9/19/14

Wonder and Our Work



Our wonder over God is intimately tied to our work for Him.

As a young believer, I mistakenly believed the only work that glorified God was “ministry”—meaning, the Christian service (missions, evangelism, witnessing for Christ, the pastorate, working in a church, etc.). I didn’t understand how all our work, from washing dishes to writing corporate reports, is to be done to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17).

I remember the day another truth broke through. I was reading in Ephesians 2, and verse 10 says, "...we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." 

Before the foundation of the world, the Lord chose work and acts of service that would be my responsibility. 


Jesus told His disciples the Father was working, and that He, Jesus, also came to work (John 5:17).

He said, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son and shows Hi all things that He Himself does” (John 5:19). So, our Savior watched what His Father was doing, and then—as an act of obedience and desiring to please Him—Jesus simply joined in. 

And Jesus is a model for us. 

We are to seek God, try to understand what He is doing in the world and in our lives – and get with the program!

Where does the wonder come in? Wonder opens us to new possibilities. We begin to see God more fully, and out of gratitude, we'll want to serve Him.

As we get to know the heart of God in greater intimacy, we will be more attuned to His will, and we will sense when He has a task for us to do.

As we walk with Him—listening for direction, sensitive to how He is moving—the Lord will begin to open up to us His purposes for each circumstance. He is at work in each one, and it is our privilege to join with Him in accomplishing those purposes and plans.

But we don’t get God's will by osmosis. We discover God’s purposes in His Word, and through prayer. And sometimes, as we rub shoulders with godly Christian brothers and sisters.

John D. Beckett wrote about discovering and learning to love our work in his book, Loving Monday. After Beckett’s conversion, he discovered the Christian worldview and how it differed from much of the secular things he’d been brought up to believe. This greatly affected the businessman’s view of work.

“In stark contrast to my prior thinking,” he wrote, “the Bible enabled me to view my work as having great worth to God, provided I would bring it into harmony with Him in every way possible. As a believer and a business person, I was no longer a second-class citizen. Nor did I need to leave my Christian convictions and biblical values outside the office entrance when I headed into work on Monday mornings.”*

An understanding of God’s purposes, as expressed in the scriptures
 gives value to every calling, from the pastorate to motherhood. 

It's not just business or career choices that are valuable in God's program. 

For example, in a culture that devalues the work of women in the home, especially motherhood, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Jill Savage discussed motherhood as a high calling and blessed work. **

Jill said, "... moms begin to lose vision for what they do because it is so mundane at times. ... so much of what we do isn't missed until we don't do it. But it is so very valuable. ... We need to have a sense of why we're doing what we're doing."

Nancy said, "... in this area (as in every other area of life) it is so important that we go back to the Scripture to find our instructions, our goals, our purpose in life, our missions statement."

Exactly. 

The world may not give value to our work, but the Word of God does. And that is where we need to go to find our marching orders, no matter our calling or tasks.

Someday, when Christians stand before the Bema (Judgment) Seat of Christ, we will give an account of all the work we did for God and His Kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:10). We won’t be judged on the quantity of our works, but the quality will be tested. God will judge our motives and the source of our power in working for Him (1 Corinthians 3:13-15); it will be clear on that Day—some work just won’t stand the test.

The more I cultivate true wonder over God and remember that Jesus is going to return with His “reward” (or "recompense," Revelation 22:12), the purer my works become. And that’s as it should be: "... everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure" (1 John 3:3).

God has ordained work for us; it’s a wonder-filled, life-time adventure in following and serving Him!

Think about your life a moment. How can cultivating greater wonder give you greater understanding of God’s purposes and motivate your work for Him?
- Dawn
Check out all the "Wonder" articles under the sidebar label WONDER. 


