Work and Rest

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S (Scripture): Psalm 127
1 Unless it is the Lord who builds the house,
the builders’ work is pointless.
Unless it is the Lord who protects the city,
the guard on duty is pointless.
2 It is pointless that you get up early and stay up late, eating the bread of hard labor
because God gives sleep to those he loves.

O (Observation): Pointless. That’s the common thread of this psalm. The people of God strive for so many things (building houses, protecting, overworking). The point the psalmist is making is that all of this labor is done in vain if not done “in the Lord.”

The Lord is the key to all of the work and rest that lies ahead for God’s people.

A (Application): I hope you hear the Word today, especially when it comes to work and rest. That is a HUGE issue for us in America in 2017.

I remember going to hear a speaker back while I was in college. His motivation was this: the person who works 60 hours per week will do more and make more money than the person who works 40 hours per week; and the person who works 80 hours per week will make more than the person who works 60 hours per week.

That never sat well with me. Now I have a clearer understanding of why it didn’t sit well: God gives sleep to those he loves.

Lots of other scriptures support the balance of work and rest, and today’s Word is of importance. Getting up too early or staying up too late (in order to be more productive) is silly, it’s pointless. You work at like 50% efficiency when you’re tired and need sleep. So sleep!

I understand we all have deadlines, but don’t let staying up late and getting up early be the norm. Don’t let that lifestyle be the default for your production in this world. You will cause damage to your life and your loved ones when you go down that path.

Embrace the sleep God gives you. Turn it all over to God. Rest your weary mind.

P (Prayer): Lord, keep us in our work and our rest. Amen.


Work?  Rest?  Yes!  In a Rhythm…

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S (Scripture): Hebrews 6:1 So let’s press on to maturity, by moving on from the basics about Christ’s word. Let’s not lay a foundation of turning away from dead works, of faith in God, 2 of teaching about ritual ways to wash with water, laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment—all over again. 3 We’re going to press on, if God allows it.

O (Observation):  The author is concerned that once the believers learn the basics of their faith in Christ, they will stop pursuing God’s call for them in the world.   That if they stop after the basics, they will find further challenges and not meet them.   The author is saying that if they turn from their disciplines of learning and living out their faith, they will be challenged to find the time or effort to keep on learning and living out God’s calling for them.  

They need to press on. 

A (Application):  But how much is too much?  Is too much Gospel a thing?   Are we offended by the Gospel call?    Sometimes we are.  Sometimes we can only handle so much as individuals…as faith communities.     This tiring should not bring shame, but neither should it bring disdain.  

Every healthy organism finds a rhythm of rest and work.   When God calls God’s people to get to work, they do so, or miss an opportunity.   When God calls people to rest, they should, lest they have no energy to do the work they will be called to do down the road.  

Every group must discern the right time for work and rest.  Whether to be out front, in the middle, or in the rear.   There is a time to be in each of those places.   

Sitting back…saying nothing…doing work…sharing the story…  we have lots of options.  

You have lots of options.  

What will you do, today?

P (Prayer):  Lord, give us wisdom to discern what to do when.   Amen. 

Theology of Work

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S (Scripture): Ecclesiastes 5:13 There is a grievous ill that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owners to their hurt, 14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture; though they are parents of children, they have nothing in their hands. 15 As they came from their mother’s womb, so they shall go again, naked as they came; they shall take nothing for their toil, which they may carry away with their hands. 16 This also is a grievous ill: just as they came, so shall they go; and what gain do they have from toiling for the wind? 17 Besides, all their days they eat in darkness, in much vexation and sickness and resentment.

18 This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us; for this is our lot. 19 Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil—this is the gift of God. 20 For they will scarcely brood over the days of their lives, because God keeps them occupied with the joy of their hearts.

O (Observation):  Solomon has seen what wealth can do to a person.  Wealth can turn a person inward, caring only for himself or herself.   To what end?   To a cold and lonely end.    When a rich person dies, that person cannot take their earthly goods with them.   Toiling is not bad…but if one toils to gain more things…one does so in vain.  

But Solomon gives us another view of toil: joy in contentment.   Brooding over the work gains nothing.   Instead, find the work God has called each to do, and in that, find joy!

