The Lord's Labor - September 4, 2016

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION           (Romans 12:2)

We approach seek the Holy Spirit to illumine our minds as we hear God’s Holy Word. Join me in a spirit of prayer.

Oh Lord, challenge us to consider questions of our priority as we engage with the world. In this time together, may open our hearts, minds and eyes, allowing us to see deeper, helping us to live in the world while still offering a challenge to the ways of the world. Pour out your Spirit, that we may grow deeper in faith and closer to one another. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

 

SCRIPTURE   READING                   Romans 12:1-13           Humble Service in the Body of Christ

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

We pray that the Lord will bless us with these Holy Words.

TIME WITH GOD’S CHILDREN# RED 494   “Step by Step”

 

THE MESSAGE                      “The Lord’s Labor”

On this Labor Day weekend, we give thanks for the backbone of American industry the dedicated worker. We celebrate the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our nation through the American Labor Movement. The movement helped improve working conditions, pushed for a standardized work week, and adequate compensation through a living wage and benefits. It’s been hard work against the power of management, investor profits, and common sense.  In some cases, the unions pushed too far, became greedy, and caused the loss of good jobs.

As we think about our work, our retirement, and our current economic climate, I want us to look beyond our daily work and give thanks to the ultimate employer, our Lord. We can give thanks to God’s fairness and timely blessings. We rejoice that the Lord provides more than any earthly employer. We always get more than we deserve as we labor in love for the Lord.

In the Reformed Tradition, we understand Almighty God to be interested in our vocation and work for the Lord. The colonial image of vocation described a row boat with one oar being our employment and the other our call from the Lord. Only, when both oars move through the water can we move forward. If either our work or our Christian discipleship miss the water, we move around in a circle and go nowhere.

When we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, we enter into the Lord’s employment for our enjoyment. Jesus calls us to serve God the Father in everything we do. The Lord’s love permeates every aspect of our life. We can serve the Lord in any career. When we serve with zeal for the Lord, we can be a ditch digger for the Lord. Our employer, may not understand that our ethics, passion, and skill reflect our love for the Lord. We can be empowered by the Holy Spirit to work through us to demonstrate Christian Character in the workplace, in our recreation, and in our retirement. We can serve the Lord as a student, employee, employer, owner, and retiree.

You can work with a person who understands our work is beyond the task at hand, or we could work for a person, who holds no understanding of God’s guiding hand. I assure you that working for a person who also understands our work as gift from God a more enjoyable relationship. We can move forward when we are moving in the same direction even without openly sharing our faith. Yet, sometimes, the Spirit will open opportunities to share our faith with co-workers and others when they see our living sacrifice of service.

The Apostle Paul encouraged the Christians in Rome to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice. When we put forth an effort to live and work for the Lord, we exude holiness and will please the Lord. We all serve a special function where we work or in our organization or in our society. The Lord wants us to work faithfully in everything we do, to our honor our relationship with Christ and be empowered to serve by the Holy Spirit.

We also serve the Lord beyond our work in our faith community. The Nominating Committee is working diligently to help our church continue to move forward. They are seeking particular people to a special function within the Body of Christ. Some will be asked into the role of Ruling Elder providing direction and leadership for our mission and ministry. They seek to discern the path that God is guiding us as a congregation.  If you are not one elected as an elder, you can assist the elders in leading by serving on a committee. Others, will be tapped to serve in the caring ministry of the church as Deacon. These caring individuals share Christ’s love with our homebound members. They keep long time members connected to Christ and our faith community.

The Nominating Committee is also seeking to fill positions on the Memorial Committee and the Women of Faith Board. These positions are not officers of the church yet still provide an essential gift of leadership for Christ’s ministry in our church. The Memorial Committee helps us to remember the faithfulness of members who died leaving a faithful legacy. As friends and family contribute memorial money the committee seeks to honor the member, their faith, and their love for Christ church in tangible ways. The Women of Faith board provides leadership and guidance for special ministries and mission of our congregation. Through their fund raising, they support mission projects including the Paper Pantry. They provide programs in community service like Meals on Wheels and the mittens for a local elementary School. In addition, the Women of Faith offer opportunities in fellowship and education.

As you reflect on your labor this weekend, I pray that you will reflect on your Labor for the Lord in all aspects of your life. I hope that in all you do, you will find joy in serving with holiness that pleases the Lord.  Christians serve the Lord with love and express this through our love of neighbor. We demonstrate the sincerity of our love when we show God’s grace through our hospitality. As we move into the fall, I pray for worship guest and that you will show your love for God through your hospitality. TGBTG. Amen.

 

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