Daily Devotionals from Grace in the Workplace
Tuesday, October 23 2012
Verse of the Day
…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:34 – NIV]
Here’s another rock ’n’ roll theme: “Let’s Live for Today,” a 1967 hit by The Grass Roots. If you listen to the lyrics you will hear words and phrases like “worries” and “people in a hurry” and so on. Well, maybe the songwriter was spending time in the Gospel of Matthew before putting pen to paper. Anyway, before we consider today’s passage, I think it’s only fair to point out that most devotionals about worry focus on the need to “seek ye first the Kingdom of God,” which certainly is the key to overcoming the worry problem. Those of us in the workplace need lots of help with worry and stress. After all, they are the most common byproducts of our work environment. Did you get your report done? What about that promotion you’re expecting? Are you going to meet the deadline? We are under constant stress and we worry nonstop. Putting God at the center of your life is the first step to controlling and eventually eliminating worry. When you put Him in charge and take yourself out of the equation, there is a peace in your life like you never imagined. Everything becomes crystal clear. He is holy and we’re not. So, seeking God and His will for your life is the key to your worry problem.
But, there is more. In today’s passage we get some added insight into why we worry and why it’s so futile and pointless to do so. Worry happens when we delude ourselves into thinking that we, and not God, are in control of our lives. But, because we are really weak, flawed beings, there is really nothing we can do to control or shape future events. Hence, we worry because we don’t know what’s going to happen. Our sinful pride prevents us for seeing the reality of the situation. That’s why today’s passage is so neat. When Jesus says “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” what He’s really saying is that tomorrow will take care of itself; i.e., that the natural course of events will control and shape what happens in the future. And here is where it gets really fun; He goes on to say, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Well, there’s no doubt about that, is there?
So, here’s the lesson for today. Only God is omniscient and omnipresent. He knows everything and He is everywhere at once. He is in the past, present, and the future. Since He is in the future, doesn’t it make sense for us to seek Him and His will for our lives? We have to live in the present, so why don’t we just get comfortable with that fact and stop dwelling on possible future events over which we have no control? There is absolutely no point in worrying; it is a total waste of time. We need to turn ourselves over to God, seek His will, and live in the present. After all, that is where we are. So, live for today!
Monday, October 22 2012
Verse of the Day
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” [John 1:29 – NKJV]
In these devotionals I make fairly frequent reference to my background as a rock ’n’ roll guy, so hopefully you’ll forgive me for yet another shout-out to the Hollies and their 1964 hit “Just One Look.” It just seems so apropos. I think that it fits to a “T” the scene that unfolds before us in today’s passage. Picture Jesus walking towards His cousin, John the Baptist; John glances up and immediately recognizes Him as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Just one look, that’s all it took, yeah!
I don’t think we need to trouble ourselves with questions like “How did John recognize Jesus” and so on. If we let our brains spin out of control we can come up with many layers to this onion. But, it’s obvious that John was divinely inspired and God had given him insight into Jesus’ identity. After all, John the Baptist was sent ahead of Jesus to announce His coming. So John knew full well who and what Jesus was. He was (and is) the Christ, the Son of God.
What about you? Do you know Him? Can you state with certainty that He is your Lord and Savior? Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away your sins and mine! All honor and glory goes to You, Lord Jesus!
Wednesday, October 17 2012
Verse of the Day
Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” … Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour. [Matthew 8:5-9, 13 – NKJV]
Faith, reliability, trust, and authority are all intertwined. When I was a teenager my friends and I dreamed about our first cars. Our dreams were big and the list was short: a Jaguar XK-E, a Corvette or a GTO. We would be satisfied with nothing else. That is until we got our 10-year-old Plymouth. The thing about clunkers is that they aren’t reliable. Every time you put the key in the ignition something new is bound to happen—you just never know what. Trust was not part of the ownership experience. Speaking of reliability and trust, how about Old Faithful? Aptly named? You bet! It erupts every 91 minutes. One last point: if you sign a contract with a big company you’d better make sure that the person you’re dealing with is an officer who has the authority to act on its behalf.
