Series 43


Firing the Boss


They should pay me more.”


“I need to make more money.”


It can get annoying hearing this kind of gripping all the time at work. And does complaining help? So I’ve come up with a solution. Fire the boss!


Step one is to determine which boss to fire. For me there’s a significant hierarchy looming above. Jackie is department manager. John is next up the ladder. And there’s also Angie, Joe, Heather, Tim, Dave, Thomas, Archie, and all the way up to Lee.


He’s CEO of this gigantic corporation. So does he have a boss? Well actually, he kind of does. It would be the stockholders. And they’re into the stock market for one reason—money.


So I’ve concluded from my analysis, money runs the whole show. As it has been said, “If you want to see where the power is, follow the money.”


Jesus said, "You cannot be a slave of two masters; you will hate one and love the other; you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

When the central theme/focus of our work-life is the money we earn; this is the master, the boss. And money is not a good boss. Almost always, when “Money” is the boss, his ever present partner tags along. His name is “Worry.”


Now Jesus goes on to say: "This is why I tell you: do not be worried about the food and drink you need in order to stay alive or about clothes for your body... Look at the birds: they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren't you worth much more than birds?”


Who’s your boss? “You cannot serve both God and money.”



God’s Door, Window, or Chimney


“If God closes a door, He can open a window,” Richard said. And then Branden raised his hand at youth group, “And if the window’s closed, there’s always the chimney.”


I’m not sure if he was just trying to be funny, but he hit a theological home run.


The conclusion of Mark 4 illustrates the door-window-chimney concept. We find Jesus wrapping up a day of preaching from a boat just off the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He gives the command to His disciples: “Let us go over to the other side."


And then “There arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.” Jesus was  back at the stern sleeping.

They awoke Him. And a door of opportunity opened for Jesus to rescue the day. Jesus could have grabbed the rudder and muscled the boat into the optimal position for stabilizing the boat. A heroic show of physical might.




Well how about the window of mental enlightenment. “O.K. men let’s think this one through quickly. We can figure out a rescue plan.”




Here’s the Jesus method: “And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.”


Do you think anyone in the boat said, “You know what, that’s exactly what I thought He would do.”?


I’ve been through my share of storms and challenges during my twelve years as a follower of Jesus. Repeatedly, when the big ones blew in, ones capable of  crushing me, the rescue plan was off my radar.


I can relate the Disciple’s response: “They were in absolute awe, staggered. ‘Who is this, anyway?’ "


This is Jesus. Expect the unexpected.



God’s Providence


Nancy serves the poor---financially and spiritually. She works in one of the more challenging environments in the world. Semi-urban America. For years, her Jesus-focused ministry’s financial needs have been met solely by God’s Providence.


Telling of a recent trust-God-for-everything month, she smiled, “I’ve been praying like crazy.” Then this letter arrived from a near-stranger. Along with a sizeable donation.


“I got my recovery check from Farmer’s Insurance. It        was a lot more than I had expected. So—I tithe regularly, but somehow I don’t he with mission contributions.


I don’t know why, because I greatly admire missionaries! There is aretired missionary in our Bible study. Boy! Does he have some stories. Anyhow—I’m making a contribution…


No—don’t object. Let me expand my soul a little bit. Let me help while I can. The time will come too soon perhaps when I don’t have anything to offer. I don’t have much now. I really don’t do much at church—like I did in the past.


I wish I could be there to your see face when you get this check.
Bless you…Deaton”


In Corinthians 9, the Apostle Paul gives the New Testament’s most concentrated exposition on giving. A central theme is: “…for God loves a cheerful giver.”

This connects to another thread. Revealed in these scriptural excerpts: “Your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God…overflowing through many thanksgivings to God…they will praise God for your obedience….thanks be to God.”


Do you see this? The happy, God-focused giver stirs people to thank and praise God.


When Nancy saw Deaton’s check she was in awe, humbled by God’s answer to her prayer…speechless, until joyful praise of God overflowed from her heart to her lips.


The cheerful giver, the grateful recipient “overflowing through many thanksgivings to God”.  Providence happened.


Just like the Bible said!



