Archive for August, 2009

Consecrate Your Work

August 31st, 2009

“Work with enthusiasm, as working for the Lord rather than people.” Ephesians 6:7 NLT

“God provides a way for you to redeem your daily work and make it a holy endeavor.”

My thoughts today are to “consecrate your work.”

Have you wondered why they call a job “work?” I think it’s because it usually is. A goodly portion of every day for the better part of your years will be occupied with work. You might as well make that time pleasant and productive. Work can either be a necessity, something that you do because you have to do so – become a drudgery, something you have to do but really don’t want to do – or be a fulfilling joy, an activity and place where you find it a privilege to serve. There may be times the experience is likely a combination of any of those on different days.

Work was not God’s punishment for Adam’s sin, as some suppose when they read God’s words to him, “you shall eat bread by the sweat of your brow Genesis 3:19. Yes, the toil of work resulted from man’s disregard of God’s provision as not enough, but God appointed work itself to man earlier than original sin. “The Lord God took the man and placed him in a garden to work it and watch over it” Genesis 2:15. Have you ever noticed where man was to be employed? In a garden! A place of plenty and beauty. A place created by God, blessed by God, and frequented by Him.

It seems that the difference is whether you are in God’s employ or simply trying to put bread on the table. If God first ordained His creation to know and enjoy meaningful employment in partnership with Him, would He not provide a way for you to redeem your daily work and make it a holy endeavor, rather than a lifelong burden or struggle? The answer, of course, is yes!

The first step to redeeming daily work is: consecrate your work to God. “Render service with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men” Ephesians 6:7. Do not depreciate those for whom you work. They are God’s point of supply for meeting your daily needs. But look above and beyond them to the Lord, Who is your Source. Never fail to appreciate the supply, nor confuse that with your Source.

Next, gain a Godly attitude about your work. Let your daily work be a holy service to God and man. “As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” Ephesians 6:6-7 NLT.

Also, understand the purpose of work. “Begin using your hands for honest work, and then give generously to others in need” Ephesians 4:28 NLT. Honest work is to provide for your needs, and to supply the means to share generously with others. The goal is not merely to get more, but to give as well.

Then, honor those who employ you and work alongside you. You best accomplish that by thankfulness for the opportunity given and by giving the best of your effort and diligence to serve them. “Obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ” Ephesians 6:5 NLT.

Be realistic. The workplace is not a perfect place with perfect people, or you might not fit there. But you can consecrate your work as service to the Lord and enjoy His blessing and favor daily. Be the best boss or employee that you can be, “as unto the Lord.”

My prayer for you today is for your life to be a joyful service to God.

Devotionals , ,

First and Final Moves

August 28th, 2009

“I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

“The first move must be yours; the final move will be God’s.”

My thoughts today are about the “first and final moves.”

What do you do when you mess up? Everyone does! Some cover up, like Adam. Some blame others, like Eve. Some deny their wrong, like Cain. Some are destroyed by their failure, like Judas. Some weep over their sin, like Peter. Sin can never just be ignored.

Trying to ignore sin is devastating to you, body, soul, and spirit. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:23 NIV. God’s Law and righteousness demand that a wrong be made right, that restitution be given, and that relationship be restored. The right thing to do? Repent and receive forgiveness, like David. Read Psalm 32:3-5 NIV.

When I was younger I wrongly assumed that Godliness was best evidenced by how long I went without sinning. The greater the time that I walked without need of forgiveness, the better Christian I thought I would be. I have come to realize that was a faulty understanding of grace and a subtle arrogance of self-will.

Godliness may best be seen by how quickly you recognize your spiritual mess up, and how soon you confess your sin to God, and how fully you receive His forgiveness in Christ, because you value your relationship with God more than you love your sin. Sin is easy to enjoy at first, but that pleasure soon sours. The Bible describes the “fleeting pleasures of sin.” Hebrews 11:25 NLT. Sin destroys anyone and anything it touches. As my grandfather would remind me, “Keep short accounts with God.”

Trying never to do wrong by your own strength of will is a quick and sure path to failure. Trusting Jesus to live His life in you and obeying the Holy Spirit, who lives within you, is the road to the forgiveness and healing Jesus wants to give you. Paul said, “Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NKJV.

The path to God’s fullness and blessing is the same for you as for our nation, “If they humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their evil ways . . . then will I hear . . . then will I forgive . . . then will I heal.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.

The first move must be yours, humbly and earnestly asking for God’s grace and mercy; the final move will be God’s and will always be gracious and merciful.

My prayer for you today is that you live everyday in His loving forgiveness, and experience sufficient grace for a lifetime.

Devotionals , , , , , ,

Getting In Shape

August 27th, 2009

“Spend your time and energy training yourself for spiritual fitness.” 1 Timothy 4:7 NLT

Time in the gym with little or no time in church will not get you in shape for eternity.

My thoughts today are about “getting in shape.”

Fitness is important for your health and well being, but fitness does not just happen, even if you wish it did. It is always the result of training, and training is repetition and hard work – done again, and again, and again.

For recent months, I have been getting up earlier and swimming a gradually increasing number of laps in our pool. I have no illusion of grandeur – Michael Phelps I am not! –  but I do hope to be more fit than I was and healthier as well. I feel better and have more energy through my day when I make the time and effort to regularly exert myself physically.

Lance Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, and maybe one of the most fit athletes of any sport recently raced in the Tour de France after three years of retirement and still was able to finish third in the grueling event. He models the level of fitness required for exceptional achievement, and the training and discipline necessary to achieve that fitness.

Tom Landry, legendary football coach of the Dallas Cowboys, said, “My job is to get men to do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to achieve.” That’s kind of the way real life works, isn’t it? You have to do what you don’t want to do in order to achieve what you always wanted to achieve.

