Worked to Death

To some, Work is a four letter word.  Usually, when things follow a predictable routine, and you can plan ahead, work for me is not bad.  This past week, I was working to try to get some house repair projects finished up, and I ran into some unexpected complications that demanded more days to correct than I had expected.  Needless to say, I was not able to meet my deadline and this impacted other work and family things which were planned, then canceled.  When doing work makes more work and productivity suffers, it is not fun, but having a proper perspective and a right mindset can help you persevere through most any obstacle.  What is your attitude toward the work before you today? 

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.  Proverbs 14:23

Honestly, I enjoy my normal full-time job 90 percent of the time.  There are no perfect jobs, but there are usually things you can find to like about most every job, if you look long enough.  As long as you are not putting your or other’s  life and health in danger, you should give yourself a little time to adjust to a new job.  Work ethics develop at a young age, as I remember wanting to help my father on the farm long before I was really much help, and eventually allowed to walk beans.  I encourage all young people who are starting to work to try a variety of jobs if they are able.  One Summer, when in High School, I signed up with a local work-placement organization who would call me when someone needed help with a project for a day or two.  I spent one day moving furniture, one day doing construction on a farm building, and another day riding all around Iowa picking up unused seed corn.  You can learn something from most every job you encounter, even if it is that you never want to do that job again.  Are there any jobs you feel are ‘beneath’ you and you are unwilling to do…Why is that? 

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”  2 Thessalonians 3:10

At times, we may be critical of people who are panhandling, walking the streets, or not working – by our definition.  I know some people who have a disability, but still hustle and work several odd jobs to provide a meager income.  Not all disabilities are always visible.  I know several others who are fairly able bodied and minded, who are on disability or seek to be, so they don’t have to work at what they have been doing.  We don’t always know the whole story.  I do think it is important to give people an opportunity to show what they are capable of doing and even if they make mistakes, to allow them some room to learn new skills required for a job.  Not everyone is fit for every job, but they should at least be given a chance to succeed or fail, just like others have done for you. 

So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?  Ecclesiastes 3:22

So, what is your attitude toward the work set before you today?  If your job is something you dread each day, you are doing it wrong!  We all have God given gifts and abilities that we can use for something good.  We may not always fully utilize them in every job we do, but we should make the most of every opportunity to do the best we can.  Even if you feel ‘stuck’ in your current place of employment, without much opportunity for advancement or other job prospects, you should still do your best work and focus on the things that you enjoy about it.  There is not ‘perfect’ job and the grass often seems greener on the other side till you get there are realize it is not.  So, learn to do your job as best you can, at least until an opportunity for something that may be a better fit comes along.  Remember, you are not just working for a boss, you are working for The Boss from now to the day you die, so get used to it and enjoy the work set before you!

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.  Colossians 3:23

Yours in Christ,

Clark

Investment and the Kingdom

A business man owns an investment company and has three employees.  He is getting ready to go on a 2 year trip to start some new business ventures. To keep the company he already has going, he entrusts each employee with money based on what he thinks they are capable of overseeing.  For one he gives $1.4 million, another $3 million, and his strongest employee $7 million.  

2 years later, the owner returns to see how his business is running.  The employee entrusted with investing $7 million now has $14 million.  The owner rewards his success by adding another $7 to his accounts.  The employee with $3 million now has $6 million, and is entrusted with an additional $3 million.  The employee with $1.4 million put it in a brief case and did nothing with it.  When asked why an investment company employee did not invest the money, the employee replyed

Matthew 25:24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ (emphasis mine)

This story is a paraphrase of a parable Jesus often referred to as the parable of the talents.  For the amount of money was called a talent. 

The business owner trusted the servant because he was a good man, but the employee questioned the character of the owner.   I think one of the reasons we do not experience all God has for us is we distrust God’s character and motive in our lives. Is God really setting me up for joy or keeping me from something good?  Is God really good when bad things happen in my life? If I tithe, does God really bless me?  

