The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Month: July, 2014

The Purpose of Work in Creation

*On Sunday, as part of our “New Life” series, I attempted to walk my faith family through what it looks like to live a new life in the context of our vocations (That sermon can be found here). I wanted to give us a miniature biblical theology of work, in other words, a birds-eye-view of what Scripture has to say about our jobs from Genesis to Revelation. So much was left unsaid, yet the positive response was overwhelming. People had never really thought about work in the way it is truly presented in the Bible. So, over the next few days/weeks I plan to expand on the sermon I preached. This will still only be a birds-eye-view, but hopefully this format will allow me to fill in a few of the missing details and play out some more of the practical day-to-day implications. So… let’s start this mini-Biblical-theology of work in the beginning… in Genesis 1.

3f229a5Most of us spend at least 40 hours per week within a vocation. Over a 40 year period that is over 80,000 hours of our lives spent at work.  Even if you don’t have a technical place of employment, you wake ups with some kind of job to do. My wife is a stay-at-home mom and her vocation makes my 40-60 hour work week look like child’s play (pun intended).

So, does the gospel have any effect on how we live the 80,000+ hours of our vocational lives?

The short answer is yes. Scripture actually has a lot to say about our work. From Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, work comes up again and again as a pretty significant Biblical theme, and what the Bible has to say about vocation might actually surprise us.

The grand storyline of Scripture reveals to us 1) the purpose of work in creation, 2) the problem of work after the fall, 3) the pursuit of work through redemption, and 4) the promise of work in the new creation.

So…to form a Biblical theology of vocation we begin in the beginning.

The Purpose of Work in Creation

Genesis 1:1,In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

beginning1
God is the original worker. Genesis opens with God working… creating. He forms, he fills, he makes, and it is all good! God not only works, but he also rests.

Genesis 2:2, “And on the seventh day God finished his WORK that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his WORK that he had done.”

The fact that God “rested” does not mean he got tired and needed a nap! This is a celebration of his creation! Throughout Genesis 1, as God creates, he has mini-celebrations in which he steps back, examines his work, and celebrates by declaring this is good, this is good.

At the completion of creation he says, “…it is VERY good,” and he uses an entire day to step back and take a long, celebratory look!

God works and he “rests.”  This is foundational for understanding our own purpose in working because of the truth revealed in Genesis 1:26.

Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”

Creation-740884
God-the-worker creates us to be like him! We are to be small pictures (images) of what God is like… and this includes in our working, our creating. Just look at the rest of verse 26 which fleshes out some of what it means that we are created in the image of God.

Genesis 1:26“…And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

God is the creator, he is the rules over all, yet, he gave us the vocation of ruling over creation! We “image” on a small scale what God does on a large scale! God said, manage this world… spread throughout it, build, create, shape, work… and do all of it in such a way that you are a small image of me! When people see the way you work, they are seeing a picture of how I work!

We are workers… because God is a worker and we were made to image him! Our work was purposed to point to him!

Your vocation is a part of this plan! It doesn’t matter what your work is or how insignificant you feel it to be… it’s purpose is to point to God! I mean Adam was a gardner for crying out loud (No insult to gardeners… quite the opposite)!

Genesis 2:15, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to WORK it and KEEP it.”

Adam did on small scale in the garden, what we have all been designed to do on large scale throughout the earth, namely, work it and keep it. Every single one of our jobs are a part of working and keeping creation. It doesn’t matter if your job provides a service, or education, or food, or creativity, or entertainment, or recreation, or beautification, or whatever… it is a part of our “ruling” over creation, caring for it, working it, and keeping it.

No matter what your occupation is, it is a part of the same plan with the same ultimate purpose as everyone else’s… to point to the one true worker/creator… God! Work was designed to be worship!

Is not worship us pointing to God as great and good and beautiful?! We were designed to work in a way that on small scale points to the large scale greatness, goodness, and beauty of God!

imgpressThe purpose of our work is worship!

Do you see how this makes every occupation valuable (unless you’re a hit-man or something else that directly opposes God’s goodness)? Every vocation has the potential to point to the glory of God!

“Your work matters not because of what you do, but because of who you work for!” –  Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert (The Gospel at Work)

I think there are many of us who buy into the lie that our occupation doesn’t matter. I’m just a stay-at-home mom. I’m just an assembly line worker. I’m just in advertising. I’m just a sales clerk. I’m just…I’m just… I’m just…

In reality, you are “just” a creation of the living God with the potential to display his glory in your work! Adam was “just” a Gardner! David was “just” a shepherd. Peter was “just” a fisherman, and Jesus was “just” a carpenter!

The Son of God spent over 90% of his life sweeping up sawdust for the glory of God the Father! What does that tell us about the value of work? Would any of us look at Jesus and say that all that time was wasted and pointless? No!

“Your work matters not because of what you do, but because of who you work for!”

