Thursday, August 30, 2018

August 31, 2018

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."   Genesis 2:2-3

"The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."  Genesis 2:15

Maybe it is just me, but doesn't it seem a little strange that we would honor the Labor Movement in America by taking a day off of work?

In advance of the Labor Day week-end, I want to share some Biblical perspectives on work. Like every relevant thing that happens in your life, the Bible has quite a bit to say about work. For instance, our verses referenced above shows where work came from - GOD! God created work!

The very first time you see God in the Bible guess what He is doing - WORKING! If you don't think that creating the universe was work then explain why God set aside a day to rest from His work. Sure, God is different fom you, but the reason people generally rest is because they need a break from working.

Maybe you don't feel like your job is divine, but the concept of work is! Notice that not only did work originate with God, but when He placed Adam in Eden one of the first things He did was set him up with a job! He was to tend to the plants and animals that God had placed in Paradise. Talk about a dream job and a perfect work environment - move over Apple headquarters!

Work is worth celebrating! Maybe it would be more appropiately celebrated by actually working, but work is God's idea for His creatures! Work has God's seal of approval!

So, you may want to re-examine your attitude toward work in view of the fact that it is God's idea and His invention. And further, I had a college professor who proffered the idea that if you want to know what heaven will be like, look at Eden since it was the original paradise! There could be some validity in that view. It would be easier to make the case that it's true than to argue it isn't. Therefore, you can figure that there will be a job awaiting you in Heaven. Dying doesn't get you out work but it will certainly get you a better Boss!

Celebrate God's gift of work!

August 30, 2018

"Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ" II Peter 1:1

Not only does Peter identify himself as a "servant of Jesus Christ" - which IS significant - but notice that he signs in using two names, "Simon Peter".

In the Jewish culture names were significant. Unlike today when children are often named after a sports celebrity or entertainment star, in those days the name was given according to some prominent characteristic of the child.

You may remember that when he dropped his nets and left his boats to begin following Jesus he was known by the name "Simon". The name "Simon" means "shifting sand". If you know very much about Peter you will understand why that name was appropriate.

When he identifies himself by his given name he is acknowledging the way he was when he began to follow Jesus. He was weak and inconsistent in his new found faith. One moment he would get it right and the next moment he would be fall flat on his face.

Maybe you can relate to that. I sure can!

But Simon received a name change. Here is how it happened:

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." Matthew 16:15-18

When Peter began to understand Who Jesus really was, it began a dramatic change in his life and Jesus recognizing that change marked it in a pretty big way - He changed Simon's name to "Peter". "Peter" means "rock". So you could say, his name changed from "Sandy" to "Rocky". As you recall that a name reflects the character or nature of a person you see what a significant change that was!

Let me mention a couple of significant insights about Jesus in this story. First, Jesus sees your potential long before you do! Peter was far from being a rock when Jesus changed his name to "Rock". Second, Jesus patiently empowers you until you become the "rock" He knows you can be! Jesus believed in Peter when Peter doubted himself. Even when Peter betrayed Jesus, Jesus never doubted Peter. And sure enough, Peter become not only a rock but he became a foundation upon which the Church was built! Once he got his eye on the prize, everything changed!

It may seem like a small or even insignificant that the Great Apostle opens his second letter with the moniker "Simon Peter". But since the Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit, EVERYTHING is significant and the significance of using both names was to glorify God by recognizing His transformational power!

Like Peter, you may be a believer in transition. You may be changing from shifting sand to a rock. I want to encourage you to keep your eye on the prize. I want to remind you that God believes in your potential even more than you do and He promised you an new name:

"I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.  The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches."  Revelation 3:11-13

Hang tough, Rocky! Keep your eye on the Prize!