Steward

Re: Verse reading–Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (day three)

“The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Here’s a question: Do you listen to the voices of MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, the New Republic, National Review, etc., with a mind shaped by the Bible—or do you listen to the Bible through a mind shaped by one of those voices?  Which is it?  When our nation is wounded by flaws in our governing entities, let’s let the Bible be the first responder to our souls.  That way, we become people who remain concerned with how we can steward together the system of authority God has placed over us.

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We the People…

Re: Verse reading–Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (day two)

Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:7

Can you tell that I’ve been listening to Christmas music lately? This Messianic prophecy from Isaiah tells us that there will be an incorruptible everlasting form of government, but not one ruled or established by men. Our best thoughts, our greatest minds have tried to construct ways to fairly govern people since the beginning of civilization. Most educators would agree that students need some sort of structure to succeed. What is acceptable and what is not. How to behave and the consequence for disobedience. In exchange students should feel reasonably safe, they should expect a quality education. This is what we should expect from our government. A system to follow with the expectation of safety. However, even in the most enlightened societies, they are run by fallen people. Even fallen people with the best ideals are still fallen. God’s system is flawless. His promise to be just and righteous is made to all. We must model our lives, our actions, and our obedience to await that perfect government.

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Who governs the government?

Re: Verse reading–Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (day one)  

Christians are a paradox where government is concerned.  Sometimes we are patriots.  Sometimes we are rebels.  The Bible teaches us to be” subject to the governing authorities”. (Romans 13:1)  We are to pay taxes.  We are to show respect, give honor.  (13:6)  But, to whom is government subject? God! The mandate that government holds comes from Him, not from any popular vote.  It is for this reason that Christians, over the course of history, have had no ache of conscience in disobeying government when to do so constituted disobedience to God.  ”We must obey God, rather then men” said Peter and John in Acts 4:19. When government oversteps its authority, it loses its authority–that’s what we believe.  ”The government is merely a servant.  It cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what it wrong, who the patriot is and who isn’t.  Its function is to obey orders, not to give them.”–Mark Twain.

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Let it go

RE Verse reading–Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-11 (day seven)  ”Six days shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.”–Exodus 20:9-10.  Unless you’ve been on another planet for the past few years, you have heard (or heard of) the Disney movie, “Frozen” and the featured song, “Let it go”.  As Queen Elsa “lets go” of her fears to embrace her strengths, believers “let go” of our fears to discover our strength in union with Christ.  It is a weekly spiritual rhythm called sabbath.  WORK for six days!  This is the command of God.  Get up!  Think! Innovate!  Achieve!  Subdue!  Rule! (see Genesis 1)  But, on the sabbath learn a different skill.  Let it go! Rest!  Pray! Seek His face!  Engage the world with courage, then retreat from it to declare your trust in Something higher.  We are double-sided creations, dual-natured.  God commands us to work, and then to let it go.

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Good Work

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-11 (day six)

“…so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” Titus 2:10

The Gospel changes both how we think about work and how we do work. Certainly God provides us good work as a means to meet our basic needs, but work also transcends a paycheck. The reality is that God uses our work to both sustain his creation and restore it. That is the work itself is more than a platform or place for ministry, but is a means through which God holds all things together and brings creation back in order. So, truthfully the Gospel restores work into its proper place, as a manifestation of being made in the image of God.

This reclaimed reality changes how we work. We begin to realize that work, either glamorous or mundane, serves God’s purposes; both farmers and lawyers are apart of God’s sustaining work in society. So work hard and with excellence, because you are indeed serving unto the Lord.

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Worship in the Workplace

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-11 (day five)  Let me start by asking a couple of questions.  Where to do you go to worship?  Are there several answers you could give that are honest and truthful?  I have friends say, “I can worship God anywhere”.  But, do they?  There is significant and meaningful value in gathering with believers for Worship and Bible Study. (Hebrews 10)  Can we worship at other times and places apart from Sundays in a sanctuary or church meeting space?  Can we worship in the workplace?  Can worship really happen there?  Paul seems to think the answer is “Yes”(Colossians 3:23).  Worship is likely to happen when we labor with passion and faithfulness as employees (“servants be obedient”).  Worship also can occur as we manage and lead others (“masters do the same thing”) with compassion, integrity, conviction, and honesty.  Jesus has given us examples that glorify God both as servants and masters.

 

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Perspective

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-11 (day four)  In each of these letters, Paul drives home the same point…our lives relate directly to God rather than man.  In a slave relationship…or, in today’s world, an employer relationship…we are not to resent or argue or deceive our authority.  We are reminded that our work is unto the Lord, not to man.  We can escape the notice or knowledge of our employer, but God sees our every action and knows our heart and intentions.  We get away with nothing.  Paul tells us in the Titus passage that when we respond properly to our employers (masters), we adorn the doctrine of God.  ‘Adorn’ means to make more pleasing; beautify, embellish, enhance, enrich, and grace.  We add glory to God when we serve Him over our petty, worldly desires and passions.  Our goals need to change…we should not be seeking what is best for ourselves, we should be seeking to adorn the doctrine of God.  Give glory to God by rightly serving your authority!

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Order

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-11 (day three)

“Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.” 

Those in positions of power must wield it justly, and those in stations of weakness must leave room for God’s retribution.  In Paul’s thinking this balance is necessary to preserve in this fallen world a social order that allows people to flourish.  But in our fallenness we are unbalanced.  So people in power begin to practice oppression, and people in weakness get exploited by those who would throw off all traces of authority.  The powerful attempt to become God, and the weak forget God’s vengeance.  In the resulting chaos, only the church can teach this world to live together in a social order that brings peace and plenty.  Let’s get to work.

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Be All There

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-11 (day two)

“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.” Colossians 3:23-24

“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” Jim Elliot

This verse from Paul’s letter to the Colossians and the life and example of Jim Elliot have long given me purpose. Years before I felt, or more accurately understood, God’s call for me to go into ministry, I had this overwhelming conviction that what I did mattered for the kingdom. This philosophy played out mostly in my classroom. God wanted me to be a good teacher, to love kids, to invest myself into others. This was kingdom building. I have rarely know a time when I wasn’t “all in” to whatever I was into. If God is brought you to it, and will surely bring you through it, then roll up your sleeves and get after it.

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Faith and WORK

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-11 (day one)

Christianity declares that faith and works are opposite approaches to salvation.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. . .it is a gift of God; not of works, lest any may should boast.”–Ephesians 2:8-9.  “No one will be declared righteous. . . by the works of the law”–Romans 3:20.  Given this gospel truth, a common mistake is to suggest that our faith is critical or negative toward work itself (industry, effort, even ambition)  It isn’t!  “I labored even more than all of them”, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15 (and without a hint of caution that he might, by saying so, drift back into legalism).  “Faith without works is dead” echoes James 2.  “Work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.” says Colossians 3.  One assignment common to every Christian is that we become steady, hard, dependable, honest, and effective WORKERS!  We owe it to Christ because we trust Him.

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