Message Recap: God at Work, pt. 4

rawpixel-com-274858So far, in our series, led by the incredible Jim Larson, we’ve looked at why and how we work; today, we are looking at another important identifying piece of the puzzle: where we work. As people, indecisiveness is all too rampant in our culture. Let us be the people that decide where we are going to work, and then go do it.

We are in a really unique place in time; only 200 years ago did we first start having the ability to choose our work. What a privilege (and an obligation) to choose where we work! The hard part, of course, is the dizzying effect of the paradox of choice. We are faced with so much opportunity, so many good choices, that we are led often to anxiety, disappointment, and discontent. And, further, we get caught up in the idea that our choices today will dictate our forever. But that’s note the case! Though Martin Luther made a case against career changes, John Calvin and much of the Bible encourage career changes. And, many of it’s characters exemplify the ways in which they glorify God (look at Moses, for example – from sheep herder to political leader!).

Myth 1: Where we work is more important than why we work and how we work.

  1. The Truth is that why we work and how we work is at least as important as where we work.

Myth 2: We will all have a burning bush moment (though, God can, and does, do this for some of us – it’s not a guarantee).

  1. We cannot sit and wait for our calling, God wants us to trust Him and sometimes, make the first move in faith. Even if it’s wrong, it is still a step driving us forward.

Myth 3: We should determine where we work based primarily on our passions.

  1. We should be driven by the following, instead:
    1. The needs of the world
      1. Jeremiah 29:7: But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
    2. Our giftings
      1. Romans 12:6-8: Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
    3. Our truest desires (not our fleshly desires, but the ones that align with the Spirit)
      1. Jeremiah 17:9: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
      2. John 16:24: Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
    4. Compensation
      1. 1 Timothy 5:8: But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
      2. We have to make tradeoffs, and there is almost always a sacrifice.

Myth 4: The best way to hear God is to be standing still.

  1. We have the ability to move forward with God. How do we do it?
    1. Understand the world’s needs
    2. Understand your strengths
    3. Research potential roles
      1. Research what it’s like
      2. Engage with people you know who are in it
    4. Seek community

All of this is critical as we face the question of where we work, and it is critical that we do it all with God.

Biblical references: Jeremiah 29:7; Romans 12:6-8; Jeremiah 17:9; John 16:24; 1 Timothy 5:8

Questions:

  1. How is God transforming how you work?
  2. What is God showing you about why you work?
  3. What is God saying about where you work related to needs, giftings, desires and compensation?

Sermon Recap: What About Christmas (Cont’d)?

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The month of December is adorned with festivities left and right – each as extravagant, beautiful, and well-lit with twinkling lights as the next – so we want to take a couple of weeks to focus our attention back to the reason for the season: the birth of our Savior, Jesus. Pastor Paul Jackson continues to bless us with humor, Christmas sweaters very much apropos, and insight into the incredible story of the heavenly birth. If you missed the first week – we got you, whether you are a visual or an auditory learner.

Luke 2:1-20: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” 

Let us celebrate one of the main messages in this story (as seen in Luke 2:14): Jesus came to bring peace on earth for all people. Not one person one earth is excluded from this list.

Isaiah 9:6-7 prophesies the peace that arrives to earth with the birth of Jesus:

“For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” 

Contrary to what we may believe, the world into which Jesus was born was not a peaceful place; it was corrupt, and many people were oppressed. The land was war-torn and devastated. However, Jesus’ message of peace for all surpasses the parameters of circumstance. Though the world of Jesus as a man looked differently than the world we live in today – America in 2016 – we will always be able to relate to his message. The peace of God isn’t hinged on circumstance, but on the person of Jesus, who is everlasting and always faithful.

Philippians 4: 7: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.” The peace enveloped in the birth of Jesus is not made to make sense to us, because it transcends human understanding.

