Bible, Reward, Scripture, Service, Works

BECOMING WEARY

HABAKKUK 2:13

“‘Is it not indeed from the LORD of armies that peoples labor merely for fire, and nations become weary for nothing?’”

To what purpose is our labor? I don’t know about you, but I have worked all my life. I began at an early age mowing lawns with my brother in our hometown. Even before that, I was tasked with household chores (washing windows, vacuuming, washing dishes, etc). I hope I am able to labor until God calls me home.

God is speaking here of the weariness of our labors if they are not directed in laboring to please Him. He says they labor just making fire. They get weary doing nothing. The pagans knew nothing of working to please God. They were only concerned with themselves. It is all weariness!

APPLICATION

As I am writing this blog, I am attending Pastors’ Conference in Kenya. I warned them as I was teaching to not get too busy “for God.” We can become so busy “doing” that we don’t focus on “being.” Sure, we need to labor. We need to do God’s work, but we can’t become so focused on working that we forget why we are working.

It is true that the harvest if plentiful, but the laborers are few. We need more people to serve the Lord to reach this world for Christ. We have to labor together. Isaiah 26:12 tells us, “All that we have accomplished, You have done through us.” Don’t forget that. He is the One who gives us our marching orders.

As I have gotten older, I have had to learn to work smarter, not harder. I just don’t have the physical stamina I used to have. That does not mean I can just sit on the porch in my rocker and watch others do all the work. I desire to be used by the Lord until I can’t be anymore. How about you?

We’ll work til Jesus comes, we’ll work til Jesus comes

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Bible, Reward, Scripture, Service, Works

BECOMING WEARY

HABAKKUK 2:13

“‘Is it not indeed from the LORD of armies that peoples labor merely for fire, and nations become weary for nothing?’”

To what purpose is our labor? I don’t know about you, but I have worked all my life. I began at an early age mowing lawns with my brother in our hometown. Even before that, I was tasked with household chores (washing windows, vacuuming, washing dishes, etc). I hope I am able to labor until God calls me home.

God is speaking here of the weariness of our labors if they are not directed in laboring to please Him. He says they labor just making fire. They get weary doing nothing. The pagans knew nothing of working to please God. They were only concerned with themselves. It is all weariness!

APPLICATION

As I am writing this blog, I am attending Pastors’ Conference in Kenya. I warned them as I was teaching to not get too busy “for God.” We can become so busy “doing” that we don’t focus on “being.” Sure, we need to labor. We need to do God’s work, but we can’t become so focused on working that we forget why we are working.

It is true that the harvest if plentiful, but the laborers are few. We need more people to serve the Lord to reach this world for Christ. We have to labor together. Isaiah 26:12 tells us, “All that we have accomplished, You have done through us.” Don’t forget that. He is the One who gives us our marching orders.

As I have gotten older, I have had to learn to work smarter, not harder. I just don’t have the physical stamina I used to have. That does not mean I can just sit on the porch in my rocker and watch others do all the work. I desire to be used by the Lord until I can’t be anymore. How about you?

We’ll work til Jesus comes, we’ll work til Jesus comes

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Bible, Direction, Evangelism, Fishing, Obedience, Scripture, Service, Witnessing

WHAT ARE YOU FISHING FOR?

HABAKKUK 1:15

The Chaldeans bring all of them up with a hook, drag them away with their net, and gather them together in their fishing net. Therefore, they rejoice and are joyful.”

I love to fish, especially for large-mouth bass. Anyone who has read my blogs in the past is aware of this. I don’t get to fish as much as I used to, but I love it. Fishing is fun and exciting (especially if you are catching fish). It relieves stress for me. I could be happy whether I am catching a lot of fish or not. But I am always looking for a bite with every cast.

The Chaldeans were not literally using fishhooks and nets to gather the people of Israel. Habakkuk is using that imagery because it is one the people could relate to. They had all seen fishermen at work. They saw how they rejoiced when they had a big catch. The Chaldeans, Habakkuk says, will react the same. They will rejoice at their victory over Israel.

