Saturday, July 28, 2012

Who Are You Working For?

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23)

I think we all want to feel good and experience a sense of accomplishment about the efforts we make at work and in our daily responsibilities. But there are times when we just feel burned out by work, family, household chores, and other burdens and obligations. I know I certainly struggle balancing work with play! However I also know that I have no control over what my daily responsibilities are, but I do have control over my attitude and response to them. Since the beginning of time, God has given us work to do. And when we lose sight of who it is we are really working for, it can create an attitude of boredom, displeasure, and resentment. If we could work without complaining and keep in mind that we are not working for man (or for our own pleasure!) but for the Lord, we would find our work more enjoyable and even a blessing.

“The harvest is great but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields.”  (Matthew 9:37)

No job is too small or insignificant when you have the right motive and attitude. We must work with confidence and determination to be effective, and we should be hope-filled, humble, and thankful for the jobs God has blessed us with. Our work should be a sacrifice unto God, (not for anyone else’s approval!) and when we really put our heart into it our work, it will be transformed into an act of worship for him! There are lots of ways to work for God effectively……
  • Work with enthusiasm (those who lack interest and fervor are ineffective in working for God)

  • Remember who it is you are really working for (all our endeavors should bring glory and honor to Him)

  • Give full effort and energy (we must be trustworthy and give a full, honest day’s work)

  • Work with endurance (we must endure difficulties without being overcome)

  • Be compassionate and supportive to those you work with (give compliments and words of thanks because more people learn about the love of God by our actions and words)

“Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people: (Ephesians 6:7)

Our joy in the Lord should be a reflection of our personality at all times, and our work is no exception! It’s important to do a “heart-check” to see whether we are working for our own glory or for God’s. It’s important that we never lose sight of obeying God and following His direction when we are carrying out our daily responsibilities. We must represent ourselves as Christians who delight at giving full energy and effort at all times with a humble spirit of attitude.

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us-yes, establish the work of our hands.” – Psalm 90:17

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Embracing Criticism

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, and criticize their faults-unless of course you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.” (Matthew 7:1-2 MSG)

Perhaps some people really think they are being helpful when they point out someone else flaws or what they are doing wrong, but communicated in the wrong way they can have the opposite impact of what they may have intended. I am probably an example of one of the worst people to accept criticism; I immediately get defensive and the walls go up! Regardless of how justified someone’s criticism may be to them, it can feel like a personal attack and put me in a negative frame of mind and have a negative effect.


We can learn to receive personal criticism in a God-honoring way. Instead of being defensive or resentful about the criticism we receive, we can appreciate it and welcome the opportunities it (could) bring. It’s possible that there is a grain of truth in what is being said, and only by patiently listening will we either benefit from it or correct any misunderstandings. It’s important to try to keep in mind that every criticism is just someone else’s opinion and if we’re doing what we know to be right there’s no reason to fear or reject the criticism of others.

The best way to handle criticism from others……

Don’t take it personally~

Maintain an attitude of humility~

Give an honest ear and look for seeds of truth that allows personal growth~

Consider it as a source of honest feedback, but don’t dwell on it~

Don’t harbor a grudge and treat them with kindness~

I have learned that often the best response is no response; we don’t need to justify ourselves to everyone who disagrees with us. God made us who we are with both the gifts and the rough edges; He wants us to grow, but He also loves us the way we are. We don’t need to be a slave to the opinion of others, impress or look for their approval, and we don’t need to tear ourselves down when someone else criticizes us. A good example to keep before us is the Lord himself; He was criticized by his own family and even his disciples who often misunderstood him and challenged his motives. But He responded with patient teaching, love, and forgiveness. We can’t always control what other people will say to us, or whether they’ll approve of how we act, but we can control how we internalize it. Our response should be graceful and humble, and then we can release it and move on. We should listen to criticism and advice and learn from it, but also live and act true to what we know is right, honorable, and valuable.

"I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me." (1 Corinthians 4:3-4)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Song of Hope

Have you ever felt as if the Lord is telling you to stop and lift up your eyes with complete trust and faith and just be…still? Our downcast eyes can be a sign of sadness and despair, and when we focus on the ground, we miss real beauty and opportunity that surrounds us. Sometimes we need to just stop worrying and struggling to figure it all out, slow down and find rest and restoration from our loving Father. There is no higher place to look than to the Lord! When life becomes a little overwhelming I turn to Psalm 121, which is a song of hope and an assurance of the promise of God’s protection day and night. It is an exquisite psalm of trust, courage, and vigilance needed in our daily lives because it counsels us to trust quietly in Him when we are anxious, stressed or troubled. In verses 1-2, God calls us to look outward and upward and keep our eyes open to the One who will always be there to pick us up when we fall. The result of lifting up your eyes will be an irrepressible joy that brings contentment and thankfulness!

