Showing posts with label Labor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Labor. Show all posts

Monday, September 7, 2020

Laboring Until Christ Is Formed In You

According to the United States Department of Labor, Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. From a life perspective, Labor Day for most means, summer vacation is over, students return to school, college and universities to begin a new year of learning, which labels Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer. 

In a similar way, believers are called also too celebrate Labor Day but for more than one day a year. The Apostle Paul tells us, "And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves." (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) Who they were is not mentioned. However, it is evident that the church was not left without appointed persons to equip the saints for the work of ministry. We know that there were elders ordained over the church at Ephesus, and over the churches in Crete (Acts 20:17; Titus 1:5), and that there were bishops and deacons at Philippi (Philemon 1:1), and here, "who are over you in the Lord" would lead us to believe that similar leaders would have been appointed in every newly organized church. 

In the King James Version of the Bible the phrase "recognize those who labor among you" is "know them which labor among you." This gives the idea of not only church leaders, but also those who labor as coordinators or head over ministries, those active in ministry, as well as elders, bishops and deacons. The word “know” carries with it the idea that the believers in the local church were not to make themselves strangers toward those who labor in ministry or to be ignorant of their needs. They should also seek to be personally acquainted with them and trust them concerning their own personal life as well as spiritual matters. 

"And admonish you" means, to put in mind; and then to warn, entreat, exhort. It is a part of the duty of church leaders to put the people in whom they serve and lead in mind of the truth; to warn them of danger; to exhort them to perform their duty; to admonish them if they go astray. As those who labor perform these duties, believers are to respond by "esteeming them very highly in love." Church leaders who are faithful in their office and function, can expect high regard from the believers they lead and serve, not because they deserve it, per se, but because of their unwavering labors. The Apostle Paul tells Timothy something similar, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." (1 Timothy 5:17) 

Paul tells, of these laborers, "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you." (Galatians 4:19) Here is a striking illustration of what church leaders are to do concerning the people they lead and serve. Church leaders are to labor over the people until Christ reigns wholly in their hearts. Church leaders who are truly called into the ministry will labor over the people they lead and serve not as a labor of struggle or because it is their "job," but as a labor of love. Paul tells us, "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves." (Romans 15:1) The phrase "who are strong" means the strong “in faith” not limited to, but most likely church leaders who should not be novices, but be mature, that is, strong in faith. They ought to bear; to lift up; to bear away; to remove; to bear with; to endure patiently, the weaknesses of the weaker believers. Church leaders should be willing to deny themselves for the sake of promoting the happiness of others. 

So, this Labor Day let us be mindful, that as Christians, especially those called into the ministry, we are not to observe a day free of labor, but we are called to labor with one another in love, until Christ is formed in you. Happy Labor Days...    

Monday, August 27, 2018

Laboring More Than All

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, was created by the labor movement in the United States and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed by the Central Labor Union. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers throughout the United States. In 1887 Oregon became the first state of the United States to make Labor Day an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day. Today, all the States, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories have made Labor Day a legal holiday.

Man was created to labor in some form. Prior to man's fall we see, "Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it." (Genesis 2:15) The word "tend" or "dress" (KJV) comes from several Hebrew words meaning, to labor; do work; to work for another; serve another by labor; to make oneself a servant; to be led or enticed to serve. The word "keep" means, to have charge of; to guard; keep watch; protect; observe. We also see in creation, another aspect of mans labors, "Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28) Man was to show his fruitfulness, become numerous, make subservient and rule over creation.  

With these things in mind, believers must understand that God's plan for man has not changed. The only thing that changed, on man's part, was selling out his God given purpose, to God's enemy, Satan. The laboring that Adam would now do would be, "In toil you shall eat...In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread." (Genesis 3:17-19) Adam's labors would be by his own strength, in toil, sorrow, pain and hardship. This would be his lot in life. This did not fall on Adam alone, but as the federal representative of all mankind, this would also fall upon all the peoples of the earth. Although man's labors would be by his own strength and abilities, the call upon him had not changed in the mind of God. Believers are called to labor, not just in the market place to acquire finances, but moreover, for Jesus the King and the expansion of His Kingdom. In other words, believers are to labor; do work; to make oneself a servant; to have charge of; to guard; keep watch; protect; observe and to rule over. We see this in the life of Jesus throughout the gospels. Jesus set the example and then gave a command to the disciples and for all who would believe in Him. This is expressed through what we call "The Great Commission." 

