Work Can Be Worship

Posted September 9th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

Jesus’s word for frustrated workers can be found in the fifth chapter of Luke’s gospel. Peter, Andrew, James, and John made their living catching and selling fish. Like other fishermen, they worked the night shift, when cool water brought the game to the surface. And, like other fishermen, they knew the drudgery of a fishless night.

While Jesus preaches, they clean nets. And as the crowd grows, Christ has an idea.

He noticed two boats tied up. The fishermen had just left them and were out scrubbing their nets. He climbed into the boat that was [Peter’s] and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Sitting there, using the boat for a pulpit, he taught the crowd. (vv. 2–3 msg)

Jesus claims Peter’s boat. He doesn’t request the use of it. Christ doesn’t fill out an application or ask permission; he simply boards the boat and begins to preach.

He can do that, you know. All boats belong to Christ. Your boat is where you spend your day, make your living, and to a large degree live your life. The taxi you drive, the horse stable you clean, the dental office you manage, the family you feed and transport—this is your boat. Christ shoulder-taps us and reminds:

“You drive my truck.”
“You preside in my courtroom.”
“You work on my job site.”
“You serve my hospital wing.”
To us all, Jesus says, “Your work is my work.”

Our Wednesdays matter to him as much as our Sundays. He blurs the secular and sacred. One stay-at-home mom keeps this sign over her kitchen sink: Divine tasks performed here, daily. An executive hung this plaque in her office: My desk is my altar. Both are correct. With God, our work matters as much as our worship. Indeed, work can be worship.

Peter, the boat owner, later wrote: “You are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God” (1 Pet. 2:9 nlt).

A priest represents God, and you, my friend, represent God. So “let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus” (Col. 3:17 msg). You don’t drive to an office; you drive to a sanctuary. You don’t attend a school; you attend a temple. You may not wear a clerical collar, but you could. Your boat is God’s pulpit.

by Max Lucado

Loving God

Posted September 8th, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

“I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.” (Jeremiah 2:2, NKJV)

The word ‘kindness’ in the Scripture above is a translation of the Hebrew word kesed, which is often translated as “loving mercy.” Starting in Genesis, it shows up throughout the Old Testament as a description of God’s loving pursuit of his people.

It’s a reminder that God chases after us with such persistent grace that he refuses to let us get away. That’s a concept I can easily understand about God – this benevolent grace that insists upon capturing us.

In a sense, we expect God to exhibit a kesed love for us. In fact, I’d go so far as to say we expect it from him. I mean, God has to love us – doesn’t he?

But something what surprised me in these prophetic words from Jeremiah. God says, “I remember the loving kindness of your youth.” Or to put it another way, “I remember the kesed you had for me in your youth.”

Now let that sink in for a moment.

God, though speaking of the past, is telling us we can have a kesed love for him. You can’t lose something you never had, and God is saying that the people of Israel once held this kesed love for God. That means we can have that kind of love for God too.

So let me ask you, when was the last time you felt such a depth of love for God? When was the last time you craved God?

A few years ago, there was a young couple in my small group – Blake and Jenny. They fell in love and got engaged. You could just see their love for each other oozing into the atmosphere. Just by looking at them, you could tell they were in love.

Now, why aren’t we the same way with God?

If you’re like me, you’re sitting here wondering, “How can I love God with an everlasting, overwhelming kesed love?” You may be thinking, “God, I don’t think I can love you that much! I don’t think it’s humanly possible!”

And if you’re thinking that, you’re right. It’s not humanly possible – but here’s the Good News. In the very next chapter of Jeremiah (3:22), God promises he will cure us of our backsliding. If you’ve lost your passion for God, then the way to get it back is not to work yourself into it; rather it’s to humbly ask God to give you that passion back.

It’s sort of like this, if you want to get rid of the sin in your life, don’t run after the law. Instead, turn and face God. He will change the desires within you. He will rekindle your kesed love for him.

Okay, so what does this mean for us?

· God cures – God will not only forgive your “prodigal” nature; he’ll cure you of your lethargic faith: “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” (Jeremiah 3:22a NIV) The people of Israel respond immediately, “Yes, we will come to you, for you are the LORD our God.” (Jeremiah 3:22b NIV)

· God can and will – If asked, most likely you would say God can work through your life and rekindle this holy love within you. So if God can do it and is willing to do it, who has to take responsibility if this love is not rekindled?

· Do you believe God can do this?
Oswald Chambers once asked, “Do you not want to be a saint, or do you not believe God can make you one?”