* John D. Beckett, Loving Monday: Succeeding in Business without Selling Your Soul, (IVP Books, 2006), p. 74
** "Professionalizing Motherhood: The Value of Motherhood" - Revive Our Hearts broadcast and transcript, 10-15-02
Graphic adapted: Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

8/23/14

Wonder and Our Walk


When God captures our hearts with wonder – when we stand in awe of who who He is and what
He does – we should be driven to consider our attitudes, behavior (ways) and relationships.
In other words, wonder should affect our walk. (See some of the things we know about God at the end of this post.)*


We may not know everything about God, but the Bible reveals quite a lot about His character, attributes and plans. If you are in a relationship with God in Christ, and you sit down and read each of the verses in the list at the end of this post, it will likely stir something within you to live for our great God!

But just knowing about God doesn't guarantee we will live for Him. Even Satanwho knows far more than we do about Godstill lives in rebellion against Him.

It is only when Christ redeems us and the Holy Spirit lives within us that we finally have the inner "bent" to obey the Lord. Our stony hearts that only want to rebel against God are transformed. We may obey our Father imperfectly, but our heart and eternal destination are radically changed.
When I focus on the majesty of God and who I am in relation to Him, the Spirit of God brings fresh humility into my soul.  
I want to love him more. I want to obey and serve him more. I want to be like Him in his goodness, love, mercy, faithfulness, etc. Like Paul, I may still do the things that I don't wish to do, because my flesh rises up against the truth, but the Holy Spirit continues to convict me and draw me into closer intimacy with God.

When I stood outside under the starry sky last December on the night that started my journey into "wonder," my insignificance in the universe actually frightened me a bit. I felt so small. I felt like the Psalmist may have felt when he said, "When I consider Your heavens ... What is man that You take thought of him...?" (Psalm 8:3-4a)

But then I remembered what my Father did to give me worth in Christ. What a wonder that He should set his love upon me, redeem me and give a new heart! When I think about the cross, I'm moved to "reset" my heart on following Jesus.

Some time ago, I shared with a group of women about "The Christian Walk" as found in Ephesians 5:1-20. Verse 1 says we should be "imitators of God, as beloved children." We cannot imitate a God we do not know. Just as a child can be seen walking in her father's footsteps on the beach, we can know and closely follow our Father God, step by step.
  • Ephesians 5:2 tells us to walk in love, and subsequent scriptures explain what that looks like.   
  • Verse 8 says, "walk as children of light." Again, we need to learn what the Light of God looks like so we can imitate that light. It should affect our conduct; we need to walk in holiness, because He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). 
  • Ephesians 5:15 says, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as foolish." We gain this wisdom as we read and apply the truth of the Word of God.
It's interesting to me that following these "Christian Walk" scriptures are clear instructions about our walk in marriage (vv. 22-33). This follows the pattern of knowing God and how He works, and a walk that flows out of wonder concerning His plan. Marriage is to reflect the profound mystery of the relationship between Christ and the Church.

Romans 6:1-5 explains this as well. Because of the wonder and glory of the Gospel message - because we were baptized into Christ in His death (we are dead to sin) and will also to be united with him in a resurrection like His - we are to "walk in newness of life." 

Revival is a fresh awareness of God's presence
 and and understanding of who He is and our relationship to Him.

Perhaps one of the greatest reasons we need a revival of wonder is because our "walk" is often more like "stumbling around" instead of following hard after God.

Do you see the wonder-walk connection in your life?


Check out all the "Wonder" articles under the sidebar label WONDER. 


- Image (adapted) courtesy of franky242 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

* The Scriptures tell us about God 
(and I'm not even scratching the surface here!)
 
