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Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Just up the road from us on Musser Rd. stands this oversized stack of bales used on a huge dairy farm. During warmer weather I, Brooksyne, often bicycle two miles on their tractor trail. The cows usually look at me curiously as I bike by. Perhaps they're wondering if I'm a new farm hand and sizing up my bicycle in comparison to the big trucks and tractors.
"The Work Of Our Hands"
Message Summary: Today we encourage readers to consider how the labor of your hands is a means of honoring God and making our world a better place.
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"Thou shalt not steal" (Exodus 20:15). "Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need" (Ephesians 4:28).
I still wear neck ties, although in many settings, wearing a tie is no longer fashionable and some even consider it old-fashioned. At least, in our context, most in the corporate world no longer wear ties and like most churches less and less do so in our church.
One of my motivations for wearing ties is that I really enjoy my Scripture-themed tie collection which I started some twenty years ago when ties were more popular and I was pastoring. My collection now numbers over 20 and I periodically still add to it. Inevitably someone will observe my tie and make a comment as they read it. I have also on occasion given one away when an individual really likes the message on my tie. I take it off and hand it to him if he promises to wear it!
Sunday I saw Curt, a longtime friend who doesn't always wear a tie, but he was wearing a colorful one that artfully displayed the Ten Commandments. I consider the attempts by the secularists, sadly often successful, to ban the posting of the Ten Commandments, so wearing these timeless rules of conduct on a tie or displaying them in a public setting anywhere is a good idea! A good number of residents display the Ten Commandments on a poster size sign staked in their front yards throughout Lancaster County. Prominent on Curt's Ten Commandment tie is the 8th commandment rendered in the KJV as "Thou shalt not steal" and we include that command in our Scripture text today.
Among the converts in the early church some of them had been thieves (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Consider this comment from the Expositor's Bible Commentary: "From the lowest dregs of the Greek cities, from its profligate and criminal classes — the gospel had drawn its converts. In the Ephesian Church there were converted thieves; and Christianity had to make of them honest workmen."
So Paul makes a command greatly needed in every age and certainly our own age as well: "Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need" (Ephesians 4:28).
It's important to esteem people in regard to their work productivity and how it benefits others. We could all ask ourselves, "How does my work make the world a better place to live?" Hopefully, your answer will bring a source of fulfillment and that's where today's second verse is so informative. Yesterday we asked readers to consider, "How is the work of my hands benefitting others?"
Sunday I visited for a few minutes with Ed and Barbara. Ed told me that he hopes the labor of his hands never needs to be used. He installs fire suppression sprinkler systems. In twenty-six years he is unaware of a single time a sprinkler system he installed has ever been used. But you never know when a sprinkler system or fire extinguisher may save one or more lives. In our newspaper this morning we read this story with interest.
Now I suppose that could be a detriment to Ed finding fulfillment in his work but such is not the case. Due to his conscientious diligence many thousands of people have been protected in the event of a fire. He's not at all sorry there's never been a fire in a building in which he installed a system. In a sense his systems are being used since they're being properly installed and ready to go if needed.
We may use the term "working with our hands" to mean hard labor but it occurs to me that virtually all we do in some way or another involves using our hands, though in this text it can also figuratively mean "instrument" of performing the labor. Thankfully accessibility is now available for meaningful labor even for those who cannot use their hands, for various reasons.
An advertisement promoting a vacation coldly read, "Your work is meaningless. And you'll die having achieved comparatively little. You need a holiday." Sadly many do lack fulfillment and may even feel their work is meaningless and not useful or good.
Albert Lee writes, "Some people may even find their labor so wearisome that they think it must be punishment from God. This could not be further from the truth. Even before sin entered the world, God gave Adam and Eve meaningful work to do (Genesis 1:28; 2:15). The motivation given for work was not to accumulate wealth but to have something to share with others. From the Biblical perspective, therefore, work is useful and most fulfilling when it enables us to help others. Our work does have meaning, especially when we realize that it is God-given, and that we please Him when we share its fruit with others."
Today we encourage readers to consider how the labor of your hands is a means of honoring God and making our world a better place.
Lord, teach me how to love and work,
That every deed I do
May be to someone in its turn
A service fine and true.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, thank You for the physical instruments You supply when You created us. We have mouths to speak, ears to hear, eyes to see, feet to walk, and hands to work. We dedicate our lives to You and to Your service, whether it is related to evangelism and the church or whether it is the work we do in places of employment or in our community. May our labor be sweet in Your sight, worthy of honor, and a blessing to others so that we all pitch in to make this world a better place to live, until we reach our eternal abode where sin will not be present nor will there be any more sorrow or sadness. And it's all because of Jesus in whose name we pray. Amen.