Jesus tells us, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20) The authority of Christ is the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises as well as, the power of rule. Now of course we know that Jesus has the power and authority; He has the ability or strength to exercise and rule, but what about the believer? The Holy Spirit speaking through the Apostle Paul tells us,"And He (God the Father) has put all things under His (Jesus Christ) feet and has appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church [a headship exercised throughout the church], Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself]." (Ephesians 1:22-23 AMPC)

As we can see, God's power and authority is working in Christ and therefore through the church, which is His body. However, this is not upon our strength or ability, but through two most wonderful things, by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8) The Apostle Paul in his labors for Christ tell us, "But by the grace (the unmerited favor and blessing) of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not [found to be] for nothing (fruitless and without effect). In fact, I worked harder than all of them [the apostles], though it was not really I, but the grace (the unmerited favor and blessing) of God which was with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10 AMPC) This is how the church, every believe is to labor; do work; to make oneself a servant; to have charge of; to guard; keep watch; protect; observe and to rule over. It is through the grace of God. One of the best biblical definitions of grace is, "[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight." (Philippians 2:13 AMPC)  

The grace of God is available to every believer who desires to receive it and act upon the call, the labors, in which we are called. Every believe has been freely given the wonderful ability and strength of God, from God, "Yet grace (God’s unmerited favor) was given to each of us individually [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and bounteous] gift." (Ephesians 4:7 AMPC) Even though Adam brought to mankind all of our labors through our own strength and abilities, we see, "For if because of one man’s (Adam) trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)." (Romans 5:17 AMPC) WOW!!! 

Even though we may celebrate Labor Day in the natural as the social and economic achievements of American workers, we believers celebrate the tremendous, stupendous, achievements that the Father worked in Christ. Through Christ and the grace of God, man is completely restored to his legal and rightful place. Man is restored to the place that the Father had originally intended for him, which Adam had forfeited. So, let us keep in mind the very thing that the Apostle Paul said about himself, as it also applies to every believer, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) Therefore, "I (we, every believer) have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]." (Philippians 4:13 AMPC) Thank you for your still amazing grace, LORD...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Resting From Our Labors

The first Monday in September is a holiday, created by the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the USA. Through the years, the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. Through the following years other states passed laws to establish Labor Day. Finally, on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. Labor day has also become known as the unofficial end of summer.

Taking a rest from laboring is an important part of life. We see that God Himself rested after completing the work of creation, "Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." (Genesis 2:1-3) God Himself sees the benefit of resting from to the point where under the Mosaic economy He called for one day of rest, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." (Genesis 20:8-11)

But what about today? Should believers have a day of rest? Yes, but not in the sense of a special day. The Apostle Paul tells us, "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind." (Romans 14:5) This is why I said that believers should have a day of rest but not in the sense of a special day. The rest for the believer starts with and continue in, Jesus Christ. First, Jesus gives all people an invitation to rest, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) 

Although Israel was to observe a day of rest, under the Mosaic economy, they never really came into true rest, "And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18-19) "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: So I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest, although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: And God rested on the seventh day from all His works, and again in this place: They shall not enter My rest. Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience." (Hebrews 4:1-6) 

So, let us see the true rest that God has promised by looking at the statement Jesus made in Matthew eleven. To "come" to Jesus is to come humbly and to come in faith. God provides salvation through Jesus Christ, which includes the fact that man must give himself to the Lord Jesus Christ in commitment before it becomes effective. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me,” and then immediately added, “and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37). Salvation is not through a creed, a church, a ritual, a pastor, a priest, or any other such human means-but through Jesus Christ, who said, "Come to Me." To come to Christ is to believe in Him and submit to His lordship. 

"All who are," indicates a condition that already exists. Those whom Jesus invites to Himself are those who already are weary and heavy-laden. "Weary," or “to labor,” carries the idea of working to the point of utter exhaustion. John uses the term to describe Jesus’ fatigue when He and the disciples reached Sychar after a long, hot journey from Jerusalem (John 4:6). Weary refers figuratively to arduous toil in seeking to please God and know the way of salvation. Jesus calls to Himself everyone who is exhausted from trying to find and please God in his own resources. Jesus invites the person who is wearied from his vain search for truth through human wisdom, who is exhausted from trying to earn salvation, and who continuously struggles trying to achieve God’s standard of righteousness by his own efforts. 

"Heavy-laden," indicates that at some time in the past a great load was laid on the wearied person. It suggests the external burdens caused by the futile efforts of works righteousness. In Jesus’ day, the teachings of the religious leaders had become so massive, demanding, and all-encompassing that they prescribed standards and formulas for virtually every human activity. It was all but impossible even to learn all the traditions, and was completely impossible to keep them all. Jesus spoke of the heavy loads of religious tradition that the scribes and Pharisees laid on the people’s shoulders, "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." (Matthew 23:4). In a similar way, Peter, at the Jerusalem Council where the apostles and elders came together to discuss important doctrinal issues, noted that the Judaizers were trying to control believers with the same man-made “yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear” (Acts 15:10). 

Therefore, to enter God’s rest is to cease from all efforts at self-help in trying to earn salvation. It is a place where God gives His children freedom from the cares and burdens that rob them of peace and joy. It is to have the wonderful assurance that our eternal destiny is secure in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. It is to be freed from vain philosophies, dead works, man's traditions and false doctrines, that is, freedom from dead religion that has no power, which puts the focus on self rather than Christ. When we enter into God’s rest, we are given the assurance that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)

Finally, resting in Christ also means depending on Him. Believers can depend on our Heavenly Father with utter certainty, because, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19) "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 4:19) 

Although "Labor Day" is a national holiday where the American worker can rest from their labors for a day, believers can find their rest in Jesus Christ every day. PTL 

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Labor of Love

According to the United States Department of Labor, Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. From a life perspective, Labor Day for most means, summer vacation is over, students return to school, college and universities to begin a new year of learning, which labels Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer.

In a similar way, believers are called also too celebrate Labor Day but for more than one day a year. The Apostle Paul tells us, "And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves." (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) Who they were is not mentioned. However, it is evident that the church was not left without appointed persons to equip the saints for the work of ministry. We know that there were elders ordained over the church at Ephesus, and over the churches in Crete (Acts 20:17; Titus 1:5), and that there were bishops and deacons at Philippi (Philemon 1:1), and here, "who are over you in the Lord" would lead us to believe that similar leaders would have been appointed in every newly organized church. 

In the King James Version of the Bible the phrase "recognize those who labor among you" is "know them which labor among you." This gives the idea of not only church leaders, but also those who labor as coordinators or head over ministries, those active in ministry, as well as elders, bishops and deacons. The word “know” carries with it the idea that the believers in the local church were not to make themselves strangers toward those who labor in ministry or to be ignorant of their needs. They should also seek to be personally acquainted with them and trust them concerning their own personal life as well as spiritual matters.  

"And admonish you" means, to put in mind; and then to warn, entreat, exhort. It is a part of the duty of church leaders to put the people in whom they serve and lead in mind of the truth; to warn them of danger; to exhort them to perform their duty; to admonish them if they go astray. As those who labor perform these duties, believers are to respond by "esteeming them very highly in love." Church leaders who are faithful in their office and function, can expect high regard from the believers they lead and serve, not because they deserve it, per se, but because of their unwavering labors. The Apostle Paul tells Timothy something similar, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." (1 Timothy 5:17)

Paul tells, of these laborers, "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you." (Galatians 4:19) Here is a striking illustration of what church leaders are to do concerning the people they lead and serve. Church leaders are to labor over the people until Christ reigns wholly in their hearts. Church leaders who are truly called into the ministry will labor over the people they lead and serve not as a labor of struggle or because it is their "job," but as a labor of love. Paul tells us, "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves." (Romans 15:1) The phrase "who are strong" means the strong “in faith” not limited to, but most likely church leaders who should not be novices, but be mature, strong in faith. They ought to bear; to lift up; to bear away; to remove; to bear with; to endure patiently, the weaknesses of the weaker believers. Church leaders should be willing to deny themselves to promote the happiness of others. 

So, this Labor Day let us be mindful, that as Christians, especially those called into the ministry, we are not to observe a day free of labor, but we are called to labor with one another in love, until Christ is formed in you. Happy Labor Days...