APPLICATION

What are you fishing for? I don’t mean you are using a pole or rod and reel. I am asking if you are fishing for souls. Jesus told His would-be disciples what He would do for them. He tells these fishermen He will change their lives if they will follow Him. Look at this story from Matthew 4.

“18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”

Jesus is calling us just like He called Peter, Andrew, James and John. We may not be mending nets, but we are busy with other things. He tells us to lay down those busy things and follow Him in doing the better things. Will you cast your net today into the waters Jesus is directing you? There are souls to be saved.

Lord, I know You are calling me to fish for men, not fish. Show me where to cast my net today.

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Bible, Boasting, Humility, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Strength, Works, Worship

THERE IS A GOD AND YOU’RE NOT HIM

HABAKKUK 1:11

“Then they fly along like the wind and pass on. But they will be held guilty, they whose strength is their god.”

Some people have a god complex, meaning they think they are gods of some sort. They think everyone should bow to them and do whatever they ask. They think they can do no wrong. They see themselves as superior, and we should be grateful they even acknowledge our existence.

The Chaldeans made a fatal mistake. They thought their success against Israel was due to their own strength, their own power. They did not realize God was simply using them as His instrument of judgment against Israel to bring them back to Himself. If God calls you guilty, you are guilty. They were and would soon find out.

APPLICATION

Do you suffer from a god complex? I sure hope not. As believers, it is important to know your position in Christ. Yes, we are beloved. Yes, we are the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). But God is on the throne. Jesus is at His right side. They rule heaven and always will. We will not arrive in heaven one day and tell Jesus to move over.

I love what Colossians 2:10 says. “In Him you have been made complete.” Does that mean we are perfect. Not by a long shot. The word “complete” there means to be filled up, to be satisfied. Because of Christ’s sacrifice we have been filled up. Filled up with what? With Him through the Holy Spirit. We lack nothing spiritually anymore.

But we cannot sit idly by and simply dwell in that. We have work to do. I read a quote this week by A.W. Tozer. It said Christ didn’t call us to work. He called us to worship. It is through worship that we are led to work. That is a rough paraphrase, but you get the idea. We are not in charge. God is. Live like it.

Father, I want to acknowledge right now that You are the one and only true God. There is none like. There is none beside you.

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Accountability, Bible, Holy Spirit, Missionaries, Scripture, Service, Truth, Witnessing

SLEEPING ON THE JOB

NAHUM 3:18

“Your shepherds are sleeping, O king of Assyria; your officers are lying down. Your people are scattered on the mountains.”

I have had a couple of jobs that required me to work the night shift (10 or 11 pm until 6 or 7 am). Those shifts can be tough if you are not used to them. I was never a regular on those shifts, so it was hard to stay awake unless I stayed busy. If I sat still, I was a goner – snooze city.

Nineveh’s shepherds and officers were slumbering, according to Nahum. They were sleeping on the job. They were nowhere to be found when it came to fighting or resisting the enemy. So, the people were scattered on the mountains. They fled! There was no one to protect them.

APPLICATION

Don’t be accused of sleeping on the job when it comes to Jesus. Time is short, and we need to be spreading the word. But so many Christians are asleep when it comes to being bold with their witness. They leave all that up to the “paid” Christians. You know, the preachers or evangelists or missionaries.

Surely, God doesn’t expect every believer to be proclaiming the message of truth. Well, I don’t see Jesus singling out any one person when He said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” He didn’t say, “Peter, you go!” He didn’t name anyone. It applies to us all.

I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to witnessing. It has to be a conscious effort on my part. I pray each day for the Holy Spirit to open a door of opportunity with someone I cross paths with. I want to be ready at all times. Will you join me? Wake up.

Lead me, Lord, to a place each day where I can share Jesus with someone.

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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Commands, Deceit, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Friends, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Service

TURNCOATS

HOSEA 7:15

Although I trained and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against Me.”

Betrayal hurts, doesn’t it? If you live long enough, sooner or later, someone will betray you. It could be a friend you thought you could depend on. It might be a spouse who betrays your marital vows. However it happens, it hurts. When you put time and energy into a relationship only to have it squashed by a turncoat, it takes a while to get over that.