As we dive further into the passage of Luke 2, we read into the characters and come to understand that the shepherds – the ordinary people, the workers – represent us, as humanity. What is most extraordinary about these ordinary people, however, is their immediate response to angel Gabriel’s birth announcement. Instantly, upon hearing of Jesus’ birth, they left their flocks to find the him, the King of Kings.

The last few verses of Luke 2:1-20 (namely, 15-20) represent the promise of God to the shepherds fulfilled. They found baby Jesus lying in a manger, just as it had been told to them. They were not disappointed, because God is true to His word every single time. Just as the promise to the shepherds surrounding Jesus’ birth was fulfilled, God fulfills His promises to us. In a world characterized so heavily by disappointment, unmet expectation, and heartache, let us thank God that He does not disappoint, but rather, fulfills His word and exceeds our greatest expectations. Let us be people that glorify Him in this season and always, praising Him for all that He has done.

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Merry Christmas, Mosaic family and visitors! Please remember that next week’s service will be held at the Mosaic Edmonds campus, and The New Year’s Day Selah service will be online only. 

 

Hope on a Sleeve

In line in front of me, a commonplace coffee shop event takes place. Customers ahead progress; I stand still- obstructed by an awe inspired four-year-old with hands, nose, and lips glued to the glass covered pastry case. He presses his face harder against the glass, as if increased proximity to the pastries and a harder gaze results in his desire satisfied. Then with a “Sorry” to me, and a “Come on, Aiden” to the little one, his mother pulls him forward, his left hand leaving a fingerprint streak along the pane. The streak draws my eye to surrounding smudge marks on the glass, all toddler height, evidence of the hopes of Aiden’s peers who went before him that day. 

And I think, “Children just have no qualms about leaving traces of their hope wherever they tread.” Then, I wonder, “When did I unlearn that shameless, public declaration of my hope- that clarity of communication about what I desired? Was it when I realized that those older people around me weren’t putting their noses on the pane? Or was it when I learned that the focus of my gaze and relentless requests didn’t necessarily correlate to my hopes being realized? How did I decide that asking sparingly increased my odds of receiving? That  the best way to avoid disappointment in a world of inconsistent supply was to decrease my demand? ”

Somewhere along my childhood development spectrum, these lessons were affirmed.

Unfortunately, these lessons in the economics of hope don’t translate to my Father’s economy. Instead, when I look at the market laws of His kingdom, I see this:
• “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Matt 4
• “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matt 5
• “Pray then like this: Father… Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”
• “The kingdom of Heaven…is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” Romans 14
• “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11
• “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11

So, I see a few economic laws at work here. First, I see that my soul demands (hopes for) the word of God and the righteousness, peace and joy of His Spirit. I see that the supply of these is endless. I find that the transaction involves asking and desiring; and my currency is belief. What is belief? Being sure of what I hope for.

But how am I to be sure of what I hope for when the ask, seek, and believe didn’t lead to fulfilled hopes in the past? When my heart is sick, like Solomom’s, from hope disappointed? First, I remember the second part of that Proverb: a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. And I eat from that tree of life, remembering where God has opened His hand to satisfy my desires. Second, I remember what He has done for my friends. Because what’s been done for them has been done for me- we’re family. And finally, I just hope again. Because, I know this: my hope will never put me to shame! How? Because of His love. In his letter to the Romans, Paul says that the love of God has been poured out in my heart through his Spirit that He gave to me. And this is his answer for how our hope is never put to shame: His love (Romans 5:4).

His love, unchanging, results in my hope unchanged- unadjusted to the norms of those around me or the disappointments of the past. My hope is unaware of those watching me. It keeps no ledger of the disappointments of my past. My hope doesn’t settle for a counterfeit reward. My hope insists on receiving my desire- the Word of God and His steadfast Love: in one word, Jesus.

And so, I’ll press my fingers, nose, and lips against my Father’s pastry case! I’ll leave traces of my hope behind me, leading others to the treasures I’ve been longing for. Unashamed, I’ll wear my hope on my sleeve. And my hope reads: Jesus!

By Renae Arndt, Prayer and Worship Director