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Thursday, April 30, 2015

God Is Watching How I Use My Shape

In review of Psalm 33:14-15 it says, “From where he sits he overlooks all us earth-dwellers. He has shaped each person in turn; now he watches everything we do.”

Bottom Line:
From his vantage point he observes our lives, he has shaped each of us for a purpose. Now he watches what we do with it.

What this means to me:
God gazes down upon me from his heavenly home. He has uniquely constructed me. He is closely watching what I do with what he provided me with.

God has wired me in a unique way and given me certain talents, and he’s watching to see how I use them. A key thing to consider is if I’m going to use my spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experience for myself, or will I use them for God and his purposes? Will I live for myself, or will I be making a contribution around me using my shape?

Psalm 33:14-15 says, “From where he sits he overlooks all us earth-dwellers. He has shaped each person in turn; now he watches everything we do” (MSG).

Its sobering to think that God is watching every single moment of my life. There is no moment of my life when God is not paying attention. God never says, “I’m bored with you. That’s not important. Or I’m going to change the channel.” God actually says, “Before you were born, I had you in my mind. I have never missed one breath of your life.”

One day, when my life on Earth ends and I go into eternity, I’m going to stand before God, and I’m going to give an account of how well I used what he gave me; the opportunities, the networks, the relationships, the mind, the talent, my shape. He’ll ask how did I use what he gave me?

This is very serious! Isaiah 44:21 says, “Take it seriously, Israel, that you’re my servant. I made you, shaped you: You’re my servant.

What I’m learning is that this life is preparation for eternity. It is a test! My shape and how I use it is important because, how faithful I am now with what God has given me, will determine how much more he’ll give me in eternity.

The Bible points out that my role and rewards in Heaven will be based on how well I did with what I was given in this life. If I am faithful and make the most of what God gave me, he’s going to give me more. But if I don’t use what God has given me, it will be a tragic loss and hard to explain.

Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much .…  If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” (Luke 16:10-12 NIV)

Today I will consider if I’m being a good steward of my shape. Are there areas I need to better utilize my shape?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I’m Shaped for a Life Mission

In review of Isaiah 43:21 it says, “I have formed these people for myself. They will praise me.”

Bottom Line:
God has formed us for himself so that we would sing his praises.

What this means to me:
I have been formed by God for his own purpose. I am to honor him by doing what he made me to do and to sing / displays his praises to those around me.

What I’m learning is that I am commissioned by God for a life mission and not just a task!

In Isaiah 49:5 it says, “And now the LORD speaks — the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me” (NLT)

My shape; which equates to my spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences all things God equips me for my life's mission and my life's message.

So what really is my life's mission? It’s my life’s work. It’s what God created me to do on this earth. The body of my life work is my life mission.

So what is really my life's message? It’s what God wants to say to the world through me. It’s unique. It’s my message from my life to the world.

Life’s message can not be given by someone else, because they are not me. Only I can determine my lifes message.  More importantly If I don’t give my life message to the world, it will never be heard.

When an artist accepts a commission, he makes a commitment to complete a certain task. Likewise, I have been commissioned by God to fulfill my mission and my message in the world. God has shaped me and given me the exact tools and traits that I need to complete my task, and when I use them to complete my mission, it will please Him.

In today’s passage from Isaiah 43:21, it says, “I have formed these people for myself. They will praise me” (GW).

How can I do that? How can I broadcast God’s praises with my life? By being who God made me to be.

When I use the gifts and abilities and personality and passion and experiences that God gave me that make me, me, that brings glory to God.

God has formed me with unique skills and abilities to do only what he can do through me.  In thinking through how God has shaped me thus far, I know I like leading small groups, teaching, passing on learning experiences, mentoring others and using my musical talent to help others worship. He has given me the ability to be a strong and trusted leader in the workplace. One who understands technology and can lead technology related efforts. Even more now, I’m learning a lot more about what it takes to lead individuals. These are all things that make me uniquely me.

Interestingly enough I’m sure there are things about my unique make up that I still don’t know. I likely have hidden talents that have not surfaced because I have not stretched myself.

So today I will consider how I’m using my shape in the workplace to do what God created me to do and say about him to the world around me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Getting Out and Trying Something New

In review of Ecclesiastes 5:7 it says, “Dreaming instead of doing is foolishness, and there is ruin in a flood of empty words.”

