Faithful to Provide for Your Family

Day 2 – Work to provide for your family. 1 Timothy 5:1-8

God made man to work. That assumption is drawn from the creation account found in the first two chapters of Genesis. As God revealed his purposes for man, he also revealed multiple reasons as to why it is beneficial for a man to work (please note the use of man here is all gender inclusive, male and female are made to work). The context of 1 Timothy 5:1-8 is one of instruction for how a person who can no longer take care of themselves is to be provided for by family.  In the midst of that instruction, there is a timeless principle that applies to all of life. That principle is found in verse 8 and is this, “One is to work in order to provide for his family.”

It has been my privilege to be associated with friends and neighbors who have a strong work ethic. The 40-hour work week has never been a standard in the circles where I have associated. My raising was in the farm sector and my early vocations included work in the Oil and Gas industries. Forty-hour work weeks were considered to be a joke. Not all was good with this attitude because family time and the need for rest were often overlooked. However, a strong work ethic is often referred to as a Judeo-Christian work ethic. That title indicates an expectation that those who believe in Jesus, or practice Judaism, have a testimony of a strong work ethic. According to 1 Tim. 5:8, one reason for a strong work ethic is to provide for your family. Notice the selflessness of work. It is not for self alone that a believer is to work but to provide for their families or others with whom they have a close relationship.

The application of this Scripture has sometimes been limited to immediate family. However, in context, this principle applies to close friends and fellow church members. It has been a great privilege to serve in churches where the members are generous to share with one another in need. But notice the first responsibility of the family. Widows in the first century had no means of financial support. Most work opportunities that provided financial means were filled by men. The older generation did not rely on a 401K or social security. They relied upon their children or other family members to take care of the need. As a church family, a responsibility to take care of widows belonging to their fellowship developed. But the first responsibility to take care of that need was blood kin. The widow’s children, or grandchildren were to see to that need. If that provision was not available, the church was then to offer support. That is a biblical model of a social safety net.

The key principle in this passage regarding work is that work is necessary in order to have something to use to provide for your family. Think about that for just a minute. Could it be at the judgment seat of Christ, that He will hand out jewels for your crown based on how well you worked to provide for your family? We were made to work.

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Faithful to Do All For His Glory

Day 1 – Whatever you Do, do it for the glory of God – Colossians 3:1-17

A believer in Jesus Christ has been changed and behaves differently than an unbelieving world. This is a key tenant of Christianity. The theological term used to describe that difference is holiness. Its primary meaning is to be set apart. The term is used to describe the Lord and if believers are imitators of God, they should also be holy. In the first 17 verses of Colossians 3, the Apostle Paul speaks directly to this subject and identifies numerous ways the believer is different than the unbelieving world. As you read through his discussion, you will note that unbelievers may exhibit some of the characteristics he mentioned. You may know unbelievers who are not full of anger and never slander others. That does not make them a Christian. They may have simply learned and developed from teachings or examples of such behavior. But for the believer, the behavior is related directly to their walk with Jesus. When a believer fails in the areas listed in these verses, it is an indication of a suffering relationship with the Lord. For the purposes of this week’s study, Faithfulness in Vocation, attention will be given to only the 17th verse. The other verses will provide context.

Paul encouraged the church to do all things, whether it was something they said or something they did, in the name of the Lord Jesus. To do something in the name of the Lord Jesus is to do something as His representative. When someone in the military puts on the uniform, their performance is in the name of their country. When US astronauts placed a flag on the moon, it was an American flag, not a personal flag. That is because they were exploring space in the name of the USA. So it is with believers in Christ. Our work on earth is in the name of Jesus. When a believer works in a vocation, whether as an employee, a business owner, or a volunteer, it is as a representative of Jesus and for His glory.

The second principle in this verse is one of thankfulness for an opportunity to work. The believer is not only a representative of Jesus, he is to be thankful for the opportunity to work. Yesterday I stopped by a convenience store and picked up an item from the shelf. While the cash register attendant was ringing up the sale, I inquired as to his wellbeing. His response was, “I am well considering it is a workday.” I simply looked up at the young man and said, “Work is a privilege and a good thing.” He smiled and said, “It is certainly better than laying around the house.” We are to be thankful to God for a place to work. The first command God gave to Adam was to take care of the Garden. That is paramount to work. Man was made to work. Does that mean we must enjoy every aspect of our work? There are tasks in our vocations that may not bring us enjoyment. One for me is confrontation. Yet confrontation is a necessary task for one who supervises others. It is part of the job. It does put a person in a place of losing her joy.

