Spiritual Warfare Part II – How to Take Your Stand

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13

Introduction

Note that Paul says “when the day of evil comes,” not if. Therefore, if you want to grow spiritually and experience the “abundant life” the Son of God promises in John 10:10, you are going to need Kingdom resources and know how to use them! Why? Because when you became a Christian you changed sides in a cosmic war, moving from Satan’s side (the enemy) to God’s side (the body of Christ). In Part I on Spiritual Warfare we discussed “What You Need to Know about Satan and his ‘Schemes.’”

In summary fashion, Pastor Shafer Parker, Jr. at Hawkwood Baptist Fellowship says, “When you believed in Jesus, you received eternal life. Your sins were forgiven. God became your father in the fullest sense of the term. Heaven became your home and your ultimate destination. The Holy Spirit of God took up residence in your heart and became your ever-present companion (and counselor). The people of God become your forever family, along with God the Father and Christ the Son.” Parker continues with a warning, “But along with those benefits, you also were noticed by the enemy. You see, if you belong to Jesus, the devil hates you and singles you out for his particular attention. …when a man or woman is truly born again, Satan knows he can never have that soul. But he also knows that the best way to preserve the souls he still has is to make certain that as many Christians as possible remain as ineffective as possible.”

This is the fifth issue of a new and separate ABA newsletter, The Spirit Led Business™, providing insight on building a Kingdom Business – a company whose intentional objective is to help advance the Kingdom of God and is led by a person who in turn is led by the Spirit of God. The purpose of this article is to help you understand how to “Put on the full armor of God so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” so he can’t derail you from becoming a mature Christian or being effective in building Christ’s Church (The Great Commission, Matthew 28:16-20.) And for those who desire to build and lead a Kingdom business you had better know the enemy and how to defend yourself against Satan or he will make your life miserable.

Situational Analysis

Why You Need to be Strong in the Lord and His Mighty Power – Daily!

“be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10

In the previous newsletter, Pastor Parker reminds Christians “that we believe in a personal God.” He continues with “The Bible also teaches that a personality lies behind the evil in this world. The devil is as real as God, although he is not the same as God…he, like us and like all the angels, is a created being, dependent on God for his continued existence. But for all that, never forget he is also a personal being. He communicates with us, after a fashion…he can develop special strategies for individuals. There are people in which he takes special interest. And he is constantly seeking out those whom he can devour, metaphorically speaking.” See John 10, Ephesians 6:10- 16, and 1 Peter 5:8-11 to support Parker’s comments.

Satan hates God and is at war with him. The children of God (referred to in the Bible as “the body of Christ” is God’s presence on earth. Therefore, it stands to reason that if you are a member of God’s family, Satan is at war with you! Why? Because God’s children are “the Body of Christ” – God on earth! But the Bible teaches that God’s children can “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” by putting “on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

 There are three key reasons you need to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”

  1. We need God’s strength to achieve His objectives.
  2. We need His strength to defend ourselves against Satan.
  3. We need to know how to wield His strength during times of intense attacks.

A scheme is a plot, a strategy, to outwit you! And since the Bible says schemes, the devil has several. Following are Satan’s core strategies:

  1. He lies to you by questioning God’s truth.
  2. He lies to persuade you to disobey God.
  3. He exploits your weaknesses by manipulating your feelings and emotions.

In Part I on Spiritual Warfare we discussed eleven primary schemes of the devil. I know this is “heavy stuff,” but “do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1). For “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

The Full Armor of God

You Have Spiritual Weapons with Divine Power to Defeat Satan

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

To battle Satan, the Apostle Paul instructs Christians to “put on the full armor of God, so… you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (on its divine power). Spiritual battles take place in your mind. “He (Jesus Christ) calls his own sheep by name…and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger (Satan); in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice…” (John 10:3-5). The challenge for you is to discern which voice to listen to and to believe (trust) the word of God, instead of Satan’s lies and temptations to manipulate your feelings. This includes the lies he has taught others who are trying to get you to believe those lies.

