WORK That Matters! (Sermon Audio)

WORK That Matters! (Sermon Audio)

 

This is the audio from the September 1, 2019 sermon, “WORK That Matters!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

 

Text: John 6:28-29

Here are the main points from the sermon:

When it comes to having work that matters, make sure these elements matter in your work:

  • Worship that matters:
    • Romans 12:1 — When you present your body to God as a living sacrifice, your work — the things you do with your body — ought to become a big part of the worship you offer God.  Seeing the work that you do as an element of worshiping God helps you to see  your work as something that matters to God.  Learning to have worship that matters within all of your daily activities will go a long way toward helping others see Jesus in the midst of your daily work.  In seeking to have work that matters, find ways in all circumstances to have worship that matters.
  • Occupation that matters: 
    • Colossians 3:23-24 — “Whatever you do.”  While there are some tasks done by mankind that I believe are sinful and therefore should not be done by Christians (or anyone else for that matter), God’s desire is that whatever you do would be done for Him.  In the Kingdom workforce, there is work “created in advance” for each one of us to do.  Just as we have been created uniquely, the work God has for us to do will rarely be identical to the work He has for someone else.  Having work that matters isn’t nearly as dependent on finding the right occupation as it is in working our occupation with the proper attitude.
  • Rest that matters:
    • Hebrews 4:9-11 — Having work that matters will require us to have rest that matters.  When God chose to rest after the six days of creation, it wasn’t so much that He was worn out and needed it but rather it was to serve as an example of our need for rest.  While there are times we must press on even when we’ve become weary, being able to stop and rest at appropriate intervals will generally improve our ability to work in such a way that we believe our work matters.  In our culture today, we often have a tendency to fill our “non-work” hours with so much activity that real rest is rather elusive.  When we learn to have rest that matters, I believe  we will grow in having work that matters.
  • Knowledge that matters:
    • 2 Timothy 2:15 — We live in a time that I think could well be described as information overload.  It seems we are constantly being bombarded with sound bites and headlines that contain talking points of information but very little actual knowledge.  When Paul instructs Timothy to “study to show yourself approved”, it is in the context of being a worker who won’t be ashamed.  While our culture prides itself on having an ever-increasing base of knowledge, any knowledge that does not have the Word of God as its foundation tend to make a prideful people rather than a humble worker.   When we spend time fully digesting and putting into practice the Word of God, we set our self up to have work that matters because we have knowledge that matters.

Having WORK that matters isn’t really so much about what you do as it is about how you do it and who you do it for.  I believe you will find that as you fill your life with worship, occupation, rest, and knowledge that matters, you will discover great growth in your understanding and practice of work that matters.

2016: Page 73

It is my understanding that the official Daylight Savings Time “moving the clock forward an hour” took place at 2 AM this morning — which immediately became 3 AM.  My awareness of page 73 began with a not so gentle whisper coming up the stairway.  “Mom.”  “Mo-om.”  “Mommm.”  I’m not sure how many other variations were called out until I realized that I wasn’t dreaming.  As I’m not a mom, it’s a lot easier to ignore that call if I’m dreaming.  When I realize I’m awake however, I understand Susan likely had a seizure and is coming out of it in a fearful state of mind and needs help and reassurance.  As I got out of bed to help her I noticed that my clock, which I hadn’t changed the night before, said 2 AM and I thought about the hour that just passed before my eyes.  After getting her settled in our room for the rest of the night we all try to go back to sleep and I think we made it there for a while.  Later, before it was time to wake up and get ready for church, an active seizure took hold of Susan and woke us all up.  After she got through it, we all eventually got some rest and made it up for the morning worship service at church and we’ve had a pretty uneventful day until the seizures returned this evening.

It seems like the days where rest is in short supply are the days I have the greatest realization of the beauty of rest.  While I realize that the dormancy of certain plants and trees in the winter doesn’t necessarily mean nothing is going on, I enjoy the simple beauty of the winter scene of rest.  One of my favorite winter scenes at Potato Creek State Park is from a trail overlooking the lake with a small tree standing on the shoreline.  The tree has what I call character as it bends and curves and stretches this way and that.  It is in this season of rest that I notice a beauty that is usually concealed by a bushy looking growth through spring, summer, and fall.  It is in times of rest that the true beauty that God has put within us can be seen.  When the bushy growth of busyness, schedules, and keeping up appearances are all stripped away, we can rest fully in the simple beauty of God’s grace.  