The one who performs their vocation as a representative of Christ with a thankful heart is a faithful servant of the Living God. Faithfulness in a vocation is a virtue and a key characteristic of a believer. How would you rate your performance as a representative of Christ in your vocation?

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Faithful in the Resurrection

Day 5 God is faithful in the resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

You could say God is faithful because of the foundation of his character. His faithfulness flows out of his identity. Because his love for humans is unshakable. He acts in ways that are faithful to humanity. While his suffering on the cross demonstrated the depth of his faithfulness, the resurrection is the clarion call of an ongoing testimony of his faithfulness. Nothing can stop the faithfulness of God. Not even the suffering of shame for sin or the confinement of a grave. God cannot be confined to time and space.

Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians in chapter 15 of his first epistle addressed to that church, focuses on the importance of the resurrection and appearance of Jesus to many as the foundation of hope for the church. In the visible resurrection of Christ, the early church found great motivation and comfort in the physical manifestations of the risen Lord. To see this man who had been crucified walking around in new life caused life changing experiences. How could it not cause life changing experiences? It is not every day you see a dead man walk. But when you fully grasp the resurrection of Jesus and his appearance to so many, you realize this man who was killed was raised to walk and talk again. God’s faithfulness extends beyond the grave.

The appearance of Jesus was no doubt a life changing experience. But the ongoing significance is not simply a one-time appearance but an ongoing presence. Jesus spent 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension teaching his disciples. The best news came after the ascension. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to indwell men and to strive with men. If you were to do an inventory of the faithfulness of your friends, I expect those highest on the list would be the ones who stuck by you through the valleys. In your times of need, the people who demonstrated their care for you by the ministry of presence are likely to be the ones regarded as the most faithful. So it is in our relationship with Christ. When we realize the awesome power of his continual presence, we experience the faithfulness of God. His Spirit has come to guide us into all the truth of God’s Word and in daily decisions. He has come as a comforter and a source of wisdom. God is faithful. His timing is nothing short of miraculous and his craftsmanship is unmatched in the world.

Out of God’s character of love flows his faithfulness. Because He loves us deeply, He came as the man Jesus to take our place in death for sin. The depth and width of his commitment is something to be grasped by his continual presence through the Holy Spirit. His resurrection testifies of his faithfulness. The believer is never alone and never beyond the touch of the creator God. He stands by you, above you, and beneath you. He is your strength when you feel the weakest. He is your comfort when you are destitute. He will celebrate with you on the mountain and walk with you through the valley. Our God is faithful. Because He is faithful, you can be faithful.

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God is Faithful — Demonstrated on the Cross

Day 4 God was faithful in the cross Phil. 2:1-11

The humility of Christ through the incarnation and consequently the endurance of the cross, is one of the most striking portraits of God’s faithfulness in the entire Bible. It is the driving force of the Gospel. We should not slight the legal requirements Christ fulfilled regarding atonement. We should not take his display of power and authority lightly. But every human should be taken by his humility. It was not the created that suffered the humiliation of the cross, it was the creator. The interesting contrast here is humiliation versus humility.

Christ was not humiliated on the cross because of his own sin. In fact, you could say he was not humiliated at all. Man was humiliated. After all, the nakedness of Christ during the crucifixion account was indicative of man’s naked position before God. While the testimony of a Roman crucifixion was to be one of humiliation of the crucified, for Christ, the intended humiliation was in reality the glory of God. For the average victim of the Roman system of justice, the walk to the cross was intended to shame the criminal before his peers. Christ’s march to Golgotha was a testimony of his faithfulness. He was not one who had to endure this humiliating experience on his own account, He was one who endured the humiliation of mankind completely of his own choice to die for his enemies. Martyrs for a cause are typically held in the highest esteem by the cause they represent. Christ went beyond the honor and glory of a martyr. He was and is the ultimate sacrifice offered up for the sins of all men. Jesus came in humility but he was not humiliated. Man was humiliated in the crucifixion of Christ, but Jesus earned the name above all names. Humility gained a reward. Jesus was faithful beyond measure when He went to the cross.

