SUCCEEDING ON THE JOB (2)

When it comes to having a work ethic, ‘Go to the ant, consider its ways and be wise.’ These tiny giants of industry teach us valuable principles for living. Observe three things about them:
1) The ants ‘has no commander, no overseer or ruler’ (Proverbs 6:7 NIV). Nobody has to get it out of bed in the morning or coax it to get moving. Nobody supervises its work or enforces quality standards on it. Nobody needs to micromanage its time on the job or make sure it starts punctually, puts in a full day, pulls its weight and doesn’t quit early. It’s self-motivated and driven by its own high standards, not by rules, regulation or the fear of being fired.
2) It ‘stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest’ (Proverbs 6:8 NIV). While everyboddy else is complaining about the heat (the weather, the economy, politics, etc.), the hard-working ant just keeps preparing for futre. Later, in the more moderate temperatures of harvest time, it continues gathering. Disregarding the conditions, it works. Then whily others are struggling to survive, it feasts on the fruits of its labour. ‘Watch and learn,’ is God’s counsel.
3) The ant is no haphazard, disorganised drifter wandering around aimlessly, looking for something to do. ‘He knows exactly what he’s there for and where and how to do it. He’s goal-directed, focused, determined and unstoppable. You can’t keep a good ant down! ‘Consider….and be wise.’
‘But my job’s a dead end,’ you say. As long as you are in this job do it ‘heartily, as to the Lord’ (Colossians 3:23). Prove yourself where you are and God will promote you better things.

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SUCCEEDING ON THE JOB (1)

God’s interested in what you do for work; He’s also interested in how you do it. The truth is, your prospects for the future are determined by your work ethic. For the next few days let’s look at some work habits from the book of proverbs to avoid of acquire if you want God’s blessing.
Laziness. ‘I went past the field of the sluggard….the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins….I….learned a lesson….’A little sleep….folding of the hands….and poverty will come on you like a bandit’ (Proverbs 24:30-34 NIV). Laziness produces lack just as surely as a thief will rob you. The Bible says lazy people are :
a) PROCRASTINATORS. ‘A little sleep….folding of the hands.’ They say, ‘i’ll do it tomorrow,’ but tomorrow never comes.
b) EXPENSIVE TO MAINTAIN. ‘He who is slothful in his work is a brother to…a great destroyer.’ They complain, cut corners, cripple business and cause hardship.
c) QUITTERS. They quit before the job’s finished. ‘The lazy man does not roast his game’ (Proverbs 12:27 NIV). He hunts the deer but he won’t clean it. Unfinhshed projects fill his life: Half-built cupboards, half-painted rooms, half-tidied garages. Sound familiar?
d) MASTER OF EXCUSES. ‘The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside!’ or, ‘I will be murdered in the streets!" (Proverbs 22:13 NIV). When he runs out of credible excuses he goes for ridiculous ones. He ‘will not plough by reason of the cold’ (Proverbs 20:4). ‘You want me to get sick, going to work in this weather?’ or if it’s warm, ‘It’s way too nice for work!’ Whatever your work, do it conscientiously. Don’t let laziness rob you of success.

DON’T BE A HYPOCRITE

Jesus is the only person in the New Testament who used word ‘hypocrite.’ And there may be a reason why. Archaeologists have discovered a city named Sepphoris, built by Herod the Great when Jesus was a boy. You could see it from a hillside on which His hometown of Nazareth was located. It housed a giant amphitheatre. The actors who put on plays there were called ‘hypokrites. They wore masks so that the audience could identify the different characters each was intended to portray. At the end of the performance the would take off their masks and the audience would cheer and clap for them. So, Practicing hypocrisy means wearing a mask designed to impress of deceive others. Ouch!
Then Jesus talks about three specific areas in which we tend to practice hypocrisy:
1) GIVING. ‘When you give…don’t announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men’ (Mathew 6:2 NIV).
2) PRAYING. ‘When you pray , go into your room, close the door and pray to your father, who is unseen. Then your father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you’ (Matthew 6:6 NIV).
3) JUDGING. ‘In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you…How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and them you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye’ (Matthew 7:2-5 NIV). So, the word for you today is don’t be a hypocrite!

LEARN TO BE CONTENT (2)

Michael Drosnin wrote a book about a man who wanted more wealth, so he built one of the biggest financial empires of his day. He wanted more pleasure, so he paid for the most glamorous women money could buy. He wanted more adventure, so he set air speed records, built and piloted the world’s most unique aircraft. He wanted more power, so he acquired political clout that was the envy of senators. He wanted mord glamour, so he owned film studios and courted stars. Drosnin tells how this man’slife ended: ‘He was a figure of gothic power, ready for the grave. Emaciated, only 120 pounds stretched dnver his six-foot-four-inch frame….thin scraggly beard that reached its way onto his sunken chest, hideously long fingernails in grotesque yellow corkscrews….Many of his teeth were black, rotting, stumps. A tumour was begining to emerge from the side of his head….innumerable needle marks….Howard Hughes was an addict. A billionaire junkie.
So here’s the question: If Hughes had pulled off one more deal, made one more million and tasted one more thrill, would it have been enough? The illusion of gratitude is that we will experience it more, if we get more? No, making sure a child gets everything they want destroys their initiative and dulls their sense of gratitude and contentment. Don’t you find it interesting that the man who wrote, ‘I have learned the secret of being content’ also wrote, ‘In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God Christ Jesus concerning you’ (1 Thesalonians 5:18)? You cannot make yourself a more grateful of contented person, but you can pray for it and open your heart to it.

