A Prayer for Australia before the 2016 Federal Election

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Our Father, the Creator, Sustainer and Sovereign of all things. Blessed be Your Name forever and ever, to You belong wisdom and might. You alone are the Lord, the great, the mighty, and awesome God. By Your power You change times and seasons; and remove kings and set up kings. You are the One who gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. I ask that You forgive us for our sins. Our nation has ignored Your ways and has chased after corrupt things. As a nation we have rebelled against You and chosen evil rather than good. According to Your great loving kindness and mercy, I pray for Your forgiveness. Continue reading A Prayer for Australia before the 2016 Federal Election

How to be a Witness at Work

Lego Workmen

Man was created as an image bearer of God and one aspect of God’s image that man reflects is his ability to be creative and to work (cf. ). Those texts from Genesis reveal that it was God’s will for Adam to work.  When did God provide Adam with the mandate to work? It is interesting to note that work is not something that came after the curse (); rather it is something that God required of man before sin entered into the world. Because God worked in creating this world and made man to be a worker, there is a dignity and worth in work. Recognizing that there is a dignity in work provides an opportunity to display the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all our tasks. The jobs that God gives us are opportunities and callings that He has sovereignly chosen for us. In we are introduced to the responsibility of slaves. The Bible does not teach that slavery is natural. Nowhere does Scripture condone or condemn slavery as an institution, but what it does is provide regulations concerning it. When talking about what is natural, we need to understand that slavery came as the result of a fallen world. Unlike marriage and the family, slavery was not grounded in creation () and the moral law (). How does this relate to our current situation? We don’t have slaves and masters in our context, but the principles in this passage are the same in the employer and employee relationship. In this passage we will consider the believer’s responsibility to be a faithful witness in all work situations.

HOW TO BE A WITNESS WITH AN UNBELIEVING BOSS
He begins by providing instructions to those slaves who had unbelieving masters. This would have been the most common of circumstances for a slave. He says, “Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor” (6:1a). To be “under a yoke” refers to the fact that the slave was under the authority of their master. Instead of revolting or behaving in a disrespectful way, he says to “regard their own masters as worthy of all honor“. Because of his master’s position, the slave is to display the honor due him. What is the reason? Unlike the basis for marriage (creation) and family (the moral law), the basis for the slave’s submission is  “so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled” (6:2a). Christian slaves ought to show their unbelieving masters honor because this is an opportunity to be a witness for Christ.

Believers have a unique opportunity to live out the gospel in the workplace. The testimony of our work ethic and respect to our employers will “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” ().

HOW TO BE A WITNESS WITH A BELIEVING BOSS 
In the second verse Paul provides instructions for the slave who has a believing master. He begins by saying “Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers“. Perhaps it was the practice of some believing slaves to take advantage of the fact that their master was a believer or they expected certain privileges. Such conduct must not occur among believing workers, as “they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved“. The point is that if the Christian worker is granted the privilege of having a believing employer; his service must then be outstanding.

Because there is dignity in working to the glory of God it is the mandate of God’s people to display the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all their tasks of work (paid and unpaid). Whether you are a banker or baker, barista or barrister, horticulturalist or homemaker, your job can shine forth the glory of God in what you do. As a Christian worker, our task in work is an opportunity to be a witness. Therefore remember, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” ()

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Genesis 2:15

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

6:1 Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

Teach and urge these things.

31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),

10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Work and Worth

Careers In Genesis , we read the account of God creating the universe in six days. From this account we are exposed to God’s work of creating and filling the universe. This is the first time we see the activity of work in the Scripture. On the sixth day we read,

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'” ().

Man was created as an image bearer of God and one aspect of God’s image that man reflects is his ability to be creative and to work. This is seen in , “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” This text reveals that it was God’s will for Adam to work.  It is important to note the timing of this mandate for work: Work is not something that came after the curse (); rather it is something that God required of man before sin entered into the world. Because God worked in creating this world and made man to be a worker, there is a dignity and worth to work.

Of course, since sin entered the world, this has changed the work dynamic. Work now involves at times intense difficulty and hard labour (cf. ). Work was good in its essence and was fulfilling but sin changed its dynamic. Depending on varying occupations there will be levels of intensity and pressure. Work in the garden for example will involve combat with weeds and weariness. Because of this changed dynamic, many react by refusing to work because it is too hard. Sadly, this is not an uncommon attitude. There are those who purposely prolong their education because they enjoy the ease and lack of pressure (this is not the case for all students).

Continue reading Work and Worth

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”