Customers, Vendors, Christmas Shopping, and Teamwork

Today’s reading: Mark 1 and Psalm 125

They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion,
which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.
As the mountains are round about Jerusalem,
so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.
– Psalm 125:1-2

Have you ever been in a situation in your life that left you hoping for a different outcome?  How about at your job?  Maybe it was a problem that needed fixing, a situation that needed correcting, a shortcoming that called for personal growth, or any number of things.  No matter what the situation, Scripture tells us, “They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion”. (Psalm 125:1a).   I don’t know about you, but that truth simplifies things for me.  It relieves me.  It eases my burden.  God, please help me in the work You have given me to do, as well as in every area of my life, to trust You fully and to look to You for answers.

Divine Nature of Work

God took Adam and placed him in the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.  (Genesis 2:15)  Later God gave Eve to Adam to help him. (Genesis 2:18)  As I studied and reflected on this scene here are the main things I was taught about work:

  1. The divine nature of work was established from the beginning – this was before the fall.
  2. God placed Adam – God provides the domain (time and place).
  3. God gave Adam work to do – God provides the work.
  4. God gave Eve to Adam to help him – God provides the people to help (the team).

Divine Purpose of Work

Moses had just received orders from God to get ashes from the furnace, stand in the presence of Pharaoh, and sprinkle them up toward heaven.  The ashes brought boils upon man and beast.  The next morning God gave Moses a message for Pharaoh that included the purpose of Pharaoh’s position.

16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up,
for to shew in thee my power;
and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.
– Exodus 9:16

It was another Wednesday morning and Bob was on the receiving end of a sales call.  The vendor had just finished listing off their qualifications in painstaking detail and was starting in on their industry awards when Bob’s mind began to wander.  “When was the last time I heard a salesperson talk about how their team felt called to their line of work or that they feel God gave them special skills to serve Him?  Where can I connect with a vendor like that?”  

Here we have an example of Pharaoh, full of pride and arrogance, He is oblivious to the truth.  He needed a reminder that God placed him where he was to do what everyone will eventually do: glorify God.  We also have a modern day example of a potential customer (Bob) wishing he was being called on by someone who understood this truth instead of a modern-day, self-absorbed vendor. 

  1. Work, like everything else, is about glorifying God.
  2. Whether customer or vendor, we can join the hallelujah choir or not – but we can’t escape God’s glory.
  3. I’ll take a humble vendor who is working for the Lord over just about any other vendor.

Divine Setting of Work

A young professional sat reflecting on their career in yet another staff meeting. “If I had only lived in the roaring twenties, I’d pretty much be a shoe-in to take over Rockefeller’s interests.  I can’t believe I’m here in Illinois, where the property taxes just went up.  Again.  If I were in Texas or Tennessee I’d really be able to grow.  And then there’s my financial guy, I mean does he even know there is such a thing as Microsoft Word, I swear he’d send me emails in Excel if he could figure out how.  If only I had Warren Buffet in here to help me I would finally be able to really do things right.”  The meeting snapped back into his ears just as a request for input on the best type of cups for the Christmas party was made. 

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

  1. Trusting in God means being content with His plan and seeking His glory right where we are.
  2. Teamwork includes believing that God hasn’t prepared all the work for me.
  3. The best teammate or vendor is the one sent by God to do the work he prepared for them.
  4. Teambuilding means searching for the person God prepared the work for.
  5. Being the best teammate or vendor means being sure you’re doing what God called you to do.

As I studied this Scripture I feel I received a deeper understanding of how closely connected work and worship are.  Work, like worship, (like everything really) is all about God’s glory.  God has preordained our setting.  He has placed us.  He has sent us the work.  He has sent us the people to help us and for us to help.  The mistake, I think, is to miss these things and trust something else instead.  

Satan might like you to think that clerk is just incompetent or doesn’t care and is only getting in the way of your shopping goals and schedule this Christmas season.  Like the young professional that didn’t trust in the setting God placed them in, Satan might like you to think that your coworkers are holding you back.  Satan doesn’t much care what you trust in as long as it’s not the one truth because he knows everything else will lead to pain.  