It is in this season of rest that the tree actually highlights the beauty that lies beyond it.  The crystal clear water beyond the tree reflects the sun, clouds and trees surrounding the lake.  Aircraft vapor trails cross the blue sky and reflect off the water below.  It is when we are willing to step back and rest that the true beauty that lies beyond us can be seen.  As we rest in God’s grace, His love reflects off the crystal clear waters of our baptism and into our life to be seen by the people around us.  When we stand in rest, we draw the attention of people to the true beauty of God that we draw our rest from.

I pray that you and I would see beauty in the rest God calls us to.  I pray that our times of rest would be useful tools in helping people see the beauty of God from which we draw our strength.  I pray that it is always God’s beauty that we seek to make known whether we are at rest or fully engaged in the work at hand.  

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Amazing GRACE

Today marks the completion of one year, and the beginning of another year, of my being back on the staff of the Deer Run Church of Christ.  It has been an incredible year — a year best described by the words “amazing grace”!  My return to Deer Run was nothing short of the gracious hand of my God upon me, to favor me with His compassion.

My brain seems to be wired in a way that makes verbal conversation difficult — though many believe God has gifted me with an ability to write that can make up for the verbal inadequacies.  As a side note, it is amazing to me that God continues to show up in my preaching and teaching with the ability to speak powerfully through me.  For me, writing is therapeutic — it helps me to see where I’ve been and how far God has carried me.  While I still carry scars and hurts that continue to heal, God has taught me much over the past year.

I know I have a long way to go, but His mercy has helped me be more merciful.  His grace has taught me to be more gracious.  His compassion has led me to be more compassionate.  And perhaps the most difficult of all for me, His love is helping me know how to love.

So, how does this all happen?  What’s the secret?  I think the key to all of these lessons is that God continues to draw me to Himself and surrounds me with people who have a genuine concern for me as a person and as a child of God.  So, what’s so amazing about the grace God has shown me over the past year?

  • Generosity — God has given me the grace of generosity.  A lot can be discovered about a business or organization by looking at the way they treat employees and staff.  While your first thought is likely about financial compensation, an attitude of generosity can be seen in so many details of the way a person is treated.  God has blessed me with an environment that cares about my needs being met.  I am valued by people who are generous with their resources, time, and abilities.  The people around me help me to see the grace of God through their generosity.
  • Rest — God has given me the grace of rest.  Our need for rest was called for and designed by God, yet it is a need that we often ignore.  The year began with God providing the opportunity for a vacation with my family.  For the first time in a very long time, perhaps ever, I was able to sit on a sandy beach and actually fall asleep!  But the rest didn’t stop there.  Throughout the year, God has surrounded me with people who help me to rest when I am away by taking care of things as they happen rather than save them all up for my return.
  • Acceptance — God has given me the grace of acceptance.  Most people have heard that God accepts them just as they are but loves them too much to leave them that way.  Many people doubt God’s acceptance of them because people who claim to represent God will only accept them if they fully conform first.  My family at Deer Run has seen the good, the bad, and they ugly in me and they still accept me.   They see me not only as being valuable to them, but more importantly, they accept me as simply having value for who I am.
  • Compassion — God has given me the grace of compassion.  When we struggle with the pain and sorrow that is part of life, we want to know someone not only understands, but they really feel what we are going through.  God has surrounded me with people who are willing to share together what we are going through — not for the purpose of a pity party, but for the building up of one another through a heart of compassion.  I am part of a team that is walking this road together and we all feel the same bumps and scrapes as we take this journey.
  • Encouragement — God has given me the grace of encouragement.  The people around me at Deer Run are a great encouragement as they allow me to use the various gifts God has put in my life.  Whether I am cleaning, mowing, writing, teaching, preaching, or anything else, I am surrounded by people who encourage me through their words of appreciation.  The willingness of people to help in so many areas and a multitude of ways is also a great encouragement as I know I don’t have to accomplish the necessary tasks alone.

This has been a very brief summary of some of the ways God, and His amazing people at Deer Run, has extended His grace to me over the past year.  While the descriptions of this amazing GRACE that I have experienced over the past year focuses on what God has been doing for me, the real point is that God is using all of it to teach me how to extend His GRACE to others!  

God surrounds me with generous people so that I learn to be more generous.  He gives me times of great rest so I have a greater understanding of the need for others to rest.  He showers me with His acceptance, when I deserve it least, so that I would accept others more freely.  He surrounds me with His compassion so that I will be a more compassionate person in my preaching and teaching, as well as in all of my interaction with people.  He encourages me daily so that I would be better prepared to encourage the people around me.  

