Sunday, February 23, 2020

Measuring Up

In the past few months my job has taken me into a world I don’t feel entirely adequate to be in.  The professionals in this arena graduated from the most elite business schools, interact regularly with the CEOs of giant corporations, and of course their incomes are commensurate with all of this.  Some days I can get a little self-impressed but mostly I’m just trying to not embarrass myself.  While it’s probably pretty natural to find ourselves comparing ourselves versus other folks, I’m quite sure it’s not something God would have us do. This passage from Galatians, taken from the Message version, leapt off the page for me and I hope it has some applicability for you as well.  We’ll look at this from the perspectives of Purpose, Pride, and Envy.

Galatians 6:4-5
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

Things to think about:
·      God’s Purpose
o   Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.
§  Who you are
·      Genesis 1:27 - Created in the image of God
·      Psalm 139:14 - Fearfully and wonderfully made
§  What are three talents you believe (or that others tell you) you possess?
·      if this feels like a hard question, ask your wife, kids, or close friend – they’ll know
§  The work you have been given to do
·      Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
·      1 Corinthians 12:4-6 - There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
·      What kind of work do you feel God has called you to?
o   Think about the gifts of the Spirit found in 1 Corinthians 12
§  Sink yourself into that
·      Focus
·      Colossians 3:23-24 - Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 
·      Remember, this applies not only to our vocation but also to the daily, moment-by-moment work of serving others.
·      Pride
o   Don’t be impressed with yourself.
o   Deuteronomy 8:18 - You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may confirm His covenant that He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
o   Proverbs 11:2 - When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
o   Why is it so critical that we not be impressed with ourselves?
·      Envy
o   Don’t compare yourself with others.
o   I believe one of the most dishonoring things we can do towards God is to be envious of others and thus ungrateful for what He has, in His infinite wisdom, deemed right for us.
o   1 Timothy 6:6-10 - But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
·      Summary
o   Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
o   I love that little adjective here, doing your “creative” best.  It implies that there is something personal to bring, like an artist does to his artwork. 
o   It is our responsibility to do our best with what God has given each of us to do.  It’s like a child bringing home an art project to show mommy and daddy and how pleased they are with what they made.
o   How has today’s study made you think about focusing on what God has given you to do with your life?
o   Do you find it liberating to get out of the comparison game?
o   How can be free of comparing allow you to more fully flourish in His work?

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Currency and The Coin

Recently, we were talking about Mercy and Grace and the thought occurred to me that they are like two sides of the same coin.  This led to an exploration of “What coin?” and “From what currency?”  Today’s study is on John 3:16 where we’ll explore some aspects of God’s economy.

John 3:16
 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Things to think about:
The Currency
·      A “currency” is a form of money that can be used in a commercial transaction.  Moreover, it has the backing of a governmental authority, whose promise is sufficient for the establishment of inherent value.
·      I would submit that the currency God trades in is Love. 1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love.”  Our text above from John 3:16 says it is because “God so loved the world He gave...”  His very nature is rooted in love.
The Coin
·      The incarnation of God’s love is in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ.
·      In our text, it says, “He gave His one and only Son”.
o   1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23 both say, “you were bought at a price.”
·      And what price did God pay? God took His perfect Son, He of infinite value
o   1 Peter 1:18-19, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect”
·      Coins have two sides, the obverse and reverse. We started off our study saying that the two sides of God’s coin are Mercy and Grace.  Chief among its uses, money can be used to pay off debt as well to save for the future. 
o   Mercy – not getting what we do deserve.
§  “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish…”
§  Romans 6:23 - the wages of sin is death (that is, eternal separation from God). 
·      This is our debt to God that we cannot pay on our own.
§  Ephesians 2:4-5 – “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…”
§  Titus 3:5 – “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy…”
o   Grace – getting what we do not deserve
§  “…but have eternal life.”
§  Ephesians 2:5-7, “…it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
·      This is our incalculable inheritance we have received through faith in Christ.
·      God’s entire program is predicated on His love for YOU.  There is nothing you have done that can keep Him from loving you and there is nothing He hasn’t already done to bring you into His love.
·      He has both paid off your sin debt and secured your eternal future.
·      Has our study today helped you understand God’s Love Economy a little better?
·      What should our response be to so great a love?