God Uses Your Work to Develop Your Character.

By Rick Warren — Apr 7, 2015

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much .… If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” (Luke 16:10-12 NIV)

In the book of Genesis, there’s the story of a man named Joseph. God gave Joseph a vision of becoming a great leader, but for 40 years he spent his life as a slave, and much of that time he actually spent working in prison. That was the testing ground of Joseph’s character, and when the day came and the time was just right, God pulled him out of that setting and placed him where he always intended Joseph to be. The whole time, God was growing Joseph’s character.

God is far more concerned about who you are than what you do. He is much more interested in your character than he is in your career. But God does use your work and your workplace to develop your character. Your workplace is a life course in character development.

Do you have a boss who drives you nuts? Think about this. God can use a boss who tests your patience, and he can use a workplace that you’re unhappy in to develop and grow your character. He plants seeds of love, joy, peace, and patience in your heart, and then he fertilizes those seeds while you work.

You may be at work and wonder, “How come this is going on? Why is this such a tough place? Why are these people picking on me? Why can’t I be happier at my workplace?” You’re really just asking the same question that Solomon asked in Ecclesiastes 1:3: “You spend your life working, laboring, and what do you have to show for it?” (GNT)

The answer is character. Life is preparation for eternity. You’re not going to take your career with you to Heaven, but you are going to take your character. And while you are here on Earth, God is developing your character and testing your faithfulness. Will you be faithful to do the right thing, even when you don’t feel like doing the right thing? He’s watching so that he can determine what kind of job he is going to give you in eternity.

Jesus said in Luke 16:10-12, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much .… If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” (NIV)

What struggle are you facing in your workplace?
How might God be using it to develop Godly character in you? How does this message remind you of the importance of learning to suffer well as God transforms our character to be like His?

Lord Jesus help us to trust you with the character process of development you’ve laid out for each of us, so that our unique kingdom purpose would be realized, and fulfilled. May we be faithful to you and trustworthy to the end.

in Jesus Name

Amen

When doing Business with God, Jesus is your Boss!

Your Boss Is Not Really Your Boss
By Rick Warren — Apr 9, 2015

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24 NLT, second edition)

Your boss is not really your boss. Your boss is Jesus.

The Bible says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24 NLT, second edition).

There are two things I want you to see in today’s verse:

First, you will have a better attitude about work once you understand that, no matter where you work or who you work for, your real boss is Jesus.

It’s easier to be enthusiastic about your job when you stop thinking, “I’m doing this for my boss” or “I’m doing this for a paycheck” and instead start thinking, “I’m doing this for the Lord.” By understanding that truth, you can do anything — from running a company to washing dishes — and turn it into an act of worship.

Second, when you turn your work into worship, you start storing up credits in Heaven. As you work for God, you are making eternal deposits in Heaven.

It doesn’t matter if you’re vacuuming the rug, repairing a car, serving in the military, or managing an office, any job can become an act of worship if you do it enthusiastically for God: “So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV).

Talk It Over

How do you respond to the truth that your real boss is Jesus?
Why is work an act of worship?
How will that change the way you handle even mundane tasks?

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Series Summary
Message 1: The Purpose of Work
Message 2: The Work God Shaped You to Do
Message 3: Making Wise Decisions at Work
Message 4: Standing Out at Work

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PASTOR RICK WARREN

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This devotional is based on the current Daily Hope radio series at rickwarren.org.

Rick Warren has helped people live with hope and on purpose for more than 40 years. He’s the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of several books, including “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life,” read by more than 100 million people in 137 languages. He created the PEACE Plan (plant churches of reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, educate the next generation), which is used by churches in 196 countries. His radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America.

This devotional © 2015 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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When You Can’t Feel God

“You can never know that Jesus is all that you need, you see, until He’s all that you have.” – J.D. Greear, from When You Can’t Feel God

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. – Matthew 4:1-2

If the LORD is with us… where are all His wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us? – Judges 6:13

By His Spirit, God is alive and active in His church. Nevertheless, if you think that walking with Jesus means an endless series of miracles, burning bushes, still, small voices, warm fuzzies, and sensations of peace that pass all understanding, then you are going to be disappointed.

Many of the greatest (and most honest) saints have confessed that they had to walk through many valleys with no sense of God’s presence, sometimes nearly going deaf from the heavenly silence.

C. S. Lewis wrote that during one of the most painful times of his life, he cried out to God and got… a door slammed in [my] face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.

He confessed that this heavenly silence made him doubt whether there was even a God at all:

There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once… Why is God so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?

Somehow, these honest words seldom make it into anyone’s list of favorite C. S. Lewis quotes.

Have you ever felt this way?

I once told a group of interns at our church that if they ever had days when they couldn’t feel God’s closeness, experiencing regular waves of His pleasure and mercy wash over their souls, that was proof they weren’t really saved. You should have seen the looks on their faces. I realized they hadn’t gotten what I thought to be a rather obvious joke.

If that were true, none of us could be sure of our salvation!

Every believer has times in which they feel as though God is distant. Or absent altogether.

Many Christians assume that silence from Heaven means something has gone wrong, that the inability to “feel” God’s Spirit means God has turned His face away. But this is not what God’s Word tells us. His apparent silence is, in fact, an important part of how He works in our lives and grows us up into the men and women of faith He wants us to be.