1. God is the Creator (Genesis 1:1-25; Nehemiah 9:6; Isaiah 40:28; Colossians 1:16; Revelation
4:11). 
2. God is sovereign (2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Chronicles 29:11-12; Job 42:2; Psalm 103:19; 115:3; 135:6; Proverbs 16:9; Isaiah 46:9-11; Romans 9:18-21; Ephesians 1:11; 1 Timothy 6:15).
3. God is holy (Exodus 15:11; Leviticus 19:2; 1 Samuel 2:2; Isaiah 6:3-5; Habakkuk 1:13a; 1 Peter 1:15-16)
4. God is just (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 89:14; Romans 3:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 John 1:9; Revelation 15:3).
5. God is loving (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 8:39; Ephesians 2:4; Galatians 2:20; 1 John 4:8, 16).
6. God is good (1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 25:834:8; 86:5; 100:5; 119:68; 136:1; Lamentations 3:25; Nahum 1:7; James 1:17).
7. God is merciful (Deuteronomy 4:31; Psalm 145:8; Luke 6:36; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 4:15-16; 1 Peter 1:3).
8. God is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9; 32:4; Psalm 36:5-6; 89:1, 8, 14; Lamentations 3:22-24; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3).
9. God is wise (Proverbs 3:19; Jeremiah 10:12; Romans 16:26-27; 1 Corinthians 3:19; 1 Timothy 1:17).
10. God is powerful (Genesis 18:14a; Job 9:4; 26:14; Psalm 62:11; 145:3; 147:5; Isaiah 40:28-29; Jeremiah 32:27; Zephaniah 3:17; Matthew 19:26; 1 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 3:20-21).












7/19/14

Wonder and Our Wisdom

The wisdom of God makes me wonder about Him sometimes. I simply cannot understand what He's doing. But it's foolish to jump to conclusions about the Lord.

Proverbs 3:7 says, "Be not wise in your own eyes." Instead, we need to "fear the Lord, and turn away from evil." The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom in our hearts (Psalm 111:10a)
Isaiah 5:21 takes this a step further and says, "Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!"

Part of my wonder over God is knowing that I can never completely know what He is thinking. He is omniscient; He knows everything - and I, as one of His simple creatures, do not.

But on the other hand, the Lord gives us wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-6). The apostle Paul says to believers: "... we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16b). And Jesus told his disciples, "... everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15b). And after Jesus' ascension to heaven, He left believers the indwelling Holy Spirit who guides us (John 16:13-16; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16) and reveals truth to us.

Given all the wisdom we have from God and His Word, it is foolish to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6; 12:15).

One of the most amazing scriptures about God's wisdom is 1 Corinthians 1:25. On the surface, it appears God can be foolish, but the meaning is: those things that God requires, commands or appoints for us may seem foolish to people; but there is simply no comparison between God's wondrous wisdom and the "wisdom" of the world. He is the source of all true wisdom, and the wisdom of this world is "folly" with God (1 Corinthians 3:19).
The "world system"ungodly secular philosophies, anti-God worldviews and false religionsviews the cross and Jesus' sacrifice as "foolishness," but those who have been transformed by its power appreciate the wonder and wisdom of God in sending His Son to die for the sins of the world.
Many powerful wisdom principles are found in the book of Proverbs. The writer of Proverbs urged his son to make his ear "attentive" to wisdom and to incline his heart toward understanding (Proverbs 2:1-2). The Lord, he said "stores us sound wisdom for the upright" (v. 7).

When we sow wisdom, we reap many benefits. It will "keep" and "guard" us; and when we prize wisdom, it can lead to honor (4:5-8, 13). Proverbs also encourages us to walk with the wise, because their wisdom can rub off on us (13:20; see also 1 Corinthians 15:33). Wisdom is an advantage in moving toward success (Ecclesiastes 10:10b). It will also help us fight our battles (20:18; 24:6).

While the Spirit of God gifts some with unusual wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8a; Ephesians 1:17), we can all ask for and receive more wisdom (James 1:5). In fact, wisdom was the one thing I remember praying for as a little girl.

Taking all of these scriptures into account, I see at least eight ways we can grow in godly wisdom. We can:
  • Seek God's heart and perspective.
  • Pray and listen for His voice.
  • Read and meditate on Scripture.
  • Evaluate and discipline our thinking.
  • Compare biblical and secular philosophies.
  • Obey the Truth and reject worldly ideas.
  • Heed godly counsel.
  • Choose our friends carefully
How are you sowing God's jewels of wisdom into your life?

