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Taking Care of Business. 3. 10'19'08

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Taking Care of Business

Part 3: Going Public

Matthew 5:13-16

Sunday October 19, 2008

Work – a 4 letter word? Passion? Something to put up with?

Week 1: We: where we work; what we do; how much we are paid.                       God: how we do our work.

Week 2: the “who” not the “what” when it comes to authority.

One more “work” story – you think YOU have a tough job?

Heard a story this week about a man who was looking for work without any luck for many weeks. So he decided to take a break and visit the zoo. While he was at the zoo, he asked the zookeeper if they had any openings. The zookeeper motioned the man over to a tree and whispered, "Our gorilla just died last night, and we’re expecting a group of children to come this afternoon. They will be very disappointed if they don’t get to see a gorilla. If you’re willing to get into a gorilla outfit and just swing around in the cage, I’ll pay you $10 an hour." The man thought about the children, and he thought about the money, and then he said, "yes."                      So he got into the gorilla suit and entered the gorilla cage. Just then, the children began to file by. The man decided he was going to give the children a show by swinging on a tire. He swung so high, that he landed into the next cage, the lion’s cage. Immediately the man in the gorilla suit began to scream and rattle the cage. The children also began to scream as the lion slowly approached the gorilla. When the man in the gorilla suit thought all was hopeless, the lion said, "Mister, you better shut up before we both lose our jobs."

We think sometimes that our relationship with God is supposed to be “personal and private” just between me and God. I’ll go to church on Sunday, pray, read my Bible – but on the job, I’ll kind of keep everything between me and God. Quiet. Maybe that comes from a good place – I don’t want to offend others.

Perhaps we believe that there is a “wall” that divides our life. At church, we talk about God, at work we don’t. At home, we may, but work is work – church is church and we’ve got to keep the 2 separate.             But, it is part of our personality to share with others what we are excited about! A new restaurant, a new cosmetic, golf course, TV show – we want to tell others!

2 reasons why a “wall between my job and my faith” doesn’t work:

1.         If following Jesus was a religion, I would agree. No one goes to work to be harassed by someone else’s religion. But following Jesus isn’t a religion but a relationship! “and praise your Father in heaven.” :16

A relationship is the same no matter what the setting. Try this: “Honey, at home and at church we are married – but at work, I am single. I will take off my ring and leave it in the car, I won’t put any family pictures up on my desk; I know you’ll understand.” “While you are hiding your ring in the car, why don’t you just sleep in it too?” A relationship doesn’t change with geography!

2.         People will spend eternity somewhere! If everyone went to Heaven, I would agree. We can all just believe what we want, do what we want, and there are no consequences. It’s all OK; all roads lead to heaven just like all phone #’s ring at your house. That isn’t true? Of course not! You have to dial 675-5141 to ring my house, not all #’s lead there, not all roads lead to Seattle!

But the people you work with have an eternal destiny! Everyone will spend eternity somewhere!

God has you where he does for a reason, a purpose, a destiny! It is not all about you, but for you to be a light to those around you.

In the Old Testament, God wanted Israel to be a light to the rest of the world. He wanted people to see that Israel was different, that they had a special relationship with God. When they saw that they would say “I want that too!”

Is. 42:6; 49:6 “a light for the Gentiles” a “delivery boy” for salvation to the world. They didn’t do that, they got off track, by the time Jesus came they were just wanting to “hold on” and play defense.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Mt. 5:13-16

Jesus came and gave that responsibility to his followers. “You are the light of the world!”

Where is light needed? In dark places! Is your job dark? You aren’t called to be the light to the church! In your world, on your job. I know that it is dark – that is why YOU are there! 

We don’t need a light to shine in the church! It is plenty bright in here. One of the reasons to come to church is to get your battery recharged so you can go out into the dark world and shine.

“a city set on a hill cannot be hidden”. As travelers, they knew that they did not want to be outside of the city walls after dark. Bandits, no safe place to be – as they traveled, they knew that they had to make it to the next city, they could see it on the next hill – before the lights would come on.

“Whose fault is it? Let me put it like this: if the house is dark, there is no sense blaming the house. That’s what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is: “Where is the light?”
If the meat goes bad, there is no sense blaming the meat. That is what happens when bacteria are allowed to breed unchecked. The question is: “Where is the salt?”