A (Application): I continue to be amazed at our capitalistic society in the US and the growing discontent we have in our lives.   The gadgets and gizmos and vacations we all desire can drive us away from contentment and towards a poor view of our work:  work = money for stuff.   

The joy of work gives us purpose and a way to contribute to society.   The wonderful part of capitalism is the opportunity to explore any of your callings and to seek to be paid for it.   However, the downfall of capitalism is that those who cannot work, or those who cannot see work as something to be enjoyed decide that they don’t fit in, and thus, end up on the streets or living off of handouts.  

I pray that everyone find the inherent dignity in all of humanity.   I pray that everyone find the calling God has instilled in them.  I pray that we are all compassionate enough help those whose work does not allow them enough pay to live on their own.   

I pray that we all enjoy our work for the sake of bringing God glory!

P (Prayer):  Lord, help us to be thankful and grateful for our callings in this world!  Amen.

Who is Setting the Pace for You?

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S (Scripture):  Luke 24:28  As they came near the village to which they were going, Jesus walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”

O (Observation):  This text comes not from the Daily Moravian texts…but this is the Gospel text assigned for Sunday, April 30, 2017.   

These two followers of Jesus received news of Jesus’ death.  They are despondent and downtrodden.   On their long walk back home, the resurrected Jesus comes alongside these two men and asks what is troubling them.  They share that Jesus has suffered and died, not recognizing this stranger is Jesus himself!   Jesus reminds them of the salvation stories, starting with Moses and the prophets…on to the current day.  But these followers still don’t quite know what to make of this stranger…(who just happens to be the resurrected Jesus!).

Not until Jesus breaks bread with them is he revealed to them, fully.  Their “eyes were opened and they recognized him.”  Then he left…vanished.   And the disciples realize that Jesus was there in their midst, the whole time.

A (Application):  We don’t always get it.  We don’t always get the fact that Jesus is journeying with us.   The world around us is constantly challenging us.  Kids’ sports practices.  The latest gadget.   The dwindling bank account.   The competition to succeed.   The race to the top.   The need to meet the quotas.   The rat race….over and over and over again.

Breathe.   Just breathe.   Let today be the beginning of something new…a break.   Just for a few minutes…just for a day…maybe for a  few days.   Re-charge.

While you are resting…maybe you will have a chance to recognize God’s presence in your midst.   While we are running, we have a hard time catching our breath or noticing what God is up to in our lives.

You need some downtime to sit, break bread with others…and notice that God is here.  Now.  In your presence.   Do this “rest” thing with someone you love and trust.   See what happens.

Then…get back at it.   Go on.  But now, know that God is with you.  That will change your whole outlook on the race you are running.   You will no longer be running the race for yourself…you will realize that you are not running alone.  You will see that God is with you on your journey…let God set your pace.

P (Prayer):  God, slow us down…pace us…let us know your presence is real.  Amen.

Even Me?

S (Scripture): Acts 4:13 When (the rulers, the elders, and the experts in the law) saw the boldness of Peter and John, and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus.

O (Observation): After having healed the lame man, the leaders of the church had a hard time figuring out how to control Peter and John.  They don’t necessarily deny the fact that a miracle took place, they just don’t want Jesus’ disciples gaining popularity over the leaders of the church.

The major threat seems to have been the fact that Peter and John are ordinary folks who did not study the Scriptures or the law as much as the scribes and elders had.   That meant that their position of power and privilege was no longer secure…not if these ordinary men could do miraculous signs in Jesus name.  No longer would people need to spend their whole lives studying scripture and the law in order to do God’s work.

A (Application): Who can God work through? Who does God work through? Is it helpful for the church to have pastors and bishops? I think so. But do we sometimes get caught up in the idea that pastors and bishops are the only ones doing God’s work?   Yes!  Absolutely!

God’s work is done through the body of Christ and in many, many other ways.   The joy of today’s text is that we don’t have to have seminary degrees or even a long resume of good deeds in order to do good this day!

Take a step back and think about what you’re feeling.  Let that feeling be shaped by God’s good will towards others.   Let that feeling win out.  Find a way to let that good feeling manifest itself in some positive way towards another person this day.  

Enjoy the fact that God can and does work through so many of us.    Yes, that includes you.  

