Monday, January 26, 2009

Fruitless labor

What do you spend the most time doing? Think about your average day. Don't count the hours you spend sleeping, but give a rough estimate of how much time you devote to your daily activities. For instance, you may go to school or work for 8 hours, spend about 1.5 hours eating, maybe a few hours of television...and tomorrow will probably look similar. I'm not sure about you, but when I think about that, it makes me a little sad- the monotony of life can be pretty depressing. It seems like we do all this work just to get to the next day, and do the work it holds...only to have another one come. This goes on and on.

"You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it." Haggai 1: 6

Looking at life as a "To Do" list can be pretty hopeless. It becomes a never ending string of events and tasks that you never seem to be able to catch up with. God sheds some light on to this feeling through the prophet Haggai. God tells us that we don't reap the benefits of our labor because our labor is for us, and not for God. God is using Haggai to encourage the people to abandon their selfish ways and rebuild the temple. Haggai's argument is that the people will only find satisfaction by serving the God that sustains them.

Are you feeling dissatisfied? Do you feel that you're only working to get past this day and knowing that tomorrow will come with new tasks? Read Haggai- a short book toward the end of the Old Testament. After you read it, begin looking at each task as a way to serve God. Be a representative of Christ in all that you say and do. See if that doesn't make a difference in how you look at the work you do.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Being Real

I bought a 4.5 foot pre-lit Christmas tree a few years ago. I must say that having a pre-lit tree speeds up the process of decorating. I did everything as I normally do: set the tree up, put on the decorative gold bead string, and put on the ornaments. Then I plugged it in. Something was wrong- there was a spot on the top of the tree where the lights weren't working. Irritated, I investigated the problem. That was the only bare spot I found. So I did what any other rational person would do- spun the tree around until the bare spot faced the wall and was unnoticeable.

"For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin... O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior." Psalm 38: 17-18; 21-22

Sometimes, when dealing with our "iniquities" or problems in spiritual life, people react in much the same way I dealt with the bare spot on the Christmas tree. Instead of spending the time to find the source and fix it, people would rather take the easy way out and pretend there is no problem. But with God, there is no need to pretend. People can't fool God, and they only end up hurting themselves when they try. How? Because they're not addressing the problem and asking for help from the only One that is capable of making us whole and right.

This week, get past your need to act like you have it together. Admit that you're in need of help. And, as the psalmist, call on God to help you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Excuse me.

Excuses. We all have them. Reasons why we can't do something. We feel called to talk to the person that no one else does...but we can't because "what will people think?" You may be feeling led to do something to make a difference...and you might even have a really good reason not to do it. If you feel like you need to do something like that, there is a good chance that God is trying to use you to show his love, grace, and acceptance to someone that really needs it.

"...'Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.'

But Moses said, 'O Lord, please send someone else to do it.' " Exodus 4: 12-13 (NIV)

Moses had a great excuse- how could he be the spokesperson for God's people if he couldn't speak as normal men do? (Exodus 4:10) I love good excuses...I'm especially good at coming up with good ones for myself....but I usually struggle inventing them for others. I always have a good reason why "I can't," or why "I couldn't." But the real issue lies within our own will- we don't want to. And the reason we don't want to is usually because we know it will be difficult.

But when we dream, we dream big. No one ever wishes for mediocrity, we wish for greatness. No young boy ever dreams of hitting a single to lead off the fourth inning in the middle of the season. No, he dreams of hitting a homerun in the last inning of the championship game to propel his team to victory... But in reality, we let life and our own limits get in the way. We stop chasing dreams and start making excuses. Oh, I left out a good part of that story about Moses...

"Moses said to the Lord, 'O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.'

The Lord said to him, 'Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?' " Exodus 4: 10-11

God knows your limits- remember who you were created by. God is capable of making you able to do what you think needs to be done. An old cliche holds true, "God does not call the equipped, God equips the called."

Dream of doing something great for God, and follow up on that dream. So what is it that God is calling you to do? Begin the steps toward making it happen.

Monday, January 5, 2009

With a little help from my friends...

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27: 17 NIV

In order to maintain a working relationship with God, we must have others that help us to keep growing. These individuals can help to encourage us in tough times, they can rejoice with us, and they grow with us. The great part of Christianity is that we are not alone. Not only do we have the companion of Christ through the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28: 20), but we have other Christians to help us in our journey of faith.
Fellowship with other Christians is crucial to keeping faith strong. Life is not always easy and in these times, we often lean heavily on others as we grasp for an understanding of why... Sometimes it doesn't even require a tough time in life to feel distant from God- having a relationship with something intangiable is difficult... through these struggles, it is helpful to have a group of close friends and a church that cares about you and surrounds you with love and understanding.
Who are the people in your life that keep you "sharp?" Have you been able to spend time with them lately? It's easy to forget about our relationship with God and the relationships we have with those who help us in our faith when we get busy or out of the routine, maybe because of a break in daily activities.
This week be sure to spend some time with those people. Look for opportunities to help other believers, strengthen their faith.