As God teaches me these lessons of His amazing grace, I pray that I learn to practice them so that others would learn of His amazing grace through me.

In prayer,
Tom

New Man

I went to bed early
      to get some good rest.
It seems I need more sleep
      so that I do my best.
So I sleep for eight hours,
      even more if I can.
And while it does help,
      I don’t wake a new man.
Perhaps it is needed
      as I fight this cold.
Though some actually say,
      it’s because I am old.

We go to extremes
      to change who we are.
We exercise more,
      even buy a new car.
We spend so much time
      on the way that we look.
That we fail to reflect
      what is in the Good Book.
Somehow we think
      if we change the outside.
No one will care much
      about what is inside.

If I really want,
      a new man to be.
I will change what I want,
      and how I do see.
I will look on the inside,
      more than what’s out.
For the battle within
      can be quite a bout.
Take every thought captive,
      don’t give it a place.
To take root and grow,
      then spew out of my face.

To be the new man,
      that God wants of me.
I rest in the Lord,
      His face I do see.
When I become weary
      and feeling quite weak.
I wait on the Lord
      and His presence I seek.
The times of refreshing
      in sickness and health.
Is a joy for the ages,
      even more than great wealth.

When I’m under the weather,
      or feeling my age.
God’s Spirit is with me
      and helps me engage.
A body that’s rested
      and a mind that is fresh.
Helps me listen to God
      as His Word and I mesh.
It is not the sleep
      that’s important to me.
But the new man in Christ
      that I want to be.
©

I’ve been feeling tired and going to bed early to get more rest so I’m ready to start an early day of building prep and cleaning.  This poem began to form in my mind last night before I fell asleep and God finished it up as I did my morning work.  I pray that it encourages you in your efforts to be the person that God has called you to be.

In prayer,
Tom

Warnings

I have a computer
      that’s trying to die.
I open a program
      and it asks me, “Why?”.
“This will cause problems,
      for my memory is low.”
“I warned you this time;
      so yes, I’ll be slow.”
“If you do not heed
      this helpful advice.”
“I’ll shut myself down,
      I won’t warn you twice.”

The brain can be like
      this computer of mine.
When it functions well,
      everything does just shine.
But let it fill up
      with unhealthy stuff.
And it isn’t long
      before it’s running rough.
Add to the problem
      some unrelenting stress.
And before very long,
      the whole things a mess.

Just like the computer,
      a warning we get.
The body calls out,
     “I’m here, don’t forget.”
But so very often,
      when we ache and much more.
The warnings God gives us,
      we simply ignore.
Ignore it for too long,
      I say with a frown.
It could be disaster,
      as your body shuts down.

So what do I do
      for my computer and me?
When things are not right
      and the warnings I see.
I look to the manual
      and seek to restore.
The purpose and function,
      I was created for.
I clear out all garbage
      and cleanse from within.
I restore a memory
      that is free from all sin.

I trim down my files
      to what’s needed most.
I only have room,
      for good things to host.
I empty my mind
      of things from the past.
And only hold on to,
      that which should last.
It’s an ongoing process,
      not done in a day.
It’s a daily surrender
      to God and His Way.

If you’ve not noticed,
      the subject is me.
It’s not really about
      the computer, you see.
The warnings God gives me,
      I need to observe.
So I function smoothly
      as His name I serve.
I pray that you notice,
      the warnings in you.
So you would be faithful
      as you serve Him too.
©

My computer has been giving me warning messages and randomly stopping off and on for a few days now.  In addition to that, I’ve had a headache for much of the day and the work going on in the building hasn’t helped much.  As I took some time to rest and listen to God prior to a meeting tonight, He put this poem in my mind.  I pray that it serves His purposes and brings Him glory.

In prayer,
Tom

Rest

We work hard, we play hard;
     but what about rest.
God says we need it
     to be at our best.
Our life gets so busy
     at work and at play.
Our rest gets put off
     for at least one more day.
So many people
     work just to survive.
We don’t get the rest
     that would help us to thrive.

Go here and do this, 
     and what about that?
If you think you are done;
     well, here’s one more hat.
Some tasks are given,
     we think there’s no choice.
Others we call for
     in the loudest of voice.
We need this, we want that;
     we can’t fall behind.
To have all that we want
     takes the top of our mind.

