Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Week Forty-Eight - Work


“…him that worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” 
Ephesians 1:11

And who is this “him” that worketh?  It is none other than God himself.  God works.  He worked at creation for six days setting all things in order.  And, he works throughout time keeping order in the universe and revealing himself to man, providing a Saviour and directing all things according to his own will.  He has no overseer.  He is his own counsellor and accountant.  He works independently.  He is totally self-employed!
Yet, his work is not impersonal or self-absorbed.  He works for his glory – because it all consists because of him, yet, we are the clients.  We are the tools.  We are the objects of his passion. He is so thorough that nothing goes without notice or attention.  He works all things. He sees every tear and every good deed.  He knows every word and every thought.  He sees through darkness and never slumbers nor sleeps. 

Why? To accomplish his will which he set before the foundation of the world.  God’s will or plan is so intricate.  It weaves in every individual, every circumstance, every whispered prayer, every broken heart, every joy-filled moment in order that His will be accomplished.  Nothing escapes his attention and nothing is wasted. I know, we can’t imagine it – but – we can believe it.  God works all things on our behalf to accomplish His plan through us.  Amazing!

With a God so active and involved in our lives, what is left to do but trust him?  Oswald Chambers wrote:  “I will never think of anything my Father will forget, so why should I worry?”

Take time to meditate on this question:  Is there anything in your life outside of His working? So…is there anything you need be worried about?


“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13

Here he is working again, this time, working in you!
If God is so all mighty, all-knowing and sovereign, why would he need me?  Why would he bother when one word from Him could end everything or make everything right?  Surely one individual is not totally necessary to his plan?  Yet, he works in me to accomplish his will.  I am a part of his will and plan.  I am not a random creature.  He is eternally interested in my part of the plan and works in me to see that fulfilled. 

So, I can believe that I am a valuable tool, useful to the Master as a part of his plan.  I love that idea.  Being a tool.  It means to me that all I have to do is allow Him to do His work.  I don’t have to choose where and when, just be available.  What he brings to my life, the gifts and abilities I have, my personality and the situations of my life are not random, but an endowment from him to be used by Him for my benefit and for others according to his good pleasure.  My life affects others and that is true for every one of us.  We are his creations and the tools in his hand with which he works to reveal himself and to bring men to Christ.

Can you believe that God is working in you?  What do you think would be His good pleasure in your life?  Are you willing to simply be a tool in His hand?


“Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight…”  Hebrews 13:21

Now, God and I start working together.  He is still working in me as He wills.  He does with me those things that are wellpleasing, acceptable, to him. He does not lead me to sin or failure.  He does not falter in his work.  He is a faithful co-worker as I yield to him.
I like the word wellpleasing!  It means acceptable.  He is making me acceptable.  Acceptable in his sight – how wonderful!
What am I to be doing?  With Christ as my example, I am to be going about doing good.  Good works do have a part to play in our Christian life and service.  Doctrine is great and vital.  Separation is definitely called for, but good works demand that we take our doctrine to the world and abandon fear as we go out to evangelize and demonstrate the love of God. 

I John 4 says that our outpouring and use of the love of God in good works and love of the brethren perfects our love: it increases the very character of God in us, for, God is love.  And as we appropriately and lovingly participate in the work of God we are wellpleasing in his sight!   Part of the amazing thing is that we think we are doing so good! We think we are doing the work, when actually; he is doing it through us!
I guess that is why we are admonished to not become weary in well doing.  God knows what we think.  We think we work hard and that we are such great servants!  Or, maybe we think that if anything is going to be done round here, we have to do it ourselves.  These are poor attitudes for service!  Better to realize that in our flesh there is no good. The only good in us is what God has placed in us and what he draws out of us by His Spirit working in us!  We get to work with him…to be wellpleasing!

Is your work and service wellpleasing?


“….the works that I do shall he do also;
 and greater works than these shall he do…”
John 14:12

Jesus is addressing the disciples.  These are the men who doubt and struggle.  These are the men who follow Jesus, but are in need of much instruction and encouragement.  These are the men whose faith wavers – yet, Jesus says if they will believe, they will do even greater works than he.  And, we know that later they become men of great faith as the power of the Holy Spirit works in them.
We, then, coming some two thousand years later, have the same promise. We have the seal and power of the Spirit and we are to be working the works of Christ.  He is our example.
The promise is that my work could be greater.  This isn’t referring to size, but volume.  Yes, as servants of Christ we can accomplish more works than Christ the man alone.  Jesus had but those few years of ministry to accomplish the work the Father had given him to do.  The Apostles then carried on that work to their generation.  And from generation to generation Christ’s followers have been following His pattern and multiples and multiples of souls have come to the Father. 

