Many people will have the luxury of a day off tomorrow as the United States will celebrate Labor Day, a national holiday that dates back to the late 19th century. As with virtually all things, there's a great deal that Christians can think about, learn from, and improve on in respect to the topic of labor. Working hard and being diligent in our efforts are basic Biblical themes and the inspired writers certainly had much to say on the subjects. In particular, Solomon wrote about labor in the book of Proverbs and in doing so, helps us understand, among other things, three timeless truths that we'll do well to remember.
1 -- Honest Work is ALWAYS better than Dishonest Gain...
In Proverbs 13:11, the wise man wrote, "Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase." Unfortunately, the world has its fair share of selfish, dishonest people who don't care about honesty and fairness. Given this, it's easy for us to grow discouraged and furthermore, it provides Satan with an opening if we're not careful. Hard work is, well, hard. But, there is something to be said for the satisfaction that comes from a job well done and reaping the pay that comes from working so hard (see Psalm 128:2). As saints, we are to lead by example. Therefore, let us always labor with purpose, work hard, and never be dishonest.
2 -- Active Work is Better Than Active Talk!
Solomon wrote, "In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty" (Proverbs 14:23). Let's face it -- there are certain people who do an awful lot of talking and bossing around but don't do that much doing! Not only is that irritating to everyone else, it sets a bad, anti-biblical example that we, as members of the Lord's church, must not be party to. In any local church, there is always something to be done or someone needing help. Christians should seek opportunities to do good for others and not merely talk about it.
3 -- Spiritual Work Produces Great Results
The most important work that you and I will ever do is not in our workplace, on the factory-line, or something for which we receive a paycheck. Instead, working in the Lord's kingdom is more important than anything else and more rewarding than anything else. In Proverbs 10:16, the writer says, "The labor of the righteous leads to life, the wages of the wicked to sin." That says it all! As Christians, we should wear ourselves out doing good and find more ways to serve Christ and others. And let's be honest with ourselves -- the more we do that, the better we feel! That's not a coincidence but rather the way God created us. If there are ways for us to improve in our labors for Christ, perhaps the celebration of "Labor Day" is an appropriate reminder for us to repent, seek forgiveness, and move forward to better serve our God.
By Don Case
Before GPS it was often said that men never stopped for directions. Buying something new is a problem when it comes with instructions for assembly. Why is it so difficult to follow instructions? God has provided us with an instruction manual not only for salvation but to guide our lives.
God's word should be our source for problem solving and sometimes health issues. A large number of ailments are the direct results of worry, bitterness, and the failure to follow biblical health principles. An example of God's direct teaching is his instructions to control anger. Psalm 37:8 says, "Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: Do not fret it only causes harm." Proverbs 15:1 tells us, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Doctors today say that anger can cause an elevation in blood pressure, gastric upset, and headaches. Prolonged problems in this area may even lead to ulcers, heart conditions and other diseases.
Researchers have told us that tobacco use contributes to lung cancer, excessive alcohol consumption leads to liver dysfunction and street drugs can lead to brain damage. These practices abuse our bodies, and in I Corinthians 3:17 there is a warning, "If any man defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." In Leviticus 11 God gave the Jewish nation detailed instructions on diet, personal hygiene, and purification techniques. God stresses the necessity for sexual abstinence before marriage and monogamy thereafter. Following this teaching is the best solution to many social problems and several transmitted diseases. Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
Our society can avoid, minimize, or eliminate many ailments if we would only apply God's principles. Not all illnesses are preventable but some are caused when God's instructions are ignored. When the Israelites' did not follow God's instructions they found themselves being killed, defeated in battle and sometimes held in captivity.
Anyone with military background understands the concepts of discipline and following orders. We all have laws that we must follow including federal, state, municipal and even associations rules, none more significant than God's commandments. Ignoring His laws can be sinful, dangerous, unhealthy and perilous to our souls.
Let's Follow God's Instruction Manual
By Don Case
Satan uses Weapons of Mass Destruction
We often hear about WMD's which have the potential of killing millions of people but Satan has his own version of WMD's. He has done more damage in the world than anyone or anything else. Since the beginning he has wreaked havoc, destroying billions of souls.
We often wonder why our faith is not as strong as we would like, it's because Satan uses weapons against us. His goal is to lure us away from God, a spiritual separation. He wants to cut-off our contact with our Lord. His hidden weapons are working behind the scenes and are actually working to destroy both our earthly life and our relationship with the Lord.
Satan can manipulate our circumstance and he does not give up. He causes serious blockages in our spiritual life. He continues this spiritual terrorism against us because his weapons have been very successful through out history.
Satan uses Weapons of Total Chaos
Satan knows how to disrupt and even destroy our spiritual lives.
His weapons include:
- Being uniformed - not knowing enough to combat his weapons.
- Apathy - lack the drive.
- Indifference - To grow disinterested, lose focus, veer off-course.
- Forgetfulness - No longer remember, knowledge becomes contaminated.
- Guided toward making the wrong life decisions.
- Distractions away from God, and His Word.
- Complicating life with more negative situations.
