Consider Joseph and Daniel

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Colossians 3:22-24 (HCSB), “Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while they are watching, in order to please men, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will gain the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thankfully, those of us in most of the world don’t have to worry about being slaves. However we can apply this passage of scripture to employees, servants, and anyone who is under another’s authority. The world would be a better place and much more productive if we did this. There wouldn’t be such a spirit of “socialism” in the world either. Everyone would do their part to the best of their ability. There are way more people who could be working at something than there are those who truly can’t work at anything.

In America we complain a lot, about a lot. We tend to complain about Mondays, why? Because we have to go back to work. We complain about having to work at all, or we complain about the hard hours, or those who don’t work as hard as we do, or that we aren’t appreciated, or recognized, or praised…need I go on? This week I was reading my Bible and came across that scripture in Colossians, which led me to these:

Ephesians 6:5-6 (NIV), “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.”

Hebrews 13:17 (KJB), “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Do your job even if no one is looking. Submit to those in authority over you, even if they are wrong. Now, I have to clarify that we don’t have to go against our morals here, that isn’t what I am talking about. What I am saying is we don’t have to be right. As an example, let’s consider a couple of men from the Bible.

Joseph and Daniel were both slaves. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, actually only one, the rest of them wanted to kill him, and ended up with years slavery. First in the home of Potiphar where he did such a good job the Egyptian put him over his whole household. Then when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, and Joseph literally ran away, she accused him or rape and Potiphar sent him straight to prison. In prison he quickly rose in authority until he pretty much ran the place. He was released from his confinement after interpreting some dreams of Pharaoh’s. He saved not only Egypt from famine, but his own family as well. His ending was that he was second only to the Pharaoh himself, who pretty much ruled the known world at the time.

Daniel was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and taken from his own homeland and relocated to Babylon. He too due to his obedience quickly rose in rank and authority. He ended up serving under seven different rulers and kings, none of them Jewish. Like Joseph, he stood for righteousness and continued to serve God where he was. And like Joseph he also interpreted the dreams of a king through God’s revelation. He didn’t use his captivity under a gentile foreign king as an excuse not to serve God along with serving the king. He was almost killed for continuing to obey God when the king made a law that contradicted God’s law. God however, intervened and saved Daniel’s life.

If we look at these two men we see a pattern. They didn’t just obey God. Had they snubbed their noses at their captors, they would have at best, not risen in authority, and at worst, been killed. Yet, when it came to sinning against God they both refused. Daniel calmly continued to pray three times a day as was his custom, and Joseph refused to allow temptation to commit adultery with another man’s wife. They didn’t fight their captors, they didn’t refuse to work, they didn’t try and sabotage their new governments, but they did obey in every way that didn’t go against their faith in God.

How much more should we obey our bosses, teachers, parents, government officials, Church leaders, and God himself? We who are free from the law and are not obligated to follow it, but have the grace of God and His love inside of us; shouldn’t we be even more obedient? We are representing Heaven and our Heavenly Father let’s represent Him well. When we do that our bosses, leaders, etc. can do their jobs with joy. God will get the glory and people will be blessed.

It’s always right to do the right thing. It’s always best to do our best.

I am not sure who coined this phrase, but the school I taught at for years had this as our motto: “Good, better, best, I’ll never rest, until my good is better and my better is best.”

I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV), “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

 

Just Do It!

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I Samuel 10:6-7 (NIV), “The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.”

Samuel tells Saul all of this after anointing him as the first King of Israel. Good advice. The Spirit of the Lord has come powerfully into us, for those of us who have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. How much more should we “do whatever our hands find to do?” God is with us. He has given us His power. What can stop us?

Colossians 3:23 (NLT), “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

Ephesians 6:7-8 (NAS), “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.”

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it. If you are walking through your Church, or work, parking lot and there is garbage on the ground, pick it up. If you see that the garbage needs emptying, take it out. If you are entering the grocery store and there are others behind you, hold the door. Whatever your hand finds to do, not evil, not hurtful, harmful things, but helpful, beneficial things, do them. Notice that we are doing those things for the Lord. So maybe you haven’t been doing those things, especially at work, thinking that it wasn’t part of your job description. Do it anyway. Maybe you stopped doing those things because you never got a “thank you” or any recognition. God noticed.

