Who Really Signs Your Check?

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message:

She works with eager hands (Proverbs 31:13, NIV).

I have had many jobs over the years. I started babysitting when I was twelve years old. In high school, I worked in a clothing store, as an aid for my choral director, and as a recruiter for an employment agency. In college, I was a secretary for the president of our social science honors program and often gave tours to visiting dignitaries. Some jobs I liked more than others but working in an insurance office when my husband attended seminary was one of my least favorite jobs. I soon discovered that I was not alone in my lack of enthusiasm as I read the following note posted on the office bulletin board:

“If you don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, you ought to be here five minutes before quitting time!”

Our attitude about our work will determine the success of our work. Scripture tells us that the Proverbs 31 woman literally “pounced upon” her work with “chosen delight.” Notice the word “chosen.” No job is perfect, and no workplace is always wonderful, but we can learn to choose our inner attitude about our work regardless of the outer circumstances of our workplace. Like this woman, we can learn to train our heart and choose our attitude about our work.

The author of Ecclesiastes writes, “My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor” (Ecclesiastes 2:10). In other words, joy in work can be found when we look for it. The Proverbs 31 woman chose an attitude that guaranteed success in her work. The right attitude in any workplace is to view our work as an act of worship to God. This woman’s workplace was an altar upon which she laid her best efforts as an offering of praise.

The story is told of three men who were working on a large building project. “What are you doing?” one of the men was asked. “I am mixing mortar,” he responded. The second man said, “I am helping put up this great stone wall.” When the third man was asked, he replied, “I’m building a cathedral to the glory of God.” We need to understand that what gives work eternal value and makes it successful is not the product or service we offer; it is doing the job faithfully to the glory of God. It doesn’t matter if you close a million-dollar deal or do a million loads of laundry. If you do it unto God as part of your life worship of Him, you are a success.

The apostle Paul was a very successful man whose work ethic is made clear in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Every customer you serve or every child you hug, every toilet you clean or every deal you close can be an act of worship when it is done for the glory of God.

A survey by the Families and Work Institute found that 70 percent of people in the United States often dream about doing something different for a living. Books, consultants, and employment agencies offer to help us land our dream job. However, is finding a different occupation always the solution to job satisfaction, or could the key to successful work be discovering a new approach to the work we already do? Twice in Colossians 3, Paul used the phrase “whatever you do” as a call for wholehearted service to the Lord.

A wholehearted effort is difficult when working for a critical, ungrateful boss. Minimum effort then becomes a response that certainly seems justified under the circumstances. However, when our work is done for Christ and we view Him as our supervisor, we will strive to do our best all of the time. The boss may sign the paycheck, but the Savior issues our reward. Obviously, it’s not wrong to seek work that fits our skills and interests, but it is pointless to move from one job to another without first settling the issue of who it is that we truly are serving in the workplace. Daily work takes on eternal significance when it is done for God.

Have a blessed day!

The Solution to Restlessness


Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message….

Truly my soul finds rest in God. ~ Psalm 62:1

 

Cammie is a children’s ministry director at her church. One day, as she was preparing for the lesson she would teach on Sunday morning, she had an idea for a fun illustration that would require a few props. She asked her four-year-old daughter to help.

“Hey, Taylor! Can you please bring me a few of the Fisher Price people from your dollhouse?”

This reply came from her preschooler who was sitting across the room…

“No, Mom. They just want to chill out. They’ve had a long day.”

So funny… yet so not funny.

My word, people! When our children’s toys need a break, you know that it’s time for you and me to hit the pause button. And, truth be told, I live smack dab in the messy middle of this tension.

The Old Testament indicates that David lived in the messy middle of it too. The Bible says that the Lord made David take a break. Yes. He made him do it. Look: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Hemakes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:1-3, emphasis mine)

I love the way Psalm 23 verse 3 is paraphrased in The Message, “True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.”

Yes. Please.

This is the desire of my heart. That I can catch my breath and be sent in the right direction by a loving God who knows what is best.

So, I – you – we have to be intentional. Life comes at us fast. If we are not careful, the dizzy pace at which we live can unwittingly become our weakness and demise.

I know you know this. I do too and yet somehow it still trips us up.

So what’s a woman to do?

Let’s keep it real here; we have obligations. We have families, jobs, friends, communities, and churches that need us. And though this will look different for each of us in the many seasons of life, our people depend on us a ton. They should. God tells us to put our faith into action (James 2). And we must. We must mobilize the hope we have in Christ. Serve. Show love. Feed the hungry. Minister to the widows and orphans. Yes. We must be women of action.