Bottom Line:
Just dreaming about it but never doing anything is useless, empty words lead to ruin.

What this means to me:
It will never do me any good to just dream or talk about doing something, I need to set out and do it in respect and obedience to God.

In this world there are a lot of people who talk about their dream jobs, they have good intentions but never do it. What I’m learning is that there comes a time when you need to stop aiming and actually pull the trigger. I can’t wait for my ship to come in. It’s not, I’ll need to go and swim out to it.

This means instead of using excuses, I need to get out and try something.

I have to admit, that it would be much easier to take a little questionnaire where I can check off the boxes that will tell me exactly what God wants me to do. Thinking that it will reveal my dream job and life mission.

However, that questionnaire doesn’t exist. There may be some that seem similar, but it won’t work completely. This is because I have talents I don’t even know I have. The reason I don’t know is because I’ve never tried to use them.

Ecclesiastes 5:7 says, “Dreaming instead of doing is foolishness, and there is ruin in a flood of empty words” (TLB).

In summary dreaming without working is foolishness. Often I need to experiment and test until I figure out what God shaped me to do; my dream job. Then, get after it.

Today I need to what things I’ve been dreaming or thinking about but never doing anything about. I also need to consider how I’m using my current skills and talents to reach my potential.

Monday, April 27, 2015

God Uses Mistakes and Failures For My Good

In review of Galatians 3:4 it says, “Did all your experience mean nothing at all? Surely it meant something!”

Bottom Line:
Experiences matter, it is not just happenstance. They have their purpose.

What this means to me:
I have experienced so much, and it was not in vain. It helped to shape my life and my character.

I can learn a lot from my experiences; both good and bad. In order to apply them to my work, I have to go back over time and review, “Where was I successful and where was I not? Where was I fulfilled and where was I not? What got me excited about what I was doing?”

All of the lessons for my life are represented in my experiences; I just need to spend time examining them. However If I do, I’ll see that in every failure are the seeds of success, as long as I can learn from them.

Galatians 3:4 says, “Did all your experience mean nothing at all? Surely it meant something!” (GNT)

Rick Warren explained the story about a older gentleman he met who told me how getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to him. He was 40 years old and had worked his entire life in a saw mill when his supervisor came in one day and told him he was fired; no severance, no retirement, nothing. He had no other skills, no other job training. When he went home and told his wife what happened, she said, “What are you going to do now?” He responded, “I guess I’m going to do what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m going to mortgage our home and go into the building business.”

His first venture was the construction of two small motels, but within five years, he was a multimillionaire. The man was named Wallace Johnson, the co-founder of the Holiday Inn hotel chain. At one point, it was one of the world’s largest hotel chains.

Wallace told Rick that if he could locate the man who fired him, he would thank him for what he had done. At the time, Wallace didn’t understand why he was fired. Only later could he see that it was God’s unerring and wondrous plan to get him fired in order to get him into the career he was shaped to do.

I know from my own past that God has taken me through an unexpected failure that I didn’t understand at the time, but now I see that it shaped me into who I am today. What I’m learning is that I need to trust that God will use my circumstances, good or bad, to show me what he shaped me to do and how he can use my life in service to him.

The failures in my past have helped lead to a directional change in my life. Had they not happened, I may be the same person I am today.  Also, I find that God never wastes any experience.  He uses them to train and shape my life and choices. I think one current failure that comes to mind right now is how I’m experiencing a high turnover of staff.  Some of this is just a thing of the times, the economy is getting better and their higher skill sets are being pursued by others. Some of this could be what I’m doing or able to do as a manager to recognize and reward them. In this case I can see what kind of proactive things I can do to help retain staff.  

In summary, God uses failures in my life to help teach me and keep me humble. Without failures I could probably become big-headed. Failures help remind me to keep my eyes on him for daily guidance and direction.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Learning How to Love Co-workers

In review of 1 Corinthians 16:14 it says, “Do everything with love.”

Bottom Line:
Do everything with love

What this means to me:
Whatever it is I do, I need to do it with love and kindness

What I’m learning is that one of the most important keys to receiving God’s favor on my work is: That I must care about the people I work with. Even when they are irritable, even when they don’t like me, even when they make fun of me, even when they put me down for being a Christian, I must still be a friend to them.

This is so important for overall success. It is an important lesson in life, and likely the number one reason God put me here on this earth. Learning how to love. God is love, and he wants me to be like him.

