Tag Archives: work

2 Samuel 1-2; 1 Chronicles 11

I am reading a book called Integrity: the Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality by Henry Cloud. One of the think pieces that stuck with me early on is the deeper layer of integrity, the one below the first response of trustworthy, honest, and sincere. The deeper layer leaves a wake behind its passing by, and that wake is telling of the core of who that person is.

When David learns of Saul and Jonathan’s deaths, he is deeply grieved. He writes a song in honor of the men. Saul was an enemy toward David, and David mourns the good of who Saul was. He chooses to remember well.

I read further into the scriptures and take note of David’s mightiest warriors. I read of the Thirty and I read of the Three.

20 Abishai, the brother of Joab, was the leader of the Thirty. He once used his spear to kill 300 enemy warriors in a single battle. It was by such feats that he became as famous as the Three. 21 Abishai was the most famous of the Thirty and was their commander, though he was not one of the Three (1 Chronicles 11:20-21, NLT).

Remember Abishai? He was by David’s side when they went into enemy camp last week and retrieved the spear and water jug while Saul and his men slumbered. But here are the Three:

11 Here is the record of David’s mightiest warriors: The first was Jashobeam the Hacmonite, who was leader of the Three—the mightiest warriors among David’s men. He once used his spear to kill 300 enemy warriors in a single battle.

12 Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah. 13 He was with David when the Philistines gathered for battle at Pas-dammim and attacked the Israelites in a field full of barley. The Israelite army fled, 14 but Eleazar and David held their ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord saved them by giving them a great victory.

15 Once when David was at the rock near the cave of Adullam, the Philistine army was camped in the valley of Rephaim. The Three (who were among the Thirty—an elite group among David’s fighting men) went down to meet him there. 16 David was staying in the stronghold at the time, and a Philistine detachment had occupied the town of Bethlehem.

17 David remarked longingly to his men, “Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem.” 18 So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But David refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out as an offering to the Lord. 19 “God forbid that I should drink this!” he exclaimed. “This water is as precious as the blood of these men who risked their lives to bring it to me.” So David did not drink it. These are examples of the exploits of the Three (1 Chronicles 11:11-19, NLT, emphasis mine).

The wake of their actions leaves a long impression upon me–their strength, ability, and bravery made them warriors, but something deeper within them set them apart from other warriors. Likewise, I wonder, did these elite see something in David that made them willing to stand apart for him? Or were they just being true to themselves and how God wired them?

There’s a lot to consider in these chapters: the example David sets in honoring Saul and Jonathan; the mighty acts of the Thirty and the Three; David seeking the Lord for direction; and the pouring out of a sacrifice to the Lord–these things all speak of integrity and wake.

I find I have more questions as I consider today’s culture’s transient environment of work/service and relationships. I keep seeking.

Courtney (66books365)


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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Old Testament

1 Kings 10-11; 2 Chronicles 9; 1 Timothy 6

What is your divine calling? Many times we hear that question we think of those that have been called into full time Christian service, or we think of the opportunities we have to share our faith in the market place. However, have we thought of our divine calling to be the job God has called us to? What do you do for a living? Is that a divine calling enough.

I believe that is what the Apostle Paul was getting at in these first two verses of 1 Timothy 6,

1 Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved (1 Timothy 6:1&2 [ESV])

Yes, there will be times to share our faith with coworkers and customers. There will be times we can participate in actions that are gospel related. However have you looked at what you do day in and day out as divine calling? Is it something God has called you to do and in the act of doing your job well and with excellence will bring glory to God and benefit his mission in this world?

When you go to your job today — whether in the home or marketplace — keep this in mind. The very act of working is your divine calling. Do it with excellence and with a sense of duty to our Creator.

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Leviticus 8; Psalm 9; Proverbs 23; I Thessalonians 2

Walk worthy of God (but not at the pace of a workaholic)! My husband is always telling me that I work too hard. He sees me putting in too much time at my job, trying to complete a task without the strength or the tools, only to see the fruits of my labor disappear as quickly as a flash of lightening…and believe me, I feel like I’ve been struck at those times.

So I was interested in Proverbs 23:4, which states, “Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven, (NKJV). Overworking for money is definitely not recommended.

