Daily Devotionals from Grace in the Workplace
Monday, February 20 2012
Verse of the Day
When anyone is guilty in any of these ways, he must confess in what way he has sinned and, as a penalty for the sin he has committed, he must bring to the Lord a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin. If he cannot afford a lamb, he is to bring two doves or two young pigeons to the Lord as a penalty for his sin – one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. … If, however, he cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, he is to bring as an offering for his sin a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering. [Leviticus 5:5-7, 11 – NIV 1984]
The concept of fairness is getting a lot of press nowadays. When we were growing up, we learned the ways of the world and the worldly concept of what is fair (and conversely, what’s not) was ingrained in our psyches. But what is fair from a secular perspective and what is fair in God’s eyes are often diametrically opposed to one another. When those of the secular world look at God’s Word, they are often shocked by many of the things that God considers to be just and right. We as Believers have to “unlearn” much of what we were taught over the years as we study God’s ways. Humans are fixated on fairness, while God is the epitome of truth and justice. He is everything that is just, right, true, and holy. In the end, God’s justice prevails because it focuses on and reflects His majesty and glory. It really is all about Him!
Today’s passage from Leviticus is interesting because conceptually it is one of the few in the Bible with which the secular world could agree. The situation involves certain types of sin offerings where a person does not respond when he/she is a witness and could give testimony, touches something ceremonially unclean, touches human uncleanliness, or takes an oath carelessly. This is the only offering which takes into account the offender’s ability to “pay” and makes adjustments accordingly. There is no such reprieve based on circumstances and ability for the other offerings.
Contrast this with the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), which is perhaps one of the most unfair results in the Bible from a human perspective. In this parable, Jesus describes a landowner who hires workers for his vineyard throughout the day—beginning at dawn and again at 9 a.m., at noon, at 3 p.m., and finally at 5 p.m. When it came time to settle up with the workers, the landowner pays the ones he hired at 5 p.m. the same amount he’d agreed to pay the ones that he’d hired at dawn. In fact he paid all the workers the exact same amount without taking into account the fact that many had worked less than the others. Those that started earlier in the day were appalled that those that started much later (3 p.m. and 5 p.m.) got paid the same as they did. When they complained, the landowner said, “Friend, I’m doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me on a denarius? Take what is yours and go. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my business? Are you jealous because I’m generous?” (Matthew 20:13-15.) The point Jesus is making is that the length of time which a Believer knows and believes in Him has no bearing on his salvation. The parable stands for the proposition that a concern about rewards based on merit, as opposed to the grace of God, has no place in His Kingdom.
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16.)
Thursday, February 16 2012
Verse of the Day
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” … [Then] the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you … However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.” [1 Samuel 8:4-5, 7 and 9 – NKJV]
I’m sure you know families that subscribe to the rule about not discussing religion or politics at the dinner table. I for one don’t believe in this. After all, I’m Irish, and what’s wrong with a good fight? Anyway, we’re going to discuss both religion and politics (at least in a philosophical, theoretical sense) in this devotional so fasten your seatbelts!
Anybody who thinks that the Bible isn’t timeless, lacks relevance for today’s world, isn’t prophetic, and isn’t the inerrant Word of God needs to read 1 Samuel 8 very carefully. (Actually, they should read the whole book!) The Israelites are complaining once again. This time they are demanding that Samuel (and by implication, God Himself) appoint an earthly king to rule over them, judge them, and lead them in battle. Samuel finds this request disturbing and prays to God for guidance. God tells Samuel that “[the people] have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:7). Rejecting God! The Israelites, God’s chosen people rejected Him again! Another slap in the face! The point is that other nations had earthly kings, but then they didn’t have a covenant relationship with the Lord. From the time of Jacob, God was Israel’s King. Why would they turn away from Him? God told Samuel to grant the people’s wish, but to warn them about the consequences. Here is what Samuel told them:
So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.” [1 Samuel 8:10-18]
Sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it? This passage could describe any one of our modern-day governments whether they be authoritarian, monarchies, republics, democracies, dictatorships, theocracies, or totalitarian. The point is that all governments, whether past, present, or future, are flawed because we are a fallen people. Only God’s ways are perfect, just, and true. We are weak and prone to greed, corruption, graft, self interest, poor judgment, and on and on. As the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely!