It’s easy to love the people I like, the people I find it easy to get along with. So if God’s going to really teach me real love, I need to realize that he’s going to put me around unlovely people.

The Bible says, “Do everything with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14 NLT, second edition). “Do everything” that means in the office, in the car, on a sales trip; whatever and whenever. The good news is this really is not hard. It’s easy to underestimate the power of a kind word, a friendly smile, a pat on the back, a genuine compliment, a word of encouragement, and a listening ear.

So many people’s lives can be changed when somebody takes time to pay attention to them. There is not a person on this planet who isn’t starving for attention. But a caring person is hard to find. The Apostle Paul had said, “I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare” (Philippians 2:20).

People need affirmation, attention, and affection. I need to learn to care about the people I work with and show them God’s love.

Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love” (Ephesians 4:2 TLB).

This morning It really strikes a chord with me as I think how I might be able to change and influence relationships, especially if everything I did was done with love. Simple acts of just paying attention to them, smiling, speaking kind words or just listening. Part of the heart attitudes I had adopted for my life while part of a congregation in Southern California is based on Philippians 2:3-4, which is simply stated as “put the goals and interests of others above my own.” I need to remember to continue practice this at my new work location. Today I will consider who could use my affirmation at work in the coming days.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Earthly Boss Is Not Really My Boss

In review of Colossians 3:23-24 it says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”

Bottom Line:
Work hard and cheerfully in all you do, as if you were working directly for the Lord rather than people, knowing that he will reward you as he is the one you are really working for.

What this means to me:
I am to work hard and cheerfully in everything I do. I do so as if I were working directly for the Lord rather than men. I should know that he will reward me for doing so, as in everything I do I am working for him.

Given this, my boss is not really my boss. My ultimate boss is Jesus.

The Bible says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24 NLT, second edition).

There are two important parts of this verse:

First, I can have a better attitude about work once I understand that, no matter where I work or who I work for, my real boss is Jesus.

Keeping this in mind will make it easier to be enthusiastic about my job, especially when I stop thinking, “I’m doing this for my boss” or “I’m doing this for a paycheck” and instead start thinking, “I’m doing this for the Lord.” By understanding this truth, I’ll be able to do anything — from running a company to washing dishes — turning it into an act of worship.

Secondly, when I can turn my work into worship, I will start storing up credits in Heaven. I’ll be making eternal deposits.

So It doesn’t matter if I’m vacuuming the rug, repairing a car, serving in the military, or managing an office, any job I do can become an act of worship if I do it enthusiastically for God: “So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV).

Knowing that Jesus is my ultimate boss will help me keep the right perspective and enable me to persevere especially when it gets difficult in dealing with personalities and personal agendas. Having this perspective and working this way can become an act of worship, because anything I do with enthusiasm in service and for the right motives that results in giving myself up and sacrificing is an act of worship to God. With this perspective even the mundane tasks I come across are handled not just as an inconvenience but rather as a service.

Today I will focus on doing all my work with Christ as my boss.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Becoming a Missionary in My Workplace

In review of Matthew 6:20a it says, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven."

Bottom Line:
Store your real treasures in heaven where they won’t lose value and are safe from being stolen.

What this means to me:
I should not store any real treasures here on earth, instead I should store up the ones that count, ones in heaven. These will never lose their value by deterioration and will be safe from robbers.

What I’m learning is that I can use my work to bring glory to God and to further God’s Kingdom.  One way is to use my business contacts to spread the Gospel.  I can be a Kingdom builder and not just a wealth builder.

I can start by meeting with others who are Christians and then together we can start praying for others close at hand, being available to them as needed. I can also establish good Christian principles in the way I conduct business on a day to day basis. In retrospect, as an IT leader I can probably have more influence on other IT people than a pastor or missionary.

When I use my work for the one thing that’s going to outlast everything else — the Kingdom of God — I’ll be a Kingdom builder and not just a wealth builder.

There is nothing wrong with using my work to build wealth. But Jesus said in Matthew 6:20, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (NIV). The only way I can invest in Heaven is to invest in people who are going there. When my work points people to God, I’ll be storing up treasure in Heaven to use for eternity. I’ll be advancing God’s Kingdom!