“I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (1-2)

God doesn’t promise the absence of pain or even failure, however He is always watching over us because He does not slumber or sleep! Verses 3-4 assures us that nothing diverts or deters Him, and we never out grow our need for God’s untiring watch over our life. Our God never grows weak or weary, but rather He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. He is always awake, always aware, and always watching over His children.

“He will not let your foot slip-He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (3-4)

What an amazing promise from God we have! Emphasized in verses 5-6 is that all the time, day and night, He is watching our coming and going. God is looking out for us, to bless us and provide for us in every area of our lives, and to keep us safe and secure in His love. The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, and they are full of affection, care, and loving interest.

“The Lord watches over you-the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.” (5-6)

Verses 7-8 wrap up this psalm of hope and promise, assuring us that God’s love is focused on us, and He is observing us in a far greater, more intensive way than we could ever know. We may feel insignificant, forgotten, or even forsaken at times, but it’s impossible for God to take His eyes off of us! It is His own eyes that that watch over us continuously now and forever. And if God Himself observes us all year long, how much more should we observe Him all year long? When our hearts are breaking, when we feel overwhelmed or anxious, when we are lonely and our future seems uncertain, we must never take our eyes off the Lord. He is the only One who can really help and comfort us!

 “The Lord will keep you from all harm-He will watch over your life; The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more.” (7-8)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Popular Approval

"Let us look for the beaming smile of our Master's approval!"

Sometimes you just can't help resist running with the crowd. There lies in most of us a desire to impress and compare ourselves to others. Thankfully the dearest friends we have accept us for who we are, but how about the need to impress those we work for; what we've accomplished and the rewards we will get? Or how about in regards to our own passions and desires; do we believe we need the approval of man to fulfill our dreams and desires? Do we thirst for and crave the riches, fame, and even the beauty of others? Until we can truly accept and value ourselves, we will continue to look to others for our sense of value and approval.

Galatians 6:4-5 clearly instructs us:

"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."

We need to accept; with child-like faith, that we are loved simply because we exist and know that God’s view of us is so much more important than the world’s view of us. Being prettier, smarter, stronger, or more successful does not guarantee happiness, and isn't true happiness what we all strive for? I believe that everyone searches for popular approval and true happiness, but we are not looking in the right place! God designed us as unique individuals, and I'm pretty sure it doesn't please Him when other's opinions matter more to us than His! It is His opinion that matters most.

"Whatever we are doing let us not be looking for man's approval, but let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus."

Our appearance or “stuff” in life doesn’t reveal what we are really like inside, or what our true value is. God never asks us to compare ourselves to others; He desires us to place our uniqueness and integrity entirely in Him. He doesn't judge by appearances or riches, but rather by our faith and character.

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (l Samuel 16:7)

Don't wait for someone else's approval; do what God wired you to do! And when you do your very best, you'll feel good about the results. God has a calling on our lives and we are responsible for fulfilling that call. We don't need anyone's approval or reassurance to do what God calls us to do. We are His chosen individuals with a whole lot of distinctive gifts and talents that God wants us to share and use for His benefit and on behalf of Him. When we follow through and act according to His will, then we'll be popular with God, and He'll approve! 

"Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master serving is Christ." (Colossians 3:23-24 Message)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Love That Never Fails

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

One of the most important things we can do is to be totally dependent on God, because His Word is eternal and unfailing. In a world that is constantly trying to convince us to put our trust in that which changes and fades away, what might it mean to trust in God’s word, which never fades? The one thing that will remain constant and forever true is God’s love for us; His love won’t fade; it won’t fail us. It’s always there, especially when we need it the most! When everything in our world seems to be changing, it’s a comfort to know that we have a never changing God.

When all else fails, God’s light shines!

Have you ever counted on something to last forever? Storms pass… Leaves wilt… Problems come and go… Things happen… People change…but if we set the Lord always before us we will not be shaken! He “makes us as surefooted as a dear, enabling us to stand on mountain heights” (Psalm 18:33). God does not leave us alone when we feel that everything around us is unstable and uncertain; He stands beside us and strengthens us. No matter what we are going through, we can turn to Him for strength and encouragement. In a world that is forever changing, we can always trust our unchanging Lord.

“For I am the Lord, I do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)

People, places, and our circumstances are precarious and unpredictable and we can’t rely on our own will to remain stable, but one thing that sets God apart from us is that God is the same today as He was so many years ago. Even in the midst of our ever-changing world we serve a never-changing God. His love never changes… His faithfulness never changes… His mercy never changes… His ability to provide and meet our needs doesn’t waver. No matter what changes around you, God in all His glory and majesty will never diminish. His purposes are reliable and His Words are sure. God’s love stays the same through the ages; it’s a love that never fails.

"Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39)