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South Fellowship Church

Screaming in the Streets_Proverbs

Truly Known | 1 Corinthians 13:12

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“For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known”. 1 Corinthians 12:13

This has happened since the very beginning of man. It has gone on and on for all of history and is still happening today. You do this, I do this, we all do this. We were created by God to be fully known and fully loved by him. He knows and loves us now as well as he ever will. We even desperately desire to be truly known, loved and accepted; yet we are prone to hide, and avoid being honest, vulnerable and transparent.

Paul the great apostle, struggled with being known and knowing himself (Romans 7-8). No one could know him more than his God and Savior. Nothing could separate him from the love of God. He sums up knowing God in 1 Corinthians 13:9-12, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

It takes the utmost in trust not to hide. It also takes trust to be honest and to be vulnerable. Mirrors are honest. If you never look in a mirror, you will never know how you look. Mirrors make looking at the outside easy, but it’s what’s inside that’s more difficult to know for oneself and for others. God already knows you from the inside out, he made you. Today look in a mirror, and ponder your new identity in Christ. You are fully known and loved by your Father and Creator God. Before you walk out of the house each day, fully release the day to God, and trust Him to lead you. Ask him to open your eyes to understand his ways, and ask him to help your heart trust in his truth inside of you. Pray your realization of being fully known will fully align you with his calling for your life. Acknowledge him in all your ways.

Proverbs 3:5-12 The Message (MSG)

5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
    your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
    give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
    your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
    don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
    a father’s delight is behind all this.

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By Donna Burns  

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Truly Known | 1 Corinthians 13:122017-08-17T05:00:17-06:00

Truly Full | John 10:10

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“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”. John 10:10

” As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share”. 1 Timothy 6:17-18

This season of my life seems empty. I feel like I’m grasping for fullness, purpose and joy. Social Security sends mailings reminding me of my age and retirement. The children are grown, married, moved away and have children of their own. The squeeze of being in the sandwich generation pressures my schedule. Maybe you sense emptiness too, from a seemingly purposeless job, or struggling in a hopeless feeling relationship. What do you pursue to make you feel content and satisfied?

The apostle Paul was full of passion and purpose for his life until Jesus blinded him on the road to Damascus and changed his course. Paul prided himself in being a prestigious Pharisee, and a renowned Roman citizen from the affluent, intellectual and influential city of Taursus. When Jesus confronted him with God’s love, Paul counted his impressive resume as rubbish for the precious privilege of knowing the Father’s forgiveness (Philippians 3:8-11). He spent the rest of his life spreading the good news of God’s love at costly sacrifice and in great suffering (2 Corinthians 11:25-28). The result was Christ shared, believers baptized, churches being established in every corner of the then known world. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ …” (Philippians 1:21). Reading Paul’s many letters we can be easily convinced his life was truly full (Philippians 4:11-13). Take a look at your texts, social media accounts, calendar and checkbook. What takes priority and what do you look to for contentment and fulfillment?

Today’s media pounds us relentlessly with living the “abundant” and leisure filled life. Paul left all his worldly accomplishments and trusted wholly in Jesus. Thirty- seven years ago the cover of our wedding program had on it this verse from Proverbs 3:5-6. Then as now I know only Christ can truly fill my heart. Even as wonderful as marriage, family, church and job have been, they are not the true source of abundant life. It is Christ in them. Life is an unknown journey risked one day at a time with Jesus by our side. Abundant life is relishing in the personal relationship with the Father God as his child and having a grateful attitude for his gracious gifts and loving care. It is living with Christ in me to do his good pleasure. It is being filled with the Holy Spirit and led by him. Learning to trust in the Lord and not leaning on my own understanding of the world is a lifelong pursuit. It is a joy to have God show me where He is at work in my life and others. It gives me purpose to be a part of what He is doing and his plan for all people. I feel truly full anticipating heaven, being face to face with Jesus in glory, and worshipping at the foot of his throne.   This life now is a taste of the abundant life we will someday experience in heaven. Paul gloried in his relationship with Jesus, today let us together begin to do the same.

2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit”.

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By Donna Burns  

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Truly Full | John 10:102017-08-16T05:00:30-06:00

Truly Rested | Matthew 11:28-30

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Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Life can be exhausting at times. In Ecclesiastes 1 the writer laments, “All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.” We have all experienced times in life when we become exhausted or maddened by the repetition of life. It’s in times like those that the “rest” Jesus speaks of in Matthew 11 fill us with hope. What is this rest for the soul that he spoke of and more importantly how do we become truly rested?