The Bible gives a clear and compelling teaching, however, about this life-pace topic that establishes our first call to action must be focused on the Lord himself! This get-with-Jesus business is the key to us experiencing the maximum abundance that God has in store for every believer.

What it all boils down to is this: God’s BEST requires REST.

So simple… Yet so complicated.

It was Augustine who wrote, “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”

Let me take this one step further by breaking down what the Word of God shows us about this very thing. When we rest in the presence of God, He restores our souls. Rest is the central ingredient in the restoration we all desperately need. Just look at the first four letters of the word!

Today (and in part two of this devotion) we are going to break down R.E.S.T. as an acronym and take a walk through Scripture to see just how God’s best for you is fueled by this discipline.

R.E.S.T. {Reflect. Engage. Surrender. Trust}

It all begins with reflection. There are two parts to this: reflecting ON God and allowing the Spirit of God to work within us so that we become better reflections OF God.

REFLECT on GOD:

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago I will meditate on all Your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:11-12)

“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You like a parched land.” (Psalm 143:5-6)

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

REFLECT GOD:

“Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect Your principles!” (Psalm 119:5, NLT)

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is Spirit.”
(2 Corinthians 3:18)

Meaningful reflection leads to the soul rest we long for.

Today let this truth sink in deep: when you reflect on God, you better reflect God.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

What’s Your Take Away?

Since this week is a week of reflection in preparation for the New Year, let me ask you this question:

What’s the most valuable thing you are taking away from this past year?

Did you learn something new?  Did you overcome an obstacle or health challenge?  Did you find a solution to a problem?  Have you found a new passion in your business?

For me, this question is actually helping me shape my plan for the upcoming year.   Think about this:

Were you faced with a challenge this year?  Did you find a solution to it?  Believe it or not, there is probably a greater lesson to be learned in the solution which you can apply to new situations in the future. When you take a few moments to reflect, you begin to take ownership of your newfound wisdom. The best part is, when you take away the greater lesson, you won’t have to learn the lesson over and over again.

Whatever is going on in our lives at any given moment is actually there to teach you and help you to grow.  BUT it can only happen when you pause, reflect and ponder the message being offered.

As I look back on 2017, I have learned many lessons by identifying the situations which frustrated, disappointed, perplexed, or even excited me.  I am grateful of a planner which helps me track those moments because the memory is not what it used to be…

As I look at each situation, I ask myself one powerful question:

What am I going to take away from this situation so  I am somehow better for it, wiser for it, and able to move forward in the most powerful way possible?’

Then I am owning the answer!  I am applying the wisdom in other areas of my life now and looking for ways to store it so I can use it in the future.

Guess what?  You just got a little bit wiser!

I challenge you to look at a situation you are currently facing or faced this past year.  Now ask yourself the powerful question:

What am I going to take away from this situation so that I am somehow better for it, wiser for it, and able to move forward in the most powerful way possible?

Share your lesson with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Value Yourself

My weightless journey has been a journey.  Actually more like a roller coaster.  Last week at our meeting we talked about valuing ourself no matter what the scale says.  This was like a SMACK in the head for me.

The numbers on the scale have always played a factor in how I feel about me.  No, let me be honest, when I was at my heaviest I didn’t get on a scale.  I had no clue how much I weighed and being clueless seemed to be okay with me.  I liked myself as I hid behind the weight not letting anyone get too close.  Does this story sound familiar?

I walked into the doors of Weight Watchers seeing myself through different eyes.  The eyes of the scale.  It didn’t get really hard until I got closer to my goal weight.  As the number got lower, the insecurities of my youth came out.  No, I didn’t head to the nearest shrink to bare my soul – I began fighting the inner gremlins with some help of some really good people. I learned to start seeing myself as others see me.

I know what does all of this have to do with anything, right?  How many of us let the number on the scale define us especially when we are on a weightless journey?  We let our self-worth be connected to the number on the scale.  When it goes down, we are happy.  When it goes up, the inner gremlins join us in beating ourselves up.  It is time to stop the madness.

Recognizing and appreciating ourselves for our many gifts and talents is not an easy task. The reality is when we feel good about ourselves, we are more likely to have a positive outlook on life, take better care of ourselves and the end result is we lose weight.  The better we feel about ourselves, the easier it is to lose weight.  Think about your own journey….

I remember doing a VERY scary exercise when I began trying to squash my inner gremlins.  I was told to ask 5 friends and/or family what they thought my best qualities were.  In other words, how would they describe me?  YIKES!  I sent the message out and was definitely not ready for the responses I received.  I was told I was kind, generous, compassionate, determined, helpful and strong.  I didn’t see myself from their perspective. But on my worst days (seems to be quite a few lately), I go back to the list and repeat the positive traits over and over again.  Why?  So I can feel and believe them again.

