Greater Good

“But the greatest among you shall be your servant.” Matthew 23:11 NASB

As I skim through social media, it occurs to me that the “greatest” among us today are about as far from being servants as we could imagine. Spoiled, cosseted, and overpaid celebrities from Hollywood, sport venues, and certain financial and political arenas are being toasted and held up for worship as the experts on life. It’s as if they are the gods we should look up to, and that we should follow without question. Many of them certainly act like they are above all human laws and morals. It’s all about lust. Lust for control, for sex, for the almighty dollar; it’s all about power. As Christians, our guide, our Law Book, is the Bible. It is very clear on idolatry, lust, and temptation.

“You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” Exodus 20:3‭-‬4, Deuteronomy 5:6-7 NASB

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15‭-‬17 NASB

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” James 1:13‭-‬14‭, ‬16 NASB

So, Greater Good. Servanthood. It’s different for every person. How does it look for you; on you? It’s not for everyone to wash the feet of others (figuratively at least, if not actually), although I believe that unless you’ve done it, you’ll never understand true servanthood.

Something To Look Forward To!

“Then he showed me a river of the Water of Life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of GOD and of the LAMB, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the Tree of Life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of GOD and of the LAMB will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His Face, and His Name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the LORD GOD will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” And JESUS said: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:1‭-‬5‭, ‬12‭-‬13 NASB

I love reading the books of the Revelations of John.  To have been honored to see the future of all man was probably both the most exciting and the most terrifying thing in his entire life. Whenever I get too upset about the current world affairs, I can refer back to Revelations. Everything – everything and everyone will face the end of time as we know it, together and with no defense.

Does that frighten you? It should! Unless you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, bypassing any of man’s requirements, and acknowledging that He is the One and Only way to salvation, the description of heaven that John wrote about in the above passage won’t exist for you. Eternity will go one of two ways. Those who accept Jesus spend eternity with Him, and those who reject Him will spend eternity in agony.  Too simple? Need more structure? Think you need an earthly advocate in the form of a priest to intercede for you, or that you have to be a “good” person? Are you too “bad”; you’ve done unforgivable things? No one is too bad, just as no one is good enough to get there on their own.

One thing, and only one thing will ensure your eternity with Him. Read this carefully:

Jesus said to him, “I AM the WAY, and the TRUTH, and the LIFE; NO ONE comes to the Father but through ME. John 14:6 NASB

Father, I pray that the one who needs You reads this, and accepts Your Own Son today as their Saviour.  Amen.

A Time of Thanks

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8‭-‬9 NASB

Christmas is coming. What are you going to be grateful for? Jesus, the reason we even have something to celebrate, or how much “stuff” you get?

All Men Are Liars

“I said in my alarm, “All men are liars.” What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me?” Psalms 116:11‭-‬12 NASB

I didn’t say it first, but I have to agree. All men are liars. Before you men get all up in arms, know this: all women are liars, too. There’s only one man, one human, who has or ever will walk this earth who isn’t a liar, and that man is Jesus, Son of God.

Argue all you want; you know that’s a true statement.

Oh, we are capable of being truthful, and I believe that most most people want to be honest, at least for the most part. Some people can’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie. I look for the good in people. I want to believe you when you tell me something. I want you to be believe me when I say a thing. Mostly, you can. Like everyone else, I am fallible. I don’t usually mean to say untruths – lie – although, like most people, I do occassionally. Sometimes to spare your feelings, sometimes it’s to spare my feelings, and sometimes it’s just because I don’t have the energy to deal with it – and yes, that’s a cop-out that every single person has done at one time or another.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NASB

Is really so difficult to follow through; to say what you mean and do what you say you will do? I offer my heart too easily, and I take people at their word. I would like to live in a world where a man’s word truly was his bond. No written contracts necessary. This world, our reality, requires us to have promises in writing and witnessed, and even then the promises are broken. The courts are full of broken contracts and promises.

Watch your heart. Spend time talking with the LORD. Listen to the wise counsel of believers. Most importantly, both personally and in business dealings, treat the other person as you want them to treat you. You can’t expect any better than that.

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NASB

Motivated Work

Why do we work? What is our motivation?

There are wrong, or distorted, views of why we work: When the only reason we work is to make money, we need more and more to be content. This is disillusioning and leads to dissatisfaction. Working for our own greed, or FIRE = financial independence [to] retire early; purely selfish and self indulgent, only working so that we can quit working and live a life of leasure. Then there is working for self significance, importance, to accumulate power, and identity. None of these is a fulfilling way of life and will leave us empty; never satisfied. Recall in Genesis 11 when the people built the Tower of Babble to make a name for themselves, independent from God? It was a singularly unfulfilled and unfulfilling task that only served to create chaos.

