Labor of Love

 

Colossians 3: 23 – 24

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

A strong society requires a strong labor force.  It is an honor to labor in the name of the Lord Jesus.  As we celebrate the role of labor in building this country, we should remember that generations of hard working Americans are to be credited for the luxuries we enjoy today.  There is joy in doing a job well so let’s keep up the good work America!

Rewarded

Jeremiah 31: 16

Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears; for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord.

Have you ever labored in vain, or at least what seemed in vain? Are you spending time and energy right now that doesn’t seem to be bearing fruit for you? Well, God has a good word for you today. Your labor is not in vain. Your work will be rewarded.

I have to believe that God’s word is true and that as you sow, you shall reap. If you are sowing seeds with your effort, then God will produce a harvest. Right now, it may look like all hope is lost, that none appreciate the hard work you have been putting in. Maybe you have been working for a while now without the fruit of you labor showing. God is not a man that He should lie. Your seed must bear fruit. It is the way the universe was created. Maybe you don’t think your boss appreciates you or that anyone even notices how hard you have been working. Maybe not even your spouse knows about the sleepless nights you have had because of thinking about a project and how you can improve it. There is one, however, who sees all you have done, all you are doing. God is a witness to your hard work and dreams.

When God gives us a dream and a vision, we are propelled into a state which almost feels like a parallel dimension. We see so clearly what could be and throw the full force of our dreams and our energy into following God’s plan. We must pray and stay on His track. We must partner with Him, letting Him guide us. Then, no matter what happens, keep your faith in your vision and your God. Don’t be sidetracked by what mere men do. This is between you and Yahweh. Leave the results to him. Just focus your eyes on him and do all that is in your heart to do. Let the Lord, your God be your rewarder. He promises, “Your work will be rewarded.”

Entrusted

Psalm 37: 5 & 7                    God’s Word

Entrust your ways to the Lord. Trust him, and he will act on your behalf. Surrender yourself to the LORD, and wait patiently for him.

This is one of my favorite Bible passages. It is important to me because it speaks to an issue that I constantly must consider. This passage is about the partnership with God. When we partner with Him, then the work load is shared. We have our part and He has His. The key is for us to do our part and to stay out of His part. Therein lies the challenge but also ultimate success.

I believe in working. In fact, I believe in hard work and working smart. Most of all, though, I have learned that neither of those eclipses the number one guideline which is, let God lead. This reminds me of a verse that we should all memorize. It is Proverb 10: 22. The NASB and the King James read essentially the same, “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.” I think few of us have understood what “He adds no sorrow to it means.” The Hebrew Bible clears this up for us. It reads, “It is the blessing of the Lord which makes rich, and your toil adds nothing to it.” The “sorrow” written of in the other translations is the sorrow from toil. There is no travail in success when the Lord is in it with us. Our “toil” isn’t what will bring success. It is He and His blessing which provide the success for each undertaking. The New International Version reads, “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.”

God isn’t against hard work, nor is He against working smart but what He really wants us to learn is to work wisely. That is an entirely different deal. Spiritually appraised people learn to work first in their spirits by connecting with the spirit of wisdom. Here is where patience comes in. The Passion Translation says to “commit everything you do to the Lord.” We are to entrust all our ways, all our plans, dreams and assignments to Him as the first step. Then we surrender ourselves and our projects fully to Him. He may have you working really hard for a time, but it is to be at His direction. Sometimes the thing He will tell you to do is to meditate. Okay, that does not fit into western thinking, but God knows that sometimes that is the best thing to do. And that is the point. We are supposed to surrender our thinking to His ways.

One last thought, none of this works without first seeking the Lord. The whole idea is partnering with Him, tuning into Him and allowing Him to guide you. Your work load is to be managed by the Father. We are supposed to wait patiently for Him but only after we have surrendered ourselves to Him and entrusted Him with our goals. So, this does not mean watching television while we wait upon God. It means seeking Him and meditating on Him and His Word. See, that is your part. Then the answers to all the questions will be presented to you. This waiting is in faith. It is expectantly listening. You are to be co-laborers. That does mean you work but it is at the Father’s direction. He will show you the way when you commit all your plans and hopes to Him.

Labor Day

1 Timothy 5: 18

The laborer is worthy of his wages.

Happy Labor Day everyone. I hope you are enjoying the holiday. As you celebrate, consider all the people whose contributions add value to your life. It is so easy to overlook people’s roles in society and not value them until they are gone. Let us make an effort to show people how much what they do matters to us.

Have a great day and spread it around.

Relieved

Psalm 81: 6 & 10

I relieved his shoulder of the burden, his hands were freed from the basket. I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

I am always amused by people who say that the Old Testament does not speak to us today. Today’s verse is modern day theology. It is Jesus’ message about the Holy Spirit. This is the place, spiritually speaking, where we are all supposed to live.