Matthew Henry says, when commenting on this verse,  “The truth is, the captivating of so great a part of the world to Christ, was the miracle of all.”  We have a part in that miracle.  Not only do we have a part, but also we are a part of the extension of Christ’s ministry. And as we continue by reaching our generation we extend that miracle through the centuries – so let us be about the Father’s business today.

What work did Christ do?  Pointing men to God, loving, healing, caring, praying, giving, teaching, and sharing life. All of these and more are the works of Christ.  Which ones might you be able to do today? 


“I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”
John 17:4

Jesus had good work ethics. He knew to do his business in the opportune moment.  He knew work would come to an end and he needed to take advantage of the time he was given.  He also knew what work was most valuable and managed his time to accomplish his God-given goals.  He did not do his work by halves, but was content that He had fulfilled all that had been given him to do.
It would be good practice for us to adopt this same ethic in every area of our lives.  The benefits could be seen as we applied it to our jobs, our ministries, our finance, our marriage, our child-rearing and home-making.  If we would focus each day on the most important tasks and work with each opportunity given we would see more accomplished and have a greater work satisfaction. 

Those plaguing thoughts of failure that come from lack of productivity would be extinguished.  We could pillow our heads each night and say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”  John 17:4

What are the most important tasks you do each day?  What things get your side-tracked?  Do you know how to be productive?  Where could you improve if you adopted Jesus’ work ethic?  Do you finish each day with a feeling of accomplishment?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Week Forty-Seven - Will


“I will…I will…I will…I will…”  
Psalm 9:1,2

I will – a conscious and voluntary choice.
I will – a set determination.
I will – a promise of action.
I will – a submission to a request.

Verse ten of Psalm 9 says, “They that know thy name will put their trust in Thee.” So:

I will – praise Thee – no matter the circumstance, for I know thy greatness.

I will – show thy works – for you have done great things for me.

I will – be glad and rejoice – for the confidence I have in You and in Your Word.

I will – sing – my whole heart will break forth so that all will hear - “How Great is Our God.”

What is the choice of your “will”?


“…this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 
I Thessalonians 5:18

This is His appointment.  His pleasure.  His decision for you.  His will.  There are several verses with this phrase:  “the will of God”.  In each case they demonstrate his plan.  Let’s look at a few.

Here in I Thessalonians His will is that we are to be thankful.  “In everything give thanks…” Our attitude toward the events of life is prescribed by God to be one of thankfulness.  That is a tall order.  The happenings of life aren’t always something we understand or appreciate, but God’s will is that we receive the good and the bad with an attitude of thanksgiving.  To look beyond the trial to see His hand of support, comfort, and activity in all that comes our way.

I Thessalonians 4:1-7 says “…how ye ought to walk and to please God..”  The will of God is bound in the way we walk and live. We are to be walking/living to please God by choosing to keep our lives clean and holy. 

I Peter 2:15 says the will of God is that we would live before the lost world in such a way that our good deeds will leave them silent.  God wants us to shine as lights for Him by the way we treat others.

Amazing how easy it is to find the will of God when we consider even these few direct commands from God’s Word. The hard part is doing them.

Have you ever considered God’s will to be so involved with how you live?  Ask yourself:  Am I living inside the will of God according to these verses?  Why or why not?  What do I need to amend in my life to come into alignment with the will of God?


“…Thy will be done…”  
Matthew 6:10

Most people know this phrase.  It comes from what we call The Lord’s Prayer.  But few of us stop to consider what this means and the implications that come from praying this prayer.

Thy will be done?  In all things?  Or, only if it works best for me?
Thy will be done?  Really?  Are we honestly ready to allow His Will?
Thy will be done?  Scary?  Can we open ourselves to what that might mean?

Jesus had this attitude.  He came to do God’s will only. The Apostle Paul had this attitude.  He gave himself to God’s will.  King David was a man with this attitude, even though he faltered.