My job, as a pastor, is not more valuable than yours, because our jobs have the same purpose… to point to the glory of God! That was the purpose of work in creation! And it was good!

But…

…if we’re honest most of us don’t experience work as a good, God-glorifying thing. It actually surprises most people that work existed before the fall as a part of God’s good creation and is a good gift from God! That might actually make you laugh, because you’ve never experienced work in that way… why?

That is the question we will tackle tomorrow…

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Stories of Transformation…Mike

*On Sunday July the 6th, three stories of transformation were shared within our worship gathering at SVCC. These are true stories that come from the lives of people within our faith family. I will be posting all of these beautiful testimonies of the transforming power of Jesus this week. Below is the third of the three. To hear the story read click here.

I remember the day I knew I had to stop drinking.  I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw.  I was disgusted with myself.  I had sworn as a youngster that I would never end up this way… unable to stop.  Everyone I knew drank.  Everyone.  We drank when we were happy, when we were sad, at the end of the work day, to celebrate the good things in life, to drown out the bad.  It was a way of life, and I enjoyed the ride. But eventually…  the ride wasn’t fun anymore.  Life just stopped working, and I didn’t want to be the person I was with a drink in my hand.

But every day was the same.  I put the same stake in the ground: No more drinking.  But the struggle continued.  Eventually I walked into an AA meeting, trying to find the help I needed.  I tried everything I knew to try, sure that I had it in me to stop this train wreck from happening.  At some point during this struggle, I became aware that I now really believed in God, believed in Someone who could help me.  I cried out to him over and over to help me stop, pleading with Him to show up, to help me….   He did.  He showed up.  I had tried and tried and tried…. and in an instant, it was gone. I woke up with no desire to drink.  How did this happen? How??

Life definitely worked better without the constant struggle of alcohol on my mind.  Life was running like a well oiled machine – everything working as it should.  Things were good at home and at work.  My business was growing, and I knew that God had done something significant in me.  Life was better, and I knew God was real.  There were times that I could feel God so deeply, and He would speak to me.  I knew he was real.  Life was good, but there was something still missing…. I couldn’t put my finger on it…

I walked into the room full of people I didn’t know… looked around and knew something was different here.  These people were mourning the loss of a good friend and member of the family, and yet they had hope.  What they had was enticing…  And then I met David, the man who would lead me into the truth that would turn my world upside down.  This group of people had gathered to honor the life of my brother in law.  My wife and I had traveled to Dallas to be a part of this gathering, but little did I know that in the midst of remembering his life… I would find mine.

It had been seven years since God had miraculously taken away my need to drink.  I know it was God, but that day in Dallas it was literally like scales fell from my eyes.  I saw things I had never seen before!  I understood things I had never understood before! Because David was willing to sit with me, ask questions, learn about my life, and then tell me about Jesus, I found new life that day!  It was like I had discovered a gold mine!  While I had been trying to change my life from the outside, David  talked about how Jesus changes men from the inside out.  I now understood that the Son of God had become a man so that men could become sons of God, and this understanding changed everything!  I left Dallas in love with Jesus Christ.

It was revolutionary, and I went home a new man.  I didn’t know how to tell my family of the changes happening in my heart and mind.  Jesus was all I thought about from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed.  I couldn’t stop thinking about Him… and I wanted my family to experience all of this new life.  I know God’s desire was to capture us all, and that’s exactly what He did.  We were caught up in his love and all the goodness that he had for us. Again, life was good…

But I was not prepared for the coming years… I met Jesus in 2006 and by 2008, things were going downhill – and fast! My business – the one that had been doing so well – just collapsed.  Collapsed.  I was devastated… but with each year, things got worse, until finally in 2012 we lost everything.  The house that we called home – it had been in our family for over 50 years – was a part of that everything.  I was devastated… just wanted to crawl inside a hole and disappear. And the worst part – I just didn’t understand.  When I met Jesus, I turned everything over to him, trusting Him with my life, my livelihood, my family,  my belongings.  My life was different because I had encountered Jesus, and I just didn’t understand why he had taken everything away from us.

I still don’t fully understand why.  But I trust Him.  And I know he’s good.  From the day everything started going downhill, I felt Him with me.  And he’s still here.  He knew I had a tendency to try to do things on my own, to rely on my own ability to figure things out and make my way in this world.  And it seems He’s chosen a path for me that demands my complete reliance on Him.  I believe He’s using this for my good and that he really does have a purpose in this, and I guess that’s what faith is, knowing deep down that God is who he says he is, that he’s good like he tells us he is, and that he sees us.

Fifteen years ago, all I knew to ask for was help with my drinking problem, but He gave me so much more… He has been healing me ever since, in spite of myself.