Check out all the "Wonder" articles under the sidebar label WONDER. 

6/21/14

Wonder and Our Worth



When I take time to wonder over God and all He has done, I can't help but express gratitude for one act of creation that's very personalme!

I say with the Psalmist, "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well" (Psalm 139:14).

I do not accept the theory of evolution, because I know I am more than a grouping of cells. I'm more than a system of thoughts or the will to live. I have a spiritual nature. 

I can only understand who I am in light of who God is.

Author Laurie Wallin expresses how our uniqueness is "wonderful" in her book, Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful: Embrace Your Quirks and Live Your Strengths. She says we carry a unique "design motif" from God. And He felt we were "worth fashioning."

"Our lives, our work and our presence here matter more than we can imagine," Wallin wrote. "When we look at our lives, full of the mundane in many ways, we must not miss the elegance of their design. We can't get lost in what we see as flaws when the fact that our hearts beat independently of anything we do makes us miracles."

God created me (Psalm 139:13) with purpose, just as He created the first couple in the Garden. He didn't mess up when He designed mankind. He created Adam and Eve to be perfectand with His personal touch. They were created in His own wonderful image (Genesis 1:26-27) and He breathed into them His own breath of life (Genesis 2:7). 

Mankind still carries the stamp of that image, even though we suffer from the consequences of The Fall. 

It's an awesome, audacious thoughtthat I could bear His image when I am so ungodlike.

So I had to consider: What does this Image of God—this imago Dei—look like? 

One way for me to try to grasp the concept is to think of a fax machine, or even a snapshot. They are copies of the real thing. But it's more than that. It's not about looking like God, but rather, being imprinted with His character.

In other words, I resemble God or mirror Him in many ways because of His "imprint."

  • I have a spiritual nature because my God is a Spirit (John 4:24).
  • I have a measure of intelligence because my God is a rational, reasoning, intelligent being (Isaiah 1:18).
  • I can speak words and express thoughts because my God communicates.
  • I have emotions because my God has emotions (1 John 4:16; Psalm 11:5).
  • I relate to others socially because my God is relational. We were made for fellowship with God and others, not meant to live alone (Genesis 2:18).
  • I can make moral choices because my God is a moral, volitional being. I can reason and choose because God gave me the freedom to do so. My moral compass is damaged because of sin (James 1:14-15), but His law is written on my heart (Romans 2:15), and I can choose the way of freedom (Galatians 5:1). I can put on His holiness (Ephesians 4:24).
  • I can live with purpose because my God is a purposeful being with a sovereign will.
  • I can create beautiful things because my God is a Creator. I can make inventions, write a book or song, and even "create" simple things like my dog's name!
  • I will live forever, because God breathed His breath into my soul. 

We don't have all of God's attributes, of course, because He is God and we are not. (For instance, we are not all-knowing; we are not all-powerful.) We desperately need a Savior to save us because, though we are imprinted with God's image, we are still dead in our sins (Romans 3:23; 8:6-9; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 John 4:14).

Also, although we are all made in His image, God is marvelously creative. We are unique individuals and He has a distinct, wonderful plan for each of our lives. Our greatest satisfaction and fullness will come as we seek the will of God in our daily choices and cooperate in our sanctification—allowing the Father and Spirit to make us like Jesus, the full expression of godliness (1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3).

The wonder of all wonders is that God saw fit to redeem me and restore His untarnished image in me. He gives me worth through His Son. It is the wonder of the "new self (Ephesians 4:24) that comes through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Have you found your truth worth in Christ? 

Check out all the "Wonder" articles under the sidebar label WONDER.  

*Quote:  Laurie Wallin, Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful 
(Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2014), pp. 59-60. 
Image adapted, courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net