Monday, January 20, 2020

The Value of Work


Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord. (Nehemiah 3:5 NKJV)
 
When Nehemiah was building the wall around Jerusalem, a short statement is recorded, which should speak volumes to us about the value of work.

I once led a discipleship training school for a missionary training organization. On one occasion, we accepted a student from Nigeria who had been a spiritual leader in the church in that country. In his culture, he did not serve others; they served him.

We built a two-hour work duty into our daily schedule. When there was a prayer meeting or teaching session, our Nigerian student was one of the first to arrive. When it came to work-duties, he was difficult to find. One particular Saturday, we had a workday where I labored with the students on a dirty job.  Coming back from the work detail, the student from Africa, looked into my dusty face and said, “very practical Christianity.” He was finally starting to get it. Christianity is more readily caught than taught.

God rebukes the Tekoite nobles. The commentator Matthew Henry says that “they would not come under the discipline of being obliged to perform this service. They thought that the dignity and liberty of their rank exempted them from getting their hands dirty and serving God.”

The action of the Tekoites makes it evident that they believed that specific tasks had more value than others. Our work has value because God has called us to do it, and we are a person of value doing it. Satisfaction from a job well done is a separate issue from value.  We should not seek to get value from our work but to bring value to it.

The Tekoites were operating in the ways of the world, which says you have worth according to what you do. God does not see big or little people; he sees people. He majors on why we do what we do, not what we do. Whatever task God has called you to do, it has great value if you are doing it for him. Such will free us from the bondage of the Tekoite nobles, who looked to people rather than God for their acceptance.

It never devalues you to do what God has called you to do.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Godly Sorrow


The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. 6 So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.
(Genesis 6:5-6 NLT)
 
These two Bible verses record a tragic statement. God was sad that he had put man on this earth, which broke his heart.

The Bible teaches that God is perfect and complete; he lacks nothing. He can exist without us, yet we see that he is broken-hearted over us. We can only understand this if we grasp the difference between humans and God’s sadness.

When we sin, we lose, the loss of relationship with God or with someone else, but we experience a loss. When we sin and reject God, he is sad, not because he has lost, remember God is totally self-sufficient. He experiences sorrow because God knows we have lost. His love is others-oriented.

Worldly sorrow, being sad when we sin because of what it does to us, does not lead to repentance. Think about Judas as an example. Godly sorrow is the type of sadness over the grief it causes to the heart of a good and kind God; or to others who may not be so good. Only this kind of sorrow leads to true repentance.

You and I are the offspring of Adam and Eve, and we have inherited their self-centeredness. No, we can never be totally God-like, but we can reflect his image. The first step may be admitting our self-righteousness or any other character trait that starts with self. Godly sorrow and selfishness do not coexist. To have one, you must give up the other.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com





Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Working and Waiting


But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. (2 Peter 3:8 NLT)

It was during the 1970s when a book called "The Late Great Planet Earth" by Hal Lindsay was popular. We all expected Lord's return in the next forty years. We were mistaken, but we were only half wrong.

We always miss it when we either over or under emphasize a Biblical truth. James 5:8 (NLT) says that "You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord, is near", yet, in the scriptural passage above, a day maybe like a thousand years and vice versa. The Bible often gives seemingly contradictory teaching intended to balance our actions. Leaning too far in one direction or the other on the pendulum of working and waiting can distort Biblical truth.

We have all heard the expression; he is so heavenly minded; he is no earthly good — this idiom comes when we exercise waiting at the expense of working. Laboring without any expectation of Christ's imminent return will make us so earthly-minded that we have no heavenly vision. In nature, opposites attract each other. It is also true in the spiritual world. When we work here on earth, it creates a desire to be with him in heaven.

Conversely, when we desire to be with him, it motivates us to work here on earth. They work with each other, not against each other. It is never much fun in a playground if one end of a seesaw is always up or down.

In 2020 let's work and wait so that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
 Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com



Friday, December 13, 2019

Your Signet Ring


“But when this happens, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, I will honor you, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, my servant. I will make you like a signet ring on my finger, says the Lord, for I have chosen you. I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!” (Haggai 2:23 NLT)
 
When God called Zerubbabel to his task, he became like a signet ring on his finger. A signet ring represented authority. If God has called you to a task, God has authorized you to act and speak on his behave.

