Who me? God’s Fellow Worker?

God gives His people productive work and He supports them in it. Paul understood this when he wrote, “We are God’s fellow workers” I Corinthians 3:9.

Today’s Reading

Second Chronicles 13-16; John 14

Selected Verses

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.  2 Chronicles 16:9a

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  John 14:12

Reflections

King Asa had some good years but, sadly, he veered off course by trusting in the power of a foreign ruler instead of maintaining confidence in the God who had delivered him in former times. Why did he veer off? Perhaps, he thought he was strong enough to handle the situation without the Lord. Perhaps, he forgot that he was merely a steward of God’s people and that God would not abandon him if he was faithful and believing. Maybe it was all of the above. At any rate, his heart was not blameless toward the Lord and he paid for his unfaithfulness dearly with continual wars for the rest of his life.

In John 14, there is a long list of ways that Jesus shows His love for His disciples. He is concerned to bring comfort to their troubled hearts. The Lord wants them to be with Him and He reassures them that He is the way to the Father.  He promises to send them a Helper, the Holy Spirit, and He tells them the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will be with them.

There is another promise, however, that parallels my thoughts on Asa. That is, Jesus promised that His disciples would do the works that He did, and even greater works than He had done, because He was going to the Father. His going to the Father coincided with His sending the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the disciples doing those promised greater works. Indeed, those unlikely and unlearned men would soon be changing history with the gospel (Acts 4:13).

Think about it

Here we have two ways to approach our work and responsibility before God. We may rely on our own resources or the resources we can scrounge up from others, like Asa did. Or we may rely on God, maintain a clear understanding that we work with Him and that He will “give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”  Today, be neither overconfident nor overwhelmed, but walk blamelessly before God by Christ’s mercy and be His fellow worker.

The Importance of Being Faithful and Responsible

Being faithful and responsible with the resources and vocations that God has given us is very important.  It even became a matter of life and death for some.

Today’s Reading

I Samuel 4-6; Luke 12:35-59

Selected Verses

And he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the Lord. He struck seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the Lord had struck the people with a great blow.  Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” I Samuel 6:19-20

Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.  Luke 12:48b

Reflections

God holds people responsible according to what they have received from Him.  We are to be stewards of God’s truth and God’s gifts.

The Israelites had entered into a covenant with God in which they were His unique people in all the earth (Exodus 19:1-6).  God revealed His law to them which included instructions about the priesthood, the tabernacle, its furnishings, and the offering of sacrifices.  The Ark of the Covenant was to be kept in the most holy place in the tabernacle where God met with the high priest on the Day of Atonement each year.

But in the days of the judges everyone did what was right in their own eyes. In that spirit, the priests allowed the ark to be carried onto the battlefield as they fought against their enemies, the Philistines.  The plan backfired.  The Philistines won the battle and stole the ark. God would not allow Himself to be manipulated or what He declared sacred to be desecrated.  Rather, God held His people responsible for what they had been given.

Peter asked Jesus who He was targeting with the parable about the servants waiting for their master. “Was it for the twelve or for the crowds?”, he queried.  In His typical fashion, Jesus redirects Peter’s mind to his own responsibility and away from that of others.  In essence, Jesus tells him “everyone is responsible for what they have been given, so be concerned about what you have and what you do with what you have.”

Think about it

Jesus has promised to return.  Meanwhile, God has given us truth to apply, gifts to use, and opportunities to serve Him as we wait.  Be faithful and responsible today with what you have for His glory.

