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A Holy Endeavor

August 16th, 2018

Your daily work can be a holy endeavor.

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

My thoughts and comments are about, “A Holy Endeavor.”

People often describe their job as, “work.” Your job should be work, requiring your best efforts and the bulk of your time. For the better part of your lifetime and a substantial portion of each day, work will occupy your time, attention, energy, and effort. Your attitude can make that time pleasant as well as productive.

Work can be little more than a necessity, something you have to do so to provide for yourself and family. Or work can become a drudgery, something you have to do but really don’t want to do. Or you can make your work a fulfilling joy, an activity and place where you discover the privilege of meaningful service. On different days, your experience will likely be a variety in differing proportions of all of those.

The Bible is clear. “The Lord God took [Adam] 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.’” Genesis 2:15-17 NIV. Work was the privilege of being stewards of God’s ample provision and care. But that privilege was accompanied by a responsibility. Adam was to work and take care of the garden, free to eat of any tree in the Garden, except one, described as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Contrary to what most people suppose, work was Adam’s assignment rather than God’s punishment for his disobedience. The punishment was the added labor that would be required. The difference was this. At the initiative and insistence of Eve, Adam chose to ignore God’s warning, eating of the fruit of the single tree that had been forbidden to them. Adam’s failure resulted in disobedience entering into God’s creation as they had been forewarned.  

“And to Adam He said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate the fruit I told you not to eat, I have placed a curse on the ground. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.  All your life you will sweat to produce food, until your dying day.” Genesis 3:17-19 NLT. The sweat and toil of work was the horrible price of man’s minimal regard for God’s provision being enough.

God appointed work itself to man earlier than his disobedience. Notice where man was to be employed? The Creator placed Adam and Eve in a garden, a picture of provision, plenty, and beauty – a fruitful 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. Since God first ordained His creation to know and enjoy meaningful employment in partnership with Him, would He not provide a way for you and me to redeem our daily work and discover it a holy endeavor, rather than a lifelong struggle? The proper answer is, “Of course.” Let me share a few simple, practical truths.

Choose a Godly attitude about work. Let your daily work be a holy service to God and man. “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do.” Ephesians 6:7-8 NLT.

Consider 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 provides for your needs, and supplies a surplus for sharing generously with others. The goal is not merely to get more, but to have more to give.

Value those who employ you or work alongside you. You accomplish that by thankfulness for the opportunity you are given and by offering only and always the best of your effort and diligence to serve. “Obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ” Ephesians 6:5 NLT. In your work, you also serve Christ. Be realistic. The workplace is not a perfect place with perfect people. But you can be diligent in your work as a service to the Lord. Be the best boss or employee that you can be, and do so as, “unto the Lord.”

Consecrate your work to God. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 NIV. 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. To Him be glory.

Today I pray for you to dedicate your life in joyful service to God and others.

Christian Communications 2018-8319

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A Life That Pleases God

June 11th, 2014

“God is giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13 NKJV.

A life that pleases God is the life most satisfying for you.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “a life that pleases God.”

Some days, you just don’t feel motivated. That’s not too bad unless that becomes true for most days, not just some. Motivation is engendered by having a reward worth acquiring or an accomplishment worthy of achieving, or a relationship worth pleasing. If your motivation is lacking, your efforts will be measured and minimal. If your motivations are unclear or impure, even your best efforts will be ineffective. Your first and enduring motivation should be to live a life that pleases God. A life that pleases God is the life most satisfying for you.

People of good heart want to please others who are important to them, as well they should, but without becoming people pleasers. “Serve [others] sincerely as you would serve Christ. Work hard . . do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Read Ephesians 6:5-8 NLT. One goal must have priority over every other: pleasing God whatever the cost or inconvenience.

“Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance for you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV. “The reward of the inheritance” should be your incomparable and eternal motivation. The Apostle Paul held distinct goals for his life and the lives of those in his spiritual care: “That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Read Colossians 1:9-12 NKJV. Imagine the satisfaction you would feel with the life Paul describes: worthy, fully pleasing, fruitful, and increasing in knowledge.