When we put our faith in others all too often we are let down, disappointed, or deceived. Our fellow travelers are not always reliable and trustworthy. On the other hand, the reason we put our faith in God is because we know without a shadow of a doubt that He is 100-percent reliable, predictable, and trustworthy. But, does the same hold true for His Son, Jesus? Read on.
Today’s passage is one of the greatest acts of faith in the New Testament. It reveals a man, a Roman Centurion, with great insight into who Jesus really was/is. The Centurion approached Jesus and asked Him to heal his beloved servant. When Jesus offered to come to his home, the Centurion declined because he was not worthy, but went on to demonstrate a true understanding of Jesus and his absolute faith in Him. He understood that Jesus was the Son of God and, as God’s Son, had the authority on earth to perform miracles. So Jesus replied, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.”
Do you acknowledge Jesus’ authority in your life? Do you have faith in Him? Seek Him today. As your Savior, He wants to have a loving relationship with you.
Tuesday, October 16 2012
Verse of the Day
The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. [Proverbs 16:23 – NKJV]
The world tells us it’s our intellect that makes us wise. Based on this belief, the brain is the key to wisdom. But, is this really true? Never forget that in the Bible, a wise person is one who knows God and His Ways. So, the real key to wisdom is not the brain, it’s the heart. God always looks at the heart when evaluating a person. In Genesis 4, He found Abel’s offering acceptable while He rejected Cain’s sacrifice, based not solely on the offerings themselves, but on the hearts of the respective givers. We know from Acts 13:22 that God found King David to be “a man after My own heart.” Why? Because David always returned to being fully and completely devoted to the Lord his God.
God looks at our hearts, too, in order to see how we are doing on our walk with Him. Do we love Him and understand Him like King David or only half heartedly like His Chosen People the Israelites?
In today’s passage, King Solomon tells us that the brain still plays a role in this process. The heart instructs the brain of a wise person and as a result “adds learning to his lips.” In other words the heart trains the brain. But make no mistake, wisdom is not intellectual knowledge. It’s not a degree from Harvard, Yale or another Ivy League university. Wisdom is a right relationship with Jesus Christ. It is an ever-changing heart that is growing more and more like Him one day at a time.
Monday, October 15 2012
Verse of the Day
For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” [John 5:16-17 – NKJV]
We know from Genesis and the Gospels that both God the Father and Jesus worked—God when He created the universe and everything in it (including mankind) and Jesus as a carpenter from his early years all the way to the end of His life. (And oh, by the way, Jesus had something to do with creation too! See John 1:1-3.)
In today’s passage we learn that both God and Jesus have been working continuously since the beginning of time. In order to better understand this, I think it is important to explore the concept of work before the Fall from Grace. Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to work it. It was pleasurable and not toilsome work. Since God the Father and Jesus are both perfect beings (like Adam and Eve were before the Fall), their work is not burdensome; it is pleasurable. So too will our work be after the Second Coming, but in the meantime we have to toil, suffer, and bear down since we live in a Fallen world. As Believers, Jesus tells us that for all who are heavy laden His yoke is light. Never forget that we are to work as if working for the Lord! Jesus is our example. Follow His lead!
Thursday, October 11 2012
Verse of the Day
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. [Psalm 24:1-2 – NIV]
You know, try as we might we don’t always stay grounded in God’s Word. We often fall prey to the world’s ways when it comes to success in the workplace. We tell ourselves that we work hard for what we have and we deserve it. We like to give the very best to our families and to ourselves and by doing so we cater not just to our physical and emotional needs, but to our need for status based on achievement. We buy all sorts of things: cars, vacation homes, fishing boats, electronics, expensive jewelry and watches, designer clothes, and on and on, just to make a statement about who we are and what we’ve accomplished in life.
As Believers we know that the world’s “wisdom” about our success is a myth. Everything we have comes from God. It all belongs to Him to begin with and He only “loans” it to us as His stewards. And since the stuff is really His, maybe we ought to rethink the decisions we make about what we are buying and why we are buying it. Do we really need all the stuff we have? Maybe there are better uses for the money He has provided us with. Maybe we should use it for His purposes, to glorify and honor Him. If He has blessed you it’s so you can bless others. Like Abraham, we are blessed to be a blessing.
