No earthly good

On that day the sources of light will no longer shine, yet there will be continuous day! Only the Lord knows how this could happen!

Zechariah 16:6-7a (NLT)

And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord—his name alone will be worshipped.

Zechariah 14:9 (NLT)

And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.

Revelation 21:23 (NLT)

He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.

Revelation 21:4 (NLT)

As Christians, we should all long for the day when the Lord returns and evil is banished from this world forever. We will live in the glorious eternal light of the Lamb and can be confident in this if we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Our names have been written in his Book of Life. But, as wonderful as that day will be, it cannot be our only focus.

There is a saying of those whose focus is not on this world: they are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. These people spend all of their time looking at the end and have lost touch with the present.

I can’t wait for the day when all of us saints will join with the angels around the throne singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” But that day is not today and, until that day comes, I have a job to do. We all have a job to do and it may not—and probably won’t be—all sunshine and roses.

I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure, just as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘There are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’

Zechariah 13:9 (NLT)

The days of glory will not come before the days of fire and refinement. Things are going to get a lot more uncomfortable before we are able to walk through the pearl gates and onto the streets of gold. If our only focus is the end, we will miss out entirely on the process. If you’re still here, God is not done with you. And if God is not done with you, your main focus should be the job at hand so that you can earn your reward at the end.

It’s okay to be heavenly minded, but you still have to be good for something while you’re still on earth.

Daily Bible reading: Zechariah 13-14, Revelation 21

Stuck in the middle

There are two sides to every coin. Two sides to every story. Two sides of the fence. There are two sides to many things and we use a lot of them as analogies and, more often than not, the truth is somewhere in the middle—neither one side nor the other.

There are some that would say building the Kingdom of God is nothing but hard work. Work. Work. Work. And then more work. Others may say that we just have to wait on God. He’ll to it all for us. Like the coin, the story, and the fence, the truth is stuck somewhere in the middle.

Building the Kingdom of God using brute strength alone will only build something that can crumble. Nothing man makes on his own will ever be eternal.

It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty.

Zechariah 4:6b (NLT)

Yet, we cannot just sit on our rear ends and do nothing, expecting the Holy Spirit to do it all for us.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.

Zechariah 4:10a (NLT)

God cannot work through us unless there is work to work through. He needs our hands and our feet to accomplish His will on this earth. Sometimes that means getting dirty and maybe even sweaty. But we don’t have to do it all on our own.

And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

It is not within God’s nature to start a job and leave it unfinished. If He has called you to a work, He will be with you, helping you, until the work is finished.

What comes from the grace of God, may, in faith, be committed to the grace of God, for he will not forsake the work of his own hands.

Matthew Henry

So, don’t get stuck on one side or the other. Find that middle ground between work and the Spirit. There is no better place to be than stuck in the middle with God.

Daily Bible reading: Zechariah 4-6, Revelation 18

 

While you wait

We wait. Sometimes it seems like half of our lives are spent waiting. We wait at red lights and stop signs. We wait in line at the grocery store. We wait for a meeting to start. We wait for the workday to be over. We even wait to fall asleep so that we can start it all over again and wait some more.

So what do you do while you’re doing all of this waiting? Do you stare of into spacing hoping time will somehow move faster? Do you pull out your phone and check work emails or see what your friends are up to on Instagram? Do you have a book to read or a magazine? Or you you stand tapping your toes in impatience?

Some of us don’t mind the wait. We have something to occupy our time. Others of us can’t stand the wait and hate idle time.

As members of the church, we’re all waiting for something—Jesus’ return. And, while we wait, we can be be idle or we can use the time as an opportunity.

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent.

2 Peter 3:10 (NLT)

God isn’t meandering along His way trying to give us a lesson in patience. He is waiting for us to get our work done.

And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to live a pure and blameless life. And be at peace with God.

