Archive for August 2012

Jesus Said, “Follow Me”!

August 31, 2012

“No servant can serve two masters. The servant will hate one master and love the other, or will follow one master and refuse to follow the other. You cannot serve both God and worldly riches.” (Luke 16:13, NCV)

Bondage at work comes in many forms, from preoccupation with money and status to an obsession with work itself. Perhaps it can be defined best as “anything that interferes with your relationship to God or your family and is out of balance according to God’s Word.”

Too much of anything, including those things that seem to be good, can destroy our lives. Bondage isn’t just limited to those who find themselves obsessed with money or status; it also includes “anything” that robs us of our relationship with others or with the Lord.

Jesus was very specific when He said, “You cannot serve both God and worldly riches” (Luke 16:13, NCV). If we serve ourselves through our work, we cannot serve God. I have never heard of anyone on his or her deathbed that has said, “I wish I had spent more time at work and less time with my family or with God.”

Jesus said to a man as He was leaving Capernaum, “Follow me.”  But the man said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father”. (Luke 9:59, NIV) Jesus was not being callous when He replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60, NIV) Jesus was stating a simple truth that is still valid today: We have the choice to follow the world’s way or God’s way.

If we base our decisions on our own security and comfort, we will have a hard time following the path God has laid out for us. It’s always easy to look back and see our mistakes. How much better would it be if we would look forward and avoid those mistakes?

Jesus has said to each one of us, “Follow me”. I can’t think of any good reason why we shouldn’t, can you?

Enjoy your day, “Working for Christ”!

“Working for Christ”

It’s About Time!

August 30, 2012

“It is no use for you to get up early and stay up late, working for a living. The Lord gives sleep to those He loves.” (Psalm 127:2, NCV)

Our lifestyles today demand more and more indulgences to keep us content. Often this necessitates two incomes and many extra hours on the part of either or both spouses. It is not unusual for a person building a business or starting a new job to work 80-100 hours per week. Unfortunately, many people think this is both necessary and normal. So, not only do they drive themselves to extremes, they also expect the same from everyone else.

It can’t be said any more clearly than Psalm 127:2“It is no use for you to get up early and stay up late, working for a living.”

Our prayer needs to be, Lord, teach me your demands, and I will keep them until the end. Help me understand, so I can keep your teachings, obeying them with all my heart. Lead me in the path of your commands, because that makes me happy. Make me want to keep your rules instead of wishing for riches. (Psalm 119:33-36 NCV)

It really becomes a matter of priorities. Sometimes it is necessary to put in a little extra work to make sure our jobs get done properly, but if our relationships are suffering, if our marriages are falling apart, or if we have lost our way with Christ, it’s time to re-evaluate our priorities.

Jesus says it best, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:25, NIV)

He also spoke to the crowds when He delivered the Sermon on the Mount. He told them, “… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, NIV)

God doesn’t need us to “burn out” for Him. He needs us to reflect His light in this broken world. He needs us every waking hour, not for just an hour or two on the weekend! It’s time to re-evaluate our priorities! It’s about time to put our “time” back in Christ!

Enjoy your Thursday, “Working for Christ”!

“Working for Christ”

It’s Not A Secret Any More!

August 29, 2012

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17, NIV)

Money is an extremely volatile issue. It is one of the major sources of tension for most of us. It breaks up marriages and friendships.

The reality is that incomes are highly unpredictable in today’s economy, and a rapid rise or drop in living standards is closer to the rule than the exception. In fact, according to researcher Greg J Duncan, University of California – Irvine, in any ten-year period, one-third of Americans will see their standard of living drop by fifty percent or more. Such a statistic only heightens the importance of Paul’s warning to us not to put our hope in the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who so richly supplies us with everything we need to be content and happy.

The apostle Paul knew exactly what he was talking about. Like many of us, he had apparently lived through times of excess and through times of need. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12, NIV)

What was Paul’s “secret of being content in any and every situation”? It was his relationship with Christ Jesus! Earlier he had written, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ”. (Philippians 3:7-8, NIV)

God may bless you with so much wealth you don’t know what to do with it all. Or, He may decide to take away everything you own. It really doesn’t make any difference. The only thing that is of any importance is that you have Christ and He has you. That used to be the secret to living a successful, satisfied life! Now that I have shared it with you, it’s not a secret any more! 

Enjoy your Wednesday, “Working for Christ”!

“Working for Christ”

It All Begins With Attitude!

August 28, 2012

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV, Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV)

It all begins with attitude. We can either be content with what we have, or we can want more, an attitude described as covetousness. The choice we make depends on the extent to which we look to God for our well-being. God has given us the means to provide for our needs, and He gives us the right to benefit from our work. Consequently, we have a basis for being content, for being satisfied, for resting in the conviction that God intends to meet our needs.

And yet what undermines this arrangement is when we look at what God has given us, and we look at what He has not given us, and we say, “I don’t have enough!” or “I need more”. We may then start longing for more money as the way to get “enough”, instead of looking to God as our provider. Only we can determine whether we are satisfied with God and with what He allows us to have.

If we are serving God out of an expectation that He will reward us materially, then we are serving money, not God. Money becomes an idol; we will never have enough. For this reason, Paul teaches, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10, NIV) Neither this passage nor Hebrews 13:5, say that money is evil in itself; they say we should avoid the “love of money”. 