Wednesday, October 10 2012
Verse of the Day
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. [Colossians 3:2 – NIV]
There’s a lot of clutter in our lives nowadays, perhaps more than at any other time in history. There are many people and things vying for our time. There are demands at work and at home. We are bombarded with more information than we can possibly process or absorb from a myriad of sources. And all too frequently we chose to waste our time in pursuit of entertainment and leisure, i.e., mindless stuff. So when do we have time for God?
It’s all a matter of focus. Are you too concerned with the things of this world or are you about your Father’s business? Never forget to store up treasures in Heaven because where your treasure is there your heart will be also!
Tuesday, October 09 2012
Verse of the Day
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:13-14 – NIV 1984]
I’m a car guy and have been for almost 60 years (in other words since I started to be aware of my surroundings). British sports cars, Italian exotics, German autobahn screamers, American muscle cars; it doesn’t matter. There is nothing like a fast car! And when you’re driving fast you want to shift through the gears as quickly a possible. Going forward rapidly is the name of the game. You sure don’t want to go out in reverse!
God wants you to do the same thing (go forward that is). As the Apostle Paul says in today’s passage, dwelling on the past serves no purpose. Sure, we have all sinned and we tend to think far too much about our past transgressions. We feel guilty. We are ashamed. But, thanks to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we are made right with God. Our sins are forgiven, gone, up in smoke. So, take Paul’s advice and adopt a forward perspective. Pursue Jesus. Become more and more like Him. That’s the goal. Move forward towards Christ. What’s past is past. Live each day focused on eternity with Him!
Wednesday, October 03 2012
Verse of the Day
Now the [Israelites] entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes… [Nehemiah 10:28-29 – NKJV]
After years of worshiping other gods and idols, the Lord finally lost patience with His Chosen People and their sinful ways and poured out His wrath on them by causing Assyria and Babylon to conquer the northern tribes and Judah, respectively. The Israelites finally returned to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, first to rebuild the temple and then to repair the wall of Jerusalem under the leadership of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah and the other Israelite leaders got it. They know full well why the Lord their God had poured out His wrath on their ancestors. Let’s go back even further in time. When the Chosen People were about to enter the Promised Land, God wanted to make sure that they remained wholly devoted to Him. A critical part of this process was to ensure that they removed all of the temptations associated with the other nations that they were displacing, most importantly their pagan cultures and gods. But, when they conquered the Promised Land they did not obey as God commanded. They spared many of the peoples of the other nations that lived in the land and by doing so, sealed their fate. They intermarried, started worshiping other gods and eventually strayed away from the Lord.
So Nehemiah and the elders wanted to get it right the second time around. God had allowed them to return to Israel, but that wasn’t enough. God’s people had to restore their relationship with Him. They had to realize their previous sinful ways and take steps to ensure that this sinful behavior never happened again. The way to accomplish this was to remove the temptation by taking an oath to “not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons.”
They got off to a good start the second time around, but it didn’t last long and they were back to their same old ways. Like the Israelites, we are prone to wander. We don’t stay focused on the Lord our God for long, do we? So join me in praying that we will be consistent and constant in our Walk with Him!
Monday, October 01 2012
Verse of the Day
And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food;” and it was so. [Genesis 1:29-30 – NKJV]
In the beginning we were vegetarians. God gave mankind and every other living thing plants and fruit to eat. It was only after the Flood that He gave man “everything that lives and moves” for food (see Genesis 9). So what changed? Why did God give us permission to eat meat, fish, and other living things?
While I’m not a theologian, here are a few thoughts…
In the beginning we were created as perfect beings. We were in perfect harmony and peace with the Lord our God and with all of creation, including the animals, birds, and fish that inhabited the earth. All of God’s creation was perfect and it was in total relationship and harmony with Him. Only after the Fall was there bloodshed when Cain murdered his brother Abel.
So when God made His covenant with Noah, He allowed us to eat the meat of animals, fish, and other creatures.
But, this is not what we were created for. As Believers, we will eventually become vegetarians once again. In Isaiah, we know that at the time of the Second Coming the wild animals will all become one big happy family (see Isaiah 65). So, we as residents of the New Jerusalem will once again become vegetarians as we enter into a perfect relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So get ready to say goodbye to your favorite New York strip, filet, or porterhouse!