3 Reasons God Wants His Children to Work

God created humans to work

God set an example of diligence and work in the act of creation, Genesis 2:1-3. The text says “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done.” In creating the world He mad humans to work.

Genesis 2:5 notes that there was no man to work the ground. In verse 15 man was created and given work in the Garden of Eden. When the first couple sinned and were sent out of the Garden they still had to work but it would be more challenging.

The Sabbath

Under the Old Law, the Jewish nation was commanded to observe the seventh, or sabbath, day. The sabbath was a reward for work and a time to honor God, Exodus 20:8-11. Exodus 23:12-13 describes it as a time of refreshing. After the release from Egyptian bondage it was to be a time of rest and remembrance of their freedom from slavery. God did not intend for us to work all of the time but to take rest as well.

Purpose of work

Provide for our needs

  • Proverbs 12:11 and 14: Work of a man benefits him
  • Proverbs 16:26 – Our hunger is motivation
  • Proverbs 28:19 – “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.”

The worthy woman highly praised in Proverbs 31 is a diligent hard worker:

  • V.13 – works with wool and flax
  • V. 14-15 – works to find and prepare food for her family
  • V. 16 – invests in a field to make a vineyard
  • V. 18 – works late and has pride in her work
  • V. 19 – making garments for her family and to sell (v. 24)
  • V. 27 – she does not eat the bread of idleness
  • She is praised by her husband, children, the Lord, and those who see her for her faith and works

Be generous to others

Part of the reason we work is so we can have something to give to those in need. The worthy woman just discussed was generous to the needy, Proverbs 31:20. In the Old Testament farmers were commanded to leave the edges and anything that was dropped for the poor to come gather (the gleanings).

In the New Testament our work is tied to generosity. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:28 to not steal but work to give to others in need. Notice he commands them not to take anything from anyone but to work to provide for one’s needs and to have something to share with the needy. He also commanded the materially rich to be rich in good works and generous, 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

We see examples of the early church in sharing what they had to help their needy brethren in Acts 4:32-37. During the Judean famine Paul observed that even those in poverty gave generously to help their Judean brethren, 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 11-15. They let their abundance supply what their brethren lacked.

To honor God with our possessions

There was an important principle in the Old Law: The firstfruits and tithes, Deuteronomy 26:1-19. The law commanded that the first and the best was to be offered to God. This was a great act of faith for it is trust that God would continue to bless their harvest and herds.

The gift was to provide for those who are in need or who are dedicated in service to the Lord’s temple. The giving action was to be done with the complete heart and soul recognizing God as the giver of all things.

Proverbs 3:9-10: “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”

Under the New Testament we are not commanded to tithe but are to bring freewill offerings and to be generous with what we have been given. Previously we noted how God wants us to be generous with what He has given us. As the offerings paid the expenses for the upkeep of the tabernacle, and later temple, and met the physical needs of the priests dedicated to its service, so our offerings today help us to maintain a place of worship, provide financial support for those dedicated to preaching the gospel, purchasing materials for our Bible classes, and helping our brethren in a time of need.

Engaging Videos on the Life of Christ

Appian Media has made freely available a series on the Life of Christ filmed in the places where the events unfolded.

Appian Media has created an engaging and educational video series “Following the Messiah” that traces the life of Christ through the places where he lived and worked. Hosted by Barry Britnell, who regularly leads tours to these places, and Jeremy Dehut, an enthusiastic preacher of the gospel, they bring the history and meaning of the scripture alive as you look at the places where these events unfolded.

It is a series of short videos that would be useful for evangelistic studies of the life of Christ and Bible studies for all ages at home or in Bible classes. You can watch the videos for free on the Appian Media web site.

5 Things Preachers Need to Know About PowerPoint

Some preachers are able to use PowerPoint tools effectively to help illustrate points and provide a clear organization to sermon points and how they are connected. It can especially be helpful to parents of young children who may have attention taken away periodically during the lesson to keep the thoughts connected.

