Labor Day Weekend

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. -John 6:27

With the approaching Labor Day holiday, I thought it fitting to break from the usual topics and write on the idea of “labor.”

Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. -1 Corinthians 3:8

It does not seem fair that you work so hard and have [what seems to be] so little compared to folks that are born into wealth or magically attract it. Ever feel that way? I’ve been reading the book of Job during my morning devotional time and have been recently reminded of how unfair life can seem. Job loved God and lived a righteous life (as far as any man can do), yet God allowed Satan to test him by taking away so very much from his life. But in the end, Job kept his faith and God blessed him even more richly than before, but there was a time when his friends were turning their backs on him and he was clearly wondering why all of this was happening to him.

When we work so hard, let it be for the kingdom of God and not for those earthly things which spoil and will, one day, be burned up in preparation for the newness of God’s kingdom. That’s labor worth doing! Have a blessed weekend.

The Company We Keep

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. -Psalm 1:1-3 

My mother always told me that “birds of a feather flock together.” Of course, that was intended to keep me from associating with people she deemed of poor character (by the way, she was usually right– although I didn’t see it at the time). Much in the same way, our Heavenly Father wants us to avoid people who are likely to drag us down and take us away from Him.

Some people like to complain about preachers that promote a “Prosperity Gospel” in their teaching. Funny, but I see the words prosperity mentioned in more than one place in the Bible– and it is usually connected to loving God and trying to live a life of obedience to Him. Don’t get me wrong, I see how things can be taken out of context and expectations can arise that will never be satisfied (sometimes, thank Him, He says “no”). I guess, too, that a lot depends on what one considers “prospering” to be. To me, prosperity comes in the form of a deep and abiding satisfaction I get when walking closely with the Lord.

The Destructive Power Of The Tongue

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. -Proverbs 18:21 (MEV)

How often am I reminded that words can be hurtful and utterly destructive. I had a painful reminder of that earlier this summer that I hope not to repeat anytime soon. We must be careful when engaged in controversy to guard our words cautiously, because once they are out, it is too late to retract them. Oh, we may try to take them back through apologies and such, but even in the midst of forgiveness, things are remembered.

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. -James 3:6

Throughout Proverbs and elsewhere in the Bible we are warned to use our words sparingly and cautiously. Even idle words shall be judged: But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. -Matthew 12:36

Pride

Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.

-Proverbs 16:18 (NASB)

Sometimes, I think the greatest cross a Christian can have to bear is that of a worldly, material nature. With success can often come a spirit of independence that can replace the spirit of dependence upon God. As soon as I remove God from the center of my thoughts and life, I drift into an area that leaves me feeling empty and compels me to return to Him. I guess I should consider myself lucky, as some become very comfortable in their prison of comfort and, ultimately, sin.

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
Than great treasure and turmoil with it.

-Proverbs 15:16 (NASB)

My LIFE VERSE

Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. -1 Peter 3:11

What is a Life Verse? Here’s the best definition I have read (from Willowcreek): a verse or short passage that serves as a rallying cry to guide and focus the current season in your life. It is a truth or a challenge straight from God’s word that rings true for you at this moment in your life.

Mine comes from 1 Peter 3:11. After recent conflict, I have begun to realize that I have had more than my share of conflict and I am the only one that can do anything about it. As a Christian, it is important that people see Christ in me– not conflict and bitterness. The Holy Spirit has certainly convicted me of this and directed me to do something about it.

It is a good idea to have a life verse that you pay attention to daily, for whatever season of life you find yourself in.

May God bless you as He guides you to yours and you take it to heart.

What are you hiding?

He who conceals hatred has lying lips,
And he who spreads slander is a fool.
When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise. -Proverbs 10:18-19 (NASB)

Not very long ago, I had an altercation with my stepson and words were spoken between us that won’t soon be forgotten, to say the least. After that, I found in myself to have an intense dislike of him (in fact, hatred is a word I don’t like but it might fit, to be honest). I have struggled with this now for [what will soon be] a couple of months. Much of this could have been avoided if we were both able to restrain our mouths from saying some of the things we did. The situation was provocative, and while I still feel I was in the right to do what I did that caused the stir in the first place, I could have walked away until things cooled down– and not referred to him as a “loser who has nothing.” No matter what he did, that was not right for me to say. Some people may be bad or losers, but that’s not for me to say. He was created by God– just as I was.

I now pray for him and his girlfriend (also involved) to have the “blessings of Abraham” as described in Deuteronomy 28. Since I have begun to do that, he doesn’t seem so bad and I can more easily come to terms with both him and my own self in all of this. A little time in the book of James (specifically chapter 4) has also helped me to see my part in this. I am reminded when reading that chapter that the source of quarrels for me is when either I or the person I’m in conflict with (or both) don’t get something we want.

One thing I have discovered about the Bible: it has all the answers I need, if I but inquire of the Lord and spend time in His Word. Amen? Amen!

The Grass Is Not Always Greener…

For I was envious of the arrogant
As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
-Psalm 73:3 (NASB)

I have seen the movie “God Is Not Dead” three times now: once in the cinema, once on DVD at home with my wife and the third time with a small group I belong to. I enjoy the movie for many reasons, but one moment in particular stands out each time I see it. An old lady suffering from dementia seems to come out of an almost comatose state and explains to her son (who is the epitome of greed and selfishness) the prison of sin he is encased in that is too comfortable for him to see. He mocks her for being such a good person and suffering in an almost catatonic state, while he is her opposite– a bad person, yet living a perfect life (in his view). Suddenly, she speaks and tells him of the prison of sin he is in that he can’t see that will hold him until it is too late– if he is not willing to repent.
 
I think it is true that the devil can give people the success they crave, leaving them feeling independent and in no need of God. They cling to the things of this world that they can see and which bring them instant gratification, yet in the end are temporary and gone without so much as a moment’s notice.
 
I thank God that it is not necessary to have someone deliver me a message of the prison of sin I do not see around me. How about you?