Ephraim had turned against God. Hosea says here in verse 15 that God had trained and strengthened them. Remember – God had chosen these people. He had made them a great nation. He had protected them from their enemies. He had enriched their boundaries. And yet, they turned. Not only that, Hosea says they “devise evil” against God. Wow!

APPLICATION

I want to ask you a hard question. Have you ever devised evil against anyone? Have you turned against them and tried to make them hurt? Not me, Carl. I am more spiritual than that. Right! Listen, we may not literally plot to do evil, but we have all had bad feelings toward someone and maybe even rejoiced when they fell on hard times.

As believers, our goal should be to lead others to Jesus at all times. That doesn’t give us the right to have any evil thoughts. When we have feelings, other than godly ones, towards someone, that flies in the face of God. How do you think He feels about that person? He desires them to come to Him. He may be wanting to use you to draw them, and you are refusing. You are fighting against Him. That, in a sense, is devising evil against God.

I want to be on the Lord’s side. Don’t you? I want to serve Him by serving others. I want Him to use me to bring His lost sheep home. May I never be found in conflict with God’s plan for the lost. Serving Him is a joy and pleasure. Won’t you join me?

I desire to remain loyal to You, Lord. I want to be on Your front lines serving Your kingdom.

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Bible, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Gospel, Modeling, Pastors, Prayer, Relationships, Scripture, Service

NO CHARGE

3 JOHN 7

“For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.”

One of my joys in life has been going to teach national Pastors and church leaders in Uganda and Kenya. I had been making that trip every year since 2013 until health reasons and then covid stopped those trips in the Fall of 2019. I can’t wait to go back. But one thing I have never done is ask those to whom I am going to teach to support me financially. I go without cost to them.

That is what John is talking about in verse 7. Those brethren Gaius is assisting were going to share the Gospel with the Gentiles. They did not want to receive anything from the Gentiles so that they would not be seen as trying to profit off of them. Now, a teacher of the Word is worthy of “double honor” according to 1 Timothy 5:17, but they never want to be seen as financially motivated to teach.

APPLICATION

So how do we apply this verse to us today? Well, in one sense John is telling us to be aware of whom we can help go teach the lost. We can help send them on their way as they raise support. We can continue to support them once they get there. The one thing that can stop a missionary’s work quickly is the lack of funds. I wish I had the financial means to support all the missionaries I know.

We can also pray for those who will be hearing the Gospel from these missionaries. We need to pray for fertile soil. We need to pray for receptive hearts. Missionaries need to see fruit from their labors. That encourages them in their journey. We may not be able to go help them in their work there, but we can sure pray for those to whom they are ministering. If possible, get names from the missionary of people they are witnessing to. That would be a great way for our children to learn how to pray for missionaries and their work.

Make a list of missionaries you know and get them to send you a list of names of people you can pray for. Keep that list updated and celebrate with your family when someone you have been praying for comes to Christ. And I believe that will happen. God honors our prayers, and nothing thrills His heart more than to see one of His children return to Him. He wants to answer those prayers.

Father, I lift up all the missionaries who are faithfully serving today. Encourage them with a harvest of souls.  

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Honor, Mentoring, Missionaries, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Service, Surrender, Witnessing

SEND THEM ON

3 JOHN 6

“and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.”

A few years ago, my daughter had the privilege to spend several months in Kenya serving as a Social Worker at Tenwek Hospital. It was an incredible opportunity for her. She was able to work alongside some Kenyan Social Workers and learn from them, as well as share with them her experience in Social Work that she had learned in college.

Our church commissioned her and sent her out in the same way John is referring to here in today’s verse. John had just praised Gaius for the way he had treated the brethren who had visited him. Now he tells him to send them out in a way that honors God. What does that mean? I believe John is saying send them as if you are actually dealing with God Himself. They deserved that kind of honor.

APPLICATION

A lot of churches have lost respect for those who dedicate their lives in service to the Lord. We shrug our shoulder when we hear about someone leaving for an overseas commitment. I remember as a child being in awe of those missionaries. Our children need to be taught what that kind of commitment actually means. We shouldn’t put those individuals on a pedestal, but we should show them the honor they deserve.