My name… is Mike Wingo.
Story: Mike Wingo
Writer: Ashley Armistead
Reader: Andy Gotshall

Stories of Transformation…Chad

*On Sunday July the 6th, three stories of transformation were shared within our worship gathering at SVCC. These are true stories that come from the lives of people within our faith family. I will be posting all of these beautiful testimonies of the transforming power of Jesus this week. Below is the first of the three. To hear the story read click here.

I’d like to share my spiritual journey with you in the form of a children’s story. It is called, “My Little Sprout.”

It all started when a boy met a girl. Obviously the boy was me…and I knew that this girl was different in many special ways. The greatest way in which she was different was that she was a Christian. I saw that as a good thing. I believed that I had goodness within myself also…. But it wasn’t the same. I was not a Christian. And I was not like her.

But over time… we fell in love.

As our relationship grew, she began to be like a Gardner tending my soul helping faith to grow. She did this for a special reason. She was hopeful that I would be her husband. However, we both knew that it would not be right for us to get married if I did not have the same faith that she did. The only way for me to become a Christian was to have the seed of faith take root and grow in my heart.

So she tried and tried plant seeds of faith within me. But, there was a big problem though….the seeds were not making it to my heart because they were all stuck in my head. I tried to make the seeds sprout and grow, she wanted them to grow…but no matter how hard I tried or how long she waited…

NOTHING HAPPENED!!

Now I loved this girl so much that, at times, I thought, “Maybe I’ll pretend that faith is growing in my heart.” But, I knew that pretending about such an important matter would not be a good idea at all. I knew that faith was very meaningful and I wanted my faith to be real.

So I kept trying and she kept waiting.

Finally, tired of the long wait, and scared of the consequences of no seed growth, she tried one last thing…she asked me to pray with her…just her. I had prayed before, or so I thought. I had prayed with everyone at the church. I had prayed with the people at the dinner table. I had prayed with the people at Bible study. But, I had never prayed with just one other person.

On that late summer’s day, she took my hand gently into hers and prayed for us both…

BAM! A shock went through my body. I felt it go from my head down to my toes. I didn’t know what to say or think but I knew something had happened to me. She knew something also. I was scared. Could it be- maybe, just maybe one of those seeds in my head was shook by the tool of prayer, and landed in my heart?

I found a Bible. I began reading it diligently. I wanted to reproduce what I had felt during her prayer, but I wasn’t sure if I knew how. I tried to pray by myself, but I did not know what to pray for. My mind raced and wandered. Then I thought about the business I owned at that time. It was having a lot of trouble. In fact, I knew that I was going to have to work twice as hard to do what must be done. Twice as hard.

I was already working as hard as I could and I couldn’t afford to pay anyone else to help me. Where would I find the strength I needed? I decided to pray… “Lord, please give me strength to do what I must do.”

I knew I needed the Lord and that I could not do life on my own. The more I prayed, the stronger I seemed to get. But the demands kept falling on me like rain. I kept praying. The more it rained, the more I prayed. The rain brought on a flood of emotions inside me. Then the rain turned into a muddy pond over my head and heart. But I prayed to stay focused and I prayed for strength.

Then one day, through the silt and the water I saw something…

Could it be?

Was it a sprout from that little seed? Yes! I saw a sprout! I tried to tell my girlfriend all about it, but I couldn’t find the words. I didn’t describe it very well. I said things like, “It’s kind of green and it’s sticking straight up….and…” Then I thought, “If I can’t describe this sprout of Faith…is something wrong?” I began to doubt. “Do I doubt the sprout?”, I thought.

Then an answer came, “No, no. You must not doubt the sprout!” So I kept believing and praying…and the muddy pond over my heart began to clear up.

On a Sunday morning in December, light started shining on me and my little sprout of Faith. My eyes became clear and there was the sprout…without a doub! A SPROUT of Faith had definitely grown in my heart!

My head was filled with the possibilities of this New Faith. I thought, “Wow! I’ll always be given strength, and wisdom, and joy and hey!…….Do you know what this means?!? This means that I could be my girlfriend’s husband too!!!” I couldn’t wait to tell her the news.

So the very next morning I met her for breakfast. I couldn’t help myself…I immediately began to tell her what I was feeling.

As those first words of truth came from my lips, a huge rush of joy went through my body. Tears sprang from my eyes… tears of joy and sadness mixed together. The tears drenched my new Faith and I felt it grow stronger and stronger with each one that fell from my cheek.

My tears and words confused her. She didn’t know what to think! She didn’t see the Sprout of Faith within me because it was covered with tears and didn’t look like much.

I was confused too. I knew that the tears of Joy were for my new Faith…but what were the tears of sadness for? I realized that they were for a different sort of change in me. You see… I realized that I was not a boy anymore. I had become a man. A very special and different kind of man…. a CHRISTIAN man.

My name… is Chad Stogner.

Story: Chad Stogner
Writer: Chad Stogner and Sandi Dittmer
Reader: Ed Kaylor

 

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