  1. Putting on the Armor of God
    The Belt of Truth

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” Ephesians 6:14a

The armor of God enables you to “stand against the devil’s schemes” and “they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” “The belt—known as the cingulum or balteus—played a crucial role in the effectiveness of a soldier’s armor. It was the belt that held the scabbard, without which there would be no place to put a sword. Imagine an overzealous soldier, fired up and charging out into battle—but without his belt, and consequently without a weapon! In addition, the Nelson Study Bible says from the belt “hung strips of leather to protect the lower body.” The Matthew Henry Commentary says the belt “girds on [secures] all the other pieces of our armor.” Truth should cleave to us as a belt cleaves to our body” (From Bible Study Guides at http://www.freebiblestudyguides.org).

Paul starts his list of God’s armor with the belt of truth because Satan’s chief weapon is lies. According to Christ, “He (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44). From a spiritual perspective, Paul is telling Christians to secure anything that will cause us to stumble or fall during our daily battle. The apostle Peter clarifies this, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:13-16 NKJV). I have had many people; including pastors tell me it is not possible for humans to be “holy.” Really! Do they believe God would ask us to do something that is impossible? I don’t believe that for a minute. God would not put us on a mission impossible!

Peter and Paul are telling us to prepare our minds and emotions for battle. Putting on the belt of truth begins by hiding God’s word in your heart! There are two ways to put God’s word in your heart: 1) Memorize it, and 2) Read and study the Bible, because “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my (Jesus) name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). There is only one way to prepare your emotions and that is to make a permanent decision to have your minds “set on what the Spirit desires.”

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness! And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

“Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation — but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:5-17).

Paul confirms that we are to “put off your old self” and “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” in more detail in Ephesians 5, immediately before he instructs us “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” by putting “on the full armor of God.” Therefore, it is clear that setting your mind on what the spirit desires is critical to putting on the full armor of God so that you have His protection from the devil.

Truth can be divided into four types:

  1. Fundamental truth. The truth about God and His character, His Kingdom, His power, His promises and His Commands. There is only one God and “You shall have no other gods before” Him (Exodus 20:3). He is totally trustworthy and if you obey Him, you will receive what He promises (Deuteronomy 28-30 and John 14 & 15).
  2. The truth about Jesus and His teaching. He is the Son of God, the Messiah, the High Priest in God’s Temple, King of God’s Kingdom, the head of the body of Christ and the mediator between God and man. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men…” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
  3. The truth about you. You are made in God’s image, you can be renewed back to man’s original nature (Ephesians 5:24) and if you are a “born again” Christian “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…” (1 Peter 2:9).
  4. The truth in your inward parts. It takes truth in your inward parts to cooperate with the renewing of your mind by the Spirit of God, your counselor and the “Spirit of truth.” This takes integrity and honesty by you about yourself in order to outwit the enemy in his schemes to deceive you about yourself “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts, you teach me wisdom in the inmost place” (Psalm 51:6).

Pastor Parker says,

“Integrity is achieved when you and I are in private what we appear to be in public. Amen? But hold on a minute. Before you accuse me of setting an impossible high standard, listen to this. Integrity is achieved when we confess ourselves to be sinners saved by grace in both public and private, that is, when we reach the place that when we discover sin in ourselves, whether committed publicly or privately, we immediately repent and seek forgiveness from the offended one, whether God or man. When we learn to live like that, the devil has no opportunity to get a foothold in our lives.

Hypocrisy does not mean saying one thing and doing the opposite. It means saying something that one does not believe. Take the example of getting drunk. Let’s say that someone believes that getting drunk is immoral. Does it make that man a hypocrite if he gets drunk? No, it makes him weak…A hypocrite, on the other hand, is someone who might say, ‘It’s okay for me to get drunk, but not for you.’”

So how does one learn fundamental truth, the truth about God, his Son Jesus and his teachings, the truth about you, and the truth in your inward parts? Obey Christ, read the Bible, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to the truth, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. …the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (John 14:15-17, 26, 16:12-14).

Try it yourself. I did and found that these verses are true.