The truth is if God wanted you to live in the roaring twenties or have a billion dollars, you would.  The truth is God has plans for His glory in all the work that will happen this Christmas season and beyond.   The truth is God has good work prepared for you and others, all you have to do is open your eyes to His glory and join in His hallelujah choir.

Image: Building Solomon’s Temple by John Millar Watt

 

P.S. More Studies on Work.

Choosing a vendor – If you’re interested in a study on customer-vendor relationships from 1 Chronicles 28, message us on Facebook or email me at mike@internrocket.com and I can send you what we have so far.  If you’re interested in other studies on Bible truth about work topics, do the same and I can add you to our distribution list.  If you have anything you’d like to share please be in touch, we’d love to hear it.

Blind leading the blind

Last weekend I worked alongside a young man of 13 years.  In conversation, we landed on the topic of a series of sci-fi books that he enjoys reading.  The books are about a group of criminal clones.  The characters in the story were cloned from the worst criminals in the world and raised in a controlled utopia environment.  The question posed by the scientists conducting this experiment, “Were these criminals born this way?”.  They wanted to see if the clones would show criminal tendencies in an environment free of negative influence.

“What an excellent question.” I said, “The Bible has the answer.” I asked him, “What is the book’s answer?” He told me that the criminal clones escaped and committed crimes.  Here is what I told him.

The truth is that they were born that way.  A utopia environment will not prevent people from becoming criminals.  A bad environment does not turn people into criminals, though it can make the situation worse.  The real issue is that we are all born with sin in our hearts.  We all need Jesus to reign in our hearts.  He is the only way to freedom from sin and death.  These scientists were confused in thinking an environment causes people to be good or bad.  What is good and what is bad?  Only God is good.  Those that do not want to listen to God, choose to compare themselves to other standards to determine if they are good or bad. The problem with that is no one gets to choose with whom to compare themselves to determine if they are good or bad.  Even the worst of criminals will find something in this world to compare themselves with and think himself good.  God is the true standard and He is perfect.  He makes the rules.  Jesus is our only hope.  Those that accept God’s truth know they need help.  They can ask Jesus to save them from what is in store for bad people and He will.   

From today’s reading: John 9 and Psalm 111

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.  – John 9:39-41

While they said, “We see.”  and felt assured in their salvation, the Pharisees compared themselves to the wrong standard.  

Painting: The Blind Leading the Blind by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

 

Parable of the Fig Tree

Today’s reading: Matthew 24 and Psalm 97

Matthew chapters 24 and 25 are Jesus’ own sermon on His second coming.  Chapter 24 starts out with the disciples asking with immense anticipation, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

Jesus responds, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” I thought this was one of the most interesting (and totally loaded response) in the chapter so I wrote on it for BibleJournal.net almost 2 years ago.

Since I have the privilege of another opportunity to write on this chapter I would like to discuss another statement Jesus made that stood out to me. 

“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 25:34)

The question here is, who is ‘this generation’?  There are several interpretations, one popular is that ‘this generation’ refers to the elect.  In my estimation, Jesus would have just said ‘you’ or something clearer if that were the case.  I have come to think this is a statement of the elapsed timing of the tribulation.  That is, a generation of time will pass from the beginning to the conclusion of the end of days.  Put another way, the generation that sees the beginning of the birthing pains of the end days will also see Jesus’ return.  What do you think?

32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. – Matthew 24:32-34

Christmas is almost here!  It’s a great time to renew and refocus our anticipation of Christ’s second coming!

Are you ready to finish what you started?

24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?  Matthew 10:24-25

“It is enough…”.  A true disciple wants nothing more than to be like his Master.  Jesus did not have much in the world in terms of tangible things.  He was born in a barn.  As an adult, He did not have a home and all the ‘important’ people hated him.  They wanted to kill him and they did.  Yet Jesus had all the intangible things. Do we want more than what Jesus had?

“…how much more…”  Given that a true disciple does not want to surpass his Master, Jesus gives a warning to those thinking they may want to follow him.  The warning is clear, as you become more like Christ, people will treat you more like He was treated.  How do we want to be treated?  

In addition to how others will treat us, Jesus gives other warnings to those who considered following him.  Knowing the heart of each, perhaps Jesus tailored the warnings.  Do we relate to any? 