2 Peter 3:14 (NLT)

We’ve got some time and we’ve got a commission. We can either wait around hoping someone else does it, or we can get to work gathering as many into the family of God as possible.

What are you waiting for?

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 45-46, 2 Peter 3

Pick me!

Do you remember being a kid on the playground just waiting and hoping that a team captain would pick you? Of course all the best players got picked first. Then the best friends (that is, if they weren’t the very best players). And last, the kids who weren’t really friends with anyone and would rather be sitting inside with a book than out on the dusty field with a kick ball.

If you were one of the kids who wanted to get picked, but weren’t fortunate enough to be friends with a captain or talented enough to be in the top five, chances are that you played your hardest that first time in hopes that you’d get picked higher up in the draft the next time the teacher hauled you all out to the diamond. You wanted to prove your worth. Contribute. Be a productive member of the team. You wanted to be on the winning side.

As cliché as it may sound, you’ve been picked. And at the top of the draft no less. But that’s the easy part.

So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT)

Even if you were the kid who got picked last, you didn’t want to let your team down. The only thing worse than being the last one chosen is being the last one chosen who loses the game for the rest of the team.

The team we’ve been chosen to join is the Church. The body of Christ. And no one has been called to the sidelines. There is no such thing as a benchwarmer.

So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you are really among those God has called and chosen. Doing this, you will never stumble or fall away.

2 Peter 1:10 (NLT)

First, be proud that you’ve been picked. Put on the jersey, so to speak. Let everyone know that you’re on the team. Second, be worthy of wearing the team logo. If you’re going to call yourself a Christian, act like one. Make your other team members, your brothers and sisters in Christ, look good because of what you do and say. Third, be a team player. Be a part of what God has called you to. Be active. Be productive. Do all that you can to make your team—your church—as successful as you can. Prove that you are on the team and worthy of it. If you do all of this, not only will you be less likely to quit, but you’ll draw others in to be a part of the team.

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 41-42, 2 Peter1

Make common

We all know that common sense isn’t nearly as common as its name implies. And common sense isn’t the only thing that isn’t as common as it should be.

You are generous because of your faith. And I am praying that you will really put your generosity to work, for in so doing you will come to an understanding of all the good things we can do for Christ.

Philemon 6 (NLT)

The New Living Translation makes this verse pretty clear, but Barnes Notes on the Bible expounds on it even more.

Calvin has well expressed the sense of this passage, “…For although faith has its proper seat in the heart, yet it communicates itself to men by good works.” The meaning is, that [Paul] desired Philemon would so make common the proper fruits of faith by his good deeds toward others, that all might acknowledge it to be genuine and efficacious.

Barnes Notes on the Bible

My faith is personal. Yes, of course it is. It should be. But our faith should be anything but selfish. Like we discussed earlier this week, being a Christian, by definition, is to be Christ-like. And even Jesus, in his most personal moments, took the time to generously minister to others.

GENEROUS: Liberal, bountiful, free to give; strong, full of spirit; full, overflowing, abundant; sprightly, courageous.

That doesn’t sound much like something meant to be kept on the inside.

Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.

Hebrews 10:24 (NLT)

James 2:26 states that …faith that does nothing is dead (NCV). Works or good deeds are not what saves us—grace has done that—but works are what prove our faith to everyone else. Works are what draw others to our faith. Works substantiate our claim to belong to Christ. And, as we act more and more like Christ, not only to we look more and more like him, but we get to know him better and have a deeper understanding of who he is and strengthen our personal relationship with him.

Like common sense, the fruits of our faith are not nearly as common as they should be. We shouldn’t have to tell others we’re Christians. Our good deeds should do it for us.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 36-37, Philemon

This little light

I’ve been talking a lot about work lately. Partly because I’ve been working so much and partly because never before have I taken note of so much opportunity to put the Word into practice.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.

Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

By all accounts, the apartment site I’m currently working on should be two months behind. The roof was late and everything else that followed was pushed back—except the move-in dates. While I don’t think that anyone will be moving into their first floor apartment by the end of next week, it’s amazing how much this crew has been able to do given the insane schedule they’ve been kept to. But, with the insanity of the schedule comes short fuses and a lot people working out of order and on top of each other. I shouldn’t really even be on site until just about everyone else is gone, but there I am in my safety shoes and hard hat cleaning in preparation for occupancy on a very active construction site.

And in all of that, I feel as though God has given me a mission. He’s given me a light—His light, Jesus—and the command to let it shine.

…Let your lives shine brightly before them.

Philippians 2:15b (NLT)

On a site full of foul language and bad attitudes, I should be like a beacon of hope and peace. And that’s exactly what I’ve been praying as I sing worship songs and dance to myself like no one is watching (I thought no one was listening until I literally ran into the site supervisor the other day when I thought I was alone in the room).

While it may not be my job to make sure everything gets done properly and on time, I can certainly take it upon myself to change the atmosphere wherever I go.

The atmosphere is changing now
For the Spirit of the Lord is here
The evidence is all around
That the Spirit of the Lord is here

Here as in Heaven, Elevation Worship

Where I go, the Spirit of the Lord goes.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

2 Corinthians 3:17 (NKJV)

When I walk onto that site today, I fully expect the atmosphere to change. I’m just a lowly cleaner, but little do they know the power that lives within me. The power to change. The power to heal. The power to set free. The power to move mountains. Even the power to get the building done on time. Wherever we go, God has given us the ability as well as the command to make things change. What can you change with your light today?

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 34-36, Philippians 2

Sing!

Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:19-20 (NLT)

When I was a kid and my mom would still send me off to school, she’d stand on the front step and holler out a song title at my sister and I. She would then stand on the step until she could hear us singing the song as we walked down the street.

More often than not, that song would stay with us throughout the day and we’d come home singing choruses like This is the Day or Celebrate Jesus (it was the nineties, have a little grace).

Mom was on to something. Her intent was to send us off to school with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Now, more than 20 years later, I’m still asking God to give me songs to sing while I work. When I’m alone in an room with great acoustics, why wouldn’t I sing? And if someone else walks in the room and hears me praising God while I work, what does that matter?

Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs aren’t just things to do to fill the silence, but they are a byproduct of being filled with the Holy Spirit and allowing him to control our lives. Verse 19 is preceded by this:

Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.

Ephesians 5:18b (NLT)

Then you will sing...

If you’ve got the Holy Spirit, don’t be afraid to sing the songs he puts in your heart. Even if you can’t sing. My dad always says that God told us to make a joyful noise. He never said it had to be on key.

So sing!

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 27-28, Ephesians 5

Benchwarmer

In sports, no one wants to be a benchwarmer—that one person that’s on the team just to fill out the roster and maybe get some playing time in if every other key player gets injured. A benchwarmer is the player no one knows. The player whose jersey you never see in the stands. No athlete aims for the position of benchwarmer.

So why are churches full of them?

Western churches are rife with people who are perfectly content to warm their seat on a Sunday morning and do nothing else with their faith for the rest of their life. Like a player with great talent, but no drive, we warm the pews and add an extra body to the weekly attendance count, but that’s it. We’re the player no one knows about. And that’s fine because it’s not our job to do anything else.

Or is it?

[Jesus Christ] is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)

For some reason, we, the benchwarmers in the church, have come to the conclusion that it’s up to the pastor and the rest of the church leadership team to build the church. But this verse tells us the opposite. It’s the pastor’s job to equip God’s people to do Christ’s work and build up the church. Who are God’s people? You are God’s people.

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.

Ephesians 4:1 (NLT)

If you’re that player who has been called up from the farm team to sit on the bench of the big league team, are you going to just keep that spot warm for a better player? Or are you going to get off your rear end and work harder to earn your spot on the field? You want to play the game worthy of the level you’ve been brought to.