What can you do to see yourself through loving eyes?  No, I am not suggesting you reach out to family and friends to ask for their input (unless you want); I am suggesting you find a quiet spot, grab a piece of paper and a pen, reflect AND…..

THINK about someone in your life who cares about you; a friend or relative, spouse or significant other.

FOCUS on the person for a minute and describe them in words or draw a picture.  What do they look like? Height? Eye color? Hair? Do they smile a lot? Do they have a soft or loud voice?  How would you describe their personality?

CONSIDER what makes this person special to you.  Does thinking of this person make you happy?  Excited? Loving? How do they make you feel?

IMAGINE you are this person who loves YOU and start to see yourself through their eyes.  What do you like about this person you see?  Write down thoughts, feelings and behaviors you love about yourself.  I know this is tough.  You may just start with “I like my eyes” – something simple.  Then dig deeper.  Think about the qualities you have down deep – are you caring? kind? passionate about life or a cause? hard worker? friendly?

COME BACK to yourself and read what you wrote.  You will notice a growing appreciation for how you feel about yourself.

Believe me, I get how tough this can be.  I struggle with it too. Do this once a week for one month and read the positive qualities daily.  You will be amazed at the difference it will make in your life.  Thirty days make a habit, right?

Change those negative, unhelpful thoughts into positive thoughts.  Changing your mindset is the first step to make a difference in your life which will give the ripple effect of making a difference in the lives of those around you.  Share you best qualities with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Do You Ever Feel Distracted?

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Thank you Encouragement for Today for this message:

I perched on top of my kitchen table and peered into the dimly lit room. My shaking fingers dialed my husband — who was asleep in another state. Why is he always gone when these things happen?

Moments before, right before bedtime, something slammed into the side of my foot. Assuming it was my son’s baseball, I looked down to retrieve the runaway. Instead, I found a tail. A long one. Attached to the body of a giant rat.

Please excuse me while I pause to scream and shake off the shivers …

Somehow, a live rodent had found its way into our house and now my hysteria had snapped my husband awake.

After confirming no one had died, Luke told me to get off of the kitchen table and go to bed. Go to bed? Are you serious?

Ignoring his nonsense, I stayed atop the table and weighed my options.

Weekend: Yes.
Almost midnight: Yes.
Rat trap: No.
Hmmmm.

I knew what I had to do. I climbed down, clenched my teeth, grabbed a shoe and approached the room.

I pushed around toys. Looked under clothes. Scanned the room for any sudden movements …

But I found nothing

It seemed as quickly as the intruder had appeared, he’d vanished. With no other option I carefully moved toward the bedroom.

I poked around on the bed before I slid my toes under the covers. Who knew what might be lurking underneath? As my eyes fell shut I snapped them back open. Did I just see something move?

An event that took just seconds from start to finish eventually claimed hours, even days of my life. I lived distracted.

Your pest likely doesn’t look quite like my furry house guest. But maybe you’ve been distracted by the rat of rage, or the critter of comparison, the intruder of insecurity.

Today’s key verse reminds us we have a spiritual enemy that prowls about and confirms his intentions: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

The Bible names this enemy Satan — the enemy of God determined to cause chaos among God’s people — disturbing, disrupting and distracting us. We all have a pest waiting to wreak havoc in our lives. We just need to decide what to about it. The way I see it, we’ve got three options:

Option 1: Ignore it.

This is the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” solution. It sort of works, if the pest never appears. Problems arise, however, when he comes out from hiding and into our tidy lives. Enemies often strike when we least expect it, and without a plan we panic.

Option 2: Avoid it.

This choice seems to address the problem at hand, but usually creates new problems along the way. For example, while I tried to convince myself my methods were enough, the reality held me hostage. I peeked around corners before I stepped into rooms, and I jumped at the slightest flash of a shadow. My faulty solution trapped me beneath the weight of my own worry.

Option 3: Prepare for it.

When we choose to prepare for the threat to our souls, we trade distraction for action, and set our souls free. We set up safeguards that unchain us to pursue God and His plans within the boundaries of His protection. Of all our options, this is the only one offering true peace and freedom.

After days spent ignoring and avoiding the problem in my house, I changed my tactics. I prepared for my “enemy.” I called a local pest control company and even adopted a rescue cat. As silly as it sounds, each step of preparation for the next encounter calmed my heart.

I spent less time contemplating where he was and when he might reappear. My fear gave way to freedom, and I no longer lived distracted by the pest. Instead, I grew more invested in the life Jesus spoke of when He said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b, ESV).

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!