Daily Devotionals from Grace in the Workplace
Thursday, September 27 2012
Verse of the Day
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit;” whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. [James 4:13-16 – NKJV]
We all like to boast. Whether it’s our golf game, cooking, business accomplishments, you name it. For the most part we have a high opinion of ourselves, which is generally undeserved, but, that’s not the point. The businessmen in this “parable” were boasting with certainty about the outcome of future events. They were going on a business trip and it was, without a doubt in their minds, going to be a success. They were going to sell things and make a huge profit. The only problem for them and for us is that none of us knows what will happen tomorrow, much less in the next minute or two. Only God is omnipresent. Only He transcends time and space. So, it is boastful indeed for us as mere humans to make statements with absolute certainty about future events. As James says, such boasting is sinful.
Does this mean that we are not to plan our lives, to think and dream about the future? Absolutely not! But when we dream and when we plan, we are to do so by seeking God’s Will for what we should do. After all, entrepreneurs, inventors, artists, and many others with creative spirits have great dreams about what the future holds for them, but these dreams need to be in accordance with God’s Will and grounded in His Word. Make sure you pray to God about what His Plan is for your future.
Wednesday, September 26 2012
Verse of the Day
And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” [Luke 12:15 – NKJV]
Today’s verse is sandwiched between a request to Jesus for His help in an inheritance dispute and Jesus’ response in the form of the Parable of the Rich Fool. But the verse itself is telling. We just never seem to get it, do we? Our life is not about the stuff that’s in it. It’s about our relationship with the Lord our God and with our fellow man.
The rich fool had an overabundance of crops and his barns were filled to capacity. He built new barns to store his harvests and felt so good about himself that he decided to kick back and relax. But God had a different message. The fool had decided to eat, drink, and be merry, but God told him that he was going to die that very night and what good would the stuff be then? This question still rings true today doesn’t it? What good is the stuff? Use it for the glory of God, but never let it become your god. Never forget that stuff is just stuff. In what do you place your sense of hope, trust, and security? Is it in your stuff or your God’s?
Tuesday, September 25 2012
Verse of the Day
However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God. [Deuteronomy 20:16-18 – NIV]
Just what did the Israelites not understand about this command from the Lord their God? Here’s the setting: they were about to enter the Promised Land and God wanted to make sure that they remained a holy people who were totally devoted to Him. A critical part of this process was to ensure that they removed all of the temptations associated with the other nations they were displacing, most importantly their pagan cultures and gods. But, the Israelites really had a problem with obeying God’s commands fully and completely. They always did things halfway. So when they conquered the Promised Land they did not do 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 their God.
This pattern of disobedience continues to haunt the Israelites throughout their history. For example, in 1 Samuel 15:22 Samuel confronts Saul about his not being fully obedient to God by failing to completely destroy the Amalekites. Saul had received direct orders to kill everything and instead he ignored God’s command and brought back some of the best sheep and cattle, supposedly as a sacrifice. Samuel chastised him by saying, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
Just like the Israelites, we find it difficult to fully obey God. He wants our entire heart, but all too often we give Him far less. He is our constant Rock; our cornerstone. We are weak and He is strong. Trust and obey Him! Don’t be tempted to ignore His Word. It is so good and so true! It is transformative (a fancy word for life-changing). What can be better than that? After all, that’s what we really need, isn’t it?
Thursday, September 20 2012
Verse of the Day
Give us this day our daily bread. [Matthew 6:11 – NKJV]
This is a familiar passage from the Lord’s Prayer. But, does it really have something to do with our diet? Are we supposed to eat bread and water every day? Or, is there more to it than we realize? The “daily bread” referred to in the prayer goes way beyond rye, pumpernickel, wheat, white, or sourdough. What it’s really all about is that God will provide for our everyday needs—not only the physical ones, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual ones, too. When you are praying to Him for your needs, be comforted and assured by the fact that He can take care of all of them regardless of what they are. He will give you whatever you need, not only to provide for your own needs and those of your family, but the needs of others as He uses you to fulfill His Plan!
Tuesday, September 18 2012
Verse of the Day
A leader of good judgment gives stability; an exploiting leader leaves a trail of waste.[Proverbs 29:4 – The Message]
The stereotypical employee thinks that his or her boss is a clueless idiot, but in reality this just ain’t so. Most people in leadership deserve to be where they are and this is especially true the higher you go up the chain of command. But, there are always exceptions. There are the occasional bad apples, the executives or business owners that are infatuated with themselves and with the power of their positions. They mistreat, abuse, and ride roughshod over their people and then wonder why their company’s financial performance and productivity numbers are so low. They are hemorrhaging cash and don’t have a clue. But God does. They should listen to God’s Word to the wise. Treat your employees with respect as you would like to be treated yourself and you’ll be amazed at the results. Doing the right thing is, after all, the right thing to do, but it also tends to produce results! As an example let’s consider one of my least favorite Christmas movies, White Christmas. This movie is not to be confused with Holiday Inn in which Bing Crosby made the song “White Christmas” famous, but enough trivia. Anyway, in the movie White Christmas Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen star as Army buddies (and entertainers) at the end of World War II. Their beloved commanding officer, Major General Thomas F. Waverly (played by Dean Jagger), is being relieved of command. His troops give him an emotional farewell and since this is a musical, it’s a song called “The Old Man.” The words are what every leader should cherish…
We'll follow the old man wherever he wants to go
Long as he wants to go opposite to the foe
We'll stay with the old man wherever he wants to stay
Long as he stays away from the battle's fray
Because we love him, we love him
Especially when he keeps us on the ball
And we'll tell the kiddies we answered duty's call
With the grandest son of a soldier of them all.