God wants us to be content. Again, Paul writes to Timothy, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.“ (1 Timothy 6:6-8, NIV)

Consider your situation this Tuesday. Are you totally content with your life? Thank God for all of the many blessings He has provided. Do you have “enough” or do you need a little more “Christ” in your life! It all begins with attitude! 

Enjoy your day, “Working for Christ”!

“Working for Christ”

It’s Up To Us!

August 27, 2012

“Love your neighbor as yourself”. (Matthew 22:39, NIV, Leviticus 19:18, NIV)

The purpose of our vocation, or calling, is to love and to serve one another. It is through our vocation that evangelism is most effective.

Since non-Christians are unlikely to come to church, how can they be “brought” to Jesus? It only makes sense that we should examine where we spend most of our time – at work. In the workplace, Christians and non-Christians are together – oftentimes forty or more hours per week. They get to know each other and even become friends. Opportunities for witnessing arise naturally – during coffee breaks or at lunch, discussing tragedies like the attack on the World Trade Center or a failing marriage, or in times of happiness such as the birth of a child or grandchild. Christians in the workplace and within society have much greater access to nonbelievers than a pastor. In fact for the most part, pastors interact primarily with Christians. It’s you and me, out there in the “real world” that are working and socializing with non-believers.

Spiritually, the Christian’s life is “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3, NIV), but physically the Christian lives in the same world with everyone else. Christians aren’t supposed to “hide” from everyday life; they aren’t supposed to neglect the world in which God has placed them. God created our world and “saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, NIV). He Himself entered this world, becoming “alive” in Christ Jesus. Like us, He was born into a family and into society. His entire life was spent in community and socializing with non-believers.

If our goal is to become more like Jesus, we need to take advantage of the opportunities that are provided to us every day – opportunities to bring others into a relationship with Him. The best place for us to do that is where Christ has strategically placed us – in our workplaces!

Use your workplace this week to talk about our Savior. If you are unable to “talk” about Him because of certain employment policies, live a life that honors and glorifies Him with everything you do! Most importantly, be an example to those in need of our Savior!

Enjoy your Monday, “Working for Christ”!

“Working for Christ”

Rest In Him!

August 24, 2012

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.” (Exodus 20:9-10, NIV)

God worked for six days to make the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day (Exodus 20:11). During that time He created mankind in His image – to work, but also to rest! In the very beginning He set aside a day to “chill”. The Biblical Sabbath is a weekly day of rest, or a time of worship. In biblical times people who insisted on working all the time, those who refused to honor the Sabbath, were subject to the death penalty. Nowadays, people who work all the time and refuse to rest, seem to die of heart disease or other stress related problems. Obviously, rest is important to our health.

Christians have often disagreed about when, and how strictly, to observe the Sabbath. Is the Sabbath on Saturday or is it on Sunday? Does it mean that all businesses should be closed? Is it okay to shop? Does playing a game violate the Sabbath? What about watching sports on TV? Is it a sin to have fun on the Sabbath? What if I my work week starts Wednesday and ends on Sunday? Remember, the Sabbath is not just Law, but it is also Gospel. When Jesus was accused of breaking the Sabbath, He set forth an important principle: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27, NIV). That is to say, the Sabbath is God’s gift to busy, distracted, weary human beings. It’s purpose is to give us a much needed break from our jobs and every day routines, and allow us to recharge our lives by spending time with Him, our families, and ourselves.

Most importantly, the Sabbath speaks to us about our love for Christ. God wants us to honor Him by not working twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. A Sabbath-rest is a reminder that we are not saved by our works: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from His”. (Hebrews 4:9-10, NIV)

Physically we need to work; spiritually we need to rest! Though many of us work extremely hard for our paychecks, those who rest in God’s grace can know that He, in His creative power and loving providence, is the One who is in control of the work that we do. He is also the One who gives us our rest!

Be sure to honor God this week by taking time to rest in Him!

Enjoy your Friday, “Working for Christ”!

“Working for Christ”

What Is Your Calling?

August 23, 2012

“The Lord sends poverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes
 and has them inherit a throne of honor. For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s; on them He has set the world.” (1 Samuel 2:7-8, NIV)

The meaning of the term “vocation” originated in Christianity. It was the “call to the priesthood” or the “calling of all humankind to salvation”. The idea of vocation is central to the Christian belief that God has created each person with gifts and talents oriented toward specific purposes and a way of life. In other words, our vocations are not something we choose for ourselves, but they are something to which we are called.

Instead of asking ourselves, “what vocation should I choose?” the question for a Christian becomes, “what is God calling me to do?” 

Our vocations change as the seasons of our lives change. We don’t have just one vocation for our entire life. We have been “called” into several vocations at the same time. For instance, one of our vocations is our job. Another one has to do with our relations within our families. We also have an important association within our communities. And, another one of our callings has to do with our connections within our churches. Each relationship requires a completely different approach, yet the purpose of each should be simply to glorify and honor God.

Whatever our vocations have become, and in the very way they change over time, it is apparent that our callings are not under our own control; as 1 Samuel 2:7 teaches, “The Lord sends poverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts.” The Lord is the One in total control!

Our vocations are much more than just our jobs! They have also become our “calling” in each and every aspect of our lives. In order to live according to our calling, it is imperative that we give glory and honor to God in everything we do – in our professions, as parents, as grandparents, within our marriages, in our churches, at the coffee shop, at the hair salon and barber shop, and at the grocery store. Honor God by using your gifts and talents to serve others whenever opportunities present themselves. That is our true calling!

Enjoy your Thursday, “Working for Christ”!

“Working for Christ”

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