Tag Archives: work

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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Jeremiah 25, 35, 36, 45; Psalm 133; James 3

This past summer I went through my email inbox and cleaned house. Daily, the inbox was so full that if I missed a day of checking or deleting, I was overwhelmed and consumed in no time. So many things in life already vie for my attention that it seemed like I was losing my focus–and I want to be intentional in my relationships (my family and my friends right in front of my face), in my service (at home/work, at church and wherever God leads) and in my walk with the Lord (seeking him, growing closer to him, obeying him). The subscriptions were a symbolic mental hustle. I needed to pare down.

The scriptures in Jeremiah make me think on what happens when priorities get shuffled. How the Lord will speak, but a life can be so distracted or a focus otherwise engaged, that He gets put aside. Where a people pursue conflicting interests and worship other things, a merciful God calls out, “Stop!” and they can’t hear. Or worse, they burn the warning.

In James 3, controlling the tongue–and I think long on influences (what I read, what I watch, what I hear, what examples I imitate, whose advice I seek, whose company I keep) and I put these before the Lord for his guidance.

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:13-18, NLT.

A summer favorite blogger advised (against burnout by) sorting through the to-do for the essentials and then cutting out extras until there was peace. This is where I find myself, looking at the non-negotiable activities of this season and committing to those, building from there–being careful not to tip the scales in favor of burnout and hustle. For me, at least, God is harder to hear in the overwhelm.

Father God, when I read these scriptures, I see how easy it is (and how costly!) to lose sight of you, to get so far off track (preoccupied or busy) that your voice is drowned out. Lord, I put before you my thoughts, my relationships, my dreams and my actions for your guidance. Help me to discern what is good and fruitful and pleasing to you.

Courtney (66books365)

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