be formed in the Promised Land. God would     hand-pick their government leaders, and equip them with His anointing to lead His chosen people. He would set up their educational system. He would bless their herds and cause the grass to grow to feed those herds. He would bless their land to produce crops; He would bless their families, their ministry leaders, and their justice system because of His great mercy and love for His people. God would bless their economy and all the elements of their culture.

By God's presence with His people, and this unprecedented level of involvement in all the elements of their culture, His people would be unique from all others. His presence would be their mark of distinction. This mark of distinction was given so that the peoples of the earth would see the power and mercy of the Most High God.

Through the Torah, God established this new culture for His people. This culture included not only the priesthood, but also the farmer, the merchant, the teacher, the judge, fathers and mothers, the general and the foot soldier. The Lord set one condition for His presence which would produce these tangible benefits of service to the Most High God -- obedience to His Word. The opportunity to enter a new kind of freedom and an unprecedented level of provision in a land God had reserved for His people was largely rejected by most of the generation that died in the wilderness. Many of that generation, though they had been supernaturally liberated from bondage and slavery, still had the mindset of a generation in bondage.

Though they were experiencing the daily supernatural provision of God through daily manna and they witnessed the manifest presence of the Living God guiding them through the desert with the pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud, they continued with the mindset of slaves. Because they were still thinking like the slaves of Egypt, they could not take dominion over the land and subdue it. They could not overcome the obstacles to conquest. Those who thought like slaves could not become the formidable army that was necessary to take a land that had already been given to them. Because of this mindset, God raised up a new generation who understood the potential of having the distinction Moses spoke about. Today, we speak with the same God Moses talked with.

Serving God in Business?

A few years ago I was in Ghana, West Africa holding a MarketPlace Leadership Conference. A young man in his mid-20's came up to me at the break and told me an interesting story. He had become a believer in Jesus while in college, graduated with a degree in business and went on to Bible College. He said all he wanted to do was serve God. He was certain that he couldn't serve God in the business world, though he had a deep interest in business. He was within a few months of graduating and began having a gnawing feeling that this wasn't the right thing for him. He said, "I kept telling my friends I didn't think God called me to be a pastor. They all said I was backsliding because you can't serve God in business. After this morning's session, I now understand this is a calling I have to bring God's Kingdom into the marketplace! Today, God has given me the direction I have been seeking Him for. I can serve Him in business!" 

There is another generation of people coming who are beginning to understand this calling to the marketplace. They are asking questions like "How can His people who serve God in the marketplace be distinguished from those around us who serve other gods?" "What can we do to bring in the Kingdom of God?" 

The fact that they are even asking those questions is a sign of a change that will come. There is a key to finding the release we are all seeking from the Lord. The answers are the same today as for that nation of farmers - His presence. We must believe that He will do what He says He will do. We must believe He will bless our fields, our herds, our businesses, our governments, our educational systems, our children and our marriages -- not just our churches. He will do this because He never changes. It is time for us to understand that the kind of blessing we seek comes from the Hand of God, not our own hand.

The Storehouse of Wisdom
You may ask, "How can all these things be?"  The answer is simple; we have more resources available to us than all other people have. There is a storehouse of wisdom and insight that God has made available to us. It is not only available to your pastors, but it is available to men and women in business and government, as well. What I have found is that pastors know how to get this wisdom, while many of the people in the marketplace aren't aware God has this wisdom available. I can tell you that God knows everything and He is willing to share that information with you.

Proverbs 2:7-8 says, He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones. God's storehouse of creative wisdom is there for those who choose to live a life of integrity before God. When we first understand the resources God makes available to us, we then can capitalize on those resources.

The wisdom of God is practical, and it is given to His people to bring about concrete results. As we make a withdrawal from this storehouse, the following things occur: God's wisdom in us will produce tangible results in our work lives; we will make fewer mistakes; our judgment and decision-making capacity improves because we are collaborating with the Holy Spirit, and we know things it would otherwise be impossible to know. We walk in greater blessing (as God defines blessing) and we move to positions of leadership, because leaders look for emerging leaders with the characteristics of good judgment and insight.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit were never meant to be on display solely in the church house. We have to change our thinking and begin to expect the gifts of the Holy Spirit to operate in a board meeting of a Fortune 500 company, or on a coffee plantation in Central America. God gave these gifts to us to be utilized in the marketplace. There is a big difference between hoping for these gifts and expecting their full operation for any situation. God has given us the tools to function at the highest level in our work place. In the days ahead, those who understand this concept will find themselves moving to positions of influence. This is an anointing for the marketplace. Can it possibly be that there is an anointing available to people in the business world or in government? The answer is yes!