Jesus said,  “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”

So there is a link between the will of God and our relationship with Him.  Doing God’s will is a sign of our relationship.  Having a relationship means a willingness to please and a desire to advance the other person. 

Praying for God’s will to be done is one way we can express this relationship.  We might not know the ultimate consequences to this open-ended request, but we can know that God’s will is supreme and always the best option.  It might not always look like the best option at the moment, it might really challenge our faith and scare us, but we must admit that God’s will, in heaven and on earth, will take place.  It isn’t fate, but providence.  It isn’t chance, but planning.  God has it all figured out!  We need to just agree with Him.

Where do you stand?  Can you trust in the sovereignty of His will?  Can you honestly pray this prayer – Thy will be done?


“…what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God…”  
Romans 12:2

Romans 12:1,2 is a call for our dedication.  We are asked to give ourselves totally to God.  This is called our “reasonable service”.  Then we are challenged to a transformation of mind that will bring us into line with this good, acceptable and perfect will of God.

The will of God is good.  This is a moral quality in a positive way.  We, too, will be good if we are inside God’s directive will.  This is the call to character, integrity, and kindness of heart and action.

The will of God is acceptable.  This is a quality of being pleasing.  We will be pleasing if we are acting out God’s will.  Good deeds, patience, and love will proceed from our lives.

The will of God is perfect. This has the idea of mature and finished, or of full age, completed.  We will be mature Christians if we continue in God’s will.  We will reach the end of life knowing that we are complete in Him and His will has been completed in us – our reasonable service has been done.

“It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13

It takes submission to God’s will and God working in us to complete His will.  The end result is a Christian who not only knows how to live within the will of God, but also appreciates the beauty and security found there.  And God calls this – reasonable service!

Where are you?  Can you see God working in you?  Are you yielding or resisting?


“…if any man will come after me…” 
Matthew 16:24

“If any man would wish to, or decide to, follow me”, Jesus says, then there is a price to pay.  “He must deny self, take up his cross and choose to follow.”

Now we turn to look at the will of man.  We are free moral agents.  We can choose to follow, or choose not to follow. It is our choice. 

The same form of this word, “will”, is used in other Scriptures.  II Timothy 3:12 says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”  It is a choice to live a godly life. Persecution is not the choice, but the result. 

Romans 7:18 says, “For I know that in me  (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”  This tells me that the choice to live godly will not only face persecution from without, but also struggles from within.  The flesh does not like our choice. 

However, John 17:24, Jesus’ prayer for his followers, says, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory…”  So Jesus has a will of his own, and that will is set for our reward and success.

We make a choice to follow Christ and may be faced with opposition, but Jesus also made a choice.  He chose to give himself for us and has gone to prepare a place for us so that we can be with him.

What choice have you made?  Do you know him?  Have you chosen to take up your cross and follow him?  It is His will that you do so – He did the same!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Week Forty-Six - Watch


“...Tell us, when shall these things be?...”  Mark 13:4

Peter, James, John and Andrew sat at the feet of Jesus with this question.  Christ’s first instruction to them was to “take heed” (13:5) Take heed to themselves that they be not deceived by what they hear and see around them. (13:9) Take heed to how they respond to difficult circumstances. (13:23) Take heed because they have been forewarned (13:33) and then to watch and pray that they are ready for the Lord’s coming.  “Watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the master of the house cometh...”   Watch.  “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”
As taking heed has to do with the internal, watching has to do with the external.  Or, are they closer related? If we were watching with expectation would we not also be taking heed?
Matthew 25:1-13, the parable of the ten virgins, illustrates the difference in those that are watching and taking heed and those that are not.  All of them were waiting for the bridegroom, but only half of them was ready and prepared when he called.  The other half was not watching and was not taking heed to be prepared.  The results were sure and final.  Only those prepared were able to go to the marriage. 
Through God’s Word we are forewarned and admonished to be ready and watching.  I John 2:28 “And now, little children, abide in him (take heed) that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at this coming.”  It is not enough to simply know that He is coming – the slothful virgins knew that fact. We need to be actively waiting in anticipation, our bags all packed and ready to go!

WATCH! When Jesus comes, will he find us watching with our lamps all trimmed and bright?


“Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”  Mark 14:38

This usage of the word means: Stay Awake!  Of course, the disciples slumbered; this happened not once, but twice.  Christ came back to check on them and there they were, sleeping.
Though the disciples failed to keep watch on Christ in the garden, God was on the job. How wonderful is Psalm 121 - “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” Though we, too, fail to be watchful, God is still watching over us in love.  He who sees all and knows all – loves.  And, he loves watching over his sheep.  He is ever vigilant.

Our Saviour is vigilant as well. He is ever making intercession.  We have been bought with His blood.  He has a vested interest in our protection.  He is watching out for us and keeping us before the throne.
Two who are mutually watching have an active relationship.  God the Father and God the Son are mutually and actively watching over us in love until the time comes for us to join them. We, then, should not be slumbering, but watching so as to be ready when he calls. What expectation!  Let us be girded up and ready! 
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”   

So, Christian, are you awake in your Christian walk?


“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.”  Habbakuk 2:1

The prophet puts himself into a position of watching.  He sees it as his responsibility.  He is positioned and expecting to hear from God. 

Matthew Henry describes it this way,  “Those that expect to hear from God must withdraw from the world, and get above it, must raise their attention, fix their thought, study the scriptures, consult experiences and the experienced, continue instant in prayer, and thus set themselves upon the tower.”

Rarely will we hear from God unless we are listening.  We have a responsibility to position ourselves so that we can and will hear a word from the Lord.  I think it is interesting to note that the prophet was not necessarily expecting to hear that, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”  He was not pious or self-righteous.  He honestly wanted to hear God’s direction and correction.  He was ready and careful to be in a place to hear and he was also ready to give an answer.  Not an excuse!  But a real answer, even if it was a reproof.

A position of watching, an expectation of hearing from God, and a responsibility to give account, these require the servant of God to be vigilant, to have spiritual radar and discernment.

What about you?  Are you expecting to hear from God?  Is your antenna on?  Are you prepared to answer?


“…The LORD watch between me and thee, when we
are absent one from another.”  Genesis 31:49

This verse forms part of the covenant made between Jacob and Laban as Jacob was leaving with his wives, children and herds.  Traditionally, at the forming of such a covenant, a pillar would be erected (vs. 45), a sacrifice would be offered, (vs. 54) a meal would be shared (vs. 46), a new name would be given to the place (vs. 47, 48), and an appeal made to God as we see here in verse 49.

The “watch” had two ideas.  First, that of a witness, recognizing that no matter where they were, they were always under God’s eye.  Secondly, that of a judge, that under God, whom they both served, there should not be strife between them.

It reminds me of an old hymn:

God be with you till we meet again;
            by his counsels guide, uphold you,
            with his sheep securely fold you;
            God be with you till we meet again.

            Till we meet, till we meet,
            till we meet at Jesus' feet;
            till we meet, till we meet,
            God be with you till we meet again.

The idea of God watching over those who are apart from us and having such deep covenants of friendship is maybe less heard of today.  In our times where we can reach each other through the social media and telecommunications, we may forget the value and truth that is held in developing and maintaining deep relationships. Yet, all of us long for these deep and lasting friendships.

Can you think of someone you ought to communicate with today?  Is there an old friend who would love to hear from you?


“But watch thou in all things…”  II Timothy 4:5

Here the word, “watch”, literally means to be self-controlled and sober.

Watch in all things!  Paul is telling the young pastor, Timothy, to keep his head about him, to keep his eyes open, to walk circumspectly, to be vigilant and aware of his surrounding, and to be sure he is doing his job, to be in control of his life.

Charles Swindoll wrote in his book called Strengthening Your Grip,
“God’s eternal and essential principles must be firmly grasped…we need biblical fixed points to hang onto – firm solid handles that will help us steer our lives in a meaningful manner.”

If we are going to “watch”, we need to know where those fixed points are and how to appropriate them in our lives successfully.  We could make a list of things, like soundness of doctrine, purity of life and spiritual disciplines like giving, simplicity, forgiveness, etc. All of these things give us guides by which we can measure and direct our lives.  It is our responsibility to put them into practice. We must exercise our self-control in order to maintain a watchfulness that results in a successful Christian life.  Without them, our Christian life unravels.

What about you?  Are you “watching” over your life?  Are you careful and self-controlled?  Do you have a good grasp on the really important matters of the Christian life or are you unravelling?