Major in the majors

www.bible.com/1713/eph.6.10.csb

Graduation season is here and many have taken their next steps into a larger world, sometime a more complicated world, where we wish we could step back and write that final paper than have to write checks to pay bills. I’m sure everyone who has ever been through college can attest to that some days. As I and many others have learned, our college degree doesn’t necessarily become our life’s work. In my case, having a major in Bible only pointed to my present career in Chaplaincy. But if you’d told me that Chaplaincy is where I would be in 25 years, I wouldn’t have believed you. We find that after a time, what we major in has little bearing on the real world.

However, our verse today points out that strength comes from the Lord. But what is strength? We often define it as ability. If you are strong enough, you are able to perform a task. But strength can also be defined as resiliency. Strength allows you to adapt and endure to changing situations and thus be resilient. Emotional strength points to enduring crisis and loss while strength of will translates into determination, even stubbornness.

What is the kind of strength that the Lord provides? Or as this verse suggests, being strong in the Lord? Having strength in the Lord is a major. We want to major in this major. That is, we want to exercise skill in this area as of undergirds many of the other areas in our life. If we are weak in the Lord, then our ability to fight temptation, overcome adversity and hardship and even exercise faith is hindered. So we major in working on the strength we have in the Lord. That strength is improved by spending time with Him in prayer and worship. That strength comes from assurance that He is with us. We always feel more confident when the bigger, stronger warrior is with us. And He is the strongest by far.

Put your trust in the Lord and in His strength and He will never fail you. He may let you fight on your own to test your mettle, but He will never leave your side. Fight and work in the strength of His might. He never runs out.

God bless.

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Thoroughly Equipped

www.bible.com/72/2ti.3.16-17.hcsb

Is it possible to be thoroughly equipped for every good work? What people miss about this text, because they get stuck on the inspiration section, is that Scripture can thoroughly equip the servant of God for every work God calls us to do. I discovered this when I was getting some extra classes for counseling and this was pointed out. Biblical counseling doesn’t need the principles of psychology, based on man’s ideas, but the word of God.

Consider what “every good work” entails. Every work that God considers “good” toward advancing the Kingdom of God can find guidance from the word of God. Are you looking to make what you do something that God can use for His Kingdom, look no further than the word of God. Confused about what you can do in this world that matters to God? Apply the principles you find in the pages of this book. The Bible was written to equip you, not just in part, but thoroughly, so that you can do God’s good work.

Teaching, Rebuking, Correcting, Teaching in Righteousness. The Word instructs us in what is true. It rebukes is because we have sinned. It corrects us because we have made mistakes. It teaches us righteousness because it is showing us how to do it God’s way. The Word of God is a divine mirror, showing us not only our faults, but also the solutions. We cannot discern these things from science and nature. They have to be revealed to us. God has already given us what we need to do all He has called us to do. God will not call you if He has not equipped you for the task. The Bible equips you for every good work He calls us to.

There is in this a sense of priority. If the Bible has nothing to say about something I want to do, is it a “good” work? Am I spinning my wheels or wasting time? Am I expending valuable time and energy doing something God has not called me to? I know this is arguing from the silences of Scripture but it makes me wonder. Does everything I do need to have a divine decree behind it? I know Scripture says elsewhere, whatever you do, do for the glory of God. Is what I am doing glorifying God?

I can’t tell you what to do. But I can tell you that the Bible has something to say about everything we put our mind to doing, whether direct commands or passive ones. The Bible isn’t just a book on the shelf. It’s God’s express commands to us about how He says we need to live. Don’t let it collect dust.

God bless you today.

Rest in Jesus

www.bible.com/72/mat.11.28.hcsb

At the time Jesus spoke these words, He was talking to a group of people who were literally carrying heavy burdens and were physically tired. I think we have to understand what He was saying to those people before we start turning it into metaphor. What kind of rest was Jesus offering to those who carried their belongings, their livelihood on their backs? They carried water from the well to their home. They carried grain from the field to their grindstone to mill into flour. They carried goods from the market and to the market. They carried their lives on their back. What kind of rest was Jesus offering them? Was he offering a rest for the weariness, or from the work itself, or both? If they did not work, they did not eat, or pay their taxes, or pay their creditors.

Yet when they came to Jesus, as in this instance in the text, they were not working. They were listening to Him. While they sat and listened to him, they weren’t busy doing all the other things of living. So in this sense, He was giving them rest. He was inviting them to stop from their labor and listen to Him for a while.

We place a high priority on work. We are to be commended for our diligence. But Jesus says sometimes we pause our busy schedules and pay attention to Him. He is as important as a paycheck. I would argue more important.

What we want to do is say that Jesus offers relief from stress and overwork in this passage. That simply giving our life to Jesus will allow us to keep doing all the things but with only half the stress as before. That’s not what He is saying. His audience worked everyday (but the Sabbath) just to survive, and He is calling them to rest. We work everyday to be comfortable. If it was about merely survival, we could probably make do with less, but we like our conveniences, like electricity and internet. Do you have time to stop and listen?

When you look at the context of Matthew 11:28, you will find on the next verse that Jesus offers rest for their souls. Doesn’t that mean this is a metaphor? Not necessarily. It seems to me in the larger sense that Jesus is offering rest because we no longer work for ourselves, or for the Man, but for Him. “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. When we place ourselves under a His yoke, we find it slot easier. Less stressful? Yes. Less burdensome? Yes.