That paycheck isn’t a gift from your boss, you earned it. However, it is a gift from God, the check, the job, the energy and wisdom to do the work. Those are all gifts. Be thankful, and show your appreciation by working hard. Be a good example. Show the world the work ethic of God. He doesn’t do shoddy work, He doesn’t “kill time” waiting for the whistle. He doesn’t have to be reminded to do His task. He isn’t late, He always shows up, and He keeps a good attitude. We are His kids, shouldn’t we behave like our Father.

Matthew 5:13-16 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English), “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will it be salted? It is good for nothing except to be thrown outside and to be trodden upon by people. You are the light of the world. You cannot hide a city that has been built upon a mountain. And they do not light a lamp and set it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all those who are in the house. Thus your light will shine before the children of men that they may see your good works, and may glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”

Letting Love Motivate Us- Part I

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The most important truth available to us today is this: GOD LOVES US.
He loves you, He loves me.

One of the most familiar verses in the Bible is –
John 3:16 (KJV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

How many of us wish we had a dollar for every time we have heard it, said it, read it (even on t-shirts and cardboard signs at football games)? God so loved the world! He loves the lonely single parent, the latch key kid, the grieving widow, the gay couple next door, and even the child molester. God loves people! We have heard countless messages on God’s love for us. So we know, at least in our heads, that God IS Love. But it isn’t until we hit those road bumps of life that our belief in that love is tested.

God doesn’t stop loving us, ever. We may go through hard times, even horrible things, but His love is still there. We may not understand why we have to face such trials, other than the fact that we do live in a fallen world, with a real enemy, and awful things happen to people. Those people, won’t get saved hearing a ‘turn or burn’ message. In fact the few ‘turn and burn’ messages in the bible, weren’t given to the lost, but to religious people. The lost will come into the family of God when they really believe that He loves them.
How will they know that He loves them?

Leviticus 10:17-18 (NIV) “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”

And Mark 12:31 (NIV), The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

So it starts with two things, we have to love God, and we have to love ourselves. For some of us it is easy to love God, but loving ourselves is a whole different matter. We know us. We know what ugly things we did, the ugly thoughts we have had, those things we don’t want anyone else to know. But it is part of the command. If you have a hard time loving yourself, then you haven’t been listening to God. He has wonderful things to say about you. Find out what He says about you, how He feels about you, what He plans for you. You’ll find it much easier to love yourself. We have to change our ungodly thought patterns into Godly thought patterns. Ungodly thoughts say “I am no good, no one loves me.” Godly thoughts say, “I am accepted in the beloved and God loves me.”

Jesus’ says in John 13:34-35 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

After loving God, and learning to love ourselves, we must love one another. If we can’t love our brother and sisters in Christ how can we love those that are lost and without hope. We always think of loving others as a new commandment, but God commanded Israel, in the book of the law (we just read it) to love your neighbor as yourself. My opinion is that part that is “new” is our loving the way Jesus loves us, unconditionally, without restraint or strings attached. It has always been a command of God. Of course, He’s all about love!

Now, we come to the part where the world can see the love of God. They see it by our love, for God, for ourselves, for the family of God, and for them. We can’t stop at any of these steps. If we learn to love God with our whole heart, we won’t be able to stop! God’s love compels us to love others. But if we get hung up on just trying to love ourselves or other Christians, how will those who really need to know about His love ever experience it?

Ephesians 2:10, (KJV) “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

We have to show them the love of our Father. We need to be a reflection of His love.

Ephesians 2:1-7, 10 (AMP) “And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins. In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]. Among these, we as well as you, once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind. But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us, Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation). And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One). He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Our acceptance off all God’s goodness shows by example God’s love to the world.

Verse 10 again in the Amplified. “For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].”

We were predestined to demonstrate the riches of his kindness and the goodness of His heart. God is our Father, we are His children and this is our “family business.” He has already given us the gifts and talents to do this. We have all of heaven at our disposal to show the world how much He loves them.

Just doing good works isn’t enough. We have to let love motivate our good works. If we work to try to earn God’s favor, we are building with wood, hay and stubble.

Matthew 6:1(New Living), “”Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.”

Verse 16, (New Living), “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.”

God’s word is clear, our motives are important. If we work so other can see us and praise us or admire us, then their praise and admiration are our only rewards. It isn’t pleasing God, or building with anything that will last through the storms. We can bully, beg and harass someone into saying the sinners prayer, but are they really saved? How does that portray God? As someone who doesn’t really care about them, someone who just cares about numbers-how many people I converted today.

Please read Letting Love Motivate Us Part II Tomorrow.