Walk by Faith, not by sight

An Ancient, Recurring Story

The greatest saints in the Bible often felt the absence of God. No less than the prophet Isaiah himself cried out in despair, “God where are your dramatic, awe-inspiring works of God in my day?” He had heard of “times past” when God would “rend the heavens and come down,” when people “quaked in God’s presence.” But where was that God now, Isaiah asked? He cries out in dismay,

You have hidden your face from us. – Isaiah 64:1-7

The psalmist Asaph says plainly, “We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be” (Psalm 74:9). And Gideon, right before God used him to destroy an entire Midianite army with only three hundred men, said to an angelic messenger, “If the Lord is really with us… where are all His wonderful deeds like the ones our fathers recounted to us?” (Judges 6:13, my paraphrase)

The experience of feeling like God is absent or silent, you see, is anything but new. So why does God leave us feeling that way sometimes? And what are we to do during those times?

White Space

When God calls someone to follow Him, He frequently sends them through times in the “wilderness.” Right after God first put into Moses a vision to see Israel led out of slavery, He exiled him into the wilderness for forty years to herd sheep. Only after a long, silent, four decades, did God finally appear to him in the burning bush with the command to go. Can you imagine what kind of despairing, “God, where are you?” conversations Moses must have had with God during those forty silent years?

Or consider the story of David. After being anointed as future king of Israel by Samuel, what was David’s next move? Did he…

… go straight to the palace to try on robes?

… immediately confront Goliath?

… get billed as one of the “sexiest men alive” in Israelites Today magazine?

None of the above. First Samuel 16 tells us he went straight back to the pasture to tend the sheep. When David encounters Goliath, he’s in between sheep-care and crackers-and-cheese runs for his brothers (1 Samuel 17:15). Samuel had anointed David as king in 1 Samuel 16:13. This means David went from being named “future king” and “man after God’s own heart” by the most famous prophet alive to “field hand shoveling sheep dung” and “Cheeze-It boy” for his big brothers.

Right after the conclusion of the last verse in the story of David’s anointing (1 Samuel 16:13), my Bible has a white space, and the author moves on to something else happening at a different place in Israel. In that white space is where David went back to the pasture. The space between the call of God and the fulfillment of the dream. Nothing is written there, for David or for us, and I’m sure it felt terribly confusing for David.

Are you in a white space right now?

White spaces are typically the hardest parts of life to endure: The white space of silence; the white space of singleness; the white space of sickness; the white space of finishing out a prison sentence; the white space of unfulfilled promises and unmet expectations.

How many times must Joseph — sold by his brothers into slavery, falsely accused of adultery with his master’s wife, overlooked for parole by the magistrates — have called out to God, “Where are you?”

After Jesus called Paul to be his apostle on the Damascus Road, Paul wandered in the desert for three years and suffered obscurity for another fourteen (Galatians 1:17-19; Galatians 2:1). Paul endured seventeen years in the background before he was appointed by the Church as a missionary (Acts 13:2)!

After Mary became pregnant with the Messiah, God waited for several months to tell her fiancé, Joseph, about the miraculous conception. Why did God wait? During that delay, Joseph (naturally) assumed she had cheated on him (I mean, what else could you assume?). This means that for several months, Mary had to go through the humiliation of pregnancy alone with everyone, even her beloved fiancé, assuming she was a cheater. God chose to do it that way. Why? Why did He wait so long to tell Joseph? Why the “white space”?

Why does God sometimes leave us feeling alone, deserted, humiliated, abandoned — like we are in darkness, like He doesn’t care — as though He’s abandoned us altogether? Why is the only sound we hear at those times the echo of a door slammed in our faces?

I don’t know the full answer, but I know that part of it has to do with the fact that He wants us to walk by faith, not by sight; and walking by faith means sometimes pressing on when we can’t feel or see Him.

God sanctifies us by humbling us.

He works His salvation out in us by taking us through the valley of the cross, which often means feeling alone and abandoned. This may be why God didn’t tell Joseph His plans for Mary at first; He wanted Mary to feel the shame of the cross. Moses had to endure the wilderness of isolation. Paul had to learn to suffer (Acts 9:15; 2 Corinthians 11:24-27).

In reality, we most certainly are not alone during these dark times, but walking by faith means believing that we are not alone even when we can’t feel the warmth of God’s presence.

Another reason God often leads us through dark, silent valleys is that He wants to purify our hearts. Why do we want to be close to God? Is it because of what He gives us, or is it simply because we want Him?

What is more valuable to us: God or His blessings?

Sometimes God withholds everything from us except His promises in order to make us ask ourselves, “Is this — His promise — enough for me?”

You can never know that Jesus is all that you need, you see, until He’s all that you have.

So let me ask you a very important question, one that the survival of your faith depends on. Can you walk by faith in God’s promises alone, even when you can’t see or feel anything? Can you delay gratification, even the gratification of “feeling” the Spirit?

Have you ever felt distant from God, no matter how much you pray or seek His presence? Meditate on God’s promises, which are infinitely stronger than feelings and emotions. We have a relationship with a loving and faithful God!

Why does God often feel more like a doctrine we know about than a Person we know? Why do so many of us think of Christianity as a lifestyle to which we conform, rather than a God with whom we commune?

Jesus gave his disciples the audacious promise that it was to their advantage he go back to heaven because the Holy Spirit could then come to live inside of them. How many of us consider our connection to the Holy Spirit so strong and so real that we would call his presence in us better than Jesus beside us?

LORD JESUS guide our hearts today as we seek to know you better at the fullest measure possible this side of heaven. Help us to hunger to know You more than we desire to receive from You, what we think we want.

In Jesus Name, Amen