P (Prayer):  God, continue to do a good work in me and through me.  Amen.  

Ongoing Kingdom Work

S (Scripture): John 16:12 [Jesus said to the  disciples] “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. 16 In a little while you will see me no longer; again after a little while, you will see me.”

O (Observation): Jesus could not (nor perhaps did he expect to) teach the disciples everything they would need to know before he departed this earth.  He would continue to teach them through the person of the Holy Spirit.  But that couldn’t happen until his earthly journey ended.  And as the scriptures make clear, the Advocate does indeed burst forth onto the scene for ALL who believe.  

The journey of discipleship was a long journey, was indeed a lifelong journey for the closest disciples of Jesus.   And the Spirit is the one through whom Jesus would begin to speak after his death, resurrection, and ascension.  

A (Application):  Why do we think that we don’t need ongoing spiritual direction and education in the church?   So many of us think that Sunday morning is good enough.  One hour of worship and I’m good for the week.  

Ok…I know that sounds harsh…but think about this:  you don’t know what you don’t know.   If you are not engaged in some form of Bible study or discussion group in your congregation, you are not gaining any insight from fellow believers, you are not entertaining any opportunity for the Spirit to move you, you are blocking the potential for renewal in your heart and mind. 

So many of us think we’ve got it all figured out…but this text today reminds us that God’s work in us is never done.  We simply reach new levels of renewal and commitment, and God is the one working a change in us.   This is not just an exercise in intellectual ascent.  This is about believing that Jesus is the Christ and ushers in kingdom work for us to accomplish. 

But when we don’t pay attention to what God is up to, we miss wonderful opportunities for good, wholesome Kingdom work.   Not for our glory or satisfaction, but as a way to honor God.  

Paul continually worked with the churches he planted.  Jesus sent the Spirit to be with all the faithful.  Today, you are called upon to pick up a spiritual discipline to help you discern where God is calling you today.   

Imagine a congregation full of people wondering what God is asking them to do in their homes, congregations, communities?!?!? And imagine the Kingdom work being lived out.  Truly miraculous.  And totally feasible, for God has sent the Spirit to be with us in this work.  

One of our church members and I are working closely with the founding of the Rutherford County Interfaith Council, here in Murfreesboro, TN.  That is good, solid Kingdom work, being done to bring peace and solidarity to a place that is experiencing a lack of cohesiveness.  We are seeking mutual understanding and respect for each of our religions and cultures, so that we join in a common mission of loving our neighbors, regardless of religious or cultural differences. 

What work is God calling you into today?

P (Prayer):  God, you call us to work for your Kingdom, promising to equip us with the Spirit.  Work in our hearts and minds this day. Renew us.  Amen.  

Whether I’m Right or Wrong…

S (Scripture): Psalm 127
1  If the Lord does not build a house,
then those who build it work in vain.

If the Lord does not guard a city,
then the watchman stands guard in vain.

2 It is vain for you to rise early, come home late, and work so hard for your food.

Yes, he can provide for those whom he loves even when they sleep.

O (Observation):  At first, these words can seem very exclusive to non-believers and encourage laziness.  But that is not my interpretation.  

As a person who follows God, one should see that the Lord is helping you to raise that house.   Thinking that you – under your own strength ALONE – built it can cause you to forget that the Lord is the one who blessed you to build it in the first place.  

As a person who follows God, your work is not for your own end, but to give God glory.   Work not just for the money, but in a way that shows that God will provide where your means end.   God will provide for you…with sleep…with what you need even while you sleep. 

A (Application):  I work hard.  I challenge myself with lots of things…and at times, I work like it all depends on me.   Thankfully, God continues to work with me on this improper approach to work and ministry.  

Instead, I have had to be challenged with thinking about the fact that it does NOT all depend on me.  (Weird, I know : ) 

This psalm reminds me that the challenges folks are facing today are in God’s hands…not mine…but that doesn’t mean I get to be lazy.  

As I enter into divisive online conversations, I will try to remember the verses above, so that I will be able to share my thoughts in a way that enlightens and encourages conversation, and at the same time, does not depend on me “winning.”   

God has already won…whether I’m right or wrong.  

P (Prayer):  Lord, help me to be patient and kind.  Help me to lead with love.  Amen.