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6 Steps To Better Brick Laying

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Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 3:10-19

I was praying this week and asking the Lord to give me direction in the scripture relative to this morning’s sermon.  There are times when this is not a laborious part of the “sermonizing” experience and there are other times when it is nerve racking.  The worse thing in the world is to stand in front of people with nothing to say.  It’s a nightmare.

I began to think in the midst of my praying that perhaps it was time for another “how to” message.  That seemed to be safe.  Then I began to realize that there are very few things in the book that tell us clearly and directly, step by step, how to do this or that.

How to be a successful parent.

How to excel in your work.

How to get along with difficult people.

How To Give Your Cat A Pill

1. Grasp cat firmly in your arms.  Cradle its head on your elbow, just as  if you were giving a baby a bottle.  Coo confidently, "That's a nice kitty."  Drop the pill in its mouth.

 2. Retrieve cat from top of lamp & pill from under sofa.

 3. Follow same proceedure as in 1, but hold cat's front paws down with left hand & back paws down with elbow of right arm.  Poke pill into its mouth with right forefinger.

 4. Retrieve cat from under bed.  Get new pill from bottle.  (resist impulse to get new cat.)

 5. Again proceed as in 1, except when you have cat firmly cradled in bottle-feeding position, sit on edge of chair, fold your torso over cat, bring your right hand over your left elbow, open cat's mouth by lifting the upper jaw & pop pill in - quickly!  Since your head is down by your knees, you won't be able to see what you are doing.  That's just as well.

 6. Leave cat hanging on drapes.  Leave pill in your hair. 

 7 If you are a woman, have a good cry.  If you are a man, have a good cry.

 8. Now pull yourself together.  Who's the boss here anyway?  Retrieve cat & pill. Assuming position 1, say sternly, "Who's the the boss here anyway?"  Open cat's mouth, take pill & ....Oooops!

 9. This isn't working, is it?  Collapse & think.  Aha!  Those flashing calws are causing the chaos.

 10. Crawl to the linen closet.  Drag back a large beach towl.  Spread towel on floor.

 11. Retrieve cat from kitchen counter & pill from potted plant.

 12. Spread cat on towel near one end with its head over long edge.

 13. Flatten cat's front & back legs over its stomach.  (resist impulse to  flatten cat.)

 14. Roll cat in towel.  Work fast; time & tabbies wait for no man - or  woman!

 15. Resume position 1.  Rotate your left hand to cat's head.  Press its  mouth at the jaw hinges like opening the petals of a snapdragon.

 16. Drop pill into cat's mouth & poke gently.  Voila!  It's done!

 17. Vacuum up loose fur (cat's).  Apply bandages to wounds (yours).

 18. Take two asprins & lie down.

I believe with all my heart that a person who is desiring to please the Lord and to grow in their relationship with Him will be better at whatever it is that he is doing.  Everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing himself.

God determines your potential and it is largely based on our ability to surrender ourselves to him.  The more that we resist God the less He is able to bless our work, our parenting, our spousing and the list goes on.  So I would say that pleasing Him should be our number 1 focus and in His Word, learning how to live for Jesus without embarrassing God would be essential.

So this morning, I want to suggest six possible steps to better bricklaying or better whatever.  Let’s read together.

1Corinthians 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. [11] For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. [12] If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, [13] his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. [14] If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. [15] If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 16 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? [17] If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.  18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. [19] For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight.

1.  Identify The Boss? 

[11] For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ

Who or what calls the shots in your life?  For the Christian of course this question is primary and paramount.  It should be the first decision that we make when we come to Christ.  Who will now be in charge?  The fact that God wants to direct your life for His glory and your good is a “foundational” truth of the Christian life.

You can say it in many different ways but the truth is still the same.  He wants to be Savior and He wants to be Lord.

Lordship is not merely a matter of God’s imposed will on your life.  It’s not coming to Christ for salvation and then throwing up your hands in forced surrender.  It is a matter of embracing His Will because we really believe it to be desirable.

Once we desire God’s will in our daily lives, then we have a task of our own.  That is, under God’s Lordship to take charge of our own lives.