“I was afraid” really says it all.  Not only did this employee doubt the goodness of the owner, but they doubted their talent.  Fear so easily creeps in.  It is one of the enemies first tactics against you… Fear.  Some say fear is False. Evidence. Appearing. Real.  Sometimes the evidence is real and there is real reason for why we could choose fear.  There are 365 times in scripture God tells us not to give into fear.  Why?  Life and the enemy gives us plenty of reasons to fear.  

Each employee had reason to fear.  If they lost all the money they would loose their job.  Investing has risk, and risk invokes fear. Two employees buried their fear and their ability made way to double their talents. The employee entrusted with the least buried their talent and fear won the day. 

God has uniquely designed the fabric of who you are.  You have a personality make up, you have gifts, resources, and many other things.  You also have an enemy looking to keep you ineffective in the Kingdom of God by intimidating you with fear so you would bury your talent.  

Today you will bury something: your talent or your fear… choose

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg
www.thevibrant.church

Living a 4x Life

In his book Great by Choice Jim Collins looks at what he calls 10x companies. These are companies, like Apple and Southwest Airline,s that outperformed all competitors in their industry by a factor of 10 between 2002-2012. This is so rare that of the 20,400 companies Collins researched only seven outpaced their industry by a factor of 10. It seems almost crazy to me to outpace an entire industry by a factor of 10 over 10 years. This got me to thinking: what if we as Christians tried to outpace our competitor, the sinful world? What if we took seriously outpacing the decadence and sinfulness of the world, as these companies set to outdo their competitors? And, I’ not even going to have us aim for being 10xers, but to set our goal as doing FOUR times the good as Christ followers as we did/do as sinners. 

As I was reading the oft told story of Zacchaeus in Spanish this week I was really struck by the following, which I’d always glossed over. 

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:8-10

Look at those three verses for a moment. Upon being confronted by his own sin, and Jesus’ amazing grace, Zacchaeus not only proclaims he will give up his sinful life, but repay those he harmed by a factor of four. He wants his Christian-self to outperform his worldly-self by a factor of four. This idea has really struck me. I think sometimes we set out to do as much good as we can, while sinning as little as possible. We figure if we do more good today than bad, even if its a close score, we’ve succeeded. But what if we aimed to do four times as much good as we have sinned? What if we aimed to do four good works for God for every one sin we have committed? Can you imagine the positive impact on the world around us, especially as more and more Christians started outpacing sinfulness by a factor of 4? Now look, this is not some perfect formula for righteous living or salvation. But, I do hope it is a thought that gets us seriously thinking about the impacts we make. As Christ followers we should be aiming to out perform the sinful world around us, with its vices of immorality, impurity, idolatry, hatred, discord, jealousy, envy, etc. We should be striking back with the good of Christ: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (aka the Fruits of the Spirit). The world will always be doing its best to drag people down, so let us all be doing everything we can to counter the sinfulness of the world with the love of Christ. 

Audacious Faith

1 Peter 1:7 New International Version (NIV)

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

What does it mean to have audacious faith? The word, audacious or audacity, is not normally used to describe faith. When you look up the word, audacity, in the dictionary it means: boldness or daring, especially with confident disregard for personal comfort or convention of thought.

Audacious faith describes having radical faith. You have a confident disregard for the status quo. I am not talking about being a rebel Christian, but a Christian who is willing to stand in a situation rather than to be conformed by what others do or how they live.

The Bible is full of men and women who lived having audacious faith. Joshua was that kind of man. Even when Moses sent out the ten spies to check out the Promise Land, only Joshua and Caleb believed by faith God would help them fight their enemies.

We find the other 8 spies lacking faith of what they said and were filled with fear. The Bible says that because of their unbelief they wandered around for another 40 years until a new generation was raised and believed. God would help them in the victory over their enemies.

How is your faith? Is it audacious or does it surrender to the status quo? Maybe today you are facing an unseen enemy that brings fear in your life. Where is your faith? We are called to live having audacious faith in our Father in Heaven just like Joshua.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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