If I don’t keep going,
     refusing to stop.
Then somebody else
     will climb to the top.
And as I am climbing,
     and taking each rod.
The ladder of this world
     takes me further from God.
The king of the mountain,
     the top of the hill.
Is not that important
     when God says, “Be still.”

Strength for the weary
     and hope for the tired.
Seems so out of reach,
     when you fear you’ll be fired.
So onward we press
     and give it our all.
We will never give up
     ‘til we can’t help but fall.
So many people
     who fall flat on their face.
Need a good chance to rest
     and experience grace.

So when you are tired,
     it seems with no end.
Examine your schedule,
     rest may be your friend.
And as you rest fully,
     as God said you should.
Look for the weary
     and do them some good.
Help carry their burden
     and show them the need.
God’s command to get rest,
     they really should heed.
©

It has been what some would call a “lazy day”, but I prefer to think of it as a “restful day”. As I was resting, falling in and out of sleep, God put this poem in my mind. I am thankful for a work environment that tries to protect my need for rest by valuing the work that I do. I pray that this poem encourages you to rest and to do what you can to help others to rest.

In prayer,
Tom

Give Me A BREAK!

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.  Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’  So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.”  (Mark 6:30-32)

Ahhh . . . Vacation!  I have the privilege of being on vacation this week.  Technically, to use popular terminology, it is a “staycation” as I stayed home and rested, venturing out from time to time for food or shopping! 🙂  I think we all have times when our mind, body, and spirit cry out, “Give me a break!” 

It is refreshing to know that God understands, and agrees, with the need for times of rest in our life!  The concept of a sabbath rest was God’s idea, not man’s.  In the text above, Jesus recognizes the demands of life and ministry being placed on Himself and His disciples.  He insists they separate themselves from the crowds and get some much-needed rest.   While their rest was short-lived (the crowds followed them to the “solitary place” and needed fed 🙂 ), the teaching and practice of Jesus calls for times of rest.  The following are some elements of what God has been teaching me as I take this BREAK.  To me, it is a little rough because it is a work in process that God is teaching me — and my computer ate the original writing I did on this post. 😦

  • Breathe:  This is something you are already doing.  Breathing is something God designed us to do naturally — without really thinking about it.  The point here is to actually focus on the very breath you take, recognizing that it is God who sustains you in every detail of  your life!  As you breathe, realize that the God who knows the correct mixture of elements to make breathable air also knows the BREAK you need and the rest that is necessary.  As you rest, breathe in the freshness of the Spirit of the Living God through His Word!
     
  • Relax: When you reach the point that you cry out, “Give me a BREAK!”, relaxing does not usually come easily or naturally.  It is at this point you must “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”   Discover or identify the things that help you relax and begin to practice them.  Slow down and pay attention to the hand of God working in, and through, and around you.  As you rest, relax in the arms and care of your creator God that loves you very much.
     
  • Enjoy:  The old adage tells us to “stop and smell the roses”.  That is good advice as you take a needed BREAK.  Take time to enjoy the surroundings God has placed you in.  Use your break time to allow God to refresh you and to restore joy into your life.  We are able to enjoy the beauty and scent of roses in spite of the thorns that exist.  We must also learn to enjoy the life we have in Christ in spite of the “thorns” that tend to poke and distract us.  As you rest, enjoy the presence of God and notice the “roses” He has supplied you with.
         
  • Acknowledge:  Accept that there is a God and it is not you!  There are times that we carry burdens and responsibilities that are not ours to carry alone.  In order to take a break and rest, you must acknowledge that you need one!  Jesus says, “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  For you and I to benefit from this promise we must admit that we are weary and/or burdened.  As we go to Jesus and learn from Him, He promises we will find rest for our soul.  As you rest, acknowledge your need for Jesus to give you what you cannot gain on your own.
     
  • Know:  Having a useful break requires that we know God can, and will, give us the rest that we need.  Our BREAK calls us to “walk by faith, not by sight”.  It is by faith that we know God “exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  God calls us to both know Him and be known by Him.  We are able to rest even in difficult times because “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  We can take a needed BREAK because we know God is in control and the weight of the world doesn’t really rest on our shoulders.  As you rest, know that God knows the plans He has for you, plans to give you hope and a future.

So, Give Me A BREAK!  God calls us to set aside time to rest . . . to be still and know that He is God.

I pray that throughout your life you are able to experience a real  BREAK, allowing God to refresh your mind, body, and spirit as you rest securely in your relationship with Him.