So, whether or not you know what your specific call is in the body of Christ is irrelevant. Even if you do know you’re call, you are still called to build the body of Christ.

Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)

If you are not an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor, or a teacher, you fall into the sixth (and possibly the most important) category—the saints, or God’s people. You are not exempt from ministry work, but rather have the important responsibility of building the body of Christ. Whether you have a title or not, you have a position in the church and it is anything but lowly. So get off that bench and start living a life worthy of your calling. Go build up the Church.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 24-26, Ephesians 4

One more reason

Since reading Ecclesiastes 5 several weeks ago, my outlook on work has changed. And not just a little bit, but drastically. To help you understand, allow me to explain my current work situation.

Some friends of mine from church own a cleaning business. Work started to get a little crazy, so they brought me on to help them out. Do I love to clean? Not at all. Ask my mother. But it’s a job with a paycheque and the whole starving artist thing can only work for so long.

We clean new construction only. Meaning we get new houses and apartments ready to be moved into after the build is complete. Our current contract can be explained as less than ideal. We’re working on the second of what will be a three building apartment complex. The first building is complete and occupied. The building we are in is supposed to be occupied in a couple of weeks. The roof was two months late getting on and, as a result, every other trade has been pushed back. But in an effort to maintain the move-in dates, everyone is working at the same time. Drywallers are tripping over painters who are working over carpet installers who are working around guys pouring concrete who are working beside men trying to finish the siding. I think you get the picture. It’s a gong show.

No one on site is really happy about the situation. Myself included. I’m the peon on site. The lowliest of all the trades. It’s my job to clean up the mess everyone else left behind. Almost every day, I hear from another trade that I shouldn’t be there. I know that and they know that, but I’m trying to do my job just like they are. I could very easily take offense. I could very easily allow the situation to frustrate me and get me down. But since reading Ecclesiastes 5:19, it all rolls off.

And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God.

Ecclesiastes 5:19 (NLT)

I don’t take for granted this incredible gift that God has given me. Every day I walk on to the job site with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. (Most days those songs come out of my mouth, too—I’m pretty sure the site supervisor was laughing at me yesterday when he caught me singing to myself rather loudly.)

I’ve said all that to say this, God has given us so many reasons to praise Him. I praise Him daily because He has given me an inexplicable gift of joy that allows me to enjoy my work in what can be a rather hostile environment. And the reasons to praise Him keep on coming.

The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God.

Ephesians 1:14 (NLT)

After all that God has done for us, He sent His Spirit as a guarantee that He will do all He has promised. I guess I have just one more reason… to praise our glorious God today! What’s your reason?

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 16-18, Ephesians 1

You All Everybody

The fictitious British rock band, Drive Shaft, had one hit song. You All Everybody was featured throughout the television series, Lost. Today’s wisdom comes from this song.

I know you see what I have been
And compare with what I am
But I don’t care now what you’ve seen
I’m just doing what I can

What does a song performed by people who ever actually existed have anything to do with anything? Everything.

Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

Galatians 6:4-5 (NLT)

We live our entire lives comparing and being compared. Why can you be more like him? I wish I could do that like her. Unless you’re a complete recluse, you’ve most likely fallen prey to a line or two (thousand) like this. But that’s not what we should be doing.

God made each of us with specific talents to accomplish a specific purpose.

I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)

The more we compare ourselves to others, the more we insult God by saying He got it wrong. The only life we should ever be comparing ourselves to is that of Jesus himself. The only actions we should reflect are his.

Where you’ve been and where you are don’t matter so much as where you are going. What people may have seen from you in the past doesn’t matter as much as what they will see from you. We should never measure ourselves against the call God has placed on others because we weren’t created for that call. Do what God has called you to do, do it to the best of your ability, and enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well.

…What counts is whether we have really been changed into new and different people.

Galatians 6:15b (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 13-15, Galatians 6