Saturday, February 25, 2012

Theology of Work

Recently an employee of a sub-contractor complained to me that he finally had to get a job because his unemployment benefits were running out. I later found out the man is a professing Christian. Should we only look for a job when our unemployment benefits are running out? I think not.

I recently gave a sermon on the theology of work and had many interesting responses. I will share some points.

  • God works. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He is not only our creator, He is our Sustainer, Savior, and by his power, He transforms our lives. He works.
  • He rests. Genesis 2:2-3 says, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” God rested, not because He was tired; He rested to set an example for us. I believe He rested to marvel at His own creation. It is good. He rested from His work, made the day holy (time of worship). Our day of rest should be worship, recuperation and restoration; a marveling of God’s creative genius and love He has and continues to show to us.
  • Work was instituted before the fall of man. Genesis 2:15: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Work the Garden of Eden and take care of it? -- Work was designed to be part of our life—before sin entered in.
After the fall, work was not cursed, the soil was. Genesis 3:17: “To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.” I believe this is a common misconception among Christians; we think work was cursed. It wasn’t, the soil was. As a result, our work sometimes (or most times) can be toilsome. But I must admit, a good day of work is a blessing from God.

There is much more that could be said, but I ask, what kind of witness do we send by our work ethic? Do we use bad language? Do we gossip? Do we give half effort? Do we respect our fellow workers? Oh, the world is watching.
O Lord, strengthen us in all ways. Give us pleasure and fulfillment in our work. May we be true witnesses for you in the work place. Amen.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Greatness of God

Our Bible study was in John when we came across the verse in John 14:12: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.” Usually today in Bible studies we “skate” over such verses we deem to have too much hyperbole or are too complicated. We have a lot of newer Christians in the Bible study and I felt we must address this verse and not skate over it. Unless they think Jesus may be talking through his hat.

At first glance do you feel Jesus was laying it on a little heavy when he said this? His followers would do greater things than Him.

Let’s look at it a little differently. Jesus in His world ministry possibly never worked outside a 50 mile radius in his three year ministry. How many people did he heal or rise from the dead? Hundreds or thousands maybe? We don’t really know because not every thing He did was recorded in scripture. Let’s just take a look at one thing: modern eye glasses.

In Jesus day if you had sight problems your only hope was to cope or pray for a miracle. Today we have eye glasses; we take them off and we can’t see very well at all. Put them back on and instantaneous 20/20 vision (if everything is up-to-date). Now each pair of eyeglasses is made specifically to each person’s personal prescription. You can’t use your buddy’s eye glasses when you lose your own. You might get some marginal help but more than likely you will end up with a headache…Is this greater work than Jesus’? Think of this—300 million people in the U.S. If 40% of the people need vision correction that is 120 million half-blind people that can now see. Think of this—bifocals, trifocals, sun glasses, anti-glare glasses, contacts hard or soft—what an impressive list.

I believe this is great work the followers of Jesus Christ have accomplished. Yes, but not alone. In His greatness, He gives us life and breath and everything else (Acts 17). Every beat of our heart, every breath we take is a gift from the Lord. None of us could do anything without that life, breath and everything else. Man can make pace makers and many other devices and in case we become puffed up in pride with our accomplishments, God determines when our heart beat begins and stops.

Isn’t the Lord great? What a privilege to be His son or daughter!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Laying our water pipe--50 feet short of the Fountain of Life

Jeremiah 2:13 - "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."

Hosea 7:16 KJV - "They return , but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt."

The prophet Hosea was addressing the nation of Israel. The church (us) is the New Testament nation of Israel.

Hosea laid out the sins of Israel; they are not much different than ours today. I don't find that surprising. Men have not changed much over the years; we just ride faster horses and the women are more beautiful.

Hosea than says in part in verse 16..."They return (but) not to the most high." We lay our water pipe 50 feet short of the Fountain of Life...we want the church culture. One businessman told me, "I have to belong to a church if I want to do business in this town." He needed the church culture to survive but he did not want Christ.

We come back to church for our rituals. We "shack up" but when we need a church wedding, we come back only in outward action but our heart is far from the Living Water once again, our water pipe is 50 feet short.

Many of us live a shriveled life. We are like a plant that didn't receive any water; we are alive but barely. We choose not to come any closer to Christ; no, we don't want to be considered a radical; it might ruin our "cool guy" reputation. We don't come close because we are ashamed; ashamed of our unconfessed sin. Oh, the world knows not of it, but God does. We lay pipe for living water 50 feet short of the Fountain of Life. We would rather live a shriveled life than coming humbly to God, through Jesus Christ all forgiven and restored and drink in the Living Water from the Fountain of God...

Come back to Jesus OR come for the first time. Grace of Christ is living water, He refreshes, he cleanses; it quickens our life, revives our drooping soul, and it never stops flowing.

Get up out of your sin; lay the last 50 feet of your water pipe. Be forgiven, restored and be refreshed. Come to Christ and live.

Friday, February 03, 2012

The battle for culture...A Christian response

I have been preaching through the book of 1 Peter at a church I visit once every month. After about a year and a half, I've just started chapter 4. First Peter is written to people who are being persecuted or are about to be persecuted. It is a letter of warning but also encouragement.

I am concerned for the church in America; I believe a time of persecution is coming and we, the church, are not ready. We (the church) are not ready for much of anything. Over the last ten years the attacks on our faith have become more numerous and vicious. The feeling in the culture is that anyone who believes in God is an idiot. The attacks are more open and vile.

We live in an era of mounting skepticism, skepticism toward everything. The culture struggles not to free itself from a so called oppressive faith. We must mount a counter attack, a worthy retort, as it were, to preserve the foundations of our republic. Yes, our government and culture have been rooted in Judeo-Christain values whether we like it or not. Why have we, as Christians, been so reluctant to engage the enemy? I quote from "In Defense of Faith" by David Brog page xii:
"Indeed, when it comes to our morality, too many of us are playing the role of the rebellious teenager. Our forebears sacrificed and struggled to construct, preserve, and bequeath to us a noble tradition with an elevated moral code. Yet we cannot see beyond the imperfections of this tradition to recognize the great gift at its core. And in our ingratitude and outright sabotage we slowly erode the structure that would preserve this moral heriatage for our children. Yes, the sins of the fathers are sometimes visited upon the sons."

Are we going to defend our faith or roll over again? Tell me, what are your ideas to defend the faith in our small towns and large cities?