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Sermon Outline 041907 - The Office

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“The Office” Sermon Outline

 4/19/07

Chi Alpha @ OSU

Mini-Pre-Sermon:

When God Doesn’t Make Sense

I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened at VT.  I think mainly because a good part of my life is working with college students.  That’s the people I love.  So, I kept thinking of all of you, which made it harder.  I don’t know how I would respond, really.  But I think  part of it would be some anger toward God, sadness, confusion, doubt.  I’m pretty sure I’d have some strong words for God.  That’s just the truth.  And God can handle it.  It’s called being human, and living in a sinful world.

We talked in my small group on Tuesday about the problem of evil.  Why is there evil in the world.  It’s a tough issue, and we looked at some scriptures, but there’s just simple a part of that answer we are not going to get until we get to Heaven.  It’ll make sense then.  But we could understand, is that no matter what, we need to keep the most important thing, the most important thing.  That we needed to choose to follow Christ in the midst of evil.  And that these types of events should remind us of how every conversation and every interaction with those who don’t know Christ counts.

For every parent and friend who lost someone, the healing process is going to take some serious time.  It’s a lot harder when someone is so young.  So, as you think about it, and watch the unbelievable amount of news about it, remember to pray for those that are hurting, and pray that we will respond as God wants us to respond to this situation.

(Let’s Pray)

Introduction:

Work. Job. Career. Desk. Food Service. 9 to 5. Coffee. The Office.

Every single person in this room either has a job right now or will have one soon.  Once you leave school, you’ll hopefully call this job your career.  I hope there’s a difference between your food service job you have now and what you’ve chosen as your career.  I love the TV show “The Office.”  Tricia used to hate it.  But somehow, I got her to watch it too.  How many here watch “The Office?”

I was trying to figure out ways to use that show to bring some humor and examples to my talk today.  I had a hard time.  The truth is, The Office is much closer to reality than you realize (unless you already work in an office environment).  And so is Dilbert.  There’s a reason why these shows/comics are funny, especially when you’ve worked in the office world.

But whether your future career is in an office, in ministry, on the road, in a hospital, or in another country, there are a couple lessons we can learn from the Bible about what is means to be a good worker.  Not only in your job or career, but in your studies, your ministry, your volunteer efforts, and your family life.

Why am I preaching this?

Unfortunately, the modern perception of people your age is that they don’t work hard.  That they are more interested in having fun and relaxing.  Playing video games and watching TV.  Unfortunately, this is mostly true.  But as Christians, we should aspire to something greater.  Set a different example.

(Read Colossians 3:22-24)

1)      Be thorough (v22)

a)      Slaves: slave as an entity in a socioeconomic context.  Not American slave, but an economic thing.

i)        Very similar to the rest of your life.  Your economic stability depends on your master/boss.

b)     Do everything you are asked to do

i)        When they are watching: gain their favor

(1)   Nothing wrong with this.  Do good work, make sure it gets noticed, be successful at work.

ii)      When they are not watching: out of reverence/respect for God (and for integrity’s sake)

(1)   A retired guy became interested in the construction of an addition to a shopping mall. Observing the activity regularly, he was especially impressed by the conscientious operator of a large piece of equipment. The day finally came when this guy had a chance to tell this man how much he'd enjoyed watching his scrupulous work. Looking astonished, the operator replied, "You're not the supervisor?" 

(2)   This does affect your work too.  But our motivation should not be to see how little we can get away with and still be successful in our job, but realizing that God is our real master, and he sees everything.

(3)   We do our work well and thoroughly to please God, not man.

(4)   The reality is, it’s going to catch up with you one way or another.

c)      Martin Luther understood this when he wrote, "The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays -- not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship."

2)      Work hard (v23)

a)      Give it everything you’ve got

i)        (Greg Kuhl Questions/Answers)

(1)   Time: 3:17:00.  Pace: 7:31. Place: 2899 out of about 23,000.

ii)      If you work hard, you will get earthly recognition.  If you don’t, you’ll have a reputation too.