Alone, desire and intention are not enough; there is still something more needed. Your will must follow your willingness. Paul’s admonition applies, “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.” 2 Corinthians 8:10-12 NIV. God is not hard to please, not at all like some people for whom, “enough is never enough.” But know this clearly, God does expect your first and best. The life that pleases God loves the will of God, keeps His commands, follows His Word, serves wholeheartedly, considers others important, and lives charitably. Those are big expectations for an individual to fulfill. But Jesus is your example and enabler, “I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:29 NIV.

Here’s how this works for you. ”For God is working with you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13 NLT. What you lack, God offers. As badly as a person may want to live a life pleasing to God, you must also recognize the secret is this: “God is working with you,” producing the desire in you to obey and supplying the power to “do what pleases Him.” What pleases Him? Obeying His will. “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead . . make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 13:20-21 NKJV. The resurrection of Jesus assures you of His power to keep His promises.

Today, my prayer for you is that His pleasure with who you are and what you do is uppermost.

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Lives That Matter

March 26th, 2014

“What good is salt if it has lost its flavor?” Matthew 5:13 NIV.

Begin where you are; use what you’ve got; do what you can.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “lives that matter.”

Your contribution may not always be noticed until it is no longer being made. Without you, others’ lives would be less. Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?” Matthew 5:13 NIV. In isolation, salt makes no difference. But when interacting, salt provides what is lacking and enhances what is already there. Your life is meant to do the same. Salt is in almost every prepared food or snack that you eat. When it’s there you hardly notice; when it is not, you detect its absence immediately.

Often, you won’t know the benefits you bring into others’ lives until much later, maybe never specifically. And others may not recognize the difference you make until they are without your contribution. You are “the salt of the earth,” when you value living benevolently and beneficially, however small your effort seems to you or unnoticed it may be by others. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.” Read Colossians 3:23-24 NIV. Do so purposely, not for others’ recognition, appreciation, or applause. For a life that matters in your realm of daily influence, be deliberate, intentional, and purposeful.

Life is most self-fulfilling when what you do benefits others and glorifies Christ Jesus. Possibly, only eternity will fully reveal the extent of what you do. That’s what a successful, satisfying life is about. What you contribute in your community, on your job, in your school, in your home and family, and in your friendships has the power to make others’ lives better and your life matter, now and eternally.

Don’t worry about others noticing your contribution, and begin noticing and complimenting theirs. People take a lot of things for granted, therefore they may also take people for granted who improve their lives. While waiting around for your chance to make a big difference, you may be missing opportunities for making a difference now and being prepared for greater influence later. If you don’t start where you are with what you could do, you probably won’t start at all. “Anyone then, who knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17 NIV. Begin where you are; use what you’ve got; do what you can. That’s how you prosper and others benefit.

You are created, called, and empowered to make a contribution unique to your abilities, experience, personality and opportunities. Jesus’ followers are supposed to be seed, salt, light, and leaven. Common to all of those are lives that matter – an immeasurable potential for making profitable changes in others and profound improvements around them. As such, your life matters most when you are willing to be where you are most needed, doing what you were best designed by God to do. You can’t do everything, but everyone can do something. Do what you can, “as working for the Lord.”

My prayer for you today is that you contribute what you have and who you are for others’ benefit.

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Wholehearted

October 30th, 2013

“Enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well.”  Galatians 6:4 NLT.

Wholehearted is the one acceptable standard for your relationship with God.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “wholehearted.”

Casual is not an attitude that breeds success. Like every father trying to motivate a teenager, my Dad would often say, “Allen, anything worth doing is worth doing well.”Recognizing that my temperament was not Type A, Dad taught me the importance of being serious and focused on the things that truly matter. Casual is an attitude only for things of lesser importance.

Here is how I see this working out. Our culture seems to have made casual and leisure into a religion of sorts. Dress has gone from casual to careless. Social communication has embraced casual until grammar and spelling, and complete words and sentences, are deemed non-essential. Street slang and accepted levels of profanity have gravely discounted language. Marriage and relationships are treated casually, as though dispensable and replaceable by something or someone newer and more presently exciting and less exacting. Casual has become a way of life, and other things have suffered or been lost along the way. Casual is the adversary of commitment; good is the enemy of best.

