Tag Archives: Life to the Full

Work, pt. 2

 

God’s Original Design

Genesis 1-2: God spoke, He formed, He planted… And He saw that it was all very good.

Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man like Us…’”

Imago Dei– We are created in the image and likeness of God

  • Work is a co-laboring between God and man.

Sin has corrupted work

  • Work becomes toil.

Genesis 3:17b-19a “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food…”

  • Work becomes a form of idolatry.

Genesis 11:4 “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’”

We are called and created to work

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.”

  • It is not if you are meant to work, but where, how, and doing what.

The benefits of work

  • Earn money to live
  • Build relationships
  • Hone skills
  • Raise self-esteem
  • Contribute to society

Proverbs 12:14 “Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards.”

Proverbs 14:23 “Work brings profits, but mere talk leads to poverty!”

Proverbs 12:25 “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.”

Proverbs 13:11 “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappear; wealth from hard work grows over time.”

Proverbs 21:5 “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”

Ephesians 6:7 “Work with enthusiasm as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

 

Blessings for Obedience

Deuteronomy 28:12 “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

Tips for success

  • Show up. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10
  • Don’t complain. “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16a
  • Always go the extra mile. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Phil. 2:3-4
  • Don’t give up. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
  • Rely on God’s strength, not your own. “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6
  • Trust in the favor of God. “Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. Psalms 5:12”

Work

Life is a lot of work. Just living every day takes a lot of effort.

It wasn’t always that way. When sin entered the world, the earth became cursed.

 

Genesis 3:17-19 (NIV)

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

 

God is saying “things will be harder now.” But this isn’t where the concept of work begins. God is the first to work hard. He embodies the concepts of work and rest.

 

Genesis 2 (NIV) 2 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

 

15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

 

Both WORK and REST are part of the nature and actions of God. He creates the world, then rests from His work. Sin has not yet entered the world. There is no curse. But there are already work and rest.

 

When work and rest are out of balance, we suffer. Too much of one or the other leads to destruction. God institutes a day off in His law so we will rest and recharge – we need it. But the Bible is full of warnings against laziness.

 

In our quest to be like Jesus, we need both work and rest. Jesus is our example. He worked hard, and he withdrew to rest.

 

Mark 1:35-39 (NIV) Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

 

Mark 6:30-32 (NIV) Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

 

Work is a spiritual activity. When we work, we are like our Father, God.

 

God establishes in His law our right to own possessions and teaches us to work to take care of ourselves and our families. There is balance here as well – those who can work should work, those who can’t should be taken care of.

 

Exodus 20:15-17 (NIV) 15 “You shall not steal…17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

 

2 Thessalonians 3 (NIV) Warning Against Idleness

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.

 

1 Timothy 5:3-8 (NIV) Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

  

Colossians 3:23 (NIV) 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…

 

Ephesians 4:28 (NIV)

Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

– Are you working hard, or hardly working?

– What do have to share with others?

A story – 

Hard work doesn’t mean you’ll get rich. But when you do all you can and then place your trust in God, He comes through. Mom worked, then couldn’t work and had to take disability. Dad worked nights and went to school during the day. I learned to work. 

How to Relate part 1

Life to the Full

Feb. 12, 2017 | How to Relate, Part 1

 

Our relationships with God and people have some similarities and some important differences. 

 

Similarities:

  • They both involve sentient (thinking and feeling) beings. 
  • We are built to long for both types of relationships. 

 

Differences:

  • God does not change. He is not random, arbitrary, subjective, or fickle.
  • Our relationships with others are often dependent on our actions or performance. Our relationship with God depends on His unchanging character and promises. 
  • Our love has a lot of conditions. God’s love (through the cross) has only one: Accept, Believe, and Confess Jesus.

 

A key theme of the New Testament writers is that our response to God’s great love for us is to love others in the same way. 

  • We are taught to take on God’s approach to relationships
  • We sometimes apply the way people work to God. We think our relationship with Him is similarly fragile.

 

1 John 4:7-21 (NIV)

God’s Love and Ours
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

 

John lays out an important flow of love: We receive God’s love, we give love to others. 

