Labor Day Verses

Since Labor Day is coming up, I thought it would be good to explore what the Bible says about work. I believe work means something different to each one of us. I want you to think of what you do or consider as your work as you read each of these verses. Think of them in a personal light and let God speak directly to you through them.

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1.  I have glorified You down here on the earth by completing the work that You gave Me to do.

John 17:4 AMP

2.   Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Ephesians 6:7 NLT

3.   The diligent find freedom in their work; the lazy are oppressed by work.

Proverbs 12:24 MSG

4.   Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Colossians 3:23 NLT

5.   Do all your work in love.

1 Corinthians 16:14 GNB

6.   Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”

2 Thessalonians 3:10 NLT

7.   You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work — neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country.

Exodus 20:9-10 GNB

8.   Put GOD in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.

Proverbs 16:3 MSG

9.   Slack habits and sloppy work are as bad as vandalism.

Proverbs 18:9 MSG

10.   So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.

Ecclesiastes 3:22 NLT

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Getting God’s Attention

From my earliest childhood, I remember hearing the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel from I Kings 18. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Elijah was the sole prophet of God in the land, and the people were following false gods. He called out the prophets of Baal and challenged them to a public duel on top of the mountain. They each prepared a sacrifice and would pray to their god to see whose was real. The god who was real would answer by fire and burn the sacrifice up.

The prophets of Baal prayed hard for fire. When there was no answer, they started jumping around and stomping as they prayed. When there still wasn’t an answer, they prayed louder and then began to cut themselves to get their god’s attention. Verse 29 sums it up, “This went on until well past noon. They used every religious trick and strategy they knew to make something happen on the altar, but nothing happened—not so much as a whisper, not a flicker of response” (MSG). For hours they tried to earn their god’s attention and failed.

I always thought very poorly of those prophets and even laughed at the way Elijah mocked them. But now I wonder if we are any different than they were. We may serve the God who won that duel, but we have resorted to their tactics to get His attention. We seem to believe that there is something you and I can do to earn His favor or to get an answer to prayer. We pray loudly, we stomp, we circle and even put ourselves in danger to test God to get Him to answer. But God isn’t looking for that from us.

What He’s looking for is found in verse 37. In Elijah’s prayer, he said, “Answer me, Lord, answer me, so that this people will know that you, the Lord, are God, and that you are bringing them back to yourself” (GNB). The prayers God responds to are ones that bring Him glory and allow Him to do the work. They have nothing to do with bringing attention to ourselves. Religion is all about working to get a god’s attention to come to us, but Christianity is about letting God draw us to Him. It’s not about what we do; it’s about what He does.

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When God Says No

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9 (NLT)

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Reaping In Joy

One of my favorite quotes is, “I don’t measure my day by the harvest I bring in, but by the seeds that I plant. For in planting seeds, I ensure a future harvest.” So many people measure their success by what they bring in each day, but their future is not guaranteed. Only by planting seeds can we make sure we will receive something in the future. In order to have seeds to plant, we have to save seeds from our current harvest. We can’t use everything we have now if we are going to be able to reap later.

Psalm 126:5-6 really stands out to me when I think about this principle. It says, “They who sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing. He who goes forth bearing seed and weeping [at needing his precious supply of grain for sowing] shall doubtless come again with rejoicing , bringing his sheaves with him” (AMP). It’s a verse we’ve heard all our lives, but in this version it really hits home. They’re weeping because they’re having to go hungry now in order to be able to eat later.

It reminds me of when the Pilgrims first arrived. Their corn ration was a few kernels a day. They needed to plant the rest so they could survive later. They sacrificed in the now in order to have abundance later. This concept is so opposite of our world today. We want abundance without the sacrifice. We want to reap when we haven’t planted, and that’s not the system God set up for us. I like how Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later.”

I believe many of us don’t see the harvest we expect because we don’t sacrifice in the sowing. Abundance will cost you. If you aren’t willing to give up your current desires for your future successes, there’s no guarantee you’ll be bringing in sheaves. God has always asked us to sacrifice now for a future blessing. The more you are willing to sacrifice, the more of God’s blessing you can count on in the future. The choice is yours, but you have to act today for tomorrow’s gain.  

