Since this is Labor Day Weekend, I wanted to write something having to do with jobs and labor. Then I thought about it, since 2008, it seems there are fewer jobs, and fewer people working.
A young college graduate was interviewing for his first job. When the HR Director asked him what he was looking for, the young man explained that he wished to have a starting salary $120K, be placed in a corner office with his own secretary. The HR director responded by offering to add a matching dollar for dollar to his 501K as well an automobile of his choice, preferably an Lexus. Looking at the young man he asked, “How does all that sound?” The young man replied, “Are you kidding me?” The HR director said, “Of course I am, but you started it”.
When it comes to having a career, retired folks are happy to have had one; GenXers are glad to have one; and Millennials have the degree, but no job possibilities. The latter has actually become an election talking point because today’s students are racking up school debt, but finding no job to begin paying it back. Perhaps you are somewhere in between?
Have you ever considered the link between work and your spiritual walk with Jesus? Did you know your job is a big deal to God? Mother Teresa was once asked about her ministry to the poor. She said, “It’s God’s work. I want to show His greatness by using by nothingness.” What if we could say the same thing? What if we let God use our nothingness, anyway He wants, to create His greatness?
Oh, and check out Ecclesiastes 5:18-19. It’s a really great promise!
I looked down at my on board fuel calculator this week. It said I could drive seven more miles before the engine would quit. I immediately chose the next gas station—ignoring the price—and filled up. I paid $2.59 a gallon. Not the most expensive, and certainly not the cheapest around, but I remember back when fuel was less than a dollar per gallon. In fact, some of my readers are remembering 25¢ per gallon! How far will that $2.59 in fuel take you? Just for fun, here’s some perspective:
Perspective: It seems to change with time and context. As the dimensions of life change, so also does our visual reality. Think about it this way, it takes more than 1,000 gallons of fuel per second for 8.5 minutes, to get the space shuttle into space, but once there, it change travel tens of thousands of miles with very little.
Which leads me to a heavenly perspective. God’s perspective is to be able to see the end from the beginning. He see it all!
Sometimes I find myself wishing I could see the way God sees it. But just like our perspective changes when we move around, side to side, up or down, so to our spiritual perspective changes as we study Scripture and get to know Jesus. So the reality is: maybe I can one day see things differently…by faith in Jesus.
Last year on this day, I was struggling. I was a pastor in between churches. It was a dark and uncertain time for not just me, but my wife and kids. We all felt alone and alienated. I started claiming these two promises that I posted today, one year ago on my Facebook page--and I am still, claiming them--every day.
Reflecting back I realize just how much support there really was. My conference admin was excellent to me with regular calls from my president, VP, and ministerial director to visit, always praying with/for me/us. How many friends called or stopped by. And how many of my pastor friends were praying for us, calling us, or texting us. Looking back at a dark time in life, I realize just how close God was through such friends and colleagues.
Today, one year later, I'm pastoring in a church that is excited about what the future holds. They are excited to work for Jesus. They love my family. And my family feels accepted. We can see how God has led. It so miraculous--it's exciting to think that God cared THAT much.
I totally resonate with this statement: "Satan's efforts to hinder the work and to destroy the workmen have not ceased; but God has had a care for His servants and for His work. In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history" (Life Sketches, 196)
I write this Sabbath morning as an encouragement for any of my friends or colleagues who are struggling. Jesus is there. It may not feel like it. And the feelings you may have may not be pleasant, leaving you feeling deserted and distant. But keep praying. Keep holding on. You're not alone.
If you'd like, I'll pray with you too.
Can you imagine being by yourself, on foot, out of supplies, and 300 miles from help on Antartica? It is consider by many one of the top 10 endurance survival stories of all time. This is exactly what happened to Douglas Mawson, a 30 year old explorer from Australia in 1912-1913.
