Making a Christ-Like Living in a Dog-Eat-Dog World – Part 3

In the book of Ezra we read that the children of Israel were on a mission. They were returning from captivity in Babylon with the command and blessing of King Cyrus to rebuild the temple. Even with the ruler’s support, the difficulties facing them would be tremendous. The group was made up of 42,360 people plus another 7,337 maids, servants, and singers. The majority of those returning were families.

Starting a business is not easy. If it was, everyone would have his own business, and no one would work for anyone else. According to the Small Business Administration latest figures, roughly 69% of start-up businesses survive the first two years, 51% to five years and 34% to ten years or more. While these statistics show it can be difficult to begin a business, there is good news for Christians. If we are following the Lord’s direction for our lives, failure rates mean nothing. I might add, if God desires to use a business failure for His glory – maybe our growth – He will.

In the third chapter of Ezra, they all came together, offered burnt offerings, kept the feasts, and offered freewill offerings to the Lord. In essence they were setting their spiritual house in order so they could begin the work of building the temple with God’s blessing. Israel made many mistakes, and that is what brought them into captivity as slaves. (Worth mentioning here is that today the majority of believers, those set free from the bondage of sin, have voluntarily enslaved themselves to mortgages, school loans and credit card debt. If you are in financial bondage, will you begin the process of setting yourself free?) The offering was initially made, but we read in verse four, “They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required” (Ezra 3:4). They weren’t distracted by the business of building the temple. They first dealt with their relationship to God. Getting right and staying right with God wasn’t a one time occurrence for the Israelites but rather it was a daily process. That is much like salvation. First we are saved, but then we are to daily confess sin and abide in the Lord Jesus as we obey Him.

I wonder how many dads begin a business when their spiritual houses aren’t in order. They presume upon God’s blessing in business when they don’t care enough for the Lord to honor Him with their lives. The strong encouragement I’ve previously given is to know what venture the Lord is directing you and when He says it is time, pursue it. Until then, get ready, but don’t build. Here are links to the first two articles in this series.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Our vocations are to be a result of God’s direction for our lives. Then after He gives that direction, we trust Him for continued leading. Just like salvation is not an end in itself, neither is self-employment. We must look to the Lord daily through our personal Bible time and prayer for His direction not only concerning our spiritual lives but also business decisions. His Word gives insight and confirms the leadings impressed on our hearts.

I mentioned last month that my son and I felt the Lord directing us to print brokering when I first came home from a corporate job. Print brokering made no sense because we didn’t have experience with printing, but we strongly felt the Lord’s leading. If we can trust the Lord with our eternal salvation, then we can trust Him to guide us in every area of our lives and that includes making a living. We learn how to follow Him day-by-day in the small decisions. Then when a big decision comes, we know what it means to hear Him, confirm direction through His Word, and then obediently follow.

Do we acknowledge Him in all our ways? Another way of stating the verse is that we are to know and recognize Him in everything we do. I wonder when dads pray ifthey then base their decisions on the Lord’s response? Is it possible that once having asked, they assume all is good and proceed? In speaking with many dads, I can’t help but wonder if that isn’t the way they make decisions. Even if they pray about it, once prayed, they proceed according to their will. Is that the way we parent? Is it enough for our children to ask us for direction and then once asked, to proceed without our response? Of course not.

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). According to Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, the Greek word for hindered is “ekkopto,” and it means “to cut off.” One key area to answered prayer is whether a husband is giving honor unto his wife. If not, Dad can pray all day long, and God isn’t answering because those prayers of Dad’s are cut off. Therefore if Dad starts a business having a bad relationship with his wife, he is handing God a REALLY big paddle.

Also, Dad may be praying about things that God has already answered in His Word, or there are warnings in the Word that are going unheeded. Are we reading our Bibles every day and leading family Bible time? I believe Ezekiel 34 speaks to Dad’s responsibility to feed those under his spiritual authority. The admonition by the Lord is so strong that verse ten concludes with the warning about the difficulty of the shepherds feeding themselves. “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more …” (Ezekiel 34:10). Their crime was that they weren’t spiritually feeding those under them; therefore, God said he would make it difficult for the shepherds to make a living. Dads are you feeding your sheep every day?

When God shows us a business venture and the timing, it is critical our spiritual houses are in order. Then we follow.