Titus 2 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.  2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children,  5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. 6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.  7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness  8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. 9 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them,  10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,  13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,  [1]

There will be times when you and I will stand as Christians in perilous positions at work at play and otherwise.  Life’s ethical maze will call us to point to the cross through the choices that we make.  Let me ask you a question, “Do you think that God would still expect us in this modern day to stand for what we believe in at times even if it meant that we might lose our jobs?  I’m not talking about dying on every hill, I’m not speaking of listening for every erroneous philosophy that people around you express and trying to preach the Word to them at every turn.  I’m not talking about being obnoxious for God.  We can be persecuted for righteousness or idiocy.  The latter brings no glory to God.  But there will be times when you and I in life have to make choices that honor God and bring risk to our well-being.

2.  Select The Best Bricks

[12] If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, [13] his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. [14] If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. [15] If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

 What are you building with?  If I want to have the best result, I will build with the best material that I can find.  Paul’s address here was probably primarily to those who wanted to choose the ministry of one man over another.  Pauls calls this “childish” in the earlier verses of this chapter.

He assures them that one day every man’s work will be shown for what it is and encourages them to select the best possible materials to build with.  He encourages them to use material that will stand the test of fire.

God help us to do this in our church and certainly to do this in our individual lives.

Here is a good searching question for a man to ask himself as he reviews his past life: Have I written in the snow? Will my life-work endure the lapse of years and the fret of change? Has there been anything immortal in it, which will survive the speedy wreck of all sublunary things? The boys inscribe their names in capitals in the snow, and in the morning's thaw the writing disappears. Will it be so with my work, or will the characters that I have carved outlast the brazen tablets of history? Have I written in the snow?

n      Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)

It is so easy to allow our lives to become a reflection of the society in which we live.  A day and age when we are looking for something cheaper to sell at the same price or a greater one.  Profit margins are the focus.  I want to spend less money in providing a commodity or a service and charge the same thing that I used to charge.  I have noticed in recent years that there is much more air in a bag of chips than there once was.

THE PARADOX OF OUR AGE

We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers

We have wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints

We spend more, but have less

We buy more, but enjoy less

We have bigger houses, but smaller families

We have more conveniences, but less time

We have more degrees, but less sense

We have more knowledge, but less judgment

We have more experts, but fewer solutions,

We have more medicines, but less well-being

We have infinite ends, but limited means

We spend so recklessly, laugh so little, drive so fast

get angry so quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired

read seldom, watch TV too much, and Pray Too Seldom

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values

We talk too much, love too seldom and lie too often

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life

We have added years to life, not life to years

We have been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor

We've conquered outer space, but not inner space

We have done larger things, but not better things

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the souls

We've split the atom, but not our prejudice

We write more, but learn less

We plan more, but accomplish less

We have learned to rush, but not to wait

We have higher incomes, but lesser earnings

We have more food, but less satisfaction

We have more acquaintances, but fewer friends

We do more efforts, but succeed less

We are long on Quantity, short on Quality

We act smart, instead of being smart

We have fancier houses, but broken homes

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare

more leisure and less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

This is a time when there is much in the show window, and nothing in the stockroom.

What a life if full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare

Unknown

3.  Know The Blueprints Well. 

16 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? [17] If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.  18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. [19] For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight.

Bigger Picture – What are you building?  It’s possible to get so engrossed in the blueprints that we lose sight of what we are striving for.  You have the blueprints in front of you.  If you don’t take your blueprints to church then your probably don’t take them anywhere.  How many take your blueprints with you to places other than church?  Do you take them to work?  It could be a good idea to take them and set them on your desk.  It could be great accountability for each of us as we deal with people, a wonderful reminder to us of the responsibility that we have to live in a godly manner before others.

The scripture says that you are God’s temple and the home of His Spirit.  Does your life match that description today.  Is God’s presence in your life cherished and does your life carry that message or is the Spirit at times somewhat confined in your life to certain areas and restricted in other areas.  I would suspect that there are rooms in your life where God is not allowed.  There are those spaces that are not surrendered to God.  They are justified and rationalized but not given fully to Him.  We devote ourselves to the things that we love and we find the resources to fund them.  Those things that we do not love quite so much are denied attention.  How many of your pleasures to you give greater amounts of money to than you give to the work of the Savior that your profess to love?  How much more time do you give to activities that may be wholesome or good but made of wood, hay or straw?

4.  Look For The Boundary Stones.

Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers. Proverbs 22:28

There are certain things that should not be tampered with.  They are there for a reason.  I will become a person of integrity. 

 

MYSELF

I have to live with myself, and so

I want to be fit for myself to know.