This is not a tirade to preserve the past, but a caution that the spirit of such a lifestyle does not impose itself on your spiritual life. Wholehearted is the one acceptable standard for your relationship with God. Actually, your faith and the wholeheartedness with which you live it should be the influence that makes you desire every area of your life to be more diligent and effective. Paul advises, “Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” Galatians 6:4 NLT. You cannot afford to be casual about spiritual matters; they have life and death, even eternal consequence, for you.

You need to know who God says you are, and not mindlessly accept what the culture suggests that you can or should be. You need to know what God’s work is for you to do, and not merely accept the world’s current of career choices and images of success. And when you know who you are and what you are to do, give yourself wholeheartedly to success there.

That was the deciding difference between young David and his brothers, and because of that Goliath was defeated. Again, let me say,wholehearted is the one acceptable standard for your relationship with God. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT.

“Whatever you do, do it heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve . . as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men.” Colossians 3:23-24NAS/Ephesians 6:6-7. Life is simpler when you always give God your best.

My prayer for you today is that God will hold your heart, all of it at all times!

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Finishing Strong

April 3rd, 2013

“Care for the flock of God entrusted to you . . willingly, not grudgingly.” 1 Peter 5:2 NLT.

A good start is important but how well you finish is essential.

My thoughts and comments today are about “finishing strong.”

A short attention span is the enemy of success. Moving on to new ventures, some people leave much unfinished – promises unfulfilled, relationships broken, plans discarded, intentions incomplete, or focus diminished. Their inevitable lack of success prompts seeking something else more immediately challenging or satisfying. When looking ahead for something better to do, you will not do well the task at hand. A good start is important but how well you finish is essential. Solomon discovered, “The end of a thing is better than its beginning.” Ecclesiastes 7:8 NKJV.

Resolve is strengthened when you see your task as God’s assignment. The Bible is clear about God’s expectations. ”Care for the flock of God entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly . .  because you are eager to serve God.” 1 Peter 5:2 NLT. Peter used the imagery of a shepherd, but the principal is simple and current – be diligent about opportunities God entrusts to you. Paul instructed young Timothy, “Men ought to regard us as servants of Christ . . entrusted with the secret things of God. It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 NIV.

You are entrusted to serve God eagerly.If you are a student then be the best student you can be – attentive in your classes, diligent in your studies, invested in your education. If you are employed, consistently give your best effort – on time, serving happily, working diligently. If you are a friend, be loyal and trustworthy. If you are married, apply yourself wholeheartedly to your marriage – edify your spouse, demonstrate your care, evidence love consistently. If you have children, provide well for them – prioritize time and energy, provide Godly “nurture and admonition.” Ephesians 6:4 NKJV.

If you confess to be a follower of Christ, serve Him with excellence – live with integrity, speak truth, and serve God and man humbly. See Colossians 3:23-24/Ephesians 6:6-8 NKJV. Your reward will be incomparable. “And when the [Chief] Shepherd comes, your reward will be a never-ending share in his glory and honor.” 1 Peter 5:4 NLT.

Jesus is your example. The Bible concludes with Jesus’ bold words, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13 NIV. In Jesus’ account of His life to His Father, He said with confidence, “I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do.” John 17:4 NIV. Jesus allowed nothing and no one – neither friends’ well-meant help nor critics’ evil intent – to dissuade Him from His singular pursuit of the will of God. Amid Jesus’ physical and spiritual anguish on the cross, He rattled Hell with His triumphant words, “It is finished!” John 19:30 NIV. No whimper of defeat was that; Hell and the grave were vanquished forever. The Seed of the woman bruised the head of the serpent as God had said. See Genesis 3:15 NIV.

Our God has not changed; He will complete the work He has begun. “Confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it . . He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 NKJV/1 Corinthians 1:8 NIV. Be patient; God is not finished with you yet. Complete, that’s what you’ll be.

My prayer for you today is that you finish strong and with joy receive His “Well done!”

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