Visit any health club or exercise center and see the place busy and packed with people of all sorts sweating and working intensely rather than playing and enjoying themselves – all working for the simple goal of fitness – people with a vision of themselves, better, stronger, more fit than they’ve been.

I cannot imagine how much discipline, time, and effort some people are willing to give in order to be physically fit, yet how little priority, time or consistent effort is given for spiritual fitness. More time in the gym with little or no time in a church will not get you in shape for life everlasting. You may look good in this life when you go, but not so hot when you arrive – in eternity!

Getting in shape physically will unquestionably profit you for a while, while getting in shape spiritually will benefit you much now in your lifetime, and eternally even more. Here’s the Bible’s advice: “Spend your time and energy training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 NLT. Best not to neglect either.

Training for spiritual fitness requires untiring, life-long commitment, dedication to spiritual exercises, and continuing diligence in God’s Word. If you will, God will work you into shape.

“God is doing what’s best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it is going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.Hebrews 12:10-11 The Message.

My prayer for you today is that you never be casual about things that are eternal.

Devotionals , , , ,

Be Yourself

August 26th, 2009

“I have finished my course.” 2 Timothy 4:7 KJV

Stay on course as God intended; that’s where your reward will be found, in life and eternity.”

My thoughts today are be yourself.”

Do you ever wish for a moment that you could be someone else, or at least be more like someone else? I think everybody probably thinks about that wistfully once in awhile. Who would you want to be more like? Someone with a certain talent you don’t possess, more popular, with athletic prowess that breaks the will of opponents, having more money, less worries, or clearer plans for the future?

What about yourself would you change if you could? When asked most people’s first answer would likely identify something of appearance, or cosmetic – all outward, superficial and ultimately inconsequential. Imagine if you applied yourself to simply be better in who you are and what you can do.

The models the culture incessantly imposes upon you suggest empty promises that you would be better off, happier, more satisfied, or the life of the party if you would be more like the images they project for products you must buy, cars you must drive, homes you must have, and celebrities you could be like. But like too much of what this world sells as “must have,” the promises are hollow. You will always be better off and more confident just being yourself.

Your life is not the product of happenstance. You are not less than you need to be. You are not less than someone else. Besides, who could be better at being you? Why be a second best copy of someone else when you are an original? You are a wonderful creation of God’s own hand and genius. You are a bundle of potential and possibility yet to be realized more fully. You are graced with gifts and abilities that are wonderfully your own, unlike any other’s.

God can only bless what He has created and intended. You are made in His image and likeness, and are to be a unique expression of His nature, unlike any other of His handiwork. Paul describes you in this way, “You are His workmanship” (Read Ephesians 2:10 NIV), a Greek word, poema, that is like our word, poem, a creative work of expressive thought. A secret to a happy life is fulfilling God’s “creative work of expressive thought” in all you do, and all you are.

When I have previously read today’s verse, I seemed to focus on the aspect of finishing the course, but today my thoughts are directed to my individual assignment to be diligent in my course – the singular plan and path that God has thoughtfully chosen just for my life, uniquely different from any other. “For I know the plans that I have for you . . plans for good . . to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT. I cannot walk someone’s else’s path nor best accomplish someone else’s assignment even if I would prefer, try as I might. I am prepared and qualified by God to be best at just being myself, and so are you. Stay on course as God intended; that’s where your reward will be found, in life and eternity.

My prayer for you today is: be a wondrous original that best reveals the Creator’s genius and design in making you who you are.

Devotionals , ,

Sharing and Helping

August 25th, 2009

“Share each other’s troubles and problems.” Galatians 6:2 NLT

“Life is about sharing and helping, about unselfish consideration and kindness to others.”

My thoughts today are about “sharing and helping.”

There is a great story about a Special Olympics event. In a race, one of the Special Olympians stumbled and fell awkwardly. Within just a few steps further, everyone else stopped running and hurried back to help their fallen competitor. They didn’t have to stop to think about going back; they never considered not going back to help the fallen runner. They didn’t see him as a luckless competitor, but as a fallen comrade – a friend in need of their helping hands. Arm in arm, they completed the race together, apparently without regard to winning or losing.

They just did what was kind and helpful to someone just like themselves without thought or regard to who would win the race. Considering their own individual, physical challenges, I think they each identified with the one who fell, and instinctively knew how much they would need someone’s help. They lost a race, but taught all of us something important about life. It is not just about you. That incident seems to illustrate the simple, practical counsel that Jesus gave, “As you would that men would do unto you, do also to others.” So simple. No wonder generations have called that the Golden Rule.

Life is not all about winning; life is about sharing and helping – about kindness and unselfish consideration. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another . . contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” Romans 12:10/13 NASV. Imagine a community, a church, a marriage and family, or a friendship where everyone lived that way – a place where everybody is somebody and nobody is nobody!

I believe that it is as simple as putting yourself in another’s place, identifying yourself with them and their need, and then responding with understanding, kindness, and helpfulness. People are most helped by knowing someone notices and cares. See Philippians 2:3-4 NLT/ Galatians 6:10 NIV.

Though you cannot solve everyone’s problem, fix every situation, right every wrong, or meet every need, you can do something to help someone. Years ago, I learned a simple declaration I recommend to you. “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything but I can do something. And what I can do, I ought to do; and what I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.” Any one can do something sometime to reach out helpfully to someone else.

Simply stated, you have been helped; you can help others. Pass it forward. “Give as freely as you have received.” Matthew 10:8 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you receive the help you need and give others all the help you can.

Devotionals , , , , ,