The results of the war are like a virus, spreading from one person to another, even from one generation to the next. Satan sets these traps, but we walk into them because we are sometimes disarmed without the ability to protect ourselves.
Know the Enemy
Satan's goal is our total communication breakdown away from God. If he succeeds, "then we become just another notch on his belt," and this is what Satan wants to do all along-- keep us from God, Christ, the Word, and salvation.
How can we neutralize Satan's affect on our lives?
- PRAY FOR HELP
- FOCUS ON THE SPIRITUAL
- CONCENTRATE ON SCRIPTURE
- ASSOCIATE WITH CHRISTIANS
- ASK FOR ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT
It is interesting to speculate on how our adversary functions, how he affects our lives. We realize that we are ultimately responsible for our own decisions and that the trials we face are a constant challenge. Although God is in control, He allows trials and tribulations to strengthen us.
By Don Case
We no longer have dueling as a way to solve our problems but our jails are full of people who cannot resolve issues peaceably. Some try counseling, education, and medications with mixed results. One of the most important and sometimes neglected issues today is forgiveness. The lasting solutions to resolving conflicts is if we follow the instructions God provided in the Bible, in other words try God's way. Hosea said, "My people perish for lack of knowledge." Sometimes we also reject knowledge and do not know the solutions to life's problems because we neglect God's Word.
We cannot be set free from bitterness and pain if we cannot forgive and forget. When we do not forgive it can affect our lives in many different ways including emotional and physical problems. Obey and forgive as God commands, or continue in misery. The peace and joy of the Lord will flood souls if applied properly. Forgiveness is to release the offender from all guilt, blame, revenge, anger and bitterness. Anger management is to resolve, forgive, find peace, and healing in the joy of the Lord, -- this will transform lives. We must release others the way Jesus released us, completely, unconditionally and permanently. There is a difference between being offended and being wounded. Both are hurtful but are determined by the degree of trauma. It is easier to turn loose of simple offences, but it is much harder to turn loose of a wound. Holding on to bitterness is like taking poison then waiting for the other person to die. It is common but tragic to see friends and family members that have not spoken in years. There are no winners in these situations, only losers.
One of the greatest gifts God has given to us is our own forgiveness. We can be forgiven for all our sins, past, present and future and forever. If God has no remembrance of our sin, why shouldn't we also forgive and forget? God wants us to have a level of freedom and assurance that only He can provide. God's desire is for us to forgive and release others from anything and everything, of a vengeful nature, that we hold against others.
HURT FEELINGS THAT ARE BURIED ALIVE NEVER DIE, THEY CAN RETURN TO OUR MINDS ANY TIME.
And One More Thing...
Let's never forget that forgiveness is a message that the world needs to hear just as much as those who have received it from God. This week, let's work hard to share this great message with others.
As of this week, we are half-way through 2013. Wow! Where did the time go? A great many spiritual applications can be made from just the consideration of that question. But rather than consider those, it's fitting for us to examine some of the powerful lessons we learn by just looking at the word "Half" and how it's used throughout the Bible. Consider three valuable, timeless lessons we learn through the examination of three instances in scripture.
First, working together pays off. The story of Nehemiah is filled with great reminders about how God provides for His people and equips us to do great things. Nehemiah was truly an inspirational leader who began a movement of restoration and revival among his people. He was instrumental in the great wall-building project in the beloved city of Jerusalem. With great amazement, the author records that the wall was built to half its height in a short period of time because of an attitude summarized by the statement, "the people had a mind to work" (Nehemiah 4:6). Elsewhere in the same chapter, we learn that while one half of the people constructed the wall, the other half were on guard against any threats that would come their way. Too often, local churches don't grow closer together or grow in number because, rather than working together, we work against each other. This should most certainly NOT be the case and in order to keep ourselves from becoming obstinate, we should follow the example of these people and relish the opportunity to work together and grow together.
Second, being generous is a really good thing. The story of Zacchaeus is a familiar one. In the account recorded by Luke, this rich man confessed to Jesus that he gave half of his goods to the poor (Luke 19:8). Of course, the point of this being included in scripture is not to suggest that such significant generosity is required, but rather to remind us that, as is stated elsewhere in the Bible, that we have been blessed so that we can then make others' lives more blessed. We often times think of ourselves as poor because we're not millionaires but the fact is that the average American is VERY wealthy as compared with the world. We sometimes need to be reminded that we need to be more generous!
Finally, standing up for what's right can be costly. In Mark 6, Herod made the foolish offer to give Herodias' daughter whatever she wanted, up to half the kingdom. Of course, we know what she asked for -- the head of John the Baptizer. John's violent death was a direct result of his choice to stand up for the Lord by telling the king that he had no right to have his brother's wife (Mark 6:18). While it's unlikely you and I will lose our lives in service to God, we stand an excellent chance of losing some friends, job promotions, and popularity contests as a result of our decisions to do right and refusals to be like the world. But, of course, our minimal sacrifices are well worth the great reward that is promised by our loving God.
Now halfway through the year, let us work more fully to please our God and be in service to His great cause!