Today I will consider those in my new workplace and ask God to help me see opportunities to minister to your coworkers and tell them about Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 20, 2015

God Uses My Work to Develop My Character

In review of Luke 16:10-12 it says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much .…  If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” (Luke 16:10-12 NIV)

Bottom Line:
If you can be trusted and faithful with smaller matters, you will be faithful in the larger ones. If you are dishonest in small things will also be dishonest in the larger ones. If you are not trustworthy with handling worldly wealth, you cannot be trusted with true riches of heaven. If you are not faithful with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own.

What this means to me:
I must be trustworthy with and faithful with the small things in life. They are a true indication of how I will handle the larger ones. So if I become dishonest in the smaller things, I will do the same for larger ones. If I can’t handle worldly wealth, then I won’t be trusted with the truer riches of heaven. I must faithfully handle someone else’s property, so that I can be trusted with bigger things.

In the book of Genesis, God gave Joseph a vision of becoming a great leader, but for 40 years he spent his life as a slave, and much of that time he actually spent working in prison. That turned out to be the testing ground of Joseph’s character, and when the day came and the time was just right, God pulled him out of that setting and placed him where he always intended Joseph to be. The whole time, God was growing Joseph’s character.

What I’m learning is that God is far more concerned about who I am than what I do. He is much more interested in my character than he is in my career. However God will use my work and my workplace to develop my character. My workplace is a life course in character development.

God will use others to test my patience, and he could use a workplace or a situation that I might be unhappy in to develop and grow my character. He plants seeds of love, joy, peace, and patience in my heart, and then he fertilizes those seeds while I work.

There will likely be times when I think, “How come this is going on? Why is this such a tough place? Why are these people picking on me? Why can’t I be happier at my workplace?” In reality, I just asking the same question that Solomon asked in Ecclesiastes 1:3: “You spend your life working, laboring, and what do you have to show for it?” (GNT)

The answer to this is character. This life of mine is merely a preparation for eternity. In the end I won’t be taking my career with me to Heaven, but I will be taking my character. And while I’m here on Earth, God will be developing my character and testing my faithfulness. Will I be faithful to do the right thing, even when I don’t feel like doing the right thing? God is watching so that he can determine what kind of job he is going to give me in eternity.

Jesus said in Luke 16:10-12, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much .…  If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” (NIV)

Today, I will remember to be faithful in the little things of life, as they count greatly in the overall scheme of character development.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Work That Makes Me The Happiest Is for God’s Kingdom

In review of 1 Peter 4:10 it says, “God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.”

Bottom Line:
God has given each of us some special abilities. We are to use them to serve others. In doing so we pass on God’s many blessings.

What this means to me:
God has given me special gifts that I am to use to serve others with. As I use them in service I’m partnering with God and passing on blessings to others.

In the long run, meaning will matter more than any amount of money. When I get to Heaven, I don’t believe that God is going to ask me, “How much money did you make?” Rather, He’s going to ask, “Did you make your life count? Did I express and use the talents that He gave me?”

This verse reminds me that, “God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings” (1 Peter 4:10 TLB).

That means the best work for me is the work that will best express my talent. God has wired each of us to do something different. The reason we all like to do different things is so everything gets done.

Overall God made us so that our lives count. What I’m learning is that I’ll be happiest when I’m using the talents God gave me for something greater than my self.

The greatest cause in the world is the Kingdom of God. It is the Church. The whole reason the world exists is so God could build a family that one day will live with him forever. There is nothing more meaningful and purposeful than giving my life to the Kingdom of God.

When Jesus was 12 years old, he already knew what business he was in. Then, at the end of his life, he told the Father, “I have finished the work that you gave me to do.” Those are the bookends of a life well lived.

So I should consider what my business is? What is the work God has given me to do? And, how’s business? These are the fundamental questions I can ask about my life to make sure I’m on track.

Overall, It’s important for me to not waste my life. I can also just ask God to show me the work he wants me to do, and then use my gifts to make the rest of my life the best of my life.

Monday, April 13, 2015

God Looks at Me Through Eyes of Grace

In review of Galatians 2:21 it says, “Don’t treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.”

Bottom Line:
Don’t treat the grace of God as being meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then Christ would have died for nothing.

What this means to me:
I should never take lightly the grace of God as to not having much meaning. If all I needed to do was just keep the law to be good with God, then Christ would have died for nothing.

John reminds us in John 1:17, “The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (NCV). Why through Jesus? Why not some other way?