The right reasons: remembering that our primary calling is to God, and our secondary calling is to someone or something beneath Him. We can be unemployed, and we can change our secondary calling, but we can never be uncalled. ALL legitimate work is to Glorify God and is pleasing to Him. These include support (1 Tim 5:8; Proverbs 12:11): making money to provide for self and family, to meet needs, and to bless others. Working for satisfaction and enjoyment: Do you feel God’s pleasure in what you are doing? A poll showed that 70% of Americans are completely dissatisfied at work. What does that say about our culture! (Ecc 2:24; 3:22 NLT; 5:18-19) To serve other people, and to share what we acquire: “God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does” – Martin Luther (Mark 12:31; Eph 4:28)

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
1 Timothy 5:8 NASB

“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who pursues worthless things lacks sense.” Proverbs 12:11 NASB

“Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward.” Ecclesiastes 5:18 NASB

“There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.” Ecclesiastes 2:24 NASB

“So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.” Ecclesiastes 3:22 NLT

“Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 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—this is indeed a gift from God.” Ecclesiastes 5:18‭-‬19 NLT

“The second is this, ‘ you shall love your neighbor as yourself .’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31 NASB

“If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.” Ephesians 4:28 NLT

Of Love and Justice

A Psalm of David.

“I will sing of Your Love and Justice, LORD. I will praise You with songs. I will be careful to live a blameless life— when will You come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride. I will search for faithful people to be my companions. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me. I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house, and liars will not stay in my presence. My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked and free the city of the LORD from their grip.” – Psalms 101:1‭-‬8 NLT

Sounds pretty harsh, right? There aren’t any people today who could honestly say that they are blameless, and we know that David was far from being blameless himself. He was a murderer and an adulterer…. I wonder how many people younger than the Baby Boomer generation even know what being an adulterer means.

Reading these verses, it’s difficult to imagine many business people can say that they apply these principles to their business. In corporate offices, even in Christian-led companies, I can bear witness to to all of those things that David was against occurring on a constant basis. Coworkers and management alike using gossip and slander to get ahead; dishonestly taking credit for someone else’s work, and accepting rewards and kudos for it. “In my own home …” Whether in my house or my vehicle or my office or my cubicle; at the movie theatre or amusement park …. it is a struggle to live these words.

In my time, I have acted in all of those ways. In my last job, I was in a close working relationship with people claiming to be Christian, yet seeming to take delight from gossiping and spreading lies in order to promote themselves over their coworkers, and who were full of conceit. Again, I must emphasize that I have also been full of conceit and lies in my past. I am far from perfect; I am guilty of many sins. It is difficult to miss the vulgarity in today’s society with billboards and signs proclaiming it in large format, and with television and radio, social media and the movies rampant with it. Clothing styles shout out perversions and prejudice and lack of modesty, and we just follow the crowd – instead of the cross.

Yes, I’m preaching again!

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” – Galatians 1:10 NLT

This verse from Paul’s letters to the Galatian church is how I struggle to live. I say “struggle” because it isn’t easy for me. I am a people pleaser from my childhood; a classic codependent whose life revolved around whoever I was with. A few years ago, I began to understand this about myself through a church program called Celebrate Recovery. Many people think/assume that because it’s a 12-step program, you must be an alcoholic or drug addict if you participate. Not true. In fact, one of the leaders said this: “There are 2 types of people in this world. Those who are in recovery, and those who need to be in recovery.” I absolutely agree! Being a codependent isn’t something you just shake off, any more than you can shake off any other addiction, and there are lots of addictions. Shopping, eating, sports, work, animals, and even our children can all be addictions.

It’s something for us to think about.

All Who Are In High Positions….

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1‭-‬4 ESV

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13‭-‬14 NASB

To be honest, this suggestion, especially the part about giving thanksgivings for all who are in high positions makes me choke just a bit (sometimes quite a lot!). From the people who are in “high positions” in the local schools, the “high positions” in every business, landlords, bankers, and one and on, to city government, up to county, state, and federal. From clerks who think they are in control, judges, peacekeepers of all kinds, politicians….. there’s really no end to the people who consider what they are doing to be a higher position, where they are somehow better than the people they are supposed to serve….. but I digress.

I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions…..

We like to imagine that life was simpler when Paul wrote these letters, but I think that those high positions haven’t changed that much in the way those holding them think and act. As much as I would like to have many of the people in those positions removed and replaced, I need to keep this passage in the front of my mind. We don’t really know the minds and hearts of those people. There are many in high positions that are very blatant in their disregard for the people they supposedly care for, but Paul is explicit in asking us to pray for them, and to be thankful.

It’s difficult to be thankful when I perceive that their goals and actions are to bring harm to me and those I care about; when they abuse their power.

My Dad would tell me “If you can’t respect the man, respect the office.”

Easier said than done.

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

There are too many to count in those high positions that I have absolutely no respect for. There are so many who are only out for their own benefit; who couldn’t care less about the people they represent.

Regardless of my feelings, it’s important to pray for those people. Maybe it’s most important to pray for the ones I despise.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from GOD, and those that exist have been instituted by GOD. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.” Romans 13:1‭, ‬5 ESV

Do you struggle with this? Conservative or liberal, business owner or newest employed, in a mansion or homeless, whatever the situation, do you lift up those you despise? We can work on this together, because this is a tough assignment!

Heavenly Father, Lord of the Universe, you know my heart. When I’m honest with You and with myself, You know I’d rather do almost anything rather than to give thanks for many of our country’s so called leaders. Your Words says that they are set in place by You. I confess that I struggle with that concept! However, since You have said it in Your inspired Word, I must accept it, and thank You for the governments You have put in place, from our city to our nation. Bless those men and women, Lord, and I pray that they will bow their heads, and knees, to You. Bless our country. Bring us, as a nation, back to the Truth. Amen.