Daily Archives: November 20, 2010

The Key That Unlocks The Doors of Heaven

In 2000, Howard Schultz resigned his position as CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company amidst a pattern of steady growth. Eight years later, Starbucks was reeling from a bad economy and stiff competition. So, Schultz resumed his role as Starbucks’ chief executive. Before him stood a challenging mission: to turn around a company that had lost its way.

In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, Schultz remarked, “When I returned in January 2008, things were actually worse than I’d thought.”

What did he do to lead the company in a different direction?

Something that not only unlocks the keys of success in the business world, but also unlocks the doors of heaven.

Please join us to discover what they are in our daily Bible conversation.


Ezekiel 40:28-43:27
James 4:1-5:20
Psalm 118:19-119:16
Proverbs 28:3-7


Ezekiel 40:28-43:27. Ezekiel’s vivid vision of the temple continues. Take a moment in chapter 43 and consider this: the temple being described is you. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

James 4:1-5:20. The beginning of the chapter offers some practical wisdom about our walk with God. First, we don’t ask enough. “You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). It’s OK to ask, in fact, we don’t ask enough. Second, when we do ask, we often ask with the wrong motives. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Beware of narcissistic prayer that assumes the world exists to meet your every need. We should pray for ourselves, but we should be aware that the kingdom of God is so much bigger than us.

I never noticed this verse before: “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?” (James 4:5) Along the lines of the comments in Ezekiel, all of us are created to be the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. This verse in James tells us that God longs to live in us through the Holy Spirit. And what opens the door to the Holy Spirit? Read below in THE WORD MADE FRESH.

Psalm 119:1-16. This is our second time through Psalm 119 this year. If you remember, this is an acrostic poem—which explains the Hebrew letter that prefaces each section. Every verse in that section begins with the corresponding Hebrew letter. Psalm 119 revels in the Law (the first 5 books of the Old Testament). On this side of the cross, it’s easy to criticize the faithful Jewish worshipers in the Old Testament. But as you can see, they enjoyed a relationship to God through the Law. They loved the Law. It was more than a list of rules because they realized it gave them life.

On this side of the cross, we can read it and discover that the Law and the Prophets (the prophetic books in the Old Testament)—the whole word of God—gives us life. It gives us life because it isn’t a lifeless book. The word of God is a person—Jesus Christ. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14).

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One of the first actions Howard Schultz made when he resumed the leadership of Starbucks was to admit their past mistakes. In his interview with the Harvard Business Review, he said,

First there had to be a time when we stood up in front of the entire company as leaders and made almost a confession—that the leadership had failed the 180,000 Starbucks people and their families. And even though I wasn’t the CEO…I should have known better. I am responsible. We had to admit to ourselves and to the people of this company that we owned the mistakes that were made. Once we did, it was a powerful turning point. It’s like when you have a secret and get it out: The burden is off your shoulders.

Standing before 180,000 employees and taking the hit for past mistakes requires a great deal of humility.

I realize that I sound like a broken record (if you’re old enough to remember what a record is), probably because I need to remind myself of its importance, but I’m finding that humility is one of the main themes in Scripture. It’s also the overriding theme of James 4 and 5. I can’t escape the fact that God doesn’t make us humble. Nor is it a fruit of the Spirit—something that the Holy Spirit works in us. Repeatedly we’re told in Scripture to humble ourselves. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up,” (James 4:10) the apostle James writes.

Quoting Proverbs 3:34, he explains, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Pride acts as a blockade to God’s unmerited favor. Humility, though, opens up the floodgates of heaven. James prefaces this statement by saying, “But [God] gives us more grace.”

What does humility look like? It begins with an attitude of the heart. It lacks arrogance, willingly admits faults, considers others better than itself. Humility is unpretentious, unassuming, nonjudgmental, and looks a lot like love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4–7

James writes, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16). Confessing our sins is an  act of true humility that opens heavens to our prayers and releases the floodgates of God’s favor.

Humility isn’t a formula for success in the business world or prosperity in our private finances. But it does open the way for an unhindered relationship with God, that trickles down into every area of our lives.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Do you find it difficult to accept that the Holy Spirit lives in you? Why or why not? To what extent do you allow the Holy Spirit move freely in you?
  3. What does humility look like in your life? What prevents you from living like this?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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