Putting on the Armor of God

The Breastplate of Righteousness

“Stand firm then,…with the breastplate of righteousness in place” Ephesians 6:14b

The armor of God is to enable you to “stand against the devil’s schemes” and “they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” “The breastplate was a central part of the Roman soldier’s armor—it provided protection for the torso, which contains vital organs like the heart, lungs and so on. Without a breastplate, a soldier would be asking for death, as any attack could instantly become fatal. With a sturdy breastplate, the very same attacks become ineffective and useless, as blows glance off the armor. Without righteousness, we leave ourselves open to almost certain death. With righteousness—just as with a breastplate—the otherwise fatal attacks of our enemy are thwarted” (From Bible Study Guides at http://www.freebiblestudyguides.org).

Satan’s name, which means adversary or diabolos, translated devil, which means accuser, is a clue to one of his Key Schemes discussed in our last issue. He uses accusations, creating false guilt to keep us down. Of course if he fails at that, he will lie about us to keep us down:

  1. With non-Christians, Satan will battle to keep their soul by making them feel like they are not “good enough” yet to come to God, or use lies about God so people will distrust Him and manipulate people to put off inviting Christ into their life, putting all people on a mission impossible (a person can only become “good enough” through the power of God’s Spirit in them, which only happens when they put their faith in Christ and invite Him into his/her life).
  2. With Christians, Satan will make us feel inadequate or a failure in our Christian walk, discouraging us from growing spiritually and/or diminishing or eliminating our Kingdom effectiveness:
    1. Satan does his best to find something he can make us feel guilty about because he knows a Christian who feels guilty is discouraged and ineffective.
    2. Satan uses accusations to destroy relationships, trust, and unity in The Church, the Body of Christ.
    3. Satan will jump at any opportunity from our slip-ups to overwhelm us with guilt and focus on them instead of Christ’s redeeming work of grace at the cross.

How do we defend ourselves against these accusations? With the Breastplate of Righteousness! There are two types of righteousness:

  1. Imputed righteousness from Christ to those who ask forgiveness for their sins (breaking God’s law), accepting God’s free gift of Christ’s righteousness accredited to them through Christ’s death on the cross where He paid the penalty for their sins, and receiving Christ into their life as Lord. See http://www.abadvisors.com/eNewsletter.htm). As a result, you are righteous in God’s eyes. “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trust God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:3-5). This is an event in your life and it NEVER changes, even though you continue to “sin” after you become a “born again” Christian. Once you become a child of God, the penalty for your sins (past, present, and future) are paid for and you are righteous in God’s eyes for the purpose of receiving eternal life.
  2. Imparted righteousness is a process (referred to as sanctification) of learning how to live in your earthly “body of sin” (See Real Christianity Part IV), through the power of the Holy Spirit living in you. As you “walk in the Spirit,” Christ’s righteousness is imparted to you (you are taught how to live righteously through the power of Christ in you!) This is a process that takes time. In summary what you need to know to deal with Satan is that the process involves:
    1. Renewing your mind by removing the lies that Satan and the world have programmed into you during your lifetime and replacing them with truth about the way things really are (reality), found in the Bible (man’s handbook for living.) See Romans 12: 1, 2 Timothy 3:16, Psalm 119:14-16, Proverbs 8 and Colossians 2:2-4, “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding argument.”;
    2. Believing that you can “walk as Jesus walked” on this earth by setting your mind (making a permanent decision) to walk everyday under the influence (power and leading) of the Spirit of God living in you as discussed in Romans 8:5-17, in “The Belt of Truth” above; and
    3. Committing yourself to the spiritual growth process below.

As discussed in The Belt of Truth above, godliness is attainable. How do I know? The Bible tells me so. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins” (2 Peter 1:5-9). But only God can make you “godly” or “holy,” “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin. (Matthew 6:28b NKJV).

Jesus is telling us that only God makes things grow and the Apostle Paul confirms this, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:5-8). Our job is to cooperate with him by doing what He instructs us to do in the Bible, his handbook for humans. “Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent’” (John 6:29).

