Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Deliver Us or Deliver Myself

Sam Gardner, the preacher for the local Quaker group in the town called Harmony, had mistakenly unplugged a refrigerator in the church building causing a ton of noodles to be ruined. The noodles were homemade by the women’s group and were going to be sold in a major annual project. Sam did everything he could short of lying to keep the truth from being revealed. Before the ordeal was over, though, and in a moment of reflection about the sign on his desk that read “Lead Us Not Into Temptation But Deliver Us From All Evil” he prayed this prayer: “Yes, Lord, teach us this lesson. For sometimes we are too tricky for our own good. Help us to depend on you and not on our own cleverness” (Philip Gulley, Home to Harmony, p 122).

Is there something that you are working hard to keep covered up? Do you pray the prayer, “Deliver us from evil,” but trust more in your own trickery to deliver instead of trusting in God?

Isn’t it time to drop your defenses, admit the truth, and let the truth set you free? That’s Life at Work!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

We All Eat Something

We all eat something. We all experience hunger pains that pull us like magnets toward the tables of satisfaction. Some seek satisfaction and believe they find it in drugs and alcohol, pornography or illicit sexual behavior, gambling, risky activities, friendships or other relationships. Others believe they really “get their fill” from the job experience, traveling, children, hobbies, or entertainment tables. Obviously, as Paul wrote to the Galatians, some of these tables are taboo for the person walking with the Spirit (Gal 5:19). However, even the legitimate meals for the Christian in that list are not ultimately satisfying. Jesus calls us to greater satisfaction at a table most never approach.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matt 5:6).

In Matthew the person pursuing righteousness wants to be right by doing right, as “right” has been revealed by Jesus. You can’t be right if you follow the Pharisees, they don’t know what’s right. You can be right if you hear Jesus and do what he says. That’s Matthew’s point, and that is Jesus’ point in the Sermon on the Mount.

Most of us know that following Jesus is the right thing. For different reasons perhaps, I believe we end up at other tables too often to eat what he has prepared for us, and the “filling” we get from those tables makes us think we are sufficiently nourished. When we believe we are nourished, our hunger pains are not as noticeable, and we pass by righteousness like we drive by Cracker Barrel because we just ate at IHOP.

Perhaps your time at the table of righteousness has not been satisfying for you. That could be, and you’ll need to evaluate it, because you’ve enjoyed the food from other tables so much, you never really gave the table of righteousness a chance. Tables of sin can deceitfully cover hunger pains for righteousness. That lack of satisfaction could also be that those of us who helped set up the table for Jesus, put something on your plate that we felt like was important; but wasn’t really all that Jesus has prepared for you. We do that sometimes. Sorry. Really.

Jesus said, “But I, when I am lifted up, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). In the context of the table of righteousness, Jesus means that if we sit at his table because we are hungry and thirst for what he has prepared, we will be satisfied.

Time for a hunger check. That’s Life at Work!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Blessed be Your Name

It had to be hard for Job to praise the name of the Lord after learning that his property had been destroyed, his animals had been killed or stolen, and his servants and children had been murdered.  If his words are read as though they are passionless, he may sound delusional when we read:  

"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised."  
(Job 1:21; NIV)

Whether living in a time of abundance or a time of disaster, we have to remind ourselves that the name of the Lord is worthy of praise – always.  God is not more or less deserving of praise because of the circumstances of my life.  In abundance I will honor God, and when in loss, I will still honor him in my tears!    After all, he is still God.  That’s Life at Work!