How This Anointing Operates
Let me explain how this kind of anointing operates in the marketplace. Jim is a land developer who has a well-deserved reputation as a creative deal maker. He is gifted when it comes to making dead deals come to life, or complicated deals simple. His partners are astute businessmen, yet they are constantly amazed at the sound creativity he displays. One day, I asked Jim how he comes up with these creative ideas.

He said, "I can't possibly come up with these things myself. I work hard on them and take them as far as I can. Then, before I go to bed, I pray, "Lord, I can't take this deal any farther. If You don't help us, it doesn't look like it can happen. Psalm 127:2 tells us, It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Would You show me how to do this while I sleep? Invariably the Lord will wake me in the early morning and I go to my computer and I see the whole thing before my eyes, every detail. The Lord shows me these creative complicated ways to make the deal happen." My observations of this man and this process over the years is that these deals, however big or small, are never driven by self-interest or selfish ambition, but by what honors God, and by what is best for every party involved in the deal.

What a unique way of conducting business! Yet this is the only way to conduct business in the Kingdom Culture. The Lord collaborates with this kind of approach. His presence and partnership are the marks of distinction that Moses spoke about. As we meet His criteria and seek Him with a whole heart, we open up an entirely new paradigm of God's creativity. Many are operating in this kind of marketplace anointing. For others, it will require some changes. 

One morning the Lord woke me very early to pray. This has been a regular occurrence for me over the years and the part of my day that I cherish. I had been struggling, however, with what I perceived as a decreased activity level in my life. For over 20 years, I had run a demanding business, and at God's direction, I began a process of re-structuring my life to spend more time in prayer, study, writing, and fulfilling the two assignments He gave me in the mid-90's. In many ways, this was my time of activation, so to speak.

It took me over a year to make this transition. I no longer had the same level of business activity and the demands on my time that I had lived with for a long time. There were fewer cell phone calls, emails, decisions, deadlines, and the demanding schedule and daily pressures. However, this was a more difficult transition than I had expected. Though I still had a busy schedule, because I was spending more time praying and studying, I had the mistaken perception that less business activity of this kind equated to less value, less significance. 

That morning, the Lord said two words, "Activity" and "Presence." I pondered those words for some time and finally I asked the Lord if He would explain what they meant. (Over the years, I have discovered that it has been much more fruitful for me to ask questions of the Lord, rather than make statements to Him). He said something that has profoundly impacted my life. "Activity will never produce My presence. My presence will always produce focused, productive activity."

Time in His Presence
I hear one statement consistently from busy leaders, no matter what nation, no matter what level of responsibility or leadership. It is said in many different ways and for many different reasons, but always it is the same phrase: "I don't have time to be alone with God every day." "I'm too busy!" "You don't know my schedule." I have heard all the reasons, and I have even tried to convince myself with a few of them in years past. But Moses said it best in Exodus 33:15   .If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.

It was too dangerous for Moses and the Jews to be left to their own wisdom and insight on their journey, and it is too dangerous for us as well. Time in His presence every day is not an option for us -- it is a necessity. You need the wisdom and insight God has for you and you will find it in the greatest measure is when you set aside time to be alone with Him on a daily basis. God doesn't need time with you; you need time with Him. Not having a time alone with Him on a daily basis won't make Him love you any less. However, it will prevent you from gaining a deeper level of sanctified judgment or decision-making capacity that will enable you to be distinguished from your peers.

God Has Secrets

God has all the knowledge you need to invest, manage, lead, educate, heal, or decide. King David wrote in Psalms 25:14, The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant. God has secrets, all kinds of secrets about all kinds of things! Those "secrets" cannot be known by natural means or natural wisdom because God has hidden them. The apostle Paul said in Colossians 2:2-3, .to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. NKJV

The good part about all this is that the Lord is willing to reveal those secrets to us. I have discovered that God's secrets have usually been revealed to me in those early morning times, alone with Him, where there is no distraction or competition for my time. Worship is a big component of these times, because worship creates the atmosphere for God's presence.

This does not mean that God will give His insight and wisdom on a subject only under these conditions. Certainly He will give us wisdom during the day when we ask Him. However, we tap into a much deeper level of His knowledge when we carve out time to just sit in His presence to worship and listen. As you position yourself to have time in His presence, you will find that the by-product of His presence will be ".focused, productive activity."

How Do You Do This?
So the question is, "How do you do this?"  Here are some simple suggestions that will bring you some profound results. Some of them aren't original to me. I've listened to many Godly men and women in my life who have helped me formulate a lifestyle in which I learned to live before the Lord daily. Find out what works for you, then decide to do it. I offer these suggestions as a guideline:

. Set aside time daily to meet with the Lord. Begin with a structured time, just like a meeting on your calendar. Ask God to meet with you that morning. Ask Him to direct your study of His Word. Psalms 119:133 Establish my footsteps in Your word, And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me. Ask Him lots of questions and listen for His answers. You may have to go to bed earlier at night to meet with Him. Do whatever it takes!

. Don't get discouraged if your room doesn't fill with the light of Heaven every morning. It is more important to be faithful to the commitment of time. Rest assured you will be changed as you spend time with Him. It is impossible not to be changed. The Lord won't waste His time or yours. I assure you He will honor your commitment to Him.

. Bring work issues before Him and ask the Lord for His insight. It is not unspiritual to ask God to bless your business or your workplace. If you are in business, ask Him to bless the business. Ask Him to show you how to make it better. Ask Him to give you His wisdom so you can be a better manager or employee. If you are in government, ask Him to give you wisdom to govern. Bring these things to Him and then just sit and listen. I have learned to set aside all the "issues" that may be pressing me and just tell the Lord, "If You have anything You want to say to me this morning, Lord, I'll listen." Then I just wait, worship and study with the ear of my spirit Heavenward.

. Keep a journal. I have done this most of my Christian life. It is like a history of my life in God. I keep the notebooks because it gives me the "global perspective" of my life in Christ. I write down things I ask the Lord; I list my concerns with business or family. This has become a treasure to me. Each year I change notebooks.

. Seasons of fasting and prayer. Everyone is different when it comes to fasting. For some, it is physically not possible to fast. You can meet with the Lord in other ways. For the rest of us, however, do not be too easy on yourself. I have found that fasting, particularly long fasts, enable me to walk in the presence of God in deep ways. The first three days are always challenging for me, but there is always a point when food becomes unimportant and the lines of communication with Heaven are wide open. Again, it is okay to fast and pray for your business. The Lord is just as engaged in your business as He is in your church. He wants your fields to grow and your herds to multiply

. Set aside days of prayer and fasting for your business or your place of employment. If you are responsible to manage people and can't take the time off, do what you can. If you are an employee, work, pray and fast. There is a Hebrew word in the Old Testament that means "work and worship." Isn't that amazing that the definition of these words is interchangeable! The idea is that on specific days you go before the Lord fasting and praying for your place of employment. If possible, clear the slate of everything and just be in an attitude of prayer during the day. This is something that may work better for business or government leaders, though it is available to all of us in some fashion. Find what works for you, then do it.  
Practical Application

Years ago, the Lord told me I was to set aside one afternoon a month to be alone, away from my office, with no cell phone, and pray only for my business, nothing else. To me, this was a revolutionary concept. I had never heard of such a thing. I always thought that God had a passing interest in my business, but His real concern was with "spiritual" things. This is how many of us are programmed to think, but nothing is further from the truth. I almost felt guilty that first day, because it seemed so "unspiritual" to even consider praying for a business - but I obeyed. That obedience not only changed my business, but my life. This is one of God's "secrets." My afternoon grew to one day of fasting and prayer per month. The Lord told me I was to set aside a day during the work week because it was to be a sacrifice for me.
For some, this arrangement may not be possible, and again, I offer it only as a suggestion. The day I set aside always ended up being the day I had to contend for. Crises abounded. I had to learn to prioritize and deal with the crisis another time. Many times I used to have the feeling that I was stumbling into that day with a sense of desperation to hear what God had to say about things. At the end of the day I had a sense of peace and direction.