I do believe, however, that we are called to excellence in our work, and stories of the great men and women in the Bible have been my inspiration. For instance,                           I Thessalonians 2:10-12 exhorts us to be dedicated in our labors. Paul described his work as an apostle: “You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children; that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” Also, Leviticus 8:23 leads me raises goosebumps on my skin as I visualize the scene where Moses placed sacrificial blood on various body parts to inaugurate Aaron and his sons for holy service.  Blood upon the ear symbolized that they should always listen to and obey God’s commands. The hand grasps and holds things, so blood upon the thumb symbolized that they should actively carry out God’s will. Since the foot is the organ of movement, blood upon the big toe symbolized that they should always move with brisk and cheerful readiness (adapted from The Chumash). These examples of service make the command, ‘walk worthy of God,’ my mantra for performing good works for God.

Yet, this striving can, itself, become a hindrance to accomplishing the very work God has called me to. For in my human efforts, I can become driven, rigid, and hyper-focused to the point of ignoring that God is the One at work in me and through me – it is not I who elicits change. Psalm 9:1 lifts up this prayer, “I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your (my emphasis) marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” To walk worthy of God is to praise Him for all His works and to recognize that He is the one who works all things for our good.

I pray today, dear Lord God, that all Your work will be accomplished in me and through me as I lay my burden of work at Your feet. I can rise to the challenges ahead because You are working in me, still. I rejoice in knowing that my Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, is active and alive in me and all those who know the power of Your great Name. Hi, ho! It’s off to work, I go!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

The Chamush. The ArtScroll Series/Stone Edition. 2000.

The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Genesis 26; Matthew 25; Esther 2, Acts 25

Strengths, talents, and abilities. These are the internal resources that are essential to identify in those who struggle with addiction, low self-esteem, depression, and many other problems that cause impairment in day-to-day functioning.

Our Lord places in each of us gifts – talents, if you will. I remember taking one of those Christian surveys to determine my gifts so as to find my niche for serving the church. Organizational skills, faith, people skills were some of these identified gifts and abilities.  Even choosing a career was easy because I was drawn to a field where my strengths were needed.

For some people, however, knowing one’s talents or having the confidence to use those talents may be difficult. Many times life events have interrupted the development of these gifts from God – childhood trauma, extreme loss, disabling conditions, mental health disorders, etc. And some of us are simply unaware that what we have been given is something to use for God. Take Esther, for instance. She was “lovely and beautiful.” Those two words combined means she was in today’s world, ‘a perfect 10; model quality.’ Yet, growing up with her uncle Mordecai, both of her parents deceased; I can imagine that her beauty was not always appreciated. Girls can be jealous and vicious to the prettiest girl in the room. Who would have thought, however, that Esther would win the first beauty pageant in the Old Testament and become queen of a kingdom? Yet, at some point, Esther realized that she needed to hone her talent, gift of beauty and prepare for the big event. Until then, did she know her beauty would be used by God to position her to save the Jewish nation?

Sometimes I struggle with motivation or desire to use the abilities gifted by God. What happens when we tire of the ongoing work it takes to stay sharp, to keep producing excellent work, or to give so much of our time and energy to what God has called us to do? The parable of the talents in Matthew describes how God views our disregard for His giftings. Those who have much and use what they have been given for God’s glory are given more; those who have little but hide their ‘talent’ (the money to invest in this case) will lose even the little they were given. This isn’t about rich versus poor. This parable is to remind us that we are charged by God to be about doing His business. He will be pleased with our attempts to use the talents and abilities He has placed in us.

In the end, we all want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” Whether we dig ditches (think of Isaac’s talent for finding water and digging wells!), are persuasive orators (think of Paul’s eloquence in talking with kings and leaders), are skilled laborers, artists, counselors, stay at home moms/dads, and every other purposeful place of service, do all in the great name of our God. Let Jesus Christ be our model of sacrificial service, perfect obedience, and joyful giving to others what He enjoyed with His Father, and we, too, will find joy in honing and using our gifts for His glory!