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God is Faithful — Covenant Maker

Day 3 God is faithful Covenant Genesis 12:1-3

The eleventh chapter of Genesis ends on a rather sad note. Abraham left his home country and he had  no children. Sarah was barren. The twelfth chapter opens with great promise on two accounts. On the first account, God made a promise to Abraham and his descendants. On the second account, the future holds promise. That is, because of God’s promise, there is a promising future full of hope. God chose to use promises, or covenants, to help man understand the faithfulness of His character and the depth of his commitment to his creation. Promises made and promises kept are excellent ways to prove faithfulness.

Bible students sometimes divide the movements in Scripture according to covenants. There is the covenant God made with Adam, one with Noah, the one in the focal text for today with Abraham, it was renewed with Moses, clarified with David, and finally fulfilled and renewed in Jesus. As the story unfolds in Genesis, it was many years before Abraham and Sarah had a child. The delay was not a testimony of a failing God. Rather it was a testimony of God who led Abraham and Sarah to greater faith.

The kind of covenant God makes is one of a higher authority making an agreement with one of lesser authority. God had everything to bring to man. Man had nothing to bring to God. Contemporary agreements are usually made regarding equal resources. When two men make some kind of agreement, the resources brought by one are usually thought to be equal to those brought by the other. If this formula is not followed, the agreement is thought to be one-sided. The agreement God made with man has no such equality. In the unfolding of history, God has been faithful to keep his end of the covenants while man has continually failed. The important lesson is this, God’s faithfulness does not depend on man’s performance.

Upon reading the remainder of the book of Genesis, one will discover the parameters God placed around this promise. Although it was not dependent upon Abraham’s performance, Abraham could choose to walk in God’s covering of blessings or he could walk outside the covering of blessings. That did not change God’s love for Abraham or his continued work on behalf of Abraham. It does mean that Abraham would suffer the consequences of sin or walking outside the covenant. The key thought for today is this, God has made promises and always keeps them. He has promised a reward to those who are faithful. That is a promise to believe in such a way as to orchestrate your life around the expectations of the Lord. Because God keeps promises, humans can keep promises. Because God’s character is one of keeping promise, we can know that being transformed into the image of his Son includes being made into a promise keeper. If God failed to keep his promises, this earth would disintegrate into nothing. Everything we know as dependable would suddenly lack in dependability. Be of good cheer. God is faithful in keeping his promises.

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God is Faithful — Grace

Day 2 God is faithful even after the fall Genesis 3

One of the key themes of Scripture helping us to understand the faithfulness of God is the theme of grace. The first demonstration of God’s grace appeared soon after the creation of man. As you consider this passage of Scripture, try to put yourself into the place of Adam. He knew God on an intimate level because they met and talked in the cool of each day. That is, he knew all there was to know based on his current circumstances. He trusted God’s faithfulness. But then along came a world changing experience. Adam disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden tree. As you have read in the story from Scripture, Adam hid from the Lord. The question of why is very valid. The answer is also clear. Adam did not know how God would react to his disobedience. The only thing he knew was God promised death. For Adam, even death was yet to be defined. His natural reaction following disobedience was nothing short of an attempt to hide. The intimacy he shared with God was destroyed.

God’ response to Adam’s unfaithfulness is at the heart of the Gospel. Through his acts of mercy and grace, God demonstrated the depth of his faithfulness. As the story goes, God went looking for Adam. It is not as if God did not know where Adam was. The story shows how God came to Adam even though Adam was hiding. His nakedness is a symbol of his exposure. He could not hide his guilt and the Bible expresses that in that he could not hide his state of exposure. Adam was fearfully wondering, “how will God respond?” Man has continually sought out ways to cover his sin since that day. The story says God talked with Adam bringing Adam to a confession of his sin. After Adam’s confession, God took the skin of an animal and made a covering for the nakedness. The theological implications of this act, and the revealing of the true nature of God’s faithfulness are priceless. God provided a covering and offered forgiveness. He continued to love Adam even after his blatant disobedience. God did not allow the capstone of his creation to be totally captured by the enemy. Instead, he offered redemption through the blood of an animal. Of course, the theological implications point toward God becoming a man and enduring a cruel Roman cross to total satisfy the wrath of God against sin. This animal was a type of Christ.