A signet ring was used by a king to sign documents or give authenticity to proclamations, edicts, and the like. Jesus Christ is the all-powerful signet ring on the hand of the Father. All authority was given to him in heaven and on earth. When God calls us, and we obey, we become like a signet ring on the hand of Christ. Christ’s authority rested on submitting his will to his heavenly Father; our authorization rests on the subjection of our desires to that of Christ’s. Christ wears our ring to accomplish His will, not ours.

Jesus sealed his authority when he chose his Father’s will rather than his own on the Cross.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Luke 22:42 NLT). Christ achieved this standing through one momentous event on Mt. Calvary. Our stance emanates from a series of events where our will becomes progressively subservient to his.

Your signet ring on the hand of the Father will have great authority when your heart’s desire is like that of Jesus in the garden, not my will but thine.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com


 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Great Temptation


“You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins?  (Malachi 3:14 NLT)
 
As a Christian, if you haven’t felt like the people of Malachi’s day, at some point you probably will.  When evildoers prosper and the righteous are burdened with adversities, there is a great temptation to conclude that serving God is in vain.  Take courage, ultimately the righteous and the unrighteous will get their just reward.

The Devil works overtime to promote an incorrect image of God.  What the Bible tells us about God, the Evil One voices the opposite.  It is a battle that starts in our minds. If we compare ourselves with the unrighteous, we will often come to the wrong conclusions about God.  If I allow myself to form my view of God based on what he gives me as compared to others, I have started to succumb to the great temptation of judging the character of God.  Psalms 145:17 (RSV) says, “The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.”  And all means all.

If you are stuck in dire circumstances, look to God’s Word, not to your surroundings. Circumstances change but God’s Word never does.  Psalms 11:4-5a (NLT) says, “But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked.”  Don’t mistake silence for lack of concern.

God always takes care of business, for some you it may be in this life, for others the next one, but God always has the last word. Don’t submit to the great temptation.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website:
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
          
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Swimming Upstream


If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:17-18 NASB)
 
The three Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, were firm in their faith. They had learned that in an adversarial culture, you must learn to swim upstream.

All cultures have a way of conforming us to its precepts. We resist by refusing to submit to anything that is lifted up against the knowledge of God. First, when the delicacies of food and drink of Babylon tested the three Hebrew boys, they chose to remain faithful to the dietary restrictions they practiced in Israel.  Second, when confronted with the idolatry of worshiping King Nebuchadnezzar, they remained committed to the one true God. They believed that God could deliver them, but if he didn’t, they still would not bow down to the golden image. Revelation 12:11 (NASB) says, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” They refused to cling to that last great idol, life itself.

In an increasingly hostile environment in which we live, Christians must learn to swim upstream. God has created in the salmon the need to travel up-river to fulfill the procreation of their species. In like manner, God has put in the hearts of believers the desire to endure the trials of our up-hill battle to receive our reward, the soon return of Christ.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website: 
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
           
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com


Image used with permission by Microsoft.

 

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Testing of Praise


The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold,
And each is tested by the praise accorded him. 
(Proverbs 27:21 NASB)

Most people enjoy a good compliment, yet the praise afforded you, if not appropriately received, can be more detrimental to your character than your trials.

Trials such as uncomplimentary things people may say about us, by nature, often produce humility in our lives. On the other hand, tributes given to us can sometimes engender pride in our hearts. It is not so much the praise that is problematic, but how we start to conclude that we deserve this public applause. The Christian life is a cooperative effort between God and man, but at times our thinking about what we do and God does, becomes a little skewed. We start to take added credit for our success than is warranted.   Our arrogance becomes clear when we lose a measure of gratefulness to God and others who have generally been part of our success. When we are on this slippery slope, others can see it in us, but we cannot see it in ourselves. Pride always blinds us to our faults.   Due to our vanity, we need someone around us that loves us enough to tell us the truth

Am I saying that you can never receive a sincere compliment, of course not? We are called to affirm each other. A simple thank you will suffice for any commendation, yet we must also realize that all blessings ultimately come from God, and without him, we can do nothing.

Publically confessing that we have a propensity to take God’s glory is the antidote to pride. You will only be telling people what they already know.  They will be glad that you recognize it also.

Ken Barnes, the author of  “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website: 
Ken Barnes' Book Site
Blogs: http://kensblog757.blogspot.com
           
 http://gleanings757.blogspot.com