 

Janet

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Genesis 5; Matthew 5; Ezra 5; Acts 5

When God created human beings, he made them to be like himself. (Genesis 5:1b, NLT)

Not much farther down the page, this:

When Adam was 130 years old, he became the father of a son who was just like him—in his very image. He named his son Seth. (Genesis 5:3, NLT)

A lineage of fathers and sons ensues–generations. But Enoch’s mention reads a little differently.

21 When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. 23 Enoch lived 365 years, 24 walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him. (Genesis 5:21-24, NLT, emphasis mine)

Just like Amy, I pick a focus word each year. Last year’s was COMMUNITY. This year, it’s RESTORE.

I was driving back from the library last night and listened to segments of a radio sermon. I’d love to go back and give it my full attention, but there was a part where the pastor talked about busyness, the badge people wear with weary and pride, and how if we’re so busy, it’s because we choose it. (His wording was much more poignant, to be sure.)

It stirred up a connection to an inbox article I read the other day about quiet time in the Word, and specifically bullet point three (dealing with busyness and, ahem, restoration.).

Like Enoch, I want to live in close fellowship with the Lord. It made him stand out on a page, but I want it to make me stand out as different. I don’t want to be just like everyone else–over committed and weary. I may still have a schedule that has me up early and running all day, but through it all, I want to live restored in my soul–not found in coffee breaks and coffee dates (although, I love coffee), but in God’s Word.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:13-16, NLT)

Father God, I know (I KNOW!) that you are the well that quenches my thirst. Nothing in this world, no matter how full my days, will fill me up, satisfy me and RESTORE me as time in your Word will. I’m thankful for precious access to you through prayer and your Word.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 4-6; Psalm 82; John 2

“That’s not what I expected. I’ve been listening to others who have heard Him teach, and their stories of His divine wisdom and hints of rising power have excited me – even ignited hope to my weary soul…worn down with eking out a living under the heavy hand of Roman captors. Yes, I feel like a captive, even though I am not a slave, yet. What a miserable thought – that I might have to sell my body to have some means of caring for my family, paying tithes and purchasing sacrifices, and giving to those who are even more needy and poorer than I. Oh, God, when will You save us? Those were my thoughts that Passover when I brought the few coins that I had saved to purchase an offering and pay the temple tax in the house of God.

As I walked inside the temple, a commotion began at the east corner, a place to avoid when purchasing an offering, though the other vendors are not much better. Dishonest and unjust Ben-Hadad charges exorbitant prices for exchanging Roman denarii for shekels, and his cohorts squeeze every last coin for their pitiful excuses of a sacrificial animal, even selling doves with broken wings and blemished, scrawny sheep.

All of a sudden an explosion of wooden tables crashed all around me and a whirlwind spinning with coins and curses seemed to suck out all the air in the room. Men groped on the floor or pressed against the wall in confusion and desperation. Then His voice, clear and with authority commanded, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’ This must be Jesus!” (Adapted from John’s account of the cleansing of the temple, John 2)

Today some see the temple cleansing story as instruction to churches not to sell pastors’ books, study guides, bible covers, CDs of the weekly sermons, etc. What came to my mind, however, was Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own…” This Scripture is instructing Christians not to use the body for immorality, wickedness, and various sexual sins. We are told we are without excuse because we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to convict us (let alone plenty of fellow believers and non-believers to condemn us). Yet, I wonder if the age-old practice of self-flagellation is just a misguided response to this conviction.  I don’t doubt that many of us feel a sound whipping is in order to cleanse our conscience! How long, though, does it take to forgive oneself and more importantly, what does it take for God’s forgiveness to sink in? I know how wretched a sister or brother in Christ feels to be caught up in sin. Christ still is consumed by zeal for His Father’s house – consumed by His desire to see us cleansed by His blood. But wait! Didn’t Jesus Christ already accomplish that? Are we truly forgiven or do we need to perform some ritual, penance, or sacrifice to cover sin?

I don’t think that is what the Apostle Paul was saying. Rather, what we need is to receive the ongoing regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, working out our salvation day to day in the presence of Almighty God.

Thank You, Jesus, that You are still consumed with zeal for my body, mind, soul, and spirit. Keep me aware of the places within me that need Your cleansing. Cleanse me by Your Holy fire and the washing of Your word. Have Your way with me. Thank You, thank You. Thank You, God for Your mercy!