LEARN TO BE CONTENT (1)

Sometimes contentment means:
1) LEARNING TO BE HAPPY WITH LESS: A hard-charging executive decided to spend a few days in a monastery. ‘I hope your stay is a blessed one,’ said the monk who showed him to his cell. ‘If you need anything let us know. We’ll teach you how to live without it.’ Happiness isn’t getting what you want, it’s enjoying what God’s given you. Paul said he had learned to be content, ‘Whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who gives me strenght.
2) REMINDING YOURSELF THINGS COULD BE WORSE: Snoopy was lying in his dog house on Thanksgiving Day, mumbling about being stuck with dog food while all those humans got to be inside with the turkey and gravy and pumpking pie. ‘Of course, it Reminding yourself ‘It could be worse’ can be a powerful developer of contentment.
3) UNDERSTANDING THAT WHAT YOU SEEK IS SPIRITUAL NOT MATERIAL: Paul says to beware of ‘greed, which is idolatory’ (Colossians 3:5 NIV). Our problem isn’t just that we want more, it’s that the condition which underlies all our wanting is that we really want God. As augustine said, ‘Our souls will never rest, untill they rest in Thee. ‘Why would God let us feel at home , when this world is not our home? Our dissatisfaction, if we let it, can sharpen our spiritual hunger and cause us to pray, ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ (Mathew 6:10 NIV).

BORN AGAIN

CHAPTER 1
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE BORN AGAIN

There was a man of pharises, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, exept God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Exept a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:13,7)
In this passage, Jesus had a discussion with a man called Nicodemus. Jesus was at home one night when Nicodemus came to Him. Nicodemus was a very important person in town.
The Bible says he was a ruler of the Jews, a master of Israel, a leader in the sinagogues. Nicodemus went to see Jesus at night, so that all the people who respected him would not see him.
This prominent Jewish leader said something to Jesus, which prompted Him to give an interesting reply. Nicodemus told Jesus that he recognized Him as a great man of God.
Jesus saw right through him and replied, “You must be born again. You are a good person. I know you pay tithes and fast often. You are Pharisee, and a ruler of the Jews, but you still need to be born again!”
Now, the questions we have to ask ourselves are these: Why did Jesus tell Nicodemus that he had to be born again? Why did He launch out into this sermon?
The word “born” means “to be produced or created”. Therefore, to be “born again” means “to be produced or crated again”.
There are lots of people doing all sorts of religious things. These things look “Christian”, but they are not. Such people are not born again. There is no religion that requires a person to be born again. All the major religions of this world give instructions for following certain rules of conduct. There is, however, no religion that claims an inner new birth. Christianity stands alone in this claim!
To understand what it means to be born again, we can look at what being born again is not! To understand the Bible better, I often try to view the opposite of what is written. This can be very revealing.
For example: “….Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these shall be added unto you” (Mathew 6:33).
The opposite of this is “….Do not seek first the kingdom of God, and all these shall not be added unto you.” It is as simple as that. If you do not seek first the kingdom of God, you cannot expect God to give you the things you need. So, to understand the concept of being born again, we are going to look at twenty things that are NOT the same as being born again.

TWENTY THINGS THAT ARE NOT THE SAME AS BEING BORN AGAIN

1. ADMIRING MIRACLES
Whenever there is a miracle worker, large crowds gather. These crowds are often for a season. But it is sad to say that many of them are not born again.
Whenever Jesus himself organized miracle crusades, large crowds gathered but when he began teaching certain hard truths, he was deserted by all, except the twelve disciples (John 6).
A deep admiration for miracles is not the same as being born again.

2. BEFRIENDING “MEN OF GOD”
Nicodemus got acquainted with Jesus and became His friend. In the same way, there are many who have become friends of pastors and men of God. Jesus did not say, “Except a man has a pastor as his friend. . .”; He did say, “. . .except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

3. SENDING MONEY TO CHURCH
sending money to church is not the same as being born again. Some people have given money to churches for many years, but that is not a substitute for being born again. It will not result in the giver receiving special treatment at the gates of Heaven.
Though it is good to give to God, no matter how much you contribute to the church, you still need to be born again.

4. JOINING A CHURCH
A person may join a church by registering as a member of that church and still not be born again.
I have been in church all my life but I did not get born again until I got to form three in Achimota Secondary School in Accra, Ghana. In a “religious” country such as Ghana, you could easily be a member of a church, and not be born again.

5. PLAYING A ROLE IN CHURCH
It is possible to play a prominent role in church without being born again.
For instance during an alter call in our church, some choristers responded to the call to give their lives to Christ. The were members of the choir, but were not born again. A person who is not born again may get involved in church activities and even become a priest. There are preist standing behind the “sacred desks” in many curches who are not even born again! Playing a role in church is not the same as being born again.