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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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Plans and Steps

May 8th, 2018

LIFE IS BEST WHEN GOD IS FIRST.

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Plans and Steps.”

A life that is lived without a plan does not work very well, and a plan that is not clear, and manageable on some daily basis, will not lead to success. A plan is like GPS. You first choose your desired destination. Then a plan is formulated as the best way to get there. That could and should be applied to everyday life. A life that is lived without a plan does not work very well. And any plan that is not clear and manageable on some daily basis will not lead to success. Some years ago, a simple yet practical strategy became popular, “Plan the work; work the plan.” Solomon learned that, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5 NLT. That remains wise advice in any circumstance.

When you plan, you visualize the priority and time required for the various matters requiring your efforts. When you neglect those moments to think through a day’s responsibilities, you find yourself busy but less productive. Without a plan for the day, energy is misspent, and efforts are less effective. Attention is easily divvied and distracted. Time is poorly allocated. I have learned that important things are often replaced by alternatives that seem easier and more immediately enjoyable.

Direction is necessary for production. Now, let’s look at this on a larger scale with more eternal consequence. This principle especially applies to your spiritual life, as well as your daily life. Those two are inseparable, by the way. You will be more successful at the latter, when you succeed at the former. You cannot successfully compartmentalize your life into differing categories, seasons, or circumstances, in some of which you retain operational control while in others you are expecting God to direct and bless. Jesus is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. Jesus made this clear, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33.

Often, my Dad reminded me, “Allen, first things first!” It’s very simple really. First, you work, then you play. First, you save, then you spend. First, you seek God’s plan, then you follow His plan. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Read Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT. You and your wellbeing have been in God’s plans from the beginning and continue to be.

Life is best when God is first. God has the definitive plan for your life. Scripture is consistent. “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your good and not harm, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV. “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.” Psalm 18:30 NIV. Through prayer and Scripture, let God plan your work. “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT.

That being true, then devote yourself to knowing and following His plan. That is called obedience, a priority to God and a necessity for your success. Obedience will supply you with the necessary focus and ability you do not otherwise possess. Obedience will produce opportunities you neither earned nor expected. And obedience will yield achievement you do not imagine. God’s direction is always accurate; His timing is always exact; His results are always abundant.

Today I pray for you to discover God’s purpose in all you do and with all you have.

Christian Communications 2018-1308

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Goals

January 25th, 2017

A worthy goal is beyond your present abilities and fears

My thoughts and comments today are about, “goals.”

“I press on toward the goal . . for which God has called me.” Philippians 3:14 NIV

What could your life be if you cast aside the self-imposed limits? Never settle for a life too small. Life is an adventure for those with God alive within. It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try. But be sure your goals are God’s goals for you. A God-sized goal will be further than your reach, greater than your abilities, and bigger than your fears. In those, your personal satisfaction and success will be found.

You will never achieve your best without noble goals. Don’t waste time or resource with things that give you no pride of achievement. You will always have more potential than you have yet achieved. Yet goals alone do not insure success. Extraordinary achievement requires enthusiasm, energy, and exertion.

Joseph embraced goals that preceded his life and would extend well beyond it. He understood his unique place in history as well as destiny. As he prepared to die, he avowed, “God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land He promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . then you must carry my bones up from this place.” See Genesis 50:24-26/Exodus13:18-19 NIV. Joseph’s heart held a goal surpassing his ability to achieve and extending beyond his lifetime. In comparison, some of our miniscule goals seem embarrassingly small for God.

Reaching all your goals is not the highest achievement of success. If and when you have done that, life is sad rather than satisfying. That dubious accomplishment indicates that your goal was too small, yet you neglected to replace it with challenges grand enough to reach beyond your earlier successes. A goal should be like the horizon, envisioned in the distance, urging you onward, yet never becoming a settled destination.

In my earlier years, Kenny, a dear friend and encourager in my life and ministry, often challenged me, “Allen, it is better to aim for the stars and hit the top of a mountain, than to aim for a telephone pole and hit the top of a fence post.” His life-long conviction of that truth empowered him to believe God for blessing according to his efforts and beyond his abilities. Goals should be worthy of your supreme commitment, diligent effort, singular focus, and beyond what you can achieve without God and others. Godly goals encourage and empower you to accomplish more than you otherwise could.

Paul was neither impressed by his successes nor intimidated by failures. He learned from his past, but refused to live there. His singular goal was always before him. All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings and become like Him in His death, in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life . . The one thing I do is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So, I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.” Philippians 3:10-14 TEV. A God-sized goal is not achievable apart from God.

Today, I pray for you to dream big, plan well, and work hard to achieve your potential.

Christian Communications 2017

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A Sabbath Life

June 10th, 2016

Life was intended to be neither hectic nor laborious.

“God ended His work . . and He rested.” Genesis 2:2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “a Sabbath life.”

Work is an unavoidable, important piece of everyday life; yet it is just not meant to be the only piece. God gave the first work assignment to Adam. See Genesis 2:8-15 NLT. God placed Adam in the midst of a bountiful garden, “to tend and watch over it,” instructing Adam to partner in all God had created. Partnering with God in His will and purpose is your life’s work. You do so in your daily circle of influence and opportunity He has given you.