God has relieved us from the labor of work. Am I saying that we no longer set our hands to the plow? No. What God is revealing is that He is the labor behind the work. He supplies the wisdom and the power. We are to abide in Him and rest in Him while He provides for us. Hebrews 4: 11 says, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” The King James version says that our labor is in entering into this rest. In other words, our job is to enter into the rest of God. We are to be diligent in our pursuit of a Sabbath relationship with the Father and Sabbath, by the way, is every day. Our labor, our task is to abide in Jesus every moment of every day. That is sometimes a challenge and that is why it requires diligence. It is quite easy for us to become stimulated by some “emergency” or even some “to do” and begin to operate in our own strength and wisdom. The calling upon our lives is to learn to let go of our ways and our strength and embrace Jesus’ ways and the strength of God. Our challenge is to live in His abiding grace where He does all the heavy lifting. This is the challenge of the New Covenant. Endeavor, labor even, to live in Jesus’ peace while the Holy Spirit provides the power.

Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things” (John 14: 26). He also promised us that the Holy Spirit will guide us in all truth (John 16: 13). So, the strength, power and wisdom are in the Divine Trinity. God has taken the kneading bowl from our hands and put it into the hands of the Holy Spirit. Our part is to abide in Him and allow Him to abide in us. We take the time to quiet ourselves down and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and follow him. It is harder than it sounds because we learned to do everything in our power: by our education, personality, charm, hard-work and all of the other worldly methods. God is trying to redeem us from all of that though. Just like a relief pitcher in the 9th inning, God has sent the Holy Spirit to win all of your games for you. Let’s be diligent to enter God’s rest and the peace Jesus left for us while the Holy Spirit does his job.

Toil

Ecclesiastes 2: 26

For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight.

We were never meant to live off of the sweat of our brow. We are supposed to live through the gifts of wisdom, knowledge and joy from the Lord, our God. Toil is for the sinner. Wow! That is an amazing and powerful statement. He, the sinner, labors in order to give to the one “who is good in God’s sight.”

None of us were good in God’s sight but now, because of Jesus, when God looks at us, He sees the beautiful visage of Jesus. Because Jesus has clothed us with his glory we are “good” in God’s sight. In Jesus we have access to all that God is including His wisdom and knowledge. You are meant to live on the daily influx of God’s wisdom, joy and knowledge. Does this challenge your thinking a little? Our occupations ought to be what we do in order to make the world a better place. Our living, our sustenance is supposed to come from God.

Sinners are supposed to pour into our bosom. We shouldn’t work for a living. We should give for a living. We are not supposed to be so busy that we cannot even call a sick friend or take time with our kids. We are to use our time to commune with God and receive His wisdom, knowledge and joy. Then we can take all that God teaches and shows us to the sinner and help them to be beautiful in God’s eyes. It is hard to accomplish the big tasks of the world, the global issues of humanity when we have to work ten hours a day just to make ends meet. Who shall go to the lost and hurting? We haven’t the time to slow down and hear the voice of God. He is speaking to us today. What is He saying? What does He want us to do with our time? The answer is not that He wants us to work ourselves to death. He wants us to position ourselves to receive His wisdom, His knowledge and His joy. Then we take what He gives us and give it away to those who are toiling, to all who are lost. The sinner lays up treasure for us but we receive treasure from heaven and dispense it to them so that they can rise up from drudgery and despair.

Our God is our provider. He didn’t call us to “make a living.” He called us to Himself. He means to provide and He is, but we have to get a big enough revelation of these important verses if we are going to live the lifestyle God created for us. It is a challenge. We can live as God designed, but we must first allow our minds and hearts to accept His vision of life. This is pretty big, I will grant you but it is also the Word and intent of God. If we can accept it, we could actually begin to live this way. That would be amazing. We could do so much for the Kingdom of God if we were not bogged down in our labors.

Think about today’s verse. Roll it around in your mind. Is God a man that He can lie? Did He mean these words when He gave them? Why did God make sure this verse ended up in the Bible? You are meant for higher things. God is calling. Can you hear Him?

Inspiration vs. Perspiration

John 14: 10

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.

This is a great word for ministers but truly Jesus modeled life for us all. He is our example. Therefore, we can take inspiration from this message from the Lord.

One day, when I was a bit over-taxed with duties and responsibilities, it occurred to me that I could work through inspiration or perspiration. Well of course, I was working hard. I was sweating the deadlines, burdens and responsibilities. I was in my strength instead of Jesus’. You see, he has created a model by which we work, accomplish, rest, serve him and honor him all at the same time. When we yield our heavy burdens to the Lord, allowing him to carry the load, he is honored. We have also preached the word by our very actions because we have communicated a reproducible model. People can appreciate that we accomplish through Jesus’ labor and wisdom and perhaps recognize that since they have the same access to Jesus as do we, that they can do the same thing. 

Whatsmore, we are only doing what Jesus did. We model him. Jesus said he did nothing of his own initiative (John 8: 28). God was the one performing the works. He supplied Jesus with the words to speak. The Father directed Jesus steps. He navigated him to the town or village which was right for the time. Imagine how much easier our lives would be if we could learn to follow God’s voice within us the way Jesus did.

You know, there is an easy way and a hard way to do everything. When possible, let’s do things the easy way. I choose to live by inspiration rather than perspiration. How about you?