The apostle John also instructs us in this regard as he gives us guidelines as to who are really the children of God, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:3-6). “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

Satan will come at you with accusations of how bad or weak a person you are because you continue to “sin” after becoming a “born again” Christian. This struggle is painful because it grieves God’s Spirit in you. The Spirit convicts you of your sin and you want to stop because you want to please and serve God. But Satan turns up the heat (no pun intended). He accuses you of being a bad person, makes you feel like a failure and makes you question whether you are really a Christian. Satan will stay at this until he convinces you that living a righteous life is a mission impossible and you get discouraged and give up! This is easy for Satan to do because he knows that you have to go through a sanctification process and you are going to continue to sin during that time and even after you renew your mind and learn to walk in the Spirit. To make himself more believable, Satan has already convinced millions of Christians, including many pastors, that becoming godly is impossible, so they will support Satan’s lie.

When Satan comes at you with accusations, quote Scripture to him and then “stand firm” on its truth:

  1. Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to me: “…those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” Romans (5:17).
  2. Christ’s righteousness is being imparted to me as I learn to walk as he walked and God isn’t finished with me yet: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20-21).
  3. It is possible to live a righteous life: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).

Then “keep on dancing” by taking responsibility for your behavior:

  1. Do not blame yourself or others: “Your battle is not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12).
  2. Confess your sin to God: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
  3. Reset your mind “on what the Spirit desires” (Romans 8:5).
  4. Do not believe any spirit or any person who tells you godliness is not attainable (Peter 1:5-9).

And remember that the armor of God enables you to “stand against the devil’s schemes” because “they have divine power to demolish strongholds!”

Standing Firm

How to Stand Firm After You Put on the Armor of God

When the devil tempted Christ in Luke 4:1-13 Christ ALWAYS used Scripture, and ONLY Scripture, to take his stand against the devil. Knowing that it has “divine power to demolish strongholds…, demolish arguments…, and…take captive every thought.” Jesus simply stood his ground with only Scripture as his weapon! Why? Because he knew Satan feared God the Father and that if he stood on the truth of God’s word (had faith in it), Satan would give up and go away, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13).

“Is that it?” you ask. “Is that all I have to do?” Yes, that’s all there is and that’s all you have to do! Do not battle with people. Do not battle with your flesh. Just quote Scripture to Satan, believe the Scripture and trust and obey God and His Son. Always remember that sanctification is a process, not an event, so keep at it until you develop judgment on how to “take your stand against the devil’s schemes” and complete the process in 2 Peter 1:5-9!

If you don’t have a Bible, you can go online to www.netbible.org. In the upper left corner where it says Display Bible, scroll to John and click on Go. And if you want someone to talk to about the things in this letter, call us at ABA!

In the next issue of The Spirit Led Business™, Part III on Spiritual Warfare, we will continue with insights on how to use more of the Armor of God to take your stand against the devil (Satan) and his forces of darkness.

Note: All Bible verses are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted. NKJV = New King James Version.

The Spirit Led Business™ is published by American Business Advisors, Inc. to provide business and personal improvement information and ideas. All material is presented to provide general and broad information only. The information found in this publication does not constitute business, tax, financial, or legal advice and should not be acted upon without seeking the counsel of a professional advisor.

The blog post Spiritual Warfare Part II – How to Take Your Stand is available on American Business Advisors of Denver

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Real Christianity – Why You Should Consider It (Part I)

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:15-20

Situational Analysis: The Disappointment with Our “Natural Human Bodies”

Humans, all humans, have a condition creating weaknesses in their self-control and causing them to die. This condition is called “sin.” You may think sin is a verb, something a person does. The word is often used that way, but in the Bible verses above, the Apostle Paul uses the word sin as a noun – something “living in” him. As it is, this sin living in you is a fatal condition passed from generation to generation. And, it creates weaknesses in every person’s human nature referred to by Paul as the “sinful nature” (meaning a nature that can’t help but sin.)