There is more to the story than just the covering from an animal. That was the first act of grace. The next act of grace came in the cursing of the ground and the pronouncement of the punishment. Because of Adam’s sin, man continually lives with difficulty. It is announced as man living by the sweat of his brow and women having pain in child birth. Time here does not permit a full treatment of these consequences; a summary will have to suffice. The world is now full of difficulties and disappointments. This too is a demonstration of God’s grace. It is in the difficulties that man is reminded of the goodness of God, the sinfulness of man, and redemption available from a faithful God. Left to his own devices, man would continue to run away from God traveling far from the covering of his faithfulness. The struggles of life are a testimony to the faithfulness of God. Regardless of how far a man may drift away from God, he will never go so far as to escape the reach of God’s faithfulness.

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God is Faithful — Creation

The subject of God’s faithfulness describes the demonstrative ways that God has proven himself to be true to his character. He has no identity crisis. He does not lay awake at night trying to discover his purpose. He does not agonize over job changes, health issues, or when to retire. God is complete, knows who He is and acts in complete congruence with His character. As the song writer has declared, “there is no shadow of turning with Him.” Even so, the faithfulness of God is the foundation on which the faithfulness of man can rest. In fact, without God’s example and revelation, man would not even know what faithfulness is. Man can be faithful because God is faithful and in his divine wisdom, He empowers men to be faithful. Perhaps the ability flows out of the concept of man created in the image of God. If we are to learn faithfulness, we must gaze upon the one who is faithful above all else. If we are to live faithful, we must surrender to His will and welcome his refining work in our lives so that we can bear fruit of the Spirit leading to a life of faithfulness. It is to the faithful that Jesus will utter the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Day 1 God is faithful in Creation –Genesis 1

Many years ago, my family visited the famous “Old Faithful” geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful has been entertaining tourists on a regular schedule for decades. She earned the name faithful because she has been sending thousands of gallons of hot water high into the air on an interval of between 35 and 120 minutes since 1939. Even though this geyser, hidden deep in the mountains of North America has gained a reputation for being faithful, she is not the most faithful of events in God’s creation. The seasons of the year have been faithful since the flood. Sunrises and sunsets have been so faithful that scientist can predict with amazing accuracy the time of each, years in advance. Where would creation be were it not for the faithfulness of a sunrise to start the day and a sunset to signal a time of rest?

The faithfulness of God’s creation is a testimony of the faithfulness of God. Genesis 1 gives a description of God bring the universe into existence. Theologians like to use the word ex nihilo to point out that He made that universe out of nothing. God’s kind of creating is much different than that of an artist who takes materials made in God’s creation in and makes them into a magnificent piece of work. While God’s work of making something out of nothing is truly remarkable and not reproducible by his creation, it is not the only work God does in creation that man can not do. I did use the present tense “does” very intentionally. God’s work in creation began thousands of years ago. However, that work continues today as seen in the rising sun each morning and the setting sun each evening. God not only made the universe out of nothing, he sustains it by his own hand. God is faithful in creation.

God’s faithfulness in sustaining the creation has been going on for so long that it is easy for his created to simply take it for granted. He is so dependable it is easy to overlook the work God performs each day to keep this world in place. Were it not for God’s faithfulness in sustaining his creation, his created would have no idea what faithfulness really is. Were it not for God’s consistency scientist would not be able to detect any changes in the atmosphere. If there were no normal, there would be no abnormal. God’s faithfulness is normal. That does not mean his actions are always precisely the same. After all, His actions flow out of a character of love. Love sometimes requires a change in actions. But in the overall scheme of things, God’s faithfulness is quite evident to those who wish to see it. When a human acts in faithfulness, it is a testimony to the image of God in their life. When they act in unfaithfulness, it is a testimony to the works of evil in this world. As a matter of application of this principle, list 2 or three areas of your life where you have been faithful for a long period of time. Spend a few moments meditating on the idea that your faithfulness is a testimony of God’s image manifest in your life.

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