How can you teach your child that? How about helping your child send letters to those missionaries? I guarantee you that will bless their hearts. How about doing a fundraiser for a missionary project one of those missionaries has shared about? Sometimes those projects aren’t very costly and can be accomplished with a little help from home. And most importantly, pray for those missionaries in your home.

Is there someone you know who is raising support now to go serve in another country? What can you do to help with that? You may not be able to give financially, but there are plenty of other ways to help in the effort. May I encourage you to be a Gaius today? Send them out in a manner worthy of God.

Lord, I pray for all those who have surrendered to serve You away from home. Bless them today and meet every need they have.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Giving, Inspirational, Kindness, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Testimony, Witnessing

YOU’VE DONE GOOD

3 JOHN 5

“Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers;”

I have been an employee and an employer a long time. As an employee I love being told I am doing a good job. It’s nice to know others appreciate the work you do. As an employer and supervisor, I also know the importance of telling your employees they are appreciated. You can just see their faces beam when you tell them “Well done.”

John is telling Gaius the same thing. He is so proud of how Gaius is serving the brethren and not just those he knows well. He is even faithful serving strangers. The word “accomplish” here actually means “to work for.” Gaius was actively serving the brethren. He wasn’t just sending others. He was doing it himself.

APPLICATION

Have you helped your children serve others? There are all kinds of ways to show them how to directly serve someone. It’s one thing to put a few dollars in the offering plate on Sundays or to give toward a mission cause. But to put their hands into directly serving someone can cause a lifetime change.

How about taking them down to serve at the homeless shelter serving a meal? You can get them to go down the street and rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. The point is getting their hands dirty, experiencing a hands-on service project. And make sure they see the response of those they are helping. And when you get home, talk about how they felt doing this. Tell them how proud you are of them. Then read them this verse.

When is the last time you got your hands dirty? Don’t you want others to say “well done” to you? We all want that, but don’t do it for that. Do it to please the Lord. Let Him be the one to tell you “well done.” And as you are serving others, pray for the opportunity to share Jesus with them. You may be serving another believer who just needs encouraging. You may be serving someone who needs Jesus as their Savior. Just be obedient, like Gaius.

Help me Lord serve others You place in my path. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty for You.

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Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Eternity, Faith, God's Will, Heaven, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Service, Testimony

ETERNITY

1 JOHN 5:11

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”

Just how long is eternity? A longggggg time. In fact, it’s forever. Now, our finite minds cannot comprehend that. We live in twenty-four hour days. We measure things by minutes and hours. How many times have you stood by the microwave tapping your foot waiting for the food to get hot? We are so impatient.

But God’s gift to us is eternal life. Do you think you can handle that? Think about it. When we accept Christ as our Savior, God’s gift to us is spending eternity with Him. What will we do for eternity? Will we just float around on a cloud playing a harp? Hardly! Whatever we are tasked with in heaven, it will be a joy to serve our Father forever.

APPLICATION

Ask your kids how long eternity is (you may have to use the word “forever” instead). They really don’t have a clue but let them guess. Their answers can be quite humorous. Let them try to figure it out. When they give up, take them to today’s verse.

Explain to them that eternity will never end. No matter how long we are there, it will just go on and on and on. Tell them to imagine their most favorite trip they’ve ever taken. It will be like that, but it won’t end. Why? Because we are finally home – our real home. There’s no packing up and returning somewhere. We are where we should be from now on. That’s hard for little brains to comprehend. Heck, it’s hard for big brains, too. But we are promised it by God, so it’s certain.

Aren’t you excited about eternity? There’s a saying that we shouldn’t be so heavenly minded that we are not any earthly good. We long for heaven, but we are here until He calls us home. We have to be about His business until then. What has He called you to do until then? Who has He laid on your heart to share the good news with? Look forward to your gift from Him of eternal life, but don’t ignore where you are now. Let Him use you.

I am so thankful for the promise of eternal life. My future is secure because of Jesus. Help me share that today.

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