The Greek Philosopher, Plato, said, “If you would converse with me, please, first, define your terms.” So first, let’s define the word “sin.” Following is how dummies.com defines it: “Sin is any deliberate action, attitude, or thought that goes against God. You may think of sin as an obvious act, such as murder, marital unfaithfulness, or theft. Although that’s true, sin is also wrongdoing that’s far subtler and even unnoticeable at times, such as pride, envy, or even worry. Sin includes both things you shouldn’t have done, but did (sins of commission) and things you should’ve done, but didn’t (sins of omission).” The online dictionary defines sin as: “A transgression of a religious or moral law, especially when deliberate…Deliberate disobedience to the known will of God…A condition of estrangement from God resulting from such disobedience.

These definitions are traditional and represent how most people think about sin – as something that we do or don’t do. But there is something more important to understand about the word sin! The Bible also uses the word “sin” as a noun, to describe a “thing”, living in you, resulting in a condition called “sin” in your human nature that you can’t control! These simple but profound insights, about the word sin which I learned after being a Christian for over 30 years, revolutionized my understanding of the Bible, clarified what Jesus Christ did at the cross, and set me free. The Apostle Paul confirms the truth of this condition in the Romans 7 quotation above, which includes, “Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it (Romans 7:20).

So the next time you say to yourself or others “I don’t understand why (fill in name) does those things,” now you know why! How did humans (referred to in the Bible as “man”) get into this situation? Following is a summary of the facts from the Bible:

  • First, God created humans without any flaws. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:27&31).
  • Second, God gave man a command to protect them. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die (physically and spiritually)’” (Genesis 2:15-17).
  • Third, the devil tempted man to disobey God.He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ‘You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:1-5).
  • Fourth, man disobeyed God. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
  • Fifth, because of their disobedience, sin entered man. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” (Genesis 3:6-7).
  • Sixth, because sin was now living in man, they were no longer trustworthy to live in God’s Kingdom, so they were banished from it. “And the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’ So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:22-24).
  • Seventh, sin is passed from generation to generation in all humans “…sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men…” (Romans 5:12).

As a result of this sin condition in our human nature, the Bible says that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). But we just defined reality as the mortality rate being 100%. So what death and life is the Apostle Paul, author of Romans, talking about? He is talking of spiritual death (separation from God in Heaven and His life giving power for eternity) and spiritual life (unity and fellowship with God in Heaven and connectedness to His life giving power for eternity.)

In Part II we will examine the solution for this condition Paul calls the sinful nature.

The Spirit Led Business is published by American Business Advisors, Inc. to provide business and personal improvement information and ideas. All material is presented to provide general and broad information only. The information found in this publication does not constitute business, tax, financial, or legal advice and should not be acted upon without seeking the counsel of a professional advisor.

Real Christianity – Why You Should Consider It (Part I) is available on American Business Advisors in Denver

Transition Option: The Pros & Cons of an Internal Sale

Upcoming STAR-Denver Event
“Making More Money? or Who’s on First?”
May 15, 2015 Lunch Meeting
by Jon Hokama.
Click Here to RSVP.

Business owners may feel that the prospect of selling is like planning their own funeral. So unless you’re akin to Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer character who witnessed his own “funeral,” you may not be so eager to view it. At some level most owners fear or dread planning so much that they don’t want to go anywhere near reflecting on what they consider their future demise.

Let’s learn from one financial planner who lived to tell about the sale of his business to his employees. Not only did he live, but he’s thriving today. He not only planned his own (business) funeral but his decision spawned a happy (more…)

Transition Option: The Pros & Cons of an Internal Sale Find more on: www.abadvisors.com

Your Leadership Success: One Essential Every Business Needs

Let’s get to the point. What is the one essential that you must attend to as a business owner or leader in 2017? I would argue that it is Trust.

Consider the following facts:

  • Companies with high trust make more money.

The Great Place to Work Institute creates the “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. Trust comprises two-thirds of the criteria since their research shows that “trust between managers and employees is the primary defining characteristic of the very best workplaces.” These companies with high trust beat the average annualized returns of the S&P 500 by a factor of three.1

Not convinced? A 2015 study by Interaction Associates shows that high-trust companies “are more than 2½ times more likely to be high performing revenue organizations” than low-trust companies.

  • Companies with high trust move faster and save money.