As you work today, consider who you are working for. Don’t forget to stop and listen along the way to the words of the Master. He offers true rest, a respite from the tyranny of labor and its curse. You will never be able to do it all anyway, for there is always more to be done. Like Mary, take time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen.

God bless you today!

Consider Others

www.bible.com/72/php.2.3.hcsb

Pride ever get in the way of a good job? Teamwork can be a great thing as long as no one cares who gets the credit. We know this verse is true even without having to read it. But somehow people continue to forget its lesson. Rivalry is the idea that a person will continue to raise the stakes in personal competition with someone else. Rivalry doesn’t make friends, but is always comparing itself, always looking to measure itself against someone else, trying always to be better, but not for the good of the other.

Conceit works in a similar fashion, only that it seems to puff itself up at expense of everyone else. Conceit demands worship and adoration. Conceit demand attention to such a great it did. No one wants to work with conceit or with rivalry.

Rather we want to work with someone who considers you more important that they, and vice versa. This is someone who looks for the needs of the group before itself, because he knows that when the group improves, he does too. A rising tide lifts all boats.

“Love one another as I have loved you”, said Jesus. How did He love us? He sacrificed his own needs for the sake of everyone else. I think Jesus would have made a great person to work with. Why not try to be Jesus for those who work with you today.

God bless and have a great day!

Give Me A Reason

www.bible.com/72/eph.2.10.hcsb

I heard the wisdom shared yesterday from that sage of the human condition, Mark Twain, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” This verse presumes to answer that second question. Did you catch that? What is our purpose? Why are we here? “We are His creation” this He is our Father. We were made by Him who is filled with purpose, direction, and meaning. How could we not share in that? But this creation is something special, for we are created “in Christ Jesus”. This is a recreation, a reconstruction of who we are based on our salvation in Christ. For who we once were was marred irrevocably by sin and corruption. But Jesus has changed all that. Jesus has given us new life and purpose. Where once we had natural talents and abilities, now we are renewed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But why go to all this trouble? Ah, but we were created “for good works, which God prepares ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” God did lay out a plan for you and for the gifts He would empower you with to accomplish His purposes. The path has already been made. We have but to follow. You have been created to do good. To do God’s good. Today may be the day you find out why, I hope it’s good news.

God bless you all today.

Who’s the Boss?

bible.com/72/pro.16.3.hcsb

Kids are back to school today, my oldest goes back to work, as does my wife and myself. I’ve got a longer day today where I work than usual, so it is a bittersweet reminder that all of us are back on schedule today.

And so, this verse pops up on the feed to remind me who I am working for. Though it feels like we are all working for the man, we are in truth working for God.

The scriptures talk about doing all of work as unto the Lord, and that’s not a bad idea. Would you work any differently if it was the Lord looking over your shoulder? Would having the Lord working beside you make a difference in how you did your work today?

Or would it make a difference to know that the stuff you do everyday, no matter how insignificant you think it is, actually has eternal effect? Just being honest in our business dealings has a powerful impact our our spiritual walk, that even in this small thing, we will be people of integrity.

Consider today how you work, and for whom. God can make any work worthy when He is in it.

God bless and have a great day!

Why go to Church when I work so much?

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A lot of people work. And people are commanded to work, for the sake of providing for his family. “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1Ti 5:8 ESV) And often managers and supervisors schedule their employees without regard to Sunday worship. Often work is cited as an excuse rather than the real problem.

In truth, the Scriptures call for one day in seven for rest. This is called keeping the Sabbath. Those that would take this seriously would remember that God rested on the seventh day, and so we ought to as well. And so some will say that “Sunday is my only day off. It is my day. I don’t want to have to get up early to go to church.” But these folks are not off the hook yet, as Sabbath-keeping in Scripture was about spending the day in worship. This was a day to remember that Lord made the universe. This was a day that the Jews went to synagogue, and spent several hours there. People then were expected to work for seven days (this long before the labor-saving devices we now employ) and then to spend one whole day not doing any work (or play for that matter).

Now, Christians observe the first day of the week for worship, as this is the day that the Lord rose from the dead. We have applied Sabbath-keeping rules to Sunday, allowing us to use Saturday as a work-day. This is not mandated by Scripture, but something we do anyway. But this statement “my day off” is a smokescreen, since people will get up early on Sunday to take in a sports event, or watch their kids play. If you schedule a church service in the afternoon or evening, there would still be excuses. The root issue is the heart. If Church was important to this person, he would rise early on Sunday because he couldn’t wait to get out of bed to see His Lord.

Many people in foreign lands walk miles on Sunday morning, before the sun comes up, after six days of grueling labor, just so they can worship the Lord. The problem lies in the heart, the rebellious heart that resists the calling of his Lord. Admittedly, some have to work on Sunday morning, or work the night before. But someone who avoids church on account of work is giving voice to a symptom rather than the underlying problem. Rather than condemned for not coming to church, that person too needs to be loved into the kingdom. You do not know if that person is working extra hours to pay off a debt, or to care for his family. If you see a person working on a Sunday, offer to worship with them at a time convenient for them,

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
(Mat 18:20)