Lessons about Time

Today’s reading

Genesis 46-48; Matthew 14:22-36

Selected verses

Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers.  Moreover, I have given to you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”  Genesis 48:21-22

 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.   Matthew 14:23

Reflections

Jesus, after hearing about the death of John the Baptist, sought to be alone , but crowds came seeking Him (Matthew 14:13).  He patiently and lovingly ministered to them including feeding 5000 with a couple of fish and some bread.  That work completed, He dismissed the people and sent the disciples off in a boat while He went alone to a desolate place.  Here are a few observations about these incidents:

  • Jesus took time to be alone.  Too often, people in Christian ministry become exhausted because they see their work as too important to take time for rest and prayer.  Jesus recognized His need for time alone.
  • Jesus accepted interruptions to His personal life.  When the crowds came, He served them postponing His time alone.  Too often, people in Christian ministry put their own needs above those of others and show no flexibility or sensitivity to others.  Jesus delayed His time alone.
  • Jesus returned to His disciples at their time of need.  Once His time alone was concluded, Jesus went right back to the twelve who were in the midst of a severe storm on the sea.  Too often, people in Christian ministry who take time to rest begin to enjoy it so much they never return to the work.  Jesus did not shirk His responsibilities by overextending His time alone.
  • Jesus had a sense of timing in His life and ministry.  He balanced private prayer and public ministry perfectly.  He did His Father’s will peacefully and confidently.

In our Genesis reading today, Jacob (Israel) also shows sensitivity to God’s timing in his life.  He anticipates his coming death and takes care of final matters.  Too many people act like they will live forever and do not take care of matters that will make it easier on their surviving family and friends when they pass away.

Think about it

Time is a gift from God. The length of our life is determined by Him.  Besides that, the happenings of each of our days are also determined by the Lord of All. We are stewards of our time who must manage it for His glory.

Are you developing a sense of God’s timing in your life?  Do you balance personal prayer and service to others so that both get needed attention?  Are you taking care of matters that need to be done by you before God calls you home?  Live wisely knowing that your days are numbered and you are a steward of them.

The Other Meaning of Black Friday

What a strange term, Black Friday. For many it means a chance to buy stuff at reduced prices.  Merchants hope to see black numbers in their ledgers. A profit.

But it also provides an opportunity for impulsive buyers armed with credit cards and motivated by the desire to impress others to go into debt.  Today’s reading (Proverbs 10-12) addresses this.

“Better to be lowly and have a servant
than to play the great man and lack bread”  Proverbs 12:9 ESV

Beware of the seductive power of pride. Don’t be found “playing the great man” on the stage of life. It can lead us down a path where our ledgers are filled with red ink and we lack bread.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

The King at Home

There is evidence that David had plenty of flaws in his personal life as a husband and father.  Nevertheless, on one occasion, at least, he showed care, love and sensitivity on the home front.

Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 14:1-16:43

Christian husbands and fathers are exhorted to love their wives and to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 5:25-6:4).  Having major responsibilities in their work does not exempt men from family duties and loving service.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Growing Old is Not for Wimps

Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 24:1-1 Kings 2:12

Here we find David nearing the end of his life and having some problems.  He makes a disastrous decision to insist on taking a census.  His health has deteriorated and he has very poor circulation.  He delays making an orderly transition of power to his son, Solomon, giving a competitor the opportunity to mount a takeover that nearly succeeded.

Certainly, it is not easy to grow old.  Those who have held high positions of power and authority can cause serious problems.  We need wise and loving people we can trust at the end of life. We need to listen to them.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

The Burdens of Leadership

Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 3:22-6:23

A Christian leader, no matter whether in the church or in a secular setting, will hold Jesus Christ as his example.  For the believer, a position of leadership is not so much a position of power and honor as an opportunity for service and humility. [See Mark 10:35-45].

David’s experience shows that being king brings a flood of burdens and trials along with opportunities to do good and to glorify God on a larger scale.  How do you look at the leadership roles you fill?

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Godly Leadership: Teaching and Prayer

Today’s reading: 1 Samuel 9:1-12:25

Samuel did not allow himself to become distracted from his call to teach Israel God’s law and to pray for them.

Are you a leader?  Do you keep focused on God’s priorities for your life and service for Him?  Samuel did.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Whose glory? The Story of Deborah and Barak

Today’s reading: Judges 3:31-6:40

I hope you enjoy this story as much as I do. Read and find out who got the glory!

See you here again tomorrow.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Seize the Day

Today’s reading: Numbers 32:1-33:56

James 4:14b says, “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” Life is brief but not insignificant for God has breathed life into Man and He calls us to account for what He has given us. Seize the day.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].