Building trust within your company affects two measurable outcomes: speed and cost. When trust goes down in any relationship, be it on a team, within an organization, or with a partner or customer, speed goes down and cost goes up.  When there is a dearth of trust between any two parties, each will ask more questions, want more assurances and the ability to move quickly diminishes. Stephen Covey calls this a “low-trust tax.”1

But the converse is equally true. When trust goes up, costs (think legal and other risk reduction activity costs) go down, and speed of execution goes up. This results in what Covey calls a “high-trust dividend.”

These trust taxes and dividends are real and essential for business leaders to take into consideration. Building trust in your firm in 2017 is not a leadership competency “nice to have,” but a business competency “must have.”

  • Trustworthiness shapes both first impressions and sets the foundation for the relationship.

According to Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy in her new book, Presence, people evaluate first impressions of others based on the psychological dimensions of warmth and competence. They quickly answer two questions when they first meet someone:

  • Can I trust this person?
  • Can I respect this person?

While most business leaders believe that competence is most important, in fact, warmth, or trustworthiness, is the most important factor in how people evaluate you.

According to Cuddy,

If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative.  A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you’ve established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat.2

If you’d like to know how your company is doing on the “Trust Quotient,” be sure to take advantage of our complementary “Toolkit” offer below.

1      The Connection Between Employee Trust and Financial Performance
2    Business Insider/Harvard Psychologist Amy Cuddy, How People Judge You 2016

Toolkit:

This week’s toolkit is “Our Company Trust Quotient Inventory.” Write us at info@abadvisors.com – “Requesting ABA’s Trust Quotient” to receive your complimentary copy.

 

The blog post Your Leadership Success: One Essential Every Business Needs Read more on: American Business Advisors Consulting Firm

How to Set Your Business Apart: Consistency in ….

Communication! Communication?

In conversations with business owners recently—and these owners had businesses with 50+ employees—they described communication “challenges” either within the company or with clients. But for now these owners seemed to feel that these issues were normal and only moderately pressing issues. After all, they reasoned, since most of us have conversations every day, aren’t we all pretty good at communicating?

I would like to suggest that we are pretty good at communicating but having consistent communication is the real challenge. Communicational consistency is a skill that needs to be developed and that your employees’ CCQ (Communicational Consistency Quotient) directly impacts your company’s financials today and will for years to come.

For the purpose of this article, let’s define CCQ as a measuring holistic message. CCQ measures a message given verbally or in writing. It has an emotional component. It has dimensions of accuracy and timeliness: the message that the hearer/reader receives is what the speaker actually intended. CCQ captures the sum total of consistent communication over time and is a proxy for the depth of trust-building and relationship-deepening.

Whew! As you can see, insuring high CCQ communication is neither simple nor easy to do consistently.

So communication—good, high CCQ communication — is actually an essential skill that impacts relationships both within a business and between a business and its customers. It shows up in your employee retention and customer retention numbers.

Now let’s consider the business impact of high CCQ communication.

A high CCQ environment keeps employees happy:

I had the privilege of being part of a virtual B2B (business-to-business) sales operations team at Tandem Computers (now HPE) that had high CCQ. We had a clear communicational process that I was mentored into. We communicated and worked collaboratively across departments with sales, legal, manufacturing and management to insure our mainframe-class hardware/software systems were delivered on time. I had stepped into a high camaraderie, high trust environment that even as a newbie I was able to impact. In the first month I was there, our team set record-breaking sales.

So what was the business impact of our high CCQ? Our team sold and delivered a $2m+ computer system—and repeated that 90 times in that quarter.

High CCQ enabled us to retain

  • Happy customers—receiving systems on time meant that those firms could meet their production schedules and
  • Happy employees—communicating consistently resulted in the satisfaction of being part of a winning team, camaraderie, recognition and significant bonuses.

CCQ helped to create a happy firm and shareholders—the 90 systems shipped meant Tandem had more revenue in that current quarter, better cash flow, a better bottom line and a higher stock price.

Consistent communication keeps current customers happy and connected and buying from you: When customers know what to expect in terms of the kind and frequency of communication, that high CCQ builds trust. Trusting customers keep coming back. Keeping these customers is far easier than finding new ones. Consistent communication can help you to retain customers. Suppose it would allow you to retain a client for 20+ years. Imagine the customer life time value of that client!