What the Word teaches us is that Jesus Christ is the only way to get into Heaven because he paid the price of admission. Thus on the cross, he paid for my sins.

Grace is free, no doubt about that. But it was not cheap for God. It cost Jesus Christ his life.

The law tells me when I do wrong. But Grace says, “I’m forgiven and here’s how to get back on track. Let’s get going in the right direction.”

In the Bible, a popular description for someone who’s accepted God’s grace is the term “in Christ.” Rick Warren explains that this phrase is used more than 120 times in the New Testament. It refers to somebody who has found salvation through the grace of God.

No matter how my life looks or the things that I’ve done or the fact that I’m no where close to being perfect. When I accept God’s free gift of grace and salvation, I am in Christ. Jesus Christ takes my life with all its scars, guilt, and shame.

Also, when I’m in Christ, God looks at me with eyes of grace, he only sees the perfection of Jesus Christ.

So today I am reminded, “Don’t treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die” (Galatians 2:21 NLT).

If I could have made it to Heaven without any help from God, Jesus wouldn’t have come and died on the cross for me. But there was no other way. I’m either going to get into Heaven in Christ or I won’t be going.

Grace is God’s riches at Christ’s expense. It’s a free gift. I just need to accept it in faith!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How To Get God’s Sustaining Grace

In review of 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 it says, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’”

Bottom Line:
God can use our weakness to display his great power.

What this means to me:
I can pray and even beg the Lord to take away my arthritic conditions, however I should know that God provides his grace to me and will display his great power through my weakness. I should not hang back and not give it my full effort, but rather gladly accept my weakness and know that God will often use me not on my own strength but his. In this he will slow his great power.

So what can I do when I can’t fix an unfixable problem? What can I do when I can’t solve an unsolvable riddle? What can I do when I can’t change an unchangeable circumstance?

I am to throw myself on the sustaining grace of God. Given this, I’m learning that there are four things I can do to keep going in spite of temptations, trials, tension, tiredness, and troubles.

First, its ok to go ahead and cry out for God’s help. As long as I pretend to be self-sufficient, I will short-circuit God’s power in my life. Admit that I need God’s help. James 4:6b-8a says, “[God] gives grace to the humble. So give yourselves completely to God …. Come near to God, and God will come near to you” (NCV).

Secondly, fill my mind with God’s Word. Let it comfort, strengthen, fill, and give me the energy I need to keep going. David prayed, “I lie in the dust; revive me by your word” (Psalm 119:25 NLT).

Thirdly, accept support from God’s people. The Bible says that “by helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NCV). God will put a weaknesses in my life so that I can realize how much I need others. He never meant for me to go through life on my own.

Lastly, hold on to God’s promises. There are more than 7,000 of them in the Bible waiting to be claimed, such as “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youth grow tired and weary … but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV). I need to keep my eyes focused on the hope of Heaven, not just on the here and now.

Personally, after a period of remission, my arthritis is starting to resurface. Ultimately I need to be referred to a specialist, however, giving the timing I’ll need to wait to see a specialist a few more weeks, until I relocate from Southern to Northern California. So, I should remember that no matter what I’m going through, God’s grace will sustain me if I allow it.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9a NLT).

I’ll need to remember, that when I’m going through a problem I can’t seem to fix, I shouldn’t give up; instead I should look up!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

God Is Never Far Away

In review of Isaiah 55:6 it says, "Seek the lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near."

Bottom Line:
Turn to the Lord! He can still be found. Call on him, he is near.

What this means to me:
I can always count on and rely on the Lord, he is never far away. I should learn to call on him more often and letting him know what I need or what I’m concerned about.

What I’m learning is that God never moves away from me. Isaiah reminds me of this in this verse. There are times when God seems far away, however when this seems to be happening it more likely related to me moving away from God than Him moving away from me.  This can happen because I can put in a barrier between myself and God through un-confessed sin and not wanting to deal with something he is bringing up in my life to deal with.

It is far better for me to not drift away from God but rather to continually make it a priority to meet with Him frequently. If I wait too long, it It may be harder to turn back, or worse yet, God may come to judge the world before I decide to turn to him.

In summary, God wants to give me so much, I only need to remember to turn to him. He is always present and ready to hear from me.

What To Do With Worry

In review of Matthew 6:31-34 this morning, it says “ So don’t worry about these things , saying, ‘ What will we eat ? What will we drink ? ...