If we pay attention to the details of what Jesus is saying in Matthew 11 we find some intriguing hints that might help us. After inviting all who are tired, Jesus invites us to take his yoke and learn from him. Jesus is contrasting his teaching from that of the religious leaders of the day. Their teaching added rules and regulations but Jesus’ teaching was light weight. Jesus says, “learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” Jesus’ invitation is to weakness and humility. He invites us to live life with a white flag raise all the time. Embrace our finite natures and be weak. We learn from Philippians 2 that Jesus did not live by the power of his Godness but by humbly submitting to the God the Father. He invites us to the same weakness required to trust.

What qualifies you for the rest that Jesus offers? Be weak! I remember the first time this passage lit up for me. I was feeling so discouraged by my many failures and sins. I could not seem to defeat the many sins I was battling and I was exhausted. When I realized that my weakness was what qualified me for God’s rest, I was overjoyed. The only thing I felt good at was being weak and that is what qualified me for rest. It was as if the burden lifted from my shoulders immediately after I embraced my weakness. Embrace the exhaustion and weakness and trust. It’s the path to true rest. Listen to the song First by Lauren Daigle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbWQV3OiRqA and let yourself rest in Him first. [/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Aaron Bjorklund  

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Truly Rested | Matthew 11:28-302017-08-15T05:00:52-06:00

Why Trust? | Proverbs 3:5

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Proverbs 3:5-6

5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

6  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

As usual, our writing team met to plan 5 days of devotionals centered around the text from Sunday’s sermon. The text is a familiar one to many. Most people have heard it in one translation or another. It would have been super easy to simply focus on some of the obvious words in the passage; trust, lean, acknowledge, etcetera. But one of the team members asked a profound question that caused us all to stop and look again. Billy asked, why should we trust and why should we not lean on our own understanding? As a side note, it is questions like these that open a soul up to truly engaging scripture. If we always interpret texts the way we are expected to, we never let our hearts interact with the content. So, why should we trust in the Lord?

There are times in life when the complexity of a decision is beyond us. These tend to be the biggest, scariest decisions we face. Things like where to find a job, how to meet a spouse, how to care for an aging parent, and where to move. It’s easier to stop leaning on our understanding when we become overwhelmed with the possibilities. Only God can know all the factors. We need him when we reach the end of our understanding. Deciding if God can be trusted is a task for a different text but my point is not that. We all reach the limits of our own abilities. We will all trust something for answers. Our limits are part of being human.

So why trust? We must trust something because we need help. Ideally we should trust in someone who has infinite understanding and capacity to care for us. There is still one problem. We don’t always reach the end of our own understanding, or at least we don’t feel like we do. If we want the faith and resolve to trust God in the big things of life, we must establish that pattern of trust in the little things in life. Trust and faith are muscles that can’t handle the weight of big life issues if they have not first been flexed in the daily things. Is it hard for you to trust? Take a few moments and ask yourself if you are learning the pattern of trust in the daily things so that it becomes easier when the big things come.

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By Aaron Bjorklund  

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Why Trust? | Proverbs 3:52017-08-14T05:00:43-06:00

Healed by Words | Proverbs 18:20-21

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20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied;

    he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

    and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Read Mark 5:1-16

There are times when all the medicines, devices, and bandages can’t do the healing that’s really necessary.  Chains and shackles have been used over the centuries to bind and control those who were known to be troublesome, and these same implements were tried on the possessed man.  But, they couldn’t cure his being possessed by Legion, being broken apart whereupon Legion was able to strike fear into the local people, so much so they wouldn’t go near him.  Fear caused them to steer clear.  Until Jesus came.

In the Gospels, there are many times where Jesus heals people with words.  There are certainly times where he touched those needing healing, frequently setting aside cultural barriers and stigmas with each tender, loving touch.  But, there were always words spoken regardless of whether Jesus touched them, and they were spoken in a tender, loving way.  These words healed them of their suffering, and they continue to heal today.  We read the healing words of Jesus and, out of a heart of love, speak the same words to each other as we all struggle through life.  Don’t forget Jesus didn’t consider the past of those he spoke with.

Just as the possessed man approached Jesus, perhaps with his face twisted in rage by Legion, and screamed words to Jesus to avoid torment, sometimes we are driven by our own anxieties to express our anger towards God, just as the author of Psalm 73 did.  But, the words following verse 21 and 22 show a God of mercy, grace, and love.  What an incredible relief for us to read “…you hold my right hand!”  Do you have the same reaction I do when I read this?  Do you feel the message of compassion, empathy, and love these words carry?  As you read the passage of Psalm 73:21-26 several times, meditate on their meaning and the healing they provide.