Being completely and unconditionally loved allows us to live without fear. God’s right relationship with us gives us the strength to love others boldly – to risk rejection, to “put yourself out there.” 

The Message: 
To Love, to Be Loved

17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

Our initial relationship with God depends on us accepting His Son as Savior, not on our goodness. But our continued relationship with Him depends on us entering into the process of becoming more like His Son through the power of the Spirit.

 

I Cor. 6:9-20, Galatians 5:19-21, Romans 6:1-14

 

If we DO sin, God is faithful to forgive when we confess our sins and turn away from them. 

 

This is a clear, up-front, set of standards God gives us – He makes it simple to understand how to stay in right relationship with Him. 

 

People are not like that. And because they are not, we have to sometimes have boundaries on human relationships.  More on that next week.

 

Short Accounts

Life to the Full

Jan. 22, 2017 | Short Accounts

Nothing is more destructive to our mind and heart than unresolved issues in relationships with others. 

  • Unresolved hurt and offense are like a lead swimsuit.
  • God knows this. He spends a tremendous amount of time in the Bible teaching us how to deal with our relationships with each other. 

We were made to be in relationships with others. It is the chief imperative of our character.

  • God made us so He would have someone to love. We are made in his image. 
  • If our relationships with each other are broken, our core is damaged. It always hurts.
  • Healthy relationships with others lead to health in all other areas of our life – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. 
  • The key is fix what we can control, and let go of what we can’t. 

Jesus said you could boil down all of God’s law into two simple statements: Love God with everything, love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40)

How do we get healthy?

  1. Making it right with people is part of being right with God.

(Matthew 5:21-26 MSG)

“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. 

  • When our relationships are broken, our worship is broken.
  1. Forgive fast.

Colossians 3:12-14(NIV)

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Ephesians 4:20-27(NIV)

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

  • The faster you resolve relationship issues, the healthier you will be. 
  • How did the Lord forgive you?  

  1. Keep short accounts.

(Matthew 5:21-26 MSG)

“Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.

  • “Make the first move.” Make things right if you can. Try to live at peace with everyone. 
  • If it’s possible you hurt someone with your words, ask forgiveness. 

QUESTIONS

  • What about this teaching is challenging or difficult to accept?
  • Can you think of a “long account” you have (someone you are angry with or who has something against you). Why has it lasted so long? Do you still believe change is possible?

 

 

Getting Past the Past

Life to the Full

Jan. 15, 2017 | Getting Past the Past

Get Real

God is bigger than your past, and His grace is enough, but we have to get real with Him.

Soren Kierkegaard, “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to accept what is true”.

1 John 1:8-10, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.”

Heal

For most of us, there’s a lot of pain in our past. It can be nearly impossible to separate who you are from what you’ve done or what has been done to you.

Here’s what God says about you when you submit your life to God in faith:

You are blessed (Deut. 33:29). You are loved (1 Jn. 4:10). You are chosen (1 Pet. 2:9). You are created in God’s image (1 Cor. 11:7). You are the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath (Deut. 28:13). You are more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:37). You are branches on the vine of Christ (Jn. 15:5). You are sons and daughters of the most-high King (2 Cor. 6:18). You are redeemed (Gal. 3:13). You are healed (Is. 53:4-5). You are forgiven (Eph. 1:7). You are justified (Rom. 3:28). You have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). You are created for good works (Eph. 2:10). You have been set free (Rom. 8:2). You are victorious (1 Cor. 15:7). You are rooted and established in love (Eph. 3:17). You have been made holy (Heb. 10:10). You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Phil. 4:13).

God can heal you, and give you a restored identity in Him.

 

Forgive

Forgiveness is the doorway to freedom.

Jesus taught, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Mt. 6:14-15)

Forgiveness has nothing to do with your feelings. It’s a decision that most often occurs without corresponding feelings. There can be no future without forgiveness. You will stay stuck wherever you hold unforgiving feelings.

Learn

We need to learn from our past experiences, lest we make the same mistakes again.

George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Soren Kierkegaard, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”

As we look back on past events in our own lives and the lives of others, we are to learn from what worked and what didn’t work. That is how the past can serve us. That is how masterpieces are made from mistakes. God redeems all of it. Nothing is wasted.

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”