We are privileged to be part of that kind of client’s success. Our firm is now working with the 3rd generation of a family business. We have communicated clearly and consistently first with the grandfather, and then with the son, and now the grandson. We have adapted how we communicate with each generation. We have built trust by providing strategic business tools that have delivered measurable business results. And we have delivered these services personally month in and month out, year in and year out. As we have served each generation of this client, they have seen powerful financial results. And choosing to maintain high CCQ has also positively impacted our firm’s top line, bottom line and cash flow.

So good communication—cultivating a firm with the skill of high CCQ consistent communication– will impact your financial health and can set your business apart.

Toolkit:

Consider: how could your business be better if every team member had high CCQ?

Photo by krossbow

How to Set Your Business Apart: Consistency in …. was originally seen on American Business Advisors Blog

1 Surprising Tip to Kickstart Your Strategic Planning (Part I)

To write is human, to edit is divine.
—Stephen King               

Every business owner knows that doing strategic planning this time of year is essential to success in 2016. But, how many of us lack the motivation (or impetus to make the time) to do so? Answer: Many business owners!

As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”

I don’t know about you, but once I give a passing nod to that, and many other aphorisms, I often mutter agreement under my breath, immediately forget what I heard, stay in my rut, and am even more discouraged from starting. I may ask myself, “But isn’t the key to great strategic planning having brilliant, fresh ideas, a well-thought out plan and precise KPIs?

Well, let’s imagine that your firm could compete for an award like the Academy Award’s Best Picture award for business. Imagine it is possible for you to have a shot to win that award every single year. 100% of the time. This is not hypothetical, but a real possibility.

How I know your firm has a shot at the “Business Academy Award” every year:

If you follow the Academy Awards, you probably pay attention to who wins the Best Picture award. What you may not know is that since 1981—for the last 35 years—every single Best Picture winner was at least nominated for or won Best Editing. Michael Kahn has been nominated the most times—eight—and has won three times. Some of the films he’s edited are Saving Private Ryan, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler’s List, and Lincoln.

So, if you and your team understand what a Best Editing award is, might you, at least, be in the running for that Business Best Picture award? Of course! Might that then give you the motivation to start your strategic planning? I hope so! Who doesn’t want to become a winner?

As 2015 closes, you actually have access to the nearly completed movie of your firm this year. Just look at your monthly and quarterly P&L, Balance Sheet, and the narrative of your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). This data provides you with the unedited version of 2015. Now, with the vantage point of 20/20 hindsight, you can begin your editing.

You and your team must do as Kahn does. And what does he do? As Steven Spielberg’s right hand man, he doesn’t always do what Spielberg tells him to do. He does what he thinks Spielberg really wants. He understands Spielberg’s overarching intent. So too, you and your team must practice editing 2015.

Ask yourself, “If I could edit out/revise/cut/kill projects, clients, unproductive initiatives that turned into rabbit trails, etc.red pencil photo

  • what were they?
    and
  • what impact would it have had on our business?”

Then, as you do your 2016 strategic planning, take that practice into your planning.

The Best Editing award in business is simple but not easy. You have to be a ruthless editor. A business owner and his team must be editors who decide what they want the business to be. The verb decide comes from a Latin root, cid or cis, means “to cut” or “to kill.”

Even if you do nothing else in your strategic planning other than assessing your 2015 successes and stumbles, you’ll have practiced the art of knowing how to edit the activities that drain your business in 2016.

Go forth and do likewise in 2016!

Ideas/Quotes From: Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, pp. 155-161

Toolkit:

Try this exercise:
Imagine it is Jan. 1, 2017. Suppose you had a “Best Picture” year in 2016. Ask yourself two questions:

  1. What did you keep in the year?

And, more importantly,

  1. What did you edit/cut out?”

Photo by Nic’s events

The following article 1 Surprising Tip to Kickstart Your Strategic Planning (Part I) Find more on: American Business Advisors in Denver

Solving the People Puzzle III: How to Motivate a Team

Just how powerful is motivation, really?