But we can take comfort in the fact that we are citizens of Heaven. We live here on earth, but we are aliens. But while we are here we are to live in accordance with God’s Word. We are to obey our earthly leaders. “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Always pray for our elected leaders and ask that God give them wisdom, strength, discernment, compassion, mercy, and protection from the evil one.
Tuesday, February 07 2012
Verse of the Day
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” [Exodus 3:13-14 – NIV]
“You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” [John 8:57-58 – NIV]
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. [John 14:26 – NIV]
The Trinity is an amazing thing. Three Gods in One! We understand it, and yet we really don’t. It is one of the mysteries of God. We are not really supposed to understand God, only what He has revealed to us through His Word. There is so much that we really don’t know and are not meant to know.
Thomas Jefferson believed that the teachings of Jesus were the essence of the Bible and that His deity and the other references to God in the Bible got in the way. As a result, he published what is commonly referred to as the Jeffersonian Bible by, you guessed it, extracting all references to Jesus’ deity and to God. The Unitarians also dispute the existence of the Trinity and believe that God is one person. They maintain that Jesus was a great man and a prophet of God, but not God Himself. These two approaches to the mystery of God miss the mark. Dismissing the Trinity because it’s not intellectually provable is based in secular philosophy, and not in God’s Word. The Bible is replete from beginning to end with references to the Trinity.
In John 8:58 when Jesus tells the crowd at the temple that “before Abraham was born, I am!” it was an indication that He was present with the Father when He spoke to Moses and in the other instances in which He spoke and interacted with the Israelites. What an amazing thing! And the Spirit is also a coexistent part of the Trinity. Existing in separate form and yet part of the whole (see John 14:26).
I know most evangelical churches no longer sing the doxology in their services and that’s a shame, because it’s the greatest praise song ever written.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen
Say a prayer of thanks to the Heavenly Father. Never forget that He sent His Son Jesus to earth to be with us and to save us from our sins. Words don’t come close to expressing what that means.
Friday, February 03 2012
Verse of the Day
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:31-34 – NIV]
This seems like a nonsensical question, doesn’t it? Everyone is worried about his or her job, right? Duh! Well, yes and no. Read on.
We humans are prone to worry about everything. There is generally no aspect of our lives that we don’t worry about. This is because we delude ourselves with the mistaken impression that we are in control of our lives. And since we are in reality powerless, we have to worry because we just don’t know the future and what it will bring. No matter how hard we try to control future events we just can’t. After all, we are human!
It is sort of ironic that we worry so much about our jobs, since it is our God-given talents and abilities that manifest themselves in the marketable skills that enable us to provide for our families and ourselves. This is the fundamental point that Jesus is making about God providing all the things that we need. This is a big part of HOW He does it.
Despite the fact that God has provided for us we still worry about our jobs day and night. Will I get a promotion? Will I be laid off after the merger? Will I get a good review? Will I get the raise I deserve? Most employees think that they are God’s gift to the workforce. They are smarter than their bosses and their peers. They deserve to be treated better. They deserve to be paid more. And on and on and on. This behavior is characteristic of our old friends pride and elevation of self, and it also plays a big role in the worry game.
How do you come to grips with all of this? Seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness and worry fades away and is replaced by peace and serenity. That’s because you are finally focused on what is really important in life—your relationship with the Father.
I could tell you that if the things that you are worried about actually happen, in all likelihood God will provide a different and new path for you. You’ll probably get a new job and it may be the same, better, or worse than your current job. You may not get a promotion. Your salary may get frozen or cut. But no matter what happens I’ll bet that five years from now, when you look back over your life, things will be just fine. Trust and obey God. Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.