Comfort

In Matthew 8:19-20 the scribe who said he would follow Jesus is told that following Him would mean forgoing a life of comfort.  A home is the baseline of comfort.  

Inheritance

In Matthew 8:21-22 one that would follow Jesus is told that following would mean forgoing his inheritance.  Following Jesus, for this scribe, may mean a life without the wealth of his family and perhaps one full of dependence.  “Allow me to bury my father” is another way of saying, I’ll be back once he’s died and I’ve received all that is coming to me.

Family

Later in Matthew chapter 10 verses 34 thru 37 (Matthew 10:34-37), Jesus teaches that following him will mean being ready to depart from family.

Counting the Cost

Jesus made sure we knew the cost of following Him and the importance of counting the cost so we could finish what we started and receive our reward. (Luke 14:25-34, Matthew 13:45-46, 2Timothy 4:6-8, Galatians 6:9).  

Counting the cost of being a Christian means being willing to give up seeking approval and popularity, status and the favor of men, comfort, an inheritance, and even family.  

Counting the cost of being a Christian means being ready to trade all these things for eternal promises.  Not just some.  Here is a promise God made in Matthew chapter 10.  

He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. – Matthew 10:39

Oh God, that we might trust You with all. You are good and You alone are worthy of all our trust LORD. Amen.

 

Painting: Christ Calling His First Disciples – Adam Brenner (1800–1891)

A Lesson on Leadership

Today’s reading: Luke 21, Psalm 69

I had always thought of the Widow’s Mite (Luke 21:1-4) as a lesson on giving but through a recent study I’ve come to believe it is actually a warning of the implications of false leadership, specifically self-righteous, legalistic religious systems and their false leaders.  A good thing to know how to spot and avoid (Psalm 1) and a good thing to help us refine our beliefs on true leadership. 

When taken in context this account is surrounded by diatribes of false teachers.  (Luke 20:47, Luke 21:5-36)  In addition to the lack of the subject matter of giving in the surrounding scripture, is the lack of any principle taught on giving in this passage.  Jesus neither condemns the rich for their giving nor commends the widows for hers.  In my estimation, Jesus never said He was pleased with the widows giving, nor did he even imply it.  

On the contrary, we know that Jesus did not approve of the religious system that was receiving the gifts and from that we can even go as far as to assume he may not have been pleased with the fact that this widow was being separated from her last coin on account of it.  All throughout scripture, God’s Word protects and provides for widows, it never leaves them destitute.  (Exodus 22:22, Psalm 146:9, Proverbs 15:25, Isaiah 1:17, Isaiah 10: 1-4, Jeremiah 49:11, James 1:27)

The word rich used here is ‘plousios’ and means those who have enough. The word poor used in verse two is ‘penichors’, meaning someone who is needy but not destitute. The second mention of the widow being poor in verse three after she is seen giving all she had, is a different word ‘ptochos’ meaning someone who has nothing and has been reduced to begging.

The lesson, in my estimation, is this: the widow’s involvement in this false religious system has cost her everything.  The warning; false leaders and their systems prey on the weak and pry from them what little possessions they have.  Why give this warning?  Perhaps, this will help us identify these systems so we can avoid them and not be party to them.

Another identifying characteristic of these systems is in the preceding two verses. The leaders of these systems create them so that they can accumulate what they desire; influence, position, power, money, etc. at the expense of the weak. (Luke 20-46-47)  They are systems designed to serve the leader. 

Contrasting false from true: real leaders do two things.

  1. They serve those they lead and
  2. they lead by example.  

(Mark 10: 42-45, Philippians 2:3, Matthew 17,12, 1Timothy 4:12, 1Peter 5:1-3, Hebrews 13:7)

Here is a lesson of the cost of false leadership, a warning to false leaders and an aid to help us discern true from false leaders.  In a culture that has so much to say about leadership, God’s word helps us understand the truth and protects us.  Praise God!

