March 13, 2013

Self-Explanatory Messages


Things happen every day that have compelling messages, if only we would see them.  Recently at a Chick-Fil-A drive-thru an employee came out of an obscure back door. He dashed in front of my vehicle, obviously in a hurry.  I noticed he was carrying a bag filled with contents.  I watched him run through the landscaping into traffic which was stopped at a traffic signal. All the while he was flagging down a car.  Suddenly it began to add up… he was in pursuit of a customer, a customer that had driven off with the wrong or incomplete order.


Some pictures do not need any explanation to understand the “rest of the story” or the compelling message it delivers.









Breathe…Bring an Element of This Week’s Lesson into Everyday Life

February 7, 2013

Today’s Reading    John 14:1-17    God is Still Working!


Jesus made it clear that the Father was working through Him and that He would send the Spirit to work through His followers in even greater ways. What is this work? We hear the mission in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8. We see that mission launch in the rest of the book of Acts. God’s mission in the world is to redeem all things and restore His creation to forever be free of the effects of sin and evil. Amazingly, God is still using His followers to do most of the work. God worked in creation, but He is still working. Because He works, we work!

It’s important for us to see how we fit into this worldwide mission of redemption. Our work is part of this. Everything we do is for our Lord and in His name. There is no separation between sacred and secular. Everything is sacred and God is involved through us whether we recognize it or not. In all we do, we seek to lead people to faith in Christ, and we seek to bring peace, wholeness, righteousness, and justice to our world.

Today take a few minutes to consider this: what role does your job play in God’s plan for the world? How does it make the world a better place (even if you never get to share your faith with anyone)? How does it help you love God and serve your neighbor? What about other roles in your life (parent, son/daughter, neighbor, etc.)? Talking about this with a few trusted friends could help you see your role(s) in God’s plan more clearly.


Trail…Pursue God by Practicing a Spiritual Discipline

February 6, 2013

Today’s Reading     Colossians 3:22-25    Obey in Everything


Paul’s teaching in this passage seems straight-forward enough: work hard, remember that your true master is God, and do everything to honor Him. However, what Paul actually says is troubling: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything.” Really? Obey in everything? What if your employer asks you to do something immoral, illegal, or simply unethical?

Whenever you read the Bible, keep a couple of things in mind. First, when a passage is unclear, you can use other, clearer passages to help you understand it. Second, biblical writers often use literary devices to communicate their point (such as hyperbole). Just three verses later, Paul writes, “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism” (v. 25). We see this elsewhere in Scripture as well. God held the entire people of Israel accountable for their sin even though their kings led them into it (2 Kings 17:21-23). God always wants His people to do the right thing, so Paul’s teaching in this context is a general rule. We should serve our masters well, but we are always accountable for our actions.

How well do you “obey your earthly masters in everything”? Do you resist their leadership, question their methods at every turn, or do just enough to get by? Or do you seek to serve and bless them no matter what they are like? Today consider what you should do to serve your employer better. Take steps to be a blessing to them and serve faithfully.



Deliberate…Engage Your Mind by Connecting with Scripture

February 5, 2013

Today’s Reading  Psalm 90  Audience of One

“…with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord…working for the Lord, not for human masters… It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:22-24

We are not just working for our employers (or even for ourselves). We are working for the God who created us with a purpose and called us to make His world better. That’s why we run into trouble when we focus most on what others think (i.e. when we work hard because our boss or potential clients are watching but get sloppy when no one is looking). Here’s the issue: Who you are in public is largely a façade.  Who you are in private, as you stand before God, is the real you.

The purpose of your life is not to please your boss but to please the Lord. He is the audience that matters most. We want Him to look at our work and be pleased with our efforts. Today find 15-20 minutes to get alone with God and meditate on Psalm 90. This psalm is a heartfelt prayer that calls out to God with humility, raw honesty, and trust. Underline the parts that resonate with you most. Use this time to confess where you have fallen short and ask for strength to serve God well. End your time by praying verse 17, asking for God’s blessing on your work.



Relate…Involve Others by Acting on what You Are Learning

February 4, 2013

Today’s Reading ​ Genesis 1:1-3 ​​ Order Out of Chaos

What spiritual significance does your work have? Many people see their jobs as a “necessary evil” or “just a paycheck.” God wants us to see them as ways to honor and serve Him (Colossians 3:23). Working just for a paycheck falls dismally short of God’s intention. In the story of creation, we read how God formed and filled an otherwise “formless and empty” chaos. The writer of Genesis describes God’s work with poetic beauty.

God created order out of chaos and He created us in His image to do the same. He put Adam and Eve “in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). Work was not part of the fall; it was part of creation. God wanted His people to take this beautiful, unformed garden, and make it even better. That’s why we work. We mimic a creative God by creating order out of our chaos.

The key is not just the quality of our work but also our attitude in our work. When we give our creative best with a great attitude, we honor God. When we are lazy and sloppy at work, with an attitude that stinks, we insult God. Today reflect on your work. Who or what are you working for? Does the way you work bring honor or insult to God? How do you bring order to chaos?


Breathe…Bring an Element of This Week’s Lesson into Everyday Life

January 30, 2013

Today’s Reading | Luke 9:1-25 | The Key to Marriage

When our marriages struggle we often ask, why should I “act first and let emotions come later?” Why should I serve my spouse when they are unloving or disrespectful? They don’t deserve it! I deserve better! In these moments we have an opportunity like no other to show the world what God is really like. The outside world may not see all that is happening in your marriage but over time they will witness your faithfulness.

“You see…when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) In the Old Testament God demonstrated His faithfulness to an unfaithful people—He was the faithful husband to an unfaithful wife (Hosea 3:1). In the New Testament Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. He gave Himself up for people who only deserved His wrath. That is the definition of love. (1 John 3:6)

The key to marriage is the cross. Self-denial is the path to a flourishing marriage. When you deny yourself for your spouse, especially when you have been hurt, you are very much like Christ. You display His love to the world. We may talk about God’s love but in marriage we can display it in real life.

This week spend 15 minutes in prayer. Ask God to show you how to deny yourself, your desires, or your expectations in order to love your spouse more fully. (If you are not married, the teaching of self-denial still applies to your relationships. Seek to love others sacrificially.)



Trail…Pursue God by Practicing a Spiritual Discipline

January 29, 2013

Today’s Reading | Ephesians 5:21-33 | Mutual Submission

The biblical picture of marriage is diverse. Biblical writers lived in a society where marriage was more often defined by prevalent culture than by God’s ideal. Polygamy was common and women were treated as property. However, in this darkness the Apostle Paul writes to first century Christians in Ephesus and his advice sparkles like a diamond lost in a landfill:

Submit to one another…(v. 21) Wives, submit to your husbands…(v. 22) Husbands, love your wives… (v. 25)

We often misunderstand Paul’s teaching because we forget that telling a first century husband to submit to his wife would have been ridiculous. Men owned their wives. But Paul turns the values of the day upside down and commands husbands to love their wives sacrificially. This creates a picture of mutual submission and mutual love. When couples pursue this together, they become “imitators of God…just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.” (Ephesians 5:2)

What we see here is that two people with individual needs come together and become “one flesh” (v. 31). The individuals don’t disappear; a third element is created through their marriage. Each individual must now seek the best, not only for themselves and each other, but also for their relationship.

If you are married, sit down this week with your spouse and discuss this: looking beyond your individual needs, what does your marriage need most in order to flourish? How can you submit to one another more? (NOTE: Only suggest ways you should submit to your spouse…not the other way around.)