Your work is your assignment of ministry and your ministry assignment certainly includes your daily work. When your work is different from your Godly assignment, you are neither happy nor fulfilled. Without a sense of assignment, you lack the understanding of what you are doing, the clarity of why, and the conviction that you serve the Lord God. Labor was meant to be fruitful and productive in what God entrusts to your hands. If you read Genesis carefully, you will note that labor, as did most of life’s responsibilities, became hard “work.” I find it interesting that because disobedience, God told the woman that her act of birthing would be with pain and man’s work would be with sweat and struggle. Both of which we now call “labor.” Read Genesis 3:16-19 NLT.

At creation, God established a Sabbath principle by His own example and later established the Sabbath principle in His Law, the Ten Commandments, “six days you shall work, and on the seventh, rest.” Read Exodus 20:8-11 NIV. Life is designed for a natural, complementary rhythm of both work and rest. Life is better lived when you are diligent in your work and provide ample room in your schedule for the principle of Sabbath. “We urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you . . we encourage you to do so more and more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 NLT.

Sabbath is the attitude in which you live your life before God and others. Here is Jesus’ simple, straightforward invitation: “Come to Me, all of you are who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest . . you will find rest for your souls.” Read Matthew 11:28-30 NLT. Rest is more than inactivity. Jesus could say, “The One who sent Me is with me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:29 NIV. A Sabbath life is found in doing only what “pleases Him.” Rest for the soul comes from knowing what you should be doing and doing so as unto the Lord.

Life was intended to be neither hectic nor laborious. When your work becomes unsatisfying, wearying, or worrisome to you, you have lost perspective or misplaced priorities. If your goals are not being achieved however hard you work, your goals are not the same as His goals for you. When your life feels out of order, prayerfully check your priorities and activities and adjust accordingly.

Today, I pray for you to enjoy your work and rest as equally satisfying.

EDL Sabbath

 

Christian Communications 2016

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Truth and Trust

January 17th, 2014

“This word [from God] continues to work in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 NLT.

Trust the truth God entrusted to you.

My thoughts and comments today are about “truth and trust.”

Unquestionably, you and I live in a generation of hyper-information. Satellites provide internet, television, radio, and phones that connect us with information that is immediate, in a quantity that is immeasurable, and on a scale that is global. Within that incalculable capacity, your challenge is the ability to distinguish truth from the unending opinions, misinformation, or speculation that abounds.

Every day, truth is assaulted by opinions drawn from little more than personal whim or prejudice, or partial truths mixed with so much error as to leave the truth unrecognizable, or deliberate misinformation that is scandalously untrue. What is true? Where is truth you can believe in? In the shadows and fog of all the noise, God’s Word is a beacon of truth.

At the end of his life, Moses said, “Ascribe greatness to our God . . A God of truth, righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:3-4 NKJV. Moses knew the Lord to be, “A God of truth . . righteous and upright.” Truth is what we need. People complicate the matter of belief, but it is simple really. Either God is true, or what He says is not. But if God be true, His Word cannot be otherwise. See Romans 3:2-4 NIV.

I have observed: “You do not choose what you believe; you first choose who you believe and that choice determines what you believe.” Choose to believe God. ”Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and . . you have known the holy Scriptures.” See 2 Timothy 3:14-15 NIV/Hebrews 13:7 NKJV. Trust the truth God entrusted to you.

Who you know and trust ultimately forms your beliefs and shapes your opinions. From those come your convictions, felt and held deeply. Conviction of truth is not imposed upon you; truth resonates in your spirit and is recognized and embraced by you. I have chosen to believe God; therefore I believe the Word of God is divinely inspired, ultimately and eternally true, and both practical and powerful in its application. See 2 Peter 1:20-21 NLT/2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV.

Paul commended the Thessalonians, “When we preached His message to you, you didn’t think of the words we spoke as being just our own words. You accepted what we said as the very Word of God – which of course it was. And this Word continues to work in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 NLT. This morning, Paul’s assuring words intrigued me: “. . this Word continues to work in you who believe.” Cherish it; read it; study it, meditate on it, obey it; and trust it. As you do, truth will continue to work deep within your spirit and mind, imparting God’s wisdom and understanding. When you don’t feel it, or see it, or understand it, or wonder if it is, His “Word continues to work in you who believe.”

God won’t quit; His Word won’t fail.“If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard.” Colossians 1:21-23 NKJV. God’s Word continues to work in those who continue steadfast in His Word. See Isaiah 55:11 NIV. When you embrace God’s Word, you release God Word to work until completion. Philippians 1:6/2:13 NKJV.

The Bible is Truth, and in its pages are found the incomparable wisdom and knowledge of God. The Bible teaches principles of how truth is to be applied in practical ways and ordinary situations. Jesus taught that a life that endures remains unshaken by all that changes around you, established firmly upon the Word of God. Read Matthew 7:24-27 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that truth continues to work deep in your heart and life.


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