Obviously there is a bit of humor in this Irving Berlin song, but the real message comes through loud and clear: real leaders who care about their people have their love and respect. This is what God has in mind for you if you are a leader.
Monday, September 17 2012
Verse of the Day
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. [John 14:26 – NKJV]
How neat was Pentecost? Just imagine God indwelling in each of us! We are tabernacles! But, what exactly does this mean? Part of the conversion process that occurs when we become Believers results in the Law being engrafted in our hearts. The Holy Spirit helps us discern what sin is, and when we are about to engage in it He sends a gentle reminder that a particular course of action might not be what God had in mind for us. The Spirit also helps us withstand temptation. And when we sin, the Spirit convicts us of the sin so that we can immediately turn to God to seek forgiveness.
The Spirit also provides guidance in our lives, indicating which path we should choose. Should it be the high road or the low road? By the way, this has nothing to do with getting to Scotland! The Holy Spirit is probably the least understood and talked about member of the Trinity, but for us as Believers, He plays a huge role in our everyday lives. The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 5:25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The Spirit leads us into the ways of holiness and in the direction of Christ. So, we should strive to stay in step with Him! Thank you, Jesus for sending the Wise Counselor to us!
Wednesday, September 12 2012
Verse of the Day
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. [Matthew 6:24 – NKJV]
What’s really important to you in life? Everyone reading this has a standard of living that is light-years ahead of the rest of the world. Although Americans comprise about 6 percent of the world’s population, we have about half of the wealth. Let’s face it, every one of us has a lot of stuff. And, truth be told, we like our stuff, don’t we? We are, after all, a consumer society, and buying and accumulating stuff is the name of the game.
This is our way of life; it is the economic engine that keeps us going. Is it wrong? That’s not for me to say, but I will say this: It’s wrong when we as individuals become obsessed with our stuff. If our possessions become so important that the Lord our God becomes “less” important to us, then we have a real problem. Notice that I didn’t say unimportant. Most Believers think that as long as they love Jesus then all is okay, but is that really so? Is it enough to love God and your stuff in the same way? Is God satisfied if you love Him halfheartedly? Absolutely not! That was why God found that King David was “a man after My own heart.” David loved the Lord his God fully and completely. That is what we are called to do. We can’t serve two masters. What is stuff anyway? It’s just stuff! Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. So, what’s it gonna be?
Monday, September 10 2012
Verse of the Day
Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. [Proverbs 19:27 – NKJV]
You know, it’s a miracle that we ever learn anything in life. Very few of us have developed “listening skills.” We are far more interested in hearing our own voice than the voices of our fellow travelers. Once again the culprit is our sinful pride, our self-centered nature. We think we’re better than others and have an innate need to elevate ourselves over them.
Here are a couple of thoughts. First, pride is sinful. We are called to be humble before the Lord our God and before our fellow man. Being humble means “less of us and more of others.” The humble person has a natural desire to listen and to show respect to those around him. Second, a wise person will listen to others.
Calling listening a “skill” is a misnomer. The reason it’s a “skill that needs to be developed” is because so few of us do it naturally. So, we all need to make listening a natural part of our approach to life. You will never learn anything if you don’t listen to others. And that applies equally to the Word of God. If you want to grow in God’s Word you not only need to read it, but also listen when those who are wiser than you, a.k.a. teachers of the Word, are talking. Pay attention; you’ll be glad you did!
Tuesday, September 04 2012
Verse of the Day
I said, “I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me.” [Psalm 39:1 – NKJV]
In the old days public libraries were dark, musty, quiet places—so quiet, in fact, that you could hear a pin drop. Just in case you didn’t get the message about proper library decorum, there were signs posted everywhere that read “Quiet Please!” And if you transgressed and your voice rose above a whisper, you got the evil eye and a word of warning from the librarian. After all, “quiet, please” is really just a polite euphemism for “shut up!”
It’s one thing to be loud and quite another to be rude and offensive. We are all too prone to let our tongues get out of control. We say rude, thoughtless, hurtful things to others far too often. And it happens in all kinds of situations, even when we are trying our hardest to be on our best behavior. Most of the time our excuse is “we just can’t help it.” We shoot off our mouths at home, at work, at church, on the golf course, at the grocery store; in fact just about everywhere we go.
King David gives us great advice. We need to restrain our mouths with muzzles. Now that’s a thought! Just imagine what life would be like at work, at home, and everywhere in between if we were actually civil and kind to one another! Pray to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for His insight and guidance in controlling your tongue. A word to the wise: if we’re not talking, then we’re listening, and that’s certainly a good habit to get into. It’s really about humility. Pray that there will be less of us and more of others today!