 

21 When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
22 I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.
23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
– Psalm 73:21-26

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By Rich Obrecht  

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Healed by Words | Proverbs 18:20-212017-08-11T05:00:20-06:00

Exposed by Words | Proverbs 18:20-21

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 20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied;

    he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

    and those who love it will eat its fruits

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. – Proverbs 18:13

 

I have a problem. It makes me feel like an idiot from time to time. The problem is that I tend to skim emails and text messages. I don’t even know I’m doing it most of the time. But then, I find myself confidently replying to people with questions about things they’ve already answered. What is worse is when I fail to perform a request they’ve made. I answer before I actually hear, much like the proverb above warns. It’s like the old saying, “I put my foot in my mouth.” This is embarrassing and causes some shame because it reveals to others and to myself how quickly and fleetingly I engaged the other person. I realize I want people to think I’m more attentive then that, but my words reveal when I’m not.

What we say or type in emails and text messages exposes what’s going on in our hearts. No matter how well we think we can hide our feelings and motives, they always leak out through our words. Words expose our inner world. Some of us think we’re really good at hiding what’s in our hearts, but our words betray us even through tone of voice. They lay us bare before others. Both our words and the inflections we use are like a thermometer of our heart.

I’m sure you can think of a situation in your life where you’ve left a conversation feeling like you said too much, or too little, or that you spoke with too much emotion. Those moments are an early warning sign of a heart issue and indicate something is going on down deep. Take a moment to reflect on the words you’ve spoken in the past 24 hours. What do your words say about your heart?[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Aaron Bjorklund  

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Exposed by Words | Proverbs 18:20-212017-08-10T05:00:24-06:00

Destroyed by Words | Proverbs 18:20-21

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 20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied;

    he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

    and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Read Genesis 3:3-7

Words have a strange way of bringing our souls to life. When a positive or encouraging word has been spoken, it can change the course of our day. It feels good when someone says, “I really like hanging out with you,” “I noticed your hard work and I’m proud of you,” or “You’re capable of taking on more than you think.” Words can fill us with love. Words can feel satisfying. Words can offer hope and a positive future.

Unfortunately, words also threaten to undo us. In Genesis 3, we find a serpent using the words, “Did God really say?” Four words positioned to deceive and confuse. While God’s words brought breath to our souls and purpose to our lives, the serpent’s words brought questions to our souls and confusion to our lives. The enemy’s words lit a wild fire for all humanity and became our constant struggle with confusion followed by shame. Satan ushered in destructive words leaving us discouraged and full of doubt. Now, it’s a fight to tame the words flowing inside from the waves of criticism, grumbling, cynicism, and deception. We all feel this battle raging inside, but we must realize it’s a result of Genesis 3 and the first four words of destruction.

Words hold power. Both God and the enemy know it. That’s why we have a cycle of words revolving within us. These words have the ability to create an abundant life, forgiven and free, or to decimate a future, broken and deceived. The biggest problem is when we don’t realize the words that so powerfully feed our every day living – whether from past or present. Many times we walk through life without even recognizing the words flowing inside. So, take a few moments to jot down some of the words flowing through your mind – especially take note of the words you hear about yourself. When you identify wounding words, deceptive words, or debilitating words, recognize these are from the enemy. As you identify the falsity, speak the words you know God speaks over you. The Good News is that God will always have the final word. Start today by letting God have the final word.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Yvonne Biel  

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Destroyed by Words | Proverbs 18:20-212017-08-09T05:00:27-06:00

Created by Words | Proverbs 18:20-21

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20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied;

    he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

    and those who love it will eat its fruits.

A good God declared a good creation – not once but seven times. “God said, ‘let there be’……and God saw it was good” (Genesis 1: 4,10,12,18,21,25). These spoken words are powerful and authoritative. God’s words became the means of his creation. Everything God made before man was spoken into existence. Then, God formed man from the dust of the earth. With his mouth, God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). God exhaled his breath of life into the nostrils of man and this made man a “living creature.” With the same mouth that spoke everything into existence, life came into man.

Not only have all things been brought into existence by God’s commanding words, but all things have also been upheld, given life and assumed purpose by God’s words as well. With words, God blessed his creation. “He said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:28). Without God speaking, there would be nothing, and without God breathing purposeful life into us, we would not be.  God’s main means of interacting with us is through speech and relationship.  He speaks to us through his Son and recreates us through his Spirit into a new creature.