· Pray – Our dear Heavenly Father, fan into flames the kesed love we once had for you. Create within us clean hearts and revive within us a steadfast spirit. Help us to fall deeply and passionately in love with you. We know you are trustworthy, and we know you will take our love and pour it back on us. We love you, no matter what the circumstances of our lives. You are our God. To echo T.W. Hunt, when you say, “I am,” we simply respond, “You are.”

by Jon Walker

A Long, Thin Line

Posted September 2nd, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen. The things which are seen are temporal and the things which are not seen are eternal.” (1 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)

When life begins to squeeze us, what we truly believe is revealed through our attitudes and actions.

And, if the truth be told, most of us live by sight more than by the hope and certainty of our faith. It’s as if there were a long, thin line threaded throughout the realm of reality that divides the seen, the temporal, the things surrounding us, from the unseen and eternal. Shoved by our circumstances, we become distracted from the eternal and focus below the line – on those circumstances.

But God tells us repeatedly that we’re out of focus when we’re looking below the line. As Christians, our focus should be above, on the unseen, eternal kingdom of God. That doesn’t mean we should deny or repress what we see happening around us, but we must also be led by the Holy Spirit to look beyond the seen and temporal into the unseen and eternal.

You can see references to this line throughout the New Testament. As people approached Jesus, talking about their circumstances, he would say: “You’re looking for bread, but I am the living bread. If you eat of me, you’ll never go hungry again. You’re looking for a drink of water, but I am living water. If you drink from me, you’ll never thirst again.”

We can’t trust what we see, and when we’re focused below the line, we become trapped into thinking that what we see is truth. We become prisoners to our perceptions. Time and time again we see Jesus moving the focus from the seen to the unseen, from the temporal (the temporary!) to the eternal. He knew that for those who walk by faith, appearances are never the ultimate reality.

Are there parts of your life that have you discouraged or depressed, that have you wondering where God is? Consider this gentle reminder that God is present, even in the midst of your confusion and pain. He’s tapping you on the shoulder, reminding you to look up beyond the horizon into eternity.

So what does this mean?

· You can’t trust everything you see – God, Jesus, and heaven are reality, even if they are unseen for now. The things we see are temporary; the things we do not see are eternal. (1 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)

· Put life in perspective – Realize that your emotions will fail you, and stop allowing them lead you. When your perceptions begin to take you down a depressing path, challenge them. Could there be another way to see? To feel?

· When you become discouraged – Stop and ask God, “Am I seeing this situation through your eyes, or my own?” The Message paraphrase renders Colossians 3:2 this way: “Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.”

by Jon Walker

Practicing the Presence

Posted September 1st, 2007 by Kent and filed in devotional

How do I live in God’s presence? How do I detect his unseen hand on my shoulder and his inaudible voice in my ear? A sheep grows familiar with the voice of the shepherd. How can you and I grow familiar with the voice of God? Here are a few ideas:

Give God your waking thoughts. Before you face the day, face the Father. Before you step out of bed, step into his presence. I have a friend who makes it a habit to roll out of his bed onto his knees and begin his day in prayer. Personally, I don’t get that far. With my head still on the pillow and my eyes still closed, I offer God the first seconds of my day. The prayer is not lengthy and far from formal. Depending on how much sleep I got, it may not even be intelligible. Often it’s nothing more than “Thank you for a night’s rest. I belong to you today.”

Give God your waiting thoughts. Spend time with him in silence. The mature married couple has learned the treasure of shared silence; they don’t need to fill the air with constant chatter. Just being together is sufficient. Try being silent with God. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10 niv). Awareness of God is a fruit of stillness before God.

Give God your whispering thoughts. Through the centuries Christians have learned the value of brief sentence prayers, prayers that can be whispered anywhere, in any setting.

Imagine considering every moment as a potential time of communion with God. By giving God your whispering thoughts, the common becomes uncommon. Simple phrases such as “Thank you, Father,” “Be sovereign in this hour, O Lord,” “You are my resting place, Jesus” can turn a commute into a pilgrimage. You needn’t leave your office or kneel in your kitchen. Just pray where you are. Let the kitchen become a cathedral or the classroom a chapel. Give God your whispering thoughts.

And last, give God your waning thoughts. At the end of the day, let your mind settle on him. Conclude the day as you began it: talking to God. Thank him for the good parts. Question him about the hard parts. Seek his mercy. Seek his strength. And as you close your eyes, take assurance in the promise: “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:4 niv). If you fall asleep as you pray, don’t worry. What better place to doze off than in the arms of your Father.

by Max Lucado