However, when PowerPoint is used ineffectively it can distract from the message, frustrate the audience, and confuse instead of clarify. Here are five things that preachers need to know to use PowerPoint more effectively.Television and internet production technology concept

  1. Don’t copy your outline to your slides. Few things are more frustrating than a sermon read-along. I’ve seen some preachers who will preach word for word from their “eye chart” PowerPoints. PowerPoint should not be a teleprompter or shared outline. It is a tool to help convey your message. The practice among professional presenters is no more than four bullet points of five words each (4×5 rule though some teach a 6×6 format). Simplicity is the key. PowerPoint is for main points not every point or every word. What is the takeaway? What is the key?
  2. Pull out quote highlights or use multiple slides per quote. Another challenge to reading is projecting a lengthy Bible or supporting quote. This is often very helpful but it can, like the OutlinePoint, be an eye chart. It is better to read the quote for context and put the smaller focus of the quote on display. If you feel that the complete quote should be displayed, consider breaking up the quote across slides so you have smaller sections in larger, more readable type. An easy way to do this is to copy the entire quote on one slide, clean it up, then duplicate the slide (Ctrl-D) multiple times. Edit each of the slides to show its part of the quote.
  3. Ctrl-Enter is the friend you didn’t know you had. I don’t know the Mac equivalent, but in Microsoft Office, holding the control key while hitting the enter key will add a soft return, that is, it shifts down to the next line without creating a new paragraph or bullet point. Using Ctrl-enter will allow you to clean up orphans (words that are alone on a line) by sending another word or two down to provide balance. It is also helpful when you want to balance the words in a multi-line title or subtitle.
  4. A slidedeck is not a handout. I know it is easy to dump the outline onto PowerPoint with the justification that you can give it as a handout but they are two separate presentation methods to accomplish different things. Better to handout a copy of your outline and use PowerPoint for communication assistance. Better yet, develop a handout for special lessons that have additional information that you cannot address in the sermon or links to other information. Failure to do this means your PowerPoint doesn’t have sufficient information to provide as a meaningful reference later, is not optimized for presentation during the lesson, or will be so long that you will have to kill a small forest to print it.
  5. One point per slide. PowerPoint doesn’t charge you by the slide. It doesn’t cost anything to create a new slide for a new point. You can even duplicate slides to match format styles to ease slide production. New slides signal a transition in thought as you progress through the sermon. Obviously, you may have a summary slide that brings together main points, but it can be confusing and hard to read a slide that has the three point sermon on one slide at all times.

An additional consideration is to ask if you need a PowerPoint slide at all. Most of the time when I preach I do not use PowerPoint unless I am using graphics, maps, or pictures as part of the lesson. I have an article, To Preach With PowerPoint or Without? that discusses some of my considerations when using this aid.

Used wisely it can be very helpful. Used ineffectively, it can distract. If it is a tool that we use for teaching, we need to make sure we can use it as skillfully as a carpenter uses a hammer.

Proverbs 27:21: Will Praise Destroy You?

A challenging task for one’s character is receiving praise. Some will deflect it because they have such low self-esteem and discount what is said. On the other extreme, some let it inflate their pride. Do we chase it? How do we handle it?

“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.” Proverbs 27:21 (ESV)

“The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, And a man is valued by what others say of him.” Proverbs 27:21 (NKJV)

The two translations of this passage provide insight about the virtue and danger of praise. Other proverbs encourage humility and discourage boasting about oneself. As promoters, we are biased when marketing ourselves even cushioning acknowledgement of our flaws with reasons, excuses, and reminders of our virtue. The wisdom of the collection of proverbs on humility, pride, and praise encourage us to not seek praise and, if it is to be voiced, let it come from another.