Now, think of the words you speak every day.  While you cannot create from nothing as God did, your spoken words have an effect on the world around you. Since you’re created in the image of God, you share a similar power through word and breath. Your words can be helpful because God made you and declared your goodness, but your words can also be destructive because you’re a sinful fallen creature.  The choice is yours. Ask yourself: do my words speak “life” into the lives of others or do they tear them down? Choose to bless someone today with gracious words from your new life in Him.

 

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth
and does not live in temples built by human hands.
And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything.
Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
From one man, he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth:
and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands’.
– Acts 17:24–26

 “Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done, He commanded, and it stood fast.”
– Psalm 33:8-9

“Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created.”
– Psalm 148:5

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By Donna Burns  

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Created by Words | Proverbs 18:20-212017-08-08T05:00:51-06:00

Power of Words | Proverbs 18:20-21

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20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied;

    he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

    and those who love it will eat its fruits.

People underestimate the power of words.  It’s said that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword,’ but perhaps words written by the pen are really mightier than the sword.  Words can both create and destroy, build up and tear down.  And once spoken, words can’t be taken back, no matter how many apologies are given or how many wishes to ‘unspeak’ them are made.  We all struggle with words, trying to say words that are edifying and holding back those that bring pain.  It’s a battle lived every day.

There are times where we speak words before we’ve heard the ‘rest of the story.’  We somehow believe we’ve read the mind of those we’re with, and can answer their questions, concerns, and problems before they’ve finished saying them (Proverbs 18:13).  And when we’re done enlightening the one we’re talking to, we’re surprised to hear that we’re way off base and their issue had nothing to do with the advice we supplied.

At other times, sometimes to our great surprise, our words are soothing and healing, providing comfort and a sense of personal value (Proverbs 16:24).  When these words are spoken, we can sometimes see the physical reaction of healing quality, much the same as good chocolate or a great cup of coffee.  And, while they provide the hearer comfort and value, they also influence us, the speaker.  We realize we can really help someone by using words that build up and edify, and this helps us, too.  Proverbs 18 has several things to say, sometimes indirectly, about words.  Read this chapter and take note of those verses relating to words and their impact.

1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.
2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.
3 When wickedness comes, contempt comes also,
and with dishonor comes disgrace.
4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters;
the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
5 It is not good to be partial to [a] the wicked
or to deprive the righteous of justice.
6 A fool’s lips walk into a fight,
and his mouth invites a beating.
7 A fool’s mouth is his ruin,
and his lips are a snare to his soul.
8 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.
9 Whoever is slack in his work
is a brother to him who destroys.
10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
11 A rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
and like a high wall in his imagination.
12 Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.
13 If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame.
14 A man’s spirit will endure sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?
15 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,
and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
16 A man’s gift makes room for him
and brings him before the great.
17 The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him.
18 The lot puts an end to quarrels
and decides between powerful contenders.
19 A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city,
and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied;
he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the Lord.
23 The poor use entreaties,
but the rich answer roughly.
24 A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

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By Rich Obrecht  

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Power of Words | Proverbs 18:20-212017-08-07T05:00:09-06:00

Disenchantment or Delight | Ecclesiastes 2:18-26

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 18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?  23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. 24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?  26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
– 
Ecclesiastes 2:18-26

Work has always been with us.  From the beginning of creation, work has been part of the equation for living (Genesis 2).   While some say, there are only two unavoidable things, death and taxes, I think work could certainly be the third.  On a personal note, I’ve been working for very close to 40 years, with 37 years in my current career.  After so much time, I notice when my perspective is off, because work can become drudgery.  Like Solomon, I’ve felt, and sometimes still do, my work as “vanity and a striving after wind.”

It seems that going to work doesn’t have the same feeling it once did.  There was a time when work was enjoyable, always giving me a sense of accomplishment for things done.  Now, not so much.  I think, for me, I don’t realize and appreciate the result of the work I’ve done all these years.  Unfortunately, my perspective has been, and sometimes still is, wrong.  I’ve misplaced my appreciation, much the same as Solomon did.  I’ve worked for works’ sake, thinking it should be appreciated, rather than enjoying the blessings heaped upon me.  I recognize now that what I do matters and work is a grace of God.

Nevertheless, it takes time to change perspective.  Rather than devoting time to being tired of work and frustrated with its seeming lack of impact, I must turn my eyes to the delight in all the blessings my work has yielded: provisions for my family, a warm home, sufficient food, transportation, missions’ trips across the world, education, and many more too numerous to list. With this positive perspective, I can begin to see I’m a contributor to a greater purpose.  Take a moment or two and write down the blessings your work has provided, and find the delight in them![/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Rich Obrecht

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Disenchantment or Delight | Ecclesiastes 2:18-262017-08-04T05:00:21-06:00
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