Additional thoughts for the stout-hearted: As I shared above "We encourage people to identify what they do and consider how it benefits others and makes the world a better place." This can be done for most types of labor. Walking through companies we serve that make products for agriculture, home improvement and HVAC installers, machined parts and Point of Sale displays we can honor them in their work and easily identify ways in which they are making the world a better place. We are confident that most of our readers can do so as well.
But that is certainly not the case for all types of work. In our view working for a hellishly evil enterprise like Planned Parenthood would certainly not meet this criteria. Same would go for working in a package store exclusively selling alcohol, a gambling institution, a brothel, a porn shop and so forth. Of course selling drugs on the street is still illegal in most places but that is changing as we become more "progressive".
A bigger challenge for many is where there is a mix such as a store that sells alcohol and tobacco along with food as many grocery stores now do. For the record we both continue to hold to the increasingly unpopular notion that alcohol destroys and now in our early sixties we sure have no regrets that we have taken a position of abstinence. We have seen many, many lives destroyed or adversely affected by alcohol use. On our hearts today is train wreck (figuratively) that resulted from a friend who had been delivered from alcohol for many years and yet "fell off the wagon" in the last year. The results have been disastrous not only for the individual but for the extended family and business as well.
Another challenge is the present government's alliance with evil and forcing people against their religious convictions to participate in evil such as the present strategy of homosexual "marriage" proponents regarding employees issuing marriage licenses, florists, bakers, photographers. wedding venues who have all faced outrageous fines or worse for holding to their convictions. For those involved this is outright persecution. For the rest of us it is an harbinger.
Another issue is working for or doing business with a company that supports godless causes. Their product may be morally neutral or even beneficial but they use their wealth to support organizations and foundations that are morally evil.
Brooksyne's Note: Yesterday Jesse and Wilma Dourte came over to join us for lunch which I told them would be at noon. We planned to work quickly and have our dailyencouragement message ready and I could pull lunch together by the time they arrived. Lo and behold, they pulled into the driveway at 11 AM. Did we ever scurry to move into phase two of our day. After lunch and some wonderful fellowship we started our annual preparation of the butternut squash and pumpkins from the summer months. I cut the ends off and slice the vegetables, Jesse peels the skin, and Wilma cuts up the squash and pumpkin. Then I put it in a pot until it is very soft, load the blender to puree the veggies before bagging them for the freezer. Typically I make pumpkin pies, butternut squash casseroles, pumpkin cake and our favorite is butternut squash served on the side with salmon, a favorite also among New Englanders. Jesse, 92, and Wilma, 91, are truly amazing in their strength and spirit. They look forward to our working together every year. As he says more than once, "Make sure you call us. We like to help you." And they sure did!
Jim and Ann Whisnant
I met Jim and Ann at a chaplain conference several years ago and he commented on my "Lord's Prayer" tie inquiring where he could get one. I felt led to just give him mine. Turns out it was his birthday! Later I was blessed to see Jim was wearing the tie at a banquet later at the conference. He was severely injured in a trucking accident several years ago, losing a leg and almost his life when he stopped along an interstate to assist someone and was hit by a tractor trailer truck. I was searching online for information about the accident and came across this piece concerning his role of serving as a prison chaplain at the execution chamber. The prisoner's Final Words: "I'm really deep down in my heart sorry it happened," Holland said before reading the 23rd Psalm from a paper (held by the prison chaplain, Jim Whisnant). "I wish this would bring her back. I want you to know that I'm very sorry this ever happened. I knew it was wrong but it was alcohol, despair and temper that caused it. That's it."
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"We'll Work 'Til Jesus Comes" Video Homecoming Singers Of course this is speaking of our work for the Lord!
I searched for Christian songs on work and labor but the list had songs of exercise workout music and songs for labor and delivery (birth)!
Several weeks ago we came across this interesting article. Whether you agree or disagree with us regarding alcohol use (from additional thoughts footnote) this article sure gives some interesting thoughts. "50 Reasons Why I Don't Drink"
We asked readers yesterday what Ed did for a living based upon his description that he hopes the labor of his hands never needs to be used. Here are several suggestions that thinking readers emailed us:
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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