If society becomes corrupt like a dark night or a stinking fish, there’s no sense blaming society. That’s what happens when fallen human society is left to itself and human evil is unrestrained and unchecked. The question to ask is: “Where is the church?” John Stott

New perspective: I am where I am for a reason; it is not an accident. God has placed me here for my light to shine, for others to see my light and to look to my Father. You ARE the light of your office, your place of work.

Over time, we turn inward. We don’t mean to or do it intentionally. We tend to lose focus on the lost, on letting our light shine – and we focus inwardly. On our selves, our church friends and activities. Normal, but we’ve got to fight against that!

Christian growth         up or down?    Up

Love for people           up or down?    Down

5 SLIDES:

Christian growth / Love for people

New Christian

Growing Christian

Over time . . .

God’s ideal for us

Those may be typical settings, but they are not healthy or pleasing to God. Where are you?

Feeling ordinary? Average? “If this world is going to be reached, I am convinced that it must be done by men and women of average talent. After all, there are comparatively few people in the world who have great talents.”    -- D.L. Moody

1.    Live the Christian life.

Is your faith contagious?        Again, this first step is not an option. If you are living the life of a hypocrite, your witness is not going to be effective. Why would it? Why should people look into the Christian faith if your life is not a good advertisement for it?

There are people in your web, who when they think of “Christian” they think of you! When they think of “Jesus” or “Oak Harbor Assembly of God” they think of you. How well are you representing these things?

It is not a matter of being a witness or not. The question is: “Are you a good one or a poor one?”

People complain that our world is so sinful and dark. Things are getting worse and worse! Yes they are! But, the good news is, the worse the world gets, the brighter our light ought to shine! We don’t live in a world where “everyone” is a Christian – or thinks they are – there is not that idea today. So, when we really live the Christian life, we will stand out from the dark world around us!

People are very interested in spiritual things; in finding meaning and purpose to life. People want to know what lies beyond the grave – is there life after death? Where did I come from, where am I going?

Goal: People would see our lives, our lights, and say “There is something different about you! You don’t . . . you do. . . .”

Do the right thing! Work hard (as unto the Lord; respect authority) And here is the key – when that happens, we make sure to say it isn’t about us; it isn’t that we have a nice personality or we just like people – because if others aren’t that way, they will just say, “I’m not wired that way” – but we point people to Jesus! Our Father! It is not who we are, it is whose we are! It is who our Father is! Not a religion, but a relationship that makes the difference.

Not: “I believe” but “I have a relationship with”

I don’t do that because that “would hurt the person that I love the most”

2.    Look for opportunities.

You don’t have to ask God to create opportunities – we just need eyes to see them! They are already there, all around us. Who is it, in your world, who is ready for you to shine your light on? Who is open to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives?

Not all moments have the same degree of openness. There are “teachable moments” in everyone’s life. <Standing in an airplane, getting ready to jump out – how to work a parachute!> Look for times of transition, times of crisis. When life is going smoothly, we are not as apt to be open to change, but when we are in the middle of a storm, we are!

Who on the job is in a storm? Who is in crisis? Oftentimes, this presents an opportunity to make an impact for the gospel. Take them a book; a tape “This really helped me . . . with my kids, my marriage, my finances”

3.    Open your mouth!

Talk; you must share you faith verbally. Wanda is great at this.

It is not enough to say “my life will speak for itself”. No, if Jesus added words to his life, we must too.

Don’t freak out at this point. A witness is simply someone who tells what they know. They do not need to be an expert, they do not need to be perfect – they testify, they give witness to what they know.

The man that Jesus healed. “I don’t know who he is – I can’t say I have all the “religious answers” but this is what I know – I used to be blind, and now I can see!”

“So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “Give glory to God by telling the truth, because we know Jesus is a sinner.” “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” John 9:24-25 NLT

That is an awesome testimony! “Hey I don’t know all that religious stuff you are talking about – here is what I know: I used to be blind, but now I can see!” It doesn’t get any better than that.

That person whom you work with every day, whose eyes you look into, whose voice you hear, who’s shared hopes & dreams with you, who’s told you about the new car they’ve bought & about their kids & family, doesn’t it make sense that that person is the one God would like to see you leading to the Lord?

4.    Shining your light at work is normal!

This is just a normal part of my Christian life. It is not something out of the ordinary or strange. It is not a new program or ministry. It is what I do! Again, if God has put these people in my life, isn’t it for a good reason?

“Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.” 2 Cor. 3:3 NLT

Billboard; an ad for Jesus on the job. You and I are letters – what do we say?

There are no accidents with God! He is wise enough to put you in a place where you can serve him and he wants your light to shine!

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