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Jeremiah 38, 39, 52; 1 Peter 2

18 You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect.[k] Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 19 For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.

21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered[l] for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

22 He never sinned,
    nor ever deceived anyone.[m]
23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
    nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
    who always judges fairly.
24 He personally carried our sins
    in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
    and live for what is right.
By his wounds
    you are healed.
25 Once you were like sheep
    who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd,
    the Guardian of your souls.

We had such a wonderful time discussing this recently in my small group. It was used in correlation to the verses in Colossians 3:22-25.  I have to admit, I kind of got hit alongside the head with the proverbial 2×4 as I thought about those verses in relation to my job.  It really made me question my attitude at work.  Why do I behave certain ways at work?  Quite frankly, my answer was to get along with people and not burn bridges.  THAT was my reason for “doing good”!  Plus, of course, the more you do the better your review—who doesn’t want that affirmation they are doing a good job.  It totally fills my significance bucket!  Not once did I think of doing right because it is what we are called to do.  Not once did I think of it in light of finding that significance from working for God—especially in a secular place of business. My thoughts were purely selfish and all about me!

There is a verse in Colossians that isn’t included in today’s reading but has the same theme:

Colossians 3:23–Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

One of the ladies in my group stated, “We should work as if Jesus is sitting with us. Because He is!”  Wow!  Truth spoken in love!

The above verses tell us to do good, even if it means suffering. You mean if my coworker gets that promotion that I think should have gone to me?  Yes.  You mean if I work for a boss who curses constantly, is always yelling, and will cut you down with his words?  Yes.  You mean if I have a coworker who takes personal calls all day, is out on the internet looking at Pinterest, and you have to pick up their slack?  Yes.  Those examples are just ones I thought up as an example.  But, what about the time I was called into my boss’s office for my annual review and told I wasn’t getting a raise this year because it is perceived I add no value to the company?  Yes, even then!  I have to admit I had a big “fail” on that one because it totally changed my attitude about the place I worked. Those 10 minutes in his office undermined an entire career spent pouring my heart into that company.  Where I was once a pitch-in, help others, we’re all on one team kind of person, I developed a bad attitude.  I let what he said define me even though I knew in my heart the contribution I had made to that company.  Instead of trusting God, and believing I am who He says I am, I spent two years in misery.  I am sure many would tell me I was justified to feel the way I did, but if I am going to follow Jesus’ example, that is not how to handle it.  You see, “He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.” What would have been right would have been to continue working the same way I had always worked—with a smile on my face, pitching in to help others, and trying to find ways to make work fun for others.  I really had to repent to God over my actions.

One thing about God, I’ve found, is He will give you a second chance to take that test you fail the first time. As an example, after being unemployed for over a year due to the company being closed down, I was finally hired by a new company.  I worked beside a lady with the most unfriendly attitude.  The boss I had was unapproachable.  No one talked to me for almost a year.  Yet, every day I came in I said, “good morning” as cheerfully as I could and when I left I said “have a good evening” or “have a good weekend” whichever was appropriate.  I got a card for the one lady when her beloved dog died.  I picked up work for her when her brother was sick and she had to take off work.  I kept reminding myself that God was my ultimate boss and I was there to work for Him!  I wanted to quit and find another job so much during that time.  But I really felt God had placed me there so I decided to stick it out until He said it was time to find another job.  Over that time I managed to develop a rapport with the two people I worked with.  At the end of the first year I was there, the company reorganized and I was moved to a different department with a different boss.  Because of the training I had in one department, I was the perfect fit for the new department.  I have friends now and people to socialize with.  I had to patiently endure a little suffering trusting that God is sovereign.

And yet, I still have so much I need to pray about for change in this area! I still grumble and complain when I think things are unfair in regards to work situations or they change some policy that seems ridiculous to me instead of heeding the verses prior to the ones I quoted that say: 13 For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 14 or the officials he has appointed.  I have been put in this place to be the representative of Christ.  I so want that to be my reason for doing things!

Thank you, Father, that you give us a new day to start over, a new day to look to Jesus as our example in everything we say and do. You are quick to correct us in love when we need it.  We are so grateful to you for showing us a better way to live when we look to You.  In Jesus precious name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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