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The Power Of Words

When I was a kid and someone said something ugly to me, the appropriate reaction was to say, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” It wasn’t until later in life that I realized what a lie that was. Broken bones heal, but the wounds from words rarely do. They cut deep into the subconscious of people and alter their self-image which changes the future they could have had.

When we hear words about ourselves that are negative, we often use those to replace the thoughts about ourselves that God gave us. We become insecure and self-conscious about everything we do and how we look. Words spoken in a moment can create damage for a lifetime. Some people never get over the words we use to describe them or to hurt them. I’m always amazed to hear stories from people about how a simple phrase changed their identity. That’s why it’s so important to speak life into others.

Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body” (AMP). Some translations say, “Kind words are like honey.” An interesting thing about honey is that it never goes bad. There’s no expiration date on it just like there’s no expiration on kind or pleasant words. They’re not only sweet, but they’re long lasting in someone’s life. You can change someone’s mindset for the better by choosing your words wisely.

This verse says that pleasant words are sweet to the mind. What I’ve learned is whatever you put into your mind is what comes out in your actions. If you put anger in there, you tend to have violent actions. If you put bitterness in there, you tend to have sarcastic actions. But if you put sweetness in your mind, it will produce actions that are pleasant to others. So when you speak pleasant words, you’re actually creating a ripple effect in the lives of others.

I like how the verse ends. It says kind words are healing to the body. At first thought, I wondered what that meant. Then I started thinking of all the psychosomatic illnesses people have because of hurtful words spoken to them. When your mind is negative, it produces stress and illness in your body. Conversely, kind words bring health to people. It gives them a positive mindset that keeps the body in balance thereby, bringing health. Proverbs 18:21 says the power of life and death are in the tongue. So choose your words wisely today and speak life.

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The Effectiveness Of Quietness

We live in a loud, busy world. We are always connected and rarely find time to find a quiet place. Throughout the Bible, the authors write of the importance of being quiet and finding a quiet place to meet with God. Here are some verses on the effectiveness of quietness.
  
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone.

Mark 6:31-32 NLT

I’m asking GOD for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet. That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic.

Psalm 27:4-5 MSG

My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, in safe dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.

Isaiah 32:18 AMP

Trust in the Lord and wait quietly for his help. Don’t be angry when people make evil plans and succeed.

Psalms 37:7 ERV

Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

Matthew 6:6 MSG

It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation (the safety and ease) of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:26 AMP

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

GOD, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

Psalm 23:1-3 MSG

And the effect of righteousness will be peace, internal and external, and the result of righteousness will be quietness and confident trust forever.

Isaiah 32:17 AMP

Then in their trouble they called to the Lord, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the raging storm, and the waves became quiet. They were glad because of the calm, and he brought them safe to the port they wanted.

Psalms 107:28-30 GNB

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The Importance Of Rest

I like to jokingly tell people, “I’m the busiest person I know.” My life, like so many people’s is full of coming and going. Home it seems is just the place you go to sleep at night. Between work, family, friends, and ministry life can get so busy that it’s hard to stop and eat. Most days you plow through work, answer emails, solve problems, get on conference calls, head home, go to a family event, or visit with friends or someone in need. Life is rarely quiet, but that’s just what we need.

Early in Jesus’s ministry, He sent the disciples out two by two. He gave the authority to cast out demons, to heal the sick, and to preach the Gospel. They went from town to town doing just that. Before long, Jesus was a household name in that region. People would come from miles around just to hear Him speak or to get healing for themselves or a loved one. Jesus and the disciples were finding it hard to take a break from ministry.

Mark 6:31 records an interaction between Jesus and the disciples that we can learn from today. It says, “Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest a while.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat” (NLT). Sound familiar? Jesus lived a busy life just like you and I do. The difference? He understood the importance of rest.

The Blue Letter Bible defines the rest Jesus was talking about as, “To cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength.” Jesus gives you and me permission to take a break and to rest from our ministry and our busy lives. He knows that at times you need to go to that desolate, technology-free, communication-free place in order to recover and collect your strength. There is much work to do, but you’re going to need your strength to be effective in doing it.   

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