In the morning I would list, on separate pieces of paper, issues or business deals that needed God's wisdom. I would lay my hands on these papers, commit them to the Lord, and ask Him to speak about these things. I would worship, study my Bible, and just wait for the Lord to speak. During the day, the Lord would begin to give me impressions about these issues and I would write them down on these papers. I have had the Lord speak to me about details in my business I could never have known. Sometimes He would speak about attitudes of my employees that I needed to correct. Often it was my own attitude that needed correction. Sometimes He would speak about deals He was bringing to me. It became a day that I learned to cherish, but one I needed to fight for. Over the years, I learned that God knew everything about my business and He was willing to reveal some of His knowledge about it as I spent time away from everything but Him.

On one occasion, one of the issues was advertising. I told the Lord it was His business and I didn't know how to advertise His business. If He wanted to get the name of His business in front of the people in our region, He would have to show me how. Within nine months I was invited four times on TV programs that focused on my segment of residential construction to talk about my company. I also did magazine articles and international publications about my company or the products of my company. At no time did I ask for this or pay for the advertisement. I grew to love this day! God knows everything, and He can do anything.

Do God and Business Really Mix?
I hear one thing consistently from younger marketplace believers in many nations -- "The fathers (older, successful Christian business and government leaders) are telling us God and business don't mix."  I will categorically state that this is a false perception, though a prevalent one. There are only two possible reasons for this statement. These are either the words of one who honestly does not understand; or one who lives his life outside of the will of God. Nothing could be further from the truth than to say that God and business don't mix!

God will not "mix" with those who don't walk by His standards of integrity and righteousness in their business dealings. Those who won't walk in His standards of integrity don't want God involved in their business. In that regard, this statement is true: God and that kind of business won't mix. His standards, as outlined in His Word, will always produce His presence and therefore His involvement. As Moses said, it is His presence that makes us different from everyone else.

His desire is still the same today, to distinguish His people from all others because of His presence. Whether you are in government, business, education, medicine, finance, the media, sports, or ministry, He has limitless resources available to you. He knows everything there is to know and more about business (He set up His own economic system), medicine (He created the human body), psychology (He's the Wonderful Counselor), government (the government rests on His shoulders), ministry (He is the Good Shepherd), farming, computers, strategic planning, science, etc... He is willing to serve as our Consultant and give us His expertise, but He won't pursue us; we must pursue Him. 

We Create the Atmosphere for His Presence

As we create the atmosphere for His presence by integrity in our business dealings, times of worship, obedience to His known will, justice in dealing with others, God will be fully engaged with us in the marketplace. If you are in sales and you lie to your customers and manipulate them into purchasing your product for your own self-interest, don't expect this kind of engagement from God in your business. He does not collaborate with manipulation.

George is a man with a "gift" for sales. This is the will of God for his life. He is a man of God who lives a life of prayer and consecration to God's standards of integrity. George and his wife have been tested in ways that would cause most of us to crumble. Yet I have watched in amazement how this testing has strengthened his love for God and people. He is an example of a man who walks in the grace of God. George has won many awards for his excellence and has a national reputation in his field.

George said, "For 23 years, God has always prospered me. It has been amazing, because even when my colleagues struggled, God has always caused me to prosper. In my business, the Lord has shown me that there are several keys: 1. You can hold God accountable to His Word. If I am doing everything I can do, I just remind the Lord what His Word says. 2. Tithes and offerings, and generosity towards others, including my time and money. 3. Never compromise integrity for money. I chase God not money. 4. You can only wait on Him. You can't rush Him to make something happen, you can only wait. 5. You can't hide manipulation, because the people who are worth manipulating understand manipulation. Anything gained through manipulation has a very short term gain. "

George is an example of men and women around the world who will succeed, as God defines success, by walking in the principles of the Word for the marketplace. His principles and His presence are not just for Sunday. God intended for His people to live in His presence Monday through Saturday, as well. God's presence produces tangible benefits. This is the by-product of the distinguishing mark Moses spoke about.
In the coming days, the Lord will be giving great resources into the hands of marketplace people around the world. These resources will be given for the purpose of funding Kingdom strategies. These strategies may mean funding ministries or churches, but they also may mean funding farming cooperatives so godly farmers in developing countries can get a fair price for their products. They may mean funding vast crusades and missionaries, but they may also mean buying medicines and food for the poor. These are resources that come with responsibility. Marketplace people must begin to understand the Secrets of the Kingdom Economy in order to understand the resource of God's wisdom and insight that is available to His people. Then we will be able to administer God's resources with the level of integrity that He requires.
Chapter 2 Excerpt,Secrets of the Kingdom Economy, by Paul Cuny, MarketplaceLeadership.com
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