 

Study resource: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Luke 18-24

Painting by James Tissot (French, 1836-1902)

Give ear to my prayer, O God

Today’s Scripture reading includes Psalm 55, in which David pours out his heart as he laments over a betrayal of a close friend (possibly Absalom and/or Ahithophel – 2 Samuel 15-18).  The word betrayal presumes a deep trust was placed in a source that proved untrustworthy.   The Proverbs teach us not to have respect of persons. (Proverbs 28:21)  Our unfettered trust is placed assuredly in God alone.  The summit of the psalm is verse 22:

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

Amen!  Amen!  Only He is trustworthy!  

Today’s Scripture reading also includes Luke 7, wherein the famous Centurion’s faith in Christ was chronicled.  When he was in need, he placed his trust in the one true source.  

  • Have you ever encountered a situation in your life when you immediately knew that God was the only one who could help you?  
  • What would our life be like if we did not trust in ourselves or anyone for anything but submitted everything with thanksgiving to the LORD?  

Painting:  Christ Heals the Centurion’s Servant – Ricci, Sebastiano

Salvation Test

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.  – 1John 3:10

The NIV starts verse 10 out this way, ‘This is how we know’.  All throughout Scripture, obedience and love are the hallmarks of a true believer.  1 John 3:10 answers the question every believer should test themselves on: how do I know that I am saved?

God assures believers of their salvation through the Spirit. (1John 3:24)  A believer’s renewed heart compels them to obey the will of the Father in obedience to His word and to love God and others in deed and truth.  The presence of Christ in a believer is unmistakable to them over time.

And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. – 1John 3:24

Obedience and love.  Like all of Scripture, 1 John chapter 3 continues to return to these two hallmarks of a believer.  As you read through today’s Scripture: 1 John 3 and Psalm 41, be on the lookout for these.  As you enjoy the fellowship of Christ today, feel the Spirit leading you to obedience and love.  

If you have not committed your life to Christ, placed your trust in Him alone and repented from trusting in all other promises, imagine for a moment what your day would be like if you had.  Your whole life made new.  Ever going with a Companion who will reign in your heart and will never leave you.  A companion who is Master over all, King of Kings, who leads you beside still waters in righteousness, who makes you to lie down in green pastures. 

 

3rd Heaven

What do you look forward to most about Heaven?  This was the question posed during an opening devotional at a business meeting last week.  Answers ranged from, “I don’t think about Heaven very much – I don’t think I get it and so I just trust” and “I’m ashamed to say, I’ve had thoughts in the past about the continuous chanting and it worries me – will I be bored there?” to “I look forward to reuniting with loved ones” and “I’m looking forward to seeing Jesus face-to-face.”

As we prepared to consider business here on Earth the scripture reading for the devotional was from Colossians 3:2, ‘Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.’  The discussion was Heaven.  The issue, we all agreed, was that we should be thinking about heaven more.  

What do you look forward to most about Heaven?

Have you ever been reading a book, listening to a sermon, or on your knees in prayer and been completely overwhelmed with a flood of emotion to commit everything to the LORD?  This is the time, I want to let go of everything I want and give it all to the LORD, I’m done with doing it my way, I always mess everything up, I want to rest and trust the LORD with everything: every moment, every thought, every desire.  

Expressing this feeling in words is challenging.  Perfect freedom.  Perfect trust.  Perfect peace.  If I’ve gotten close at all you may be recalling your own testimony of how you came to Christ or a renewed commitment to Christ along the way.  This feeling, in my estimation, is as good as it gets this side of life’s great divide.  

However, for me, this feeling is all too shortly followed by a failure.  My flesh realizes a victory as I choose, say, entertainment over time in the Word, etc.  

Still, If even for a brief moment, that feeling touches my soul as if to say, ‘this is what you were created for.”  I can not wait to be done with the fight against the flesh.  Until then, and through the power of the Spirit, we fight the good fight.

God would You bless us with more and more freedom from self as we wait on You?  Please be gentle with us LORD.  May our souls find rest in You.  Amen.  

Psalm 27:13-14
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

Today’s reading: James 5 and Psalm 27

 

Sources for study on Heaven:

Sources for study on eternal rewards:

Apostasy

Today’s reading Hebrews 5 and Psalm 13

The theme of spiritual growth has been a focus in In the last three readings I’ve been assigned.  Today is number four.