The introductory couplet compares man’s praise to the refining process for silver and gold. This is  a common theme used for faith in 1 Peter 1, the word of God in Psalm 12, and numerous other places. The intensity of heat melts gold and sliver releasing impurities to be removed. Likewise, through the heat of moral and physical challenges, a person’s character is either strengthened or weaknesses exposed. A “trial by fire” purifies the one who allows for improvement and sheds what is weak and wicked.

Praise for enduring tests

As the NKJV observes,  a man who receives genuine praise, not flattery, from others is one who has distinguished himself by his character, character developed through trial. Most men and women who are considered praiseworthy have overcome obstacles, endured trials, demonstrated self-discipline, and have distinguished themselves through achievement and excellence. One does not have to accomplish something great, as the world counts greatness. A person may be praised as a good parent, coach, or friend for what they have accomplished despite the challenges of life.

The test of enduring praise

The ESV and NIV provide another view of this passage. How a person reacts to receiving praise is also a test. A common quote in the business world is

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”*

An equally challenging task for one’s character is receiving praise. Some will deflect it because they have such low self-esteem and discount what is said. On the other extreme, some let it inflate their pride. It is best to accept praise graciously, thanking the person for their kind words, and move on with life.

A person can become so addicted to praise that they start to make decisions and act in a way that encourages praise. They need it like air and food. They wrestle with self-doubt and insecurity when they do not receive it and can’t enjoy when they do receive it because its pleasure is fleeting. The futility of chasing followers, likes, and views on social media arises from this warped sense of one’s worth by the clicks of strangers and friends. Some will neglect those who do care and are with them physically by staring into their phone, skipping across social media sites, feeding the need to feel significant. I encourage you to read my article, Could You Live Without Internet Celebrity for more insight into this danger we face.

One of my internal reminders is that I’m not as bad as my critics say nor am I as good as my fans say (I don’t know where I borrowed this from, perhaps Abraham Lincoln or Einstein). I enjoy praise as much as anyone but I do not let that define me nor is it the way I evaluate myself. As a Christian, my value lies in the relationship with God, not how men judge me. I must be careful, as I have written in this article, not to do my Christian service for the praise and honor of others. Some compromise their principles so they will not receive criticism. Others let praise for their godliness rest on them instead of directing the glory to God. Let us have the attitude of Paul in Philippians 3:8, who said “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” (ESV).

Can you handle the praise?

*Note: Most sources attribute this quote to Abraham Lincoln. I have not had a chance to verify this and am skeptical of attributing it since it appears most of the Internet quotes are attributed to Einstein or Abraham Lincoln.

Social Media Fame Will Not Ease Your Emotional Pain

A Bing search today provided an ironic set of results for celebrity Selena Gomez. She became the first person to reach 100 million Instagram followers AND checked herself into a rehab facility to deal with depression and emotional issues. One would think that someone who has so many fans would have no reason to suffer emotionally, yet this is not the case, as social media followers cannot provide the same emotional support to deal with serious problems in life. As a celebrity, Gomez probably realizes this and understands the difference between fans and friends. However, those of us who do not have fame may feel that if we could just have 1,000 social media followers then our voice could be heard and we would be important. Such is an illusion. There is far more value in a few people who truly love and support you than many times that in “followers.”

Gomez likely is suffering additional problems brought on because of celebrity. If we think fame will solve problems, it will probably only magnify our problems and may create new ones. Many business, sports, and entertainment stars have achieved their goals and received the riches and accolades they desired only to discover a nagging question: “Is this all there is?” The book of Ecclesiastes emphasizes the futility of the things in this life bringing our life meaning; however, we can be satisfied with work and achievement if we have it in perspective. There are famous people who do not care about fame who are able to handle its rise and fall with grace.

From my understanding, Selena Gomez has gone through some significant challenges that would impact anyone’s emotional state. It is wise that she is seeking help to deal with these issues and hopefully she will find strength and encouragement to get through this difficult time. It is good that she is turning to people and not drugs or alcohol. I understand the treatment is from a Christian perspective so I hope, and will pray, she can find God’s wisdom as a strength and guide.

%d bloggers like this: