The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

When God Is Quiet and the World Is Loud

This post was written by Kaitlyn Bouchillon and first appeared on KaitlynBouchillon.com

My throat is in that tight, choking grip that comes when you’ve just cried or are holding back the tears.

It’s both/and today.

There is so much noise everywhere we turn – in the media, in Facebook feeds and Twitter streams, in classes and books and everywhere more words.

This world is loud, mighty loud, and I haven’t right known what to say.

So I’ve pulled back. I’ve laid my head down an hour earlier each night. I’ve said no to movie dates and study groups and found my way to a blanket and a quiet minute in my room. With everything spinning around, I’ve hit pause and slowed down because I’ve grown so dizzy.

If you were to sum up how you are or even just your week in one word, what would it be? You might say full, happy, overwhelming, or surprising.

I would say I’m tired.

In fact, for the past two months my word would be tired and tired again.

And so I’m here, with throat tight and bags under my eyes from nights full of nightmares. There are rarely tears and it isn’t even sadness. It’s a weight pressing down and down I drown. We can doggy-paddle for a long time, sucking in air while trying to kick and squirm and reach the shore.

It’s been dark, y’all. And it’s been noisy.

The last thing I want to do is add to the noise, but as I sat on this Sabbath Sunday, homework put away and mind focused on the sermon this morning, I felt compelled to write where I’m at before telling you what I’ve seen.

There are questions and walls up and doubts I don’t know how to put words to, but there is a certainty and an assurance of Who He is. His goodness hasn’t gone anywhere.

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He doesn’t abandon His people. He does not walk away. He does not un-choose us. He does not, He does not, He does not.

Sometimes the enemy attacks and we are left wounded and bleeding – but He is Healer.

Sometimes there isn’t an explanation for it – but we know He hasn’t gone anywhere.

And I’ll be honest with you, “it happens to the best of us” is both trite and inaccurate. Because sometimes it just plain happens and it’s just plain hard. It can feel like a season of groping in the dark, hands straight out in front of you, searching aimlessly for the light switch.

But this is what I know and this is what I am sure of:

He is the light of the world.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 NLT

What the enemy means for evil can be turned for our good. It will be turned for our good. He is always Faithful.

This morning I gathered with my people, the church it took me almost two years to find, the Body that feels like home. I listened, my heart beating fast, as our pastor tackled the tough question “Can I lose my salvation?”

Listen, let me make this clear: I am not doubting my salvation. I know I am His beyond a shadow of a doubt. But boy am I thankful for a pastor who doesn’t shy away from the hard conversations!

You can listen to the full sermon here [likely to be updated tomorrow with today’s sermon], but as he spoke of the covenant God made to His people I was struck by this promise-keeping, all-knowing, forever-loving God.

In the Old Testament, the most secure covenant was a blood covenant. This would be made by splitting animals in half and laying them in two rows. Then, the two people entering the covenant would grasp hands and walk between the animals together. It sounds gross and absolutely disgusting because it is.

But it was meant to signify that if one person didn’t uphold their side of the covenant, they were saying “may it be done to me as it was to these animals.” When God entered into the covenant with Abram, He put Abram to sleep before making the covenant.

God promised both sides of the bargain. In His promise-keeping, all-knowing, forever-loving way, He knew that we would never be able to keep our promise. We would fail, we would falter, and we would never uphold our side. The penalty would be ours to pay.

And so God promised. Both sides. And then He paid the penalty.

Jesus came, His body broke, and the veil was split in two. He broke so that all things could be made new.

He is a promise-keeping God to a promise-breaking people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 NLT

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He is working in each season, even when the world is noisy and He feels like a whisper. That still, small voice is present and active. We are more than conquerors in Christ, through Christ, with Christ.

You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 NLT

Hold on, friend. Hold on to what you know is true in the light when you can not see it in the dark.And if there comes a time when your grip loosens and you feel yourself falling, rest in knowing this promise-keeping God has got you tight and sure.

And now to him who can keep you on your feet, standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating—to our one God, our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master, be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time, and now, and to the end of all time. Yes.

Jude 1:24-25 The Message

This post was written by Kaitlyn Bouchillon and first appeared on KaitlynBouchillon.com

The Pursuit of Work Through Redemption (Side B)

*This is part four of the blog series: A Mini-Biblical-Theology of Work. Part 1 can be found here, part 2 here, and part 3 here.

Sin infected everything. Jesus redeems everything…including our work.

He restores the purpose that vocation originally had in creation, namely, worship. We can worship through our work! How?

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Yesterday, in Ephesians 6:5-8 we saw that worshipping through our work begins by working for God (details here). But, this is not all Ephesians 6 has to say about the manner in which we approach our vocations. There is a second important truth for us to see within these verses…

We worship in our jobs by doing our work because we get God!

We do our work for God, but we also do our work because we get God! This frees our work from the curse of Genesis 3. No longer does our work feel like a waste…on the contrary…it becomes an infinitely valuable witness to the world! To see this, look again at Ephesians 6:7-8…

“[We render] service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this HE WILL RECEIVE BACK  from the Lord…”

A parallel passage in Colossians further shows us what Paul means…

Colossians 3:24, “…from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”

Paul is speaking directly to slaves who receive no pay for their work and basically says, “Does your work feel pointless? Meaningless? Futile? You’re earthly master is not the one you need to look to for a reward.  The Lord is who you work for and it is from him that you will be rewarded! He has an inheritance for you worth more than anything anyone on this earth could ever pay!”

What is that reward? It is nothing less than God HIMSELF! The reward of heaven IS GOD!

GreatReward

Jesus died so that we might have this reward…the treasure of knowing God the father through him! The ultimate reward awaiting us is being in the presence of God…in the presence of Jesus! There is nothing greater (Psalm 16:11)! Paul says that explicitly in Philippians 3:8 that nothing compares to the value of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord!

“…I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of KNOWING CHRIST JESUS my Lord.”

Nothing compares with knowing Jesus and the promise of Revelation 22:4 is that we will know his direct presence!

“They will SEE his face…”

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Does your work feel meaningless…like a waste? When we do our work for God, not a moment is wasted, it all has eternal meaning because through it you are investing in the eternal reward of knowing Christ!

By doing our work for him, we come to know him more, his character, his heart… his selfless love for people… we give him glory for our “successes” and he sustains us through our “failures.”

We find more and more joy in him knowing that he is the reward that won’t pass away. Every dime I ever make will burn… but the depths at which I know Christ will only be dug deeper for all eternity! You are working to know more of Jesus!

When knowing Christ more is the reward of your work… then no job is pointless! And I can work with joy! Paul says this to slaves! God is your reward! Your work is not a waste! It is a witness! Working with joy because you get God shows the world that he is of ultimate value! Jesus is the ultimate reward! Your work becomes a witness to the world of the supreme value of Jesus! Paul makes this clear in Titus 2:10…

“…[do your work] showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”

When we do work for God and his glory… and we do our work because we get God… we are adorning the Gospel! We are showing it to be true! We are witnessing to the truth that ultimate joy and satisfaction is found in Jesus… not in any glory form a job, or reward from a job.

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Now we can open our mouths with the Gospel at Work. We can talk to those around us who treat work like it is everything… tell them why our life is not completely invested in climbing the corporate ladder as fast as I can at the expense of anyone and everyone around me…because Jesus set me free from that. I don’t work for me… I work for him.

We can talk to those around us who treat work like it is nothing… it’s just a pointless, necessary evil to live. We can tell them who we find eternal joy and meaning through our work…because, through our work we are coming to know Jesus more and more… and that reward is eternal.

We can speak the Gospel at work, because the Gospel has transformed the way we work! It’s a new life at work… where we do our work for Jesus, and we do our work because we get Jesus!

*I’m leaving the country to do pastor training in Haiti. This blog series will continue upon my return in about two weeks. We will explore what work looks like in eternity and more of the practical implications for our jobs right now. Please keep myself and the Haiti team in your prayers.

The Pursuit of Work Through Redemption (Side A)

*This is part three of the blog series: A Mini-Biblical-Theology of Work. Part 1 can be found here and part 2 can be found here.

Sin has infected everything, but the good news of the gospel is that Christ died to redeem everything! We typically focus on the fact that Christ died to redeem us… and that is key! It is central to the gospel!

Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed US from the CURSE of the law by becoming a curse for us…”

Yet, through his death, Jesus is not just redeeming US from the curse of sin…he is redeeming EVERYTHING!

Revelation 21:5, “…Behold, I am making ALL THINGS new…”

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Sin infected all things, Jesus is redeeming all things! This includes our work! Jesus redeems our work from the problem of the fall back to the purpose of creation! Because of what Jesus has done we can worship through our work once again! How? What does it look like for us to worship through our vocations?

The apostle Paul helps us think through this in Ephesians 6:5-8.

“Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.”

Now, I realize this passage is specifically speaking about slaves serving their masters and not employees working for their employers. My purpose in this blog is not to explore all that the Bible has to say about slavery…although I do plan to tackle that in the future.

However, amidst our present vocational concerns, I do think that what Paul is saying here applies to us in our work because of the end of verse 8.

“…knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a BONDSERVANT or is FREE.”

What Paul is saying applies to the slave and the free worker. So why is his primary focus slavery? Two reasons… First, more abuses existed in slave/master relationships than in free employee/employer situations. Thus, it would have been a higher priority for Paul to aim the bulk of his instructions at that institution.

Second, if most of us struggle with the futility of our work, how much more so a slave? They didn’t pick their job, they don’t get paid for their job… it really seems pointless. Yet, Paul can look at what appears to be the most dead end task in the world and still offer hope for worshipping amidst one’s labor. If he can say this to slaves, how much more so to those who are free?

By aiming his instructions at those in forced labor, Paul simultaneously instructs those of us in free labor situations all the more!

Jesus has freed our work from the problem of the fall back to the purpose of creation…worship! Paul points us to two primary ways in which we now worship through our work. We will tackle one today and one tomorrow.

First, We do our work for God!

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This addresses the sin of Genesis 3 in which we attempted to work for our own glory. Now, we do our work for the Lord.

Ephesians 6:5, “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, AS YOU WOULD CHRIST…”

Ephesians 6:7, “…rendering service with a good will AS TO THE LORD and not to man…” 

Colossians 3:24, “…you ARE serving the Lord Christ.”

We worship through our work by working for God and his glory…not our own! Do you feel the freedom in that? Working for my glory leads to the endless rat race of self-promotion. Satisfaction is always to be found in my next promotion or raise. My goal is always moving and so I can never truly attain it!

However, working for God and his glory sets me free from all of that! I no longer have to kill myself working overtime to promote me…because it’s not about me anymore! My goal has changed from my glory to God’s and the best news is that this is a goal that doesn’t move!

Working for the glory of God is about doing my work in such a way that “images” him to others. I am to work in such a way that shows what he is like, that reveals his character and in doing so I find joy and satisfaction…not because of what I do, but who I’m doing it for! Ephesians 6:5-6 help us see what it looks like to work in a way that “images” God to the world.

“Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, WITH A SINCERE HEART, as you would Christ…not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God FROM THE HEART…”

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Setting before ourselves the truth that we ultimately do our work for Jesus transforms our hearts! We work with a sincere heart! We begin to display the character of Christ in our work! Do you have a horrible job? A horrible boss? A mind-numbing job? One that feels pointless? You know, it’s the temporary job you took until you get the real one that will really be fulfilling. Wonder how you could ever work with a sincere heart? Remember… you work for Jesus!

When you work for Jesus, you will begin to display the character of Jesus!

You serve HIM with a sincere heart and your work becomes an act of worship! It points to Jesus!

Ephesians 6:7, “…render service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man…”

Notice what Paul is saying. We render service…we serve others (our employers, our employees, our customers, our clients, our families) as if we were literally rendering that service to the Lord, not to man.

That is mind blowing and paradigm shifting!

How does that truth change the way you approach your boss? Remember, you’re rendering service to the Lord! How does that change your interaction with clients? How does that change the way you are serving your family through working?

The truth that we do our work for God transforms us to display his character and “image” him through our vocation.

And it is vital to note that we can do this, point to the glory of God through our work, whether we are “successful” or whether we “fail” according to the world’s standards!

Working for God may take you down the path of promotion. David went from being a shepherd to being a King. Yet, working for God may lead to nothing but lateral movements in your career. I think of Lydia who sold fabric when she became a believer and as far as we know that is what she kept doing for the rest of her life.  Working for God may even lead to demotion! Paul went from being a respected Pharisee to a despised prisoner. I’m afraid that demotion is part of God’s plan more often than any of us would like to admit or even think about.

Yet, promotion/lateral movements/demotion no longer determine the true success or value of your work! Your work is no longer defined by what you do, but by who you work for… and success is faithfully working for Him! Putting him on display no matter if you “succeed” or “fail” in the eyes of the world!

failure_successJesus has freed our work from the sin of Genesis 3! We no longer worship our work, we worship God through our work by doing our work for him and not ourselves.

Work is no longer our everything… he is!

This is the first way in which we can worship God through our work because of the redeeming work of Jesus.

There is a second, equally important, truth about worshipping God through our work…and that we will tackle tomorrow.

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