Our goal at ABA is to help our clients with solid business council that will help them outwit their competition, grow their business, and create wealth. In so doing, it is our desire that they use a portion of that wealth to “give back” to their communities and to worthwhile causes wherever in the world they exist.

In the last two editions of the monthly ABA Insider we have been offering practical advice on a subject which has great power and, yet, seems to be one of the greatest mysteries to business leaders. It represents perhaps the area of greatest positive potential for improving the performance of your business. That subject is BUILDING YOUR TEAM and the challenges that surround MANAGING it. We have called our series, “Solving the People Puzzle.”

Some people really enjoy working on and solving puzzles, and some really find it exhausting and somewhat maddening. But, like it or not, your team is the key to your success as a business, and even more so during this challenging business climate. Most leaders who find this part of running a business the most difficult, feel their skills are inadequate in this area, and/or haven’t ever learned the principles which define how to build and manage a successful and growing team. We will continue to discuss some of those principles in this article.

Team Building’s Most Critical Components

Previously, we have tackled the issues of Attitudes and how profoundly they affect your ability to build and manage a winning team which sets your company apart from your competition. Another important building block which must be in place if you are to achieve optimal performance from your team is Clarity of Expectations for every member. They must each fully understand exactly what good behavior looks like for the position they fill. Additionally, they must have been given all the tools and resources they need in order to be successful. One such tool is Empowerment, which allows people to do their best work and leverage their strengths for the benefit of the company as well as themselves. There are others like: Mutual Trust, Alignment with Mission, and Leadership by Example.

What’s Next? How to Motivate a Team

The mortar which holds all of the building blocks of successful behavior together is motivating people to produce.

1. Defining Motivation.

Before you can motivate people to produce at high levels, you must know exactly what it is. First of all, the definition of motivation comes primarily from the two words inside it. They are motive and action. Therefore, motivation is “the creation of desires and situations which move people to action.”

All human activities (or actions) are undertaken as a direct effort to meet some need. In other words, everything we do, from the simplest act to very complicated tasks, we do for a reason, and that reason is based around a need that we have. That need has to do with either something in our lives, or the lives of those we love. It may be something we want to acquire, (Psychologists call this “approach”) or something in our lives, or the lives of those we love, that we do not want (avoidance).

2. Types of Motivation.

The two basic types of motivation are fear motivation and incentive motivation. Obviously, the former has to do with avoiding the things we do not want to happen and the latter has to do with the things we desire for us and for those we love. Both types of motivation can be effective tools in moving us to action, but they each have specific limitations and guidelines for their use. In terms of needs which we want to fulfill or avoid in our lives, there are both biological needs and psychological needs. To design an environment of motivation for your team, you must understand which needs are the strongest for which members on the team, and then proceed to set up a system of cause and effect which allows them to meet those needs. Though, this is not a simple task, the rewards of your doing so are huge. For when you create a clear path for a person to meet their needs, whether they are biological or psychological, you ignite a very powerful cache of human dynamite.

3. “Win-Win.”

If an effective system of motivation is to be established, all team members must be committed to the principle that everyone in the equation must win.. They must perceive that no one in the company or who is touched by the company will win at the expense of anyone else. Any and all systems of motivation which do not have this win-win component are doomed for failure. Although we cannot treat everyone the same in our company, we must establish systems, policies, and procedures that are fair.

Volumes could be written regarding motivation, and still everything would not have been covered.. But we at ABA do know from experience how incredibly valuable it is to understand its principles. That understanding has revolutionized the business of many or our clients. To create an effective system of motivation you must know your team members and what’s important to them. Additionally, you must really care about them, and they must feel that caring attitude from their leadership. Finally, you must understand exactly what are the needs, goals, and resources of your organization, so that you can meld the two agendas effectively.. Once you have done that, hang on for the ride — it will be an exciting one both for you and your team.

The Strategic Edge is published by American Business Advisors, Inc. to provide business and personal improvement information and ideas. All material is presented to provide general and broad information only. The information found in this publication does not constitute business, tax, financial, or legal advice and should not be acted upon without seeking the counsel of professional advisor.

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