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*Grace Nuggets: Simple reminders of God’s great love for you.

My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,  like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. Isaiah 53:2

He was the shortest guy on the team. He’d played very little because his height was a distinct disadvantage trying to rebound in the land of the giants. One of his best friends was equally ‘Stature-disadvantaged’ but his quickness gave him the edge. The one thing Tom did have was an amazing outside shot. Usually he never got a chance to use it, that is, until THE GAME.

We’d fought ourselves back from a double-digit deficit. Now, with just two seconds on the clock, we were down by one. I put Tom in. I drew up the plan during our time out which would get him the ball for a last second shot to win the game. It worked flawlessly. The opposition rushed the ‘best outside shooter on the floor’ to try to keep him from getting the ball and shooting the winning shot. No one, however, paid any attention to little Tommy stationed on the other side of the floor. He caught the ball and launched a flawless shot that slid nicely through the basket for the winning shot.

Tom was an unlikely hero that day because he was overlooked by the other players. There was nothing impressive about him yet he became the most important player on the team that day for just a few minutes.

Isaiah refers to Jesus as a ‘tender green shoot’. Tender green shoots are weak and unimpressive to the naked eye yet they hold within them the promise of new life. Isaiah refers to Jesus as a ‘root in dry ground’. Roots in dry ground are repulsive to look at and hold no hope. Yet when water is put on those roots they spring to life.

Too often in our lives we feel like ‘tender green shoots’ or ‘roots in dry ground.’ We think we are of no value in the grand scheme of things. When those feelings of worthlessness overtake us, we need to remember that Jesus too was nothing to look at in the human realm. Yet, he provided for us hope and release from the things that keep us bound. People may not be impressed by your external looks but when we allow Jesus’ light to shine through us they won’t be able to deny God’s mighty work through us.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for the example you have given us through Jesus Christ. During those times when I feel I have nothing to offer, help me remember that with you working through me I can make a difference in my world. In Jesus name, Amen.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

What do you do for a living? When someone asks you that question they are usually asking whose name is on the paycheck or where you spend your working hours. What we do in life has a huge effect on how we feel about ourselves. If we love our job, life is good even if the pay we receive isn’t enough. If we hate our job, no amount of money in the world will bring us joy. There are many ‘rich people’ who go to work feeling miserable everyday.

What is the difference? The difference between enjoying your job and despising your job comes from inside you. There are lots of ‘bosses’ out there who feel it is their duty to micro-manage everything. They make you feel like you are a total idiot and, no matter how well you do, they criticize every aspect of your work.

There are other bosses out there who are controlling, manipulative and degrading. It’s as if they use their power to make themselves feel good at your expense. They will make you feel stupid, insignificant or hold the paycheck you receive over your head as some sort of carrot to make you do what he/she wants.

There are good bosses too, of course. Those men and women who see their job as empowering you to excel at what you do. They see you as a partner in business more than a slave to be directed and used.

It’s interesting that when Paul was writing to the Colossians he doesn’t make reference to the type of boss you have. He makes reference to the kind of worker you are. God isn’t as concerned about how your boss treats you as he is how you approach your work. The reason for that is because in God’s eyes, you aren’t working for an earthly boss or earthly rewards. Your daily work is for Him and your reward is eternal.

Remember the earlier question, “What do you do for a living?” Your response to that question defined how you feel about yourself. Whether you are a student, a stay-at-home parent, a teacher, a preacher or anything else, your boss isn’t the person whose signature is on your paycheck. Your boss is whose signature is on your heart. That signature is either Jesus or you. The difference will be seen in your attitude. Don’t let earthly bossed determine your worth. Your worth is wrapped up in who you are in Jesus and what He has done for you and in you.

If God is sovereign as we say He is, then wherever He places you is for a purpose, to help you grow stronger, use your gifts and show your co-workers what Jesus is like. Ultimately, Jesus is the one we answer to. Work everyday with excellence for His name’s sake.

PRAYER: Father God, you know that I go to work some days with dread in my heart. I feel [unappreciated, used, underpaid, unqualified] to do what I do. I get angry, frustrated and stressed. I ask that you would empower me to approach every day and every job with the attitude that I am doing it for you. If I am to dig ditches, let my ditches be deep and straight to show the excellence You have instilled in me. From this day forward, I am working for you. Amen.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10.

The ‘Cultural Onion’ is a diagram used to describe the cultural make up of individuals and societies and how that make up affects the behaviors of people. The concept uses the layers of an onion to illustrate the idea that the outer layers of a person are not, in essence, who that person it. To find the real person the layers must be peeled away until you reach the very core of who the person is.

All of our actions, feelings about ourselves and others, reactions to the circumstances of our lives and our values come from that inner core. The inner core of our being is what we hold as most important in life. It’s what we live for and what we base our life view on.

The concept is really a new way to explain what the Apostle Paul teaches us in I Corinthians 15:10. This verse is part of Paul’s teaching on the essence of the Christian life. It tells us why we do what we do. Everything Christ-followers do hinges on the fact that Jesus Christ was Son of God, crucified, risen and coming again. Nothing else really matters.

Whether we realize it or not, everything we do is based on how we view ourselves or, what is at the core of our being. Paul tells us a little about his self-view when he states that he is the least worthy of any apostles to be in the position that he is in. In other writings we see Paul, formerly Saul, as an aggressive, angry, hateful man intent on destruction of ‘The Way’ and all those who followed Jesus of Nazareth. Paul’s passion was based on his strong belief that these followers of Jesus were tools of Satan intent on destroying the true way to God. Paul was a murderer, a blasphemer and all around nasty guy.

But Paul had other qualities as well. The only ‘Bible’ the early Christians had was the Old Testament. Paul was an expert on the teachings of the law and as a contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth could very well have sat under some of His teaching. Paul’s education and heritage put him heads and shoulders above the rest of the apostles.

But none of that mattered. Paul took his self worth from the grace that he received through his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Paul took all the good of his past and realized that it didn’t measure up to God’s standards. He looked at all the bad of his life and saw no hope for any life at all. But when he looked at himself as God saw him, through the lens of Jesus forgiveness he was able to say, “all that I am is based on the grace given me.”

The same Grace that made Paul the great teacher that he was indwells each of us as Christ-followers. When you peel away all the temporal things of this world, your toys,  your job, your friends and family, even your community or church activities, what is left? Like Paul, as we peel away everything about us we should be able to say, “I am unworthy of all I have. But what I am is very special because my being is not based on my own abilities, past or accomplishments. I’m important because through Jesus Christ I am a child of God, empowered by grace to change my world for Jesus.

PRAYER: Father, as I look into my past I see so many ways I’ve failed you and failed others miserably. The more I try to succeed the more I struggle to stay afloat. Thank you that the person I really am is the person that you have made me through Your Son, Jesus. Free me from my tendency to rely on my own accomplishments and strength. Empower me by Your Spirit to live according to who You see me as.

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March 2023
Follow Built with Grace on
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