Mawson's colleague, Belgrave Ninnis had broken through an ice bridge, plunging into a deep cavern below with his sled, dogs and supplies the team needed. Mawson and Xavier Mertz, immediately turned for base, 300 miles into the Antartic tundra. By January 8, Mertz, exhausted, hypothermic, and starving, died in his sleep, leaving Mawson still more than 100 miles from base. At one point, Mawson himself fell through a thin ice bridge. However, he had tied himself to his sled which anchored himself from falling more than 14 feet. Hanging there, he contemplated giving up. His feet couldn't reach the ice walls. He was dangling in space. To climb hand over hand up the rope would be gruelling for any person in tip top shape, yet somehow Mawson dragged his disintegrating body up the rope. As he tried to pull himself onto the ice shelf, it broke, and he found himself again at the bottom of the rope, 14 feet from the top. Again he considered giving up, but determined that was too easy. One more time, hand over painful hand, he pulled his frail, exhausted, and starved body up the rope, this time managing to roll onto the ice above.
Finally, on February 8, almost two months since he had turned back, he caught sight of his base camp at Commonwealth Bay. His greatest fear though was realized as he saw the Aurora, the ship he had hoped to catch home, had left a mere five hours before!
Our text for today reminds us it's easy to give up. But if we can keep on keeping on, there is a reward for the successful. Endurance is focusing on a goal greater than the distractions we find along the way. Endurance however, isn't just about physical strength, it's also about spiritual strength. Paul told Timothy to endure his share of hardships and suffering (2 Timothy 2:3), and to endure affliction (2 Timothy 4:5). Peter admonishes us to enduring wrongful suffering (1 Peter 2:19). James tells us to endure temptations (James 1:12). Finally, Paul reminds us to endure all things (2 Timothy 2:10).
Physical endurance is based on hope. Mawson was able to push on because of hope. Spiritual endurance is also based on hope. Paul Titus to keep "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
Mawson survived his ordeal. A team of six men left at Commonwealth Bay helped him recover his strength and health over the next 10 months while they waited for the Aurora to return. In the meantime he sent a message to his fiance back in Australia that read: "Deeply regret delay, only just managed to reach hut." When Mawson returned to Australia, he recieved a hero's welcome and was knighted by King George V. When Jesus returns for us, He will get the hero's welcome, and we who endure, will get a crown and robe of life.
Don't give up. Don't ever give up faith or that blessed hope!
Read more about Douglas Mawson's ordeal and adventure from National Geographic HERE.
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28, NKJV).
As a kid, I was taught to "walk softly in the sanctuary." Granted, I grew up in a preacher's home. Nonetheless, my brother and I had to sit still and be quiet in church--whether we listened or not. And when I was young, I didn't listen to the preacher who was also my dad. I read my "Guide" magazine I had gotten in Sabbath School, or drew on paper, or something. But it was quiet. I remember that I wasn't allowed to run in the church, or play secular music on the piano in sanctuary, or go on the platform. It was to be considered a holy place. And last but not least, the pastor was addressed as, well, "Pastor."
How much different are things today. How often do I hear cell phones ring in church? As if something in the world is more important that our time with God. Yet those same people won't be bothered during family time. Children now play video games on mobile devices in the church--during church. They aren't taught to fold their hands or close their eyes in prayer. They don't make eye contact when you say "Hello." And forget a "Please" or a "Thank you." And sadly, there are more OMG's being said in and around the church than PTL's!
Am I being overly cynical or stereo-typical in my writing? Perhaps. But I can't help but wonder, is there anything sacred anymore? Today's text reminds us that since we are going to heaven, we should offer to God acceptable worship. And what is acceptable worship? The text tells us it is worship that is filled with reverence and awe. And what is reverence? It means to show a feeling or attitude of deep respect, admiration, and fear that is produced by something that is grand, sublime, or extremely powerful. In other words, turn off your cell phone and devices, and "Turn your eyes on Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth, will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace."
Note: This post is part of a continuing series of daily, one-minute devotions I post on the home page of my site. This particular post received a strong response, and so I have posted it in the blog in the hopes others might see and be blessed or encouraged as well.
Pastor Ben is a pastor, marriage counselor, and international lecturer on Bible prophecy for more than 18 years. His lectures and preaching appointments have taken him to Europe, Australia, and Central America. He currently serves as the Lead Pastor for the South Tacoma Adventist Fellowship in Tacoma, WA.