(1)   The sign in the store window read: NO HELP WANTED. As two men passed by, one said to the other, "You should apply--you'd be great."

iii)    But this is not the point, work hard because you do it for God.

(1)   A poor work ethic is all about our relationship with God and nothing else.

(2)   If someone doesn’t work hard, is lazy at work, doesn’t work hard in their studies, responsibilities, it tells me a lot about their spiritual condition.

(3)   When we realize all that God did for us, who he is, how much we love and respect him, having a good work ethic will naturally occur.

3)      Be persistent (Genesis 29:14b-30)

After Jacob had stayed with him (Uncle Laban)  for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.”

16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”

19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her.”

22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. 24 And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant.

25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”

26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”

28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant. 30 Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.

a)      No matter the odds or situation, follow through/ be persistent

b)      God gives the birds their food, but He doesn't throw it into their nests.

c)      In life, you will encounter endless unfair situations.  Guess what, it happens to everyone.  How you respond to them shows your character.

d)     Early in your career, you will probably not work your dream job.  Get those ideas out of your mind now.  Work hard at whatever God has asked you to do.  Be persistent in following the dream and goals that God has given you.

e)      I promise that God has many exciting adventures for you.  Seek him on that.  But all adventures require persistence.  The pay off is worth it.

f)       The fallacy of the closed door: We sometimes say that God has to open or close a door for us to “know his will.”  This is lame.  This isn’t Star Trek, where every door opens and closes when we get close to it.  Sometimes we need to put trust in the dreams and goals that God has given us, and do a little door kicking.  Lame not to work for goals.

i)        Persistence defines most of the important people in history.  You can think of the first foreign missionaries who worked their entire lives to create a beachhead in Africa and Asia, sometimes only to see a handful of converts.  Or famous inventors like Edison who created 6000 lightbulbs before creating the first one that worked.   Persistence is one of the most defining characteristics of the great people of our world.

ii)      Do not let setbacks derail you from the goals and dreams God has given you.  Life will not always be that easy.  In fact, it almost never is.

4)      Find support (Exodus 17:8-13)

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”

10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

a)      Find a couple people that will support you and encourage you

b)     Moses knows what’s ahead of him if he wants his people to be successful.  So he takes support with him to complete the task.

c)      We need to surround ourselves with fellow Christians who are hard working and persistent and encourage one another.  Moses was probably encouraging Aaron and Hur as much as they were him.  Build a strong network of friends.  This becomes much harder once you leave college.

5)      Get the reward (v24)

a)      Here’s the promise.  If you are thorough, work hard, and are persistent, you will be rewarded.

i)        Some of those rewards will be here on earth.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Part of my motivation to do well in my job is to advance in my industry in responsibility and pay.  I want to provide for my family and ministry.

ii)      No matter what the reward here, we receive the ultimate reward in Heaven by being faithful to what God has commanded us to do: be thorough, work hard, and be persistent.

b)     Remember who you really serve: God.

i)        This should shape everything we do.  Again, when we really realize this, we will be the kind of people that every employer wants, that every ministry want on their team, that every classmate want on their group project.

ii)      This will open up further doors of ministry in the work world as people watch your character.

Closing:

The Office is full of dysfunctional characters.  Pam, whose love life is more important than her work. Dwight, who is just odd and obsessed with trying to be something he is not.  Michael, the idiot and pathetic boss. Jim, who spends a good amount of his time playing practical jokes on Dwight.  Even if this is mild reflection of the real world, our choice as Christians to be exceptional employees.  Ones that are though, work hard, and are persistent.  There aren’t many of these kinds of workers out there.  Trust me on that.  And you will reap the rewards for being one of those employees.  But you will also become a positive influence in people’s lives because of your work ethic.  People will trust you more and listen to what you have to say.  And you will have the satisfaction of knowing who your real boss is.  That as you work hard, even if your boss doesn’t notice it, Jesus does, and that’s who you are really serving.

Let’s pray.

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