I want to be able, as days go by,

Always to look myself straight in the eye.

I don't want to stand, with the setting sun,

And hate myself for the things I've done.

I want to go out with my head erect,

I want to deserve all men's respect.

For here in the struggle for fame and self

I want to be able to like myself.

I don't want to look at myself and know

I'm bluster, a bluff and an empty show.

I never can hide myself from ME;

I see what others may never see.

I know what others may never know,

I never can fool myself, and so,

Whatever happens, I want to be

Self-respecting and conscience-free

Unknown

I have seen too many people ignore the boundary stones of life and also fail to establish their own.  Not every restriction that comes to us from our fathers is purposeless.  There are certain boundaries that we need to respect and we need to do that before we get into a position that would cause us to want to step beyond them.

5.  Mind Your Own “Busy-ness”.

You either gain experience by laying brick or you lose interest in it.  If you do it too much you forget that you are doing anything more than stacking blocks.  If you step back occasionally to see what you are doing and the effect of what you are doing on the surroundings then you approach it with a different passion – not for the monetary reward but for giving what people could never hire from you, your very self, a picture and painting of God in whatever your hands are engaged.  Sometimes we get so engrossed in our work that we neglect life itself.

 

The Irony of the Rat Race Explained:

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village.  An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, play a little golf and take a siesta with my wife.  In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs...I have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!  You should start by fishing longer every day.  You can then sell the extra fish you catch.  With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.  With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.  Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant.  You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City!  From there you can direct your huge enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American

"And after that?"

"Afterwards?  That's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing.  "When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions?  Really?  And after that?"

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, play golf, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends!"

We hurt people by being too busy. Too busy to notice their needs. Too busy to drop that note of comfort or encouragement or assurance of love. Too busy to listen when someone needs to talk. Too busy to care.  Billy Graham (1918- )

Beware of Christian activities instead of Christian being. The reason workers come to stupendous collapses is that their work is the evidence of a heart that evades facing the truth of God for itself-"I have no time for prayer, for Bible study, I must be always at it."  Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

6.  Make It Beautiful

Duty makes us do things well; but love makes us do them beautifully.

Phillips Brooks, Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 2.

80/20 rule is a credo for efficiency.  Art has never been a matter of efficiency. Vilfredo Pareto was a brilliant Italian mathematician, sociologist and economist of the last century.  He came up with what has come to be known as the 80/20 rule.  Simply stated it says that "80 percent of the result will come from 20 percent of the events".  In church 80 percent of the work gets done by 20 percent of the people; 80 percent of a company's sales come from 20 percent of its products; 80 percent of the outcome of a football game will be the result of 20 percent of the time spent on the field.   So let's be realistic in our expectations on involvement and not too disappointed with the bench or, should I say, Pew Warmers!  The principle can be an argument for staying away from perfectionism.  That’s probably a good thing but in the last 20% there is great beauty to be found.  80% done will not bring beauty.

Do you have a calling or a job. Choose that employment or calling in which you may be most serviceable to God.  Choose not that in which you may be most rich or honorable in the world; but that in which you may do most good, and best escape sinning.  For a Christian I believe that this is one of the most common mistakes that is made.  We are made different in Christ than even we realize at times.  When He lives in your life, your desires become different.  We can never be satisfied as children of God with things that once drove us.  Thus we are even more prone than others to the frustration that comes from spending our lives for nothing more than monetary reward.

 -- Richard Baxter, Leadership, Vol. 8, no. 3.

Work without a love relationship spells burnout.

   Lloyd John Ogilvie (1930- )

 

If you wish to enrich days, plant flowers; If you wish to enrich years, plant trees, If you wish to enrich Eternity, plant ideals in the lives of others.

   -- S. Truett Cathy, Leadership, Vol. 7, no. 2.

 

n      Skit idea – building sand castles out of imported sand and gold dust, etc. . .

My long hours working as a childcare provider often tempted me to complain about my job. Although I didn't know what work God wanted me to do, I was sure it must be something other than "just" babysitting. Then one day, a father who came to pick up his toddler commented, "You taught Kasey to pray. She says grace at home now, and my wife and I are thinking of attending church." God's direction suddenly became clear. Now, when others ask what I do for a living, I smile and say, "I 'just' babysit for the Lord."

n      Linda Clare, Eugene, OR. "Heart to Heart," Today's Christian Woman.


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[1]The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

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