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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Faith and the Workplace (Pt. 1)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
                                                                                                   Colossians 3:23-24

Probably one of the most difficult places for many people to live their faith is the workplace. For some reason there is a disconnect that takes place, for many, when they step into their work environment. This may be because of the nature of their work, or perhaps the busyness or pace of their work, or simply their attitude toward working is poor.

However, because it is the one place that we spend most of our waking hours, it has a tremendous influence over our attitudes, emotions, physical health, and even our spirituality.

Work is not just some necessary evil that men and women must do in order to pay their bills and put food on the table. It wasn’t the consequence of the fall of mankind. Work was initiated by God and modeled by God! Work emulates who God is!
Genesis Chapter 1 tells us that six days God worked and authored all of creation demonstrating that He is a creative, active, and working God! Then, after He modeled hard work, Genesis 2:15 declares:

The Lord took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

Since creation, God has intended for us to work, because when we work we are modeling God to others. Our work ethic is a testimony to others about the nature of God. Yet many sabotage their own witness by consistently coming in late to work, shirking responsibilities, complaining to others about their job, blasting their employers on Facebook, stealing from their employers, bad mouthing fellow employees, or simply just giving less than their best when their on the clock.

When we model a poor work ethic, it should not surprise us when those we work with don’t want to come to church with us or have anything to do with the God we confess to serve.

The reality of work is this; work has nothing to do with what you do, but rather your attitude toward doing it.

Pastor Scott Burr                                                                    


Thursday, March 20, 2014

"Laying Up Treasure"

(Part 3 of 3)

 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
                                                                                                Luke 12:32-34

This passage should cause all of us to consider just how tightly we hold on to things that we should be readily giving to meet the needs of others?

This form of selfless giving is praised by Jesus in Matthew 25:35-36:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Jesus told them that “whatever you do for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” This type of giving is deposited into our heavenly accounts and brings honor and joy to our Lord and Savior.

On one occasion, to reinforce this truth, Jesus was seated just opposite the place where the offerings were collected in the temple. Many rich people came in and deposited large amounts of money into the treasury. Jesus didn't mutter a word. Then a widow with two small coins came in and made her deposit. At this, Jesus turned to His disciples and declared that the widow put more in than all the others:

I tell you the truth; this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on.”
                                                                                    Mark 12:43-44

A careful accounting of the monies given may cause you to think that Jesus was in error, but in order to understand Jesus’ statement you must recognize that her offering and theirs were both placed in the treasury, but they were not deposited in the same place.

The rich gave out of their abundance, leaving plenty at home to keep them comfortable and enjoying their luxurious lifestyles. What they gave to God, albeit a large amount, demonstrated no faith.  The widow, however, refused to trust even in the little mammon that she had, and gave everything.

One was deposited in an earthly account, the other in a heavenly one! The widow understood that she could lay up her treasure on earth, or she could lay up her treasure in heaven. She chose to give and Jesus recognized her deposit!

Pastor Scott Burr                                                                    

Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Laying Up Treasure" (Pt. 2)

(Part 2)

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”

                                                                                                Matthew 6:31-32

 This statement is powerful, because it separates the significance of needing things like food, drink, and clothing for survival, which God recognizes, from our pursuit of them for our own personal satisfaction.

As I mentioned last week, the obscene amount of food that we consume, throw away, and store along with the abundance of clothes that fill our closets testify that we pursue these things as much for pleasure, if not more, than we do necessity.

Jesus warns His followers not to pursue these things like the pagans, but rather seek first the Kingdom of God:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

                                                                                                Matthew 6:33-34

When we stop to put God first, He promises to make sure that our needs are met. Then with our eyes focused on Him, we begin to learn where our treasure should lie.  

Where laying up treasures on earth is about accumulation, laying up treasures in heaven is about giving:

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

                                                                                                Luke 12:32-34

These verses teach us that being rich towards God is to give towards the needs of others. It is taking what has been given to us by God and using it to meet the needs of those who are poor and hurting.

This is the lesson Jesus was attempting to teach to the rich young ruler in Mark 10:21:

“Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,” he said. ‘G , sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Jesus was making him choose where he would store up his treasure. Would he keep it for himself and worship the god of Mammon or would he give it the poor and follow the Christ?


Pastor Scott Burr                                                                    



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Laying Up Treasure (Pt. 1)

(Part 1)

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”                                                                                                                          Matthew 6:19-21

There are two parallel paths that are being revealed to us here in this passage. One has to do with accumulation and the other with giving. 

Laying up treasure on earth has to do with accumulation. It is taking what has been given to us by God and stockpiling it for our own comfort, well being, or advantage. When we lay up treasures on earth we are communicating that we have placed a tremendous value on material possessions, money, and resources. 

Jesus spoke to the futility of this in Parable of the Rich Fool found in Luke 12:16-21. In this parable, a rich man yielded an abundant harvest. His harvest was so plentiful that he did not have room enough for it all. His solution was to tear down his current barns and build bigger ones, so that he would have plenty of room for his surplus. In his heart he said, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” Unfortunately, that very night his life was demanded of him and what he had laid up for himself was now of no value to him any longer:

“This is how it will be with whoever stores things up for themselves but is not rich toward God.”   
                                                                                                                                  Luke 12:21
The rich fool was not a fool because he was wealthy, he was a fool because he valued his wealth more than he valued the things of God. Jesus was right when He declared in Luke 12:15: “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
This drive to possess things, that seems to plague our culture, is very much a spiritual issue with spiritual implications:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Mammon.”                                                                                                                           Matthew 6:22-24

Material things, wealth, money, and resource become what the scripture calls “Mammon” when they become the object of our worship an devotion. We may not recognize that we are worshiping a false god, however, there are signs to look for to alert us if we are trending in that direction. Are we placing our trust in it to meet our needs? Are we looking for peace and happiness through it? Are we looking to it to guarantee our future and give us a sense of security? Do we desire it more than we desire God? If any of these things are true, we are wading into dangerous territory.  

Many of us, because we do not live a life of extravagance, believe that this part of the passage does not relate to us. However, what Jesus told us to consider was not the ostentatious lifestyle of those who drive exotic cars, own summer homes, and wear expensive jewelry. What Jesus told us to evaluate was our unhealthy preoccupation with food and clothing:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”

                                                                                                                                Matthew 6:25 
Some may argue that pursuit of food and clothing should not be used as a gauge in determining what is valuable to us, because they are considered necessities. However, our indulgence in the area of food and clothing testify against us that we do not simply pursue them solely for survival, but to meet our own personal desire.

Pastor Scott Burr