Workplace Devotionals

October 10, 2010

First things First

We know that it is our mission as Christians to serve and worship God.  When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  One way that we love God is through giving God from our time, talent and treasure.

I think that it is important to give not just of our time, talent and treasure, but to give the first and the best.  It is easy to find examples in the Bible the importance of the giving the first of our treasure.  Genesis Chapter 4 tells the story of Cain and Able.  Verse 3 says that Cain brought some of this fruits, but that Able brought the fat portions of firstborn of his flocks, the best and the first.  God’s displeasure with Cain’s offering was that he was not giving the best portion of the first as Able was.

Later, in the giving of the law we learn about first fruits offerings and tithing.  In the various feasts and sacrifices that the Israelites are commanded to make, they are told to “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.” Exodus 23:19.

Giving the first and best of our time may be harder to distinguish.  We see a story in Luke 10:38-42 of two women and the example of how they are spending their time.  While Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to him teach, Martha works to make preparations for Jesus and the others that are visiting.

Martha often gets the bad rap in this story, but lets think about her situation more. As we see in other passages in the gospels, there is often very large crowds following Jesus as he travels the countryside, and often the people are not well prepared for the journey, as there are a couple miracles recorded of Jesus feeding thousands.  Mary, Martha and their family were good friends of Jesus, so it is natural in that culture, that Jesus would come stay with them.  So with Jesus, and also staying at Martha’s house, would be the twelve disciples and perhaps dozens of others, all without food.  Martha saw this great need of all these people, and in her way of reaching out to them, began working hard to make preparations for their visit.  It’s not wise for us to condemn Martha for the work she was doing, as we often make a similar mistake of not seeing where we are failing to put God first in our lives.

Martha, then tries to tell Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help.  Again, I don’t think Jesus condemns Martha here, but lovingly tells here, that Mary has sought what is best, first.  What Martha was doing was good and necessary, but she did not put first things first.  Mary saw what was best, and saw that the most important thing to be doing was sitting with Jesus, listening to his teaching.  Mary put Jesus first, before the other “necessary” activities.

We also have this opportunity to put God first in our lives.  The Jews celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday, the last day in their week.  Christians observe Sabbath on Sunday, the first day of the week.  The Sabbath gives us the opportunity to start our week focused on God, to rest and reflect and remember that it is God who is first in our lives.  We can also remember to pray and take time for God each morning, to know that we work by His grace, for His glory.

Third, we can give God the first and best of our talent.  Our talent is often observed in the jobs that we do.  Most people are working in a job that uses one or many talents that they have.  We are able to exercise our talents in the work that we do.  When spending time at church on Sundays, or starting the day at home, or during the commute to work, it is good to remember that even in the work that we do, we are serving God with our talents.  We can give ourselves to our jobs, working hard, because it is for God that we work.  The best example of this is the verse in Colossians: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

So today, I encourage you, in the way that you use your time, talent, and treasure, give your first and your best to God, for everything we have comes from God, and we can show our love for God by giving our first and best to Him.

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March 22, 2010

7 Habits, Part I

Filed under: Uncategorized — ejwcpa @ 5:24 pm
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I thought it would be interesting to see if I could take a popular business/self-help book and see if the principles taught in the book are supported by the Bible, as most truths in the world are in the Bible, since the Bible is God’s word and God created the world.  I looked at the book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” and though I haven’t read it, I skimmed through a summary online.  It’s funny, because the main premise of the book is that “change starts from within” which couldn’t be more Biblical principal.  Jesus teaches us to love God with our heart soul and mind, Paul writes that we should be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

The first habit described in the book is “Be Proactive.”  This is a Biblical principal in a number of different ways.  For one, simply stay informed and study your word to be prepared for temptation.  Learn the word of God before the trials start.  Imagine Jesus going into the desert without knowing his word: “You’re right devil, those rocks do look tasty, I wonder if there’s a verse for that?”  Jesus tells a great parable in Matthew 25 of being prepared.

The wise virgins, who were proactive, in bringing oil with them, were invited in, whereas the virgins who were reactive – waiting until they were out of oil to buy more – missed out on the banquet.  In our workplace, being proactive allows us to catch small issues before they become large problems and allow us to properly train and set up systems before busy times arrive.

The second habit is “To begin with the end in mind.”  Goals must not just be on a day to day basis but goals must be long term.  You may practice this at work through annual goal setting or development plans.  You may practice this at home with setting a budget and saving for education and retirement.  In Matthew 4, we see the first time that Jesus begins preaching, after a quotation from scripture, verse 17 states:  “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’”  At least according to Matthew, Jesus’ preaching began with the end in mind, the coming of the kingdom of heaven.  Many of Jesus’ parables also teach about what the “kingdom of heaven” is like.  Jesus’ ministry was focused on the end.  Conversely, there are times in the Bible with people trying to start out who have no long term goal.  John 21 tells the story of the disciples following Jesus’ death.  Though they had seen Jesus resurrected, they still did not get what to do, they didn’t yet understand the calling that God had for them to be the leaders, so they just went back to fishing.  What I assume to be later, at the ascension, Jesus gives them the great commission, laying out the goal to them, bringing the gospel to all nations.  Obviously the end goal was a goal bigger than they could accomplish in their lifetimes, but through their work, the gospel was brought to all nations.  Which brings me to another point, which is that sometimes the goals God gives us may be beyond our lifetimes.  Take the end goal given to Abraham, a great nation, the Promised Land, and descendants that outnumbered the stars.  As Hebrews 11:13 points out Abraham and others “were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.

The third habit is to “Put first things first” or “to prioritize.”  Our priority as Christians is obvious.  “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” in Matthew 6:33.  When Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is, the command is quite simple, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  And for a second priority, Jesus gives us Leviticus 19:18, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus asks us to put these two things — love God, love your neighbor – first because he knows that with your priorities rightly focused, all other things will fall into place.  You won’t murder or steal if you love your neighbor.  You won’t worship false idols if you love God.

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