  1. Three posts ago was, The 5 Essentials for Christian Growth from Philippians 1:9-11;
  2. the next post was, The 3 Stages of Christian Growth (and how to avoid them) from 1 Thessalonians 5; where the topic was grieving the Spirit.
  3. the last post was, Be Strong from 2Timothy 2:2-6, wherein Paul gave us four relatable examples of what we should grow into, the teacher, the soldier, the athlete and the farmer.

Hebrews 5 closes with a warning against apostasy. Having heard enough to be teachers of Christ, there were those in this congregation that were turning back to Judaism. (Hebrews 5:12)  The Jews identified with being teachers, leaders of the blind, but here the writer rebukes them, essentially saying, you need to go back to the essentials.  You need to start again at the beginning with the basic things.

We know from 1John 2:12-16 the three stages of Christian growth:

  1. Babes. Babes in Christ know the name of Jesus.
  2. Young Men. Young men in Christ are strong. They know the Word and use the Word (the truth) to overcome the deceiver.
  3. Fathers. Fathers in Christ know God.

In my estimation, the writer was essentially saying, you think you are on stage three but you are obviously failing stage two (you are deceived).

This statement is made to the whole congregation as a preface to what the writer is going to share. In paraphrasing, he is saying, ‘I’m getting ready to go deep here.  Get ready, and know that some of you aren’t going to get it because you’re self-deceived.’  The beginning of chapter 6 then wraps up the warning to those that have heard the truth and been led astray down paths of false doctrine.  It is horrifying.  

 

God, may we all grow in You and You alone.  May we grow in Your Word and be strong, able to discern the truth and overcome the deceiver.  God would you give each of us all a thirst for your Your Word?  We need You LORD.  Amen.

Be Strong

Today’s reading gives us the patterns of a Godly man.  Paul is exhorting Timothy to “be strong” (v1), but Paul doesn’t stop there.  He gives us relatable examples of what it means to “be strong”.  

Paul gives us the example of the teacher, the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer, then he commissions Timothy to  “think over what [he said]”.  The examples are not long and exhaustive but Paul promises Timothy that “the Lord will give [him] understanding in everything” if he thinks over it.  (2Timothy 2:7)  

A wise man once said, “better to read little and think much than to read much and think little.”  Today’s journal entry includes some thoughts and reflections on these short powerful examples.  I would love if you would share some of yours in the comments or on facebook.   

The Teacher.  Christ instructed us to teach His commandments to all nations and modeled this for us through discipleship. (Matthew 28:20) . Discipleship is a chain.  Position yourself in the chain, between someone who will disciple you and who you can disciple.  Those you disciple should be carefully selected people who are faithful and trustworthy to carry on the chain.  (2Timothy 2:2)

The Soldier.  We are at war.  The soldier is not confused about work-life balance.  The two are integrated and his purpose is singular.  Full of integrity, his life is whole and complete.  There are no situations in which he changes modes or leaves something behind.  There is no clocking out.  A soldier at war is always on active duty.  He does not concern himself with things of the world.  His eye is single in the battle and pleasing his commander.  (2Timothy 2:3-4)

The Athlete.  It is a given that athletics require effort.  Even though some athletes have incredible natural abilities, fans tend to cheer on an underdog who gives it his all over the more skilled athlete who doesn’t.  Fans tend to gravitate to athletes who are ok with giving it their all and being beaten, even if it means everyone knows they could not have done any better or given an ounce more effort.  An athlete looks at the cost of defeat and competes anyways.  Humble athletes are fun to watch.  Still, even though effort is a given for athletics, no matter the effort expended, if the athlete breaks the rules he is disqualified.  (2Timothy 2:5)  

The Farmer.  The farmer is hard working.  This word is from a Greek verb meaning ‘to labor to the point of exhaustion.’  Day in, day out the farmer works amidst circumstances outside their control.  The farmer can not control the water, the bugs, the temperature, the sun, the clouds, or the shifting seasons, yet he works to the point of exhaustion in hopes that he might reap a harvest.  A farmer is truly seasoned in the art of sowing to the LORD and trusting Him with the harvest.  (2Timothy 2:6)

May we all continue to think over the Scripture and trust in the LORD to give us understanding.

Reading quote reference: Mastering Self: To Lead Self and Others by Chief Hanna