Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The three "w"s of work.

Work is part of living in a fallen world, of that there is no doubt. When Adam and Eve sinned against God they were given punishments. Adam's was that through painful toil and the sweat of his brow he would produce the food that he and his family needed to live (Genesis 3:17-19). Unless a person is incapacitated, we all have some form of work to do, whether it be caring for our homes and families or working in paid employment to provide the necessities of life, or a combination of several types of work.

Satan makes much of our feelings towards work. Work makes many people unhappy and resentful about the necessity of performing it. It can seem monotonous and unfulfilling. We may feel unappreciated for what we do. It can be the source of many problems, often interpersonal ones.

Conversely, work can assume a god-like status. Some people put all their energy, time and resources into their working life, neglecting their spiritual and family lives. It can become the main source of their self-esteem. It can become an unending quest for increased money, status and power.

Jesus is our Redeemer, the One who has reclaimed our cursed lives by His death on the cross. Not only are we saved from death, but He has promised us a new life in Him. As He says in His word:

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly"(John 10:10).

In Christ we have the ability to change the way we view our working lives. Through our work we can invite Him to work with us and to guide us through His Holy Spirit. As such our work becomes part of our Christian ministry. We work to serve His kingdom purposes, whether it be providing funds for Christian ministry through our tithes and offerings or using our skills to assist others, or being a Christian voice in a secular workplace, or showing God's love to those who do not know Him, or a combination of many of these facets.

As I walked to my workplace this morning, I considered three "w" words which I like to use and pray for in relation to my working day:

Lord, may I do my work willingly - without grumbling, but glad that I am able to serve you and others and grateful for the provision of work.

May I do my work wisely - give me the knowledge and skills that I need Father to work effectively. Give me good judgement and discernment that anything I do will be done safely and will be beneficial for the clients that I am working with. 

May I do my work well - to not just do the bare minimum but to work in such a manner that You are glorified Lord. May I be conscientious and diligent in every task I undertake. Equip me Lord to demonstrate Christian attitudes and values, that Your love will be seen through me in my workplace.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

What's your passion?

In our Sunday sermon today, our pastor encouraged us to consider what our life ministry is. God has instilled in each of us talents, desires and opportunities if only we would use them. There is a time in all our lives for praying and meditating and waiting upon God and there are also times when we are to act upon our passions as he leads us in areas of ministry.
In the parable of the talents described in Matthew 25-30 a wealthy landowner goes on a journey and before setting out calls his three servants to him. He gives them each an amount of money – to one five talents (a talent being a sum equal to about five years wages for a labourer); to the second two talents, and to the third one talent. The differing amounts, the Bible tells us are indicative of the trust that the master had in each servant’s ability. He goes away for a long time, and on his return calls his servants to account for their use of his money. The servant who was given five talents and the one given two talents have both doubled these amounts and are congratulated. The one given one talent, however, in fear of his master’s temperament and business acumen, has done nothing other than hide the one talent given to him in the ground. His master berates him for not even putting the money in the bank to gain interest and casts him away.
We are saved by grace, not works, but this parable demonstrates that God expects us to use what He has so generously given us. In fact, when you are a child of God, it’s a joy, not a chore, to do so in order to please him. Some of us remember the work we put in as a child to make something special for Mum or Dad such as a card or gift, and the joy with which they received it.
How do we define our areas of ministry? Our pastor posed the question “What makes you angry?” In his case it was cruelty. For some it may be a certain type of injustice. Others may hate poverty or waste. For some it may be the spread of false religions or doctrine. When we object strongly to something it can be a call to action.
Conversely, what gladdens your heart? Are you inspired by the culture of a particular country? Do you feel moved by photographs of people in third world countries receiving sight through cataract surgery? Do you enjoy reading bible stories to young children?
What gifts and talents has God given you? In His wisdom He has equipped His people with a plethora of amazing gifts and talents- creative skills, musicianship, languages, business and administrative skills, financial skills, servanthood, people skills, leadership, technical and trade skills, medical and scientific abilities, acuity in the spoken and written word. Some people use God’s provision to just give and give. Some people are dedicated prayer warriors and intercessors. I’m sure there are many other areas that I’ve not considered.
What kind of personality traits can you use to serve God? Again, these differ widely between individuals? Are you one who exhorts or encourages others? Are you caring in times of crisis? Are you a patient listener? Are you a dynamic leader of teams or do you prefer working alone?
Prayer must precede anything in the Christian life and it’s always good to ask God to reveal to you more and more the areas in your life in which He wants you to devote your talents. His Holy Spirit will be your guide. Not everyone is destined for ministry in a church setting. Many Christians work in the secular realm, providing finances for their church or missions. Every Christian is involved in ministry, however, impacting those around them for God.
Many churches conduct courses which help believers to discover and use their spiritual gifts and passions and these can be a useful exercise to assist in developing a ministry area. There are also some online tests which can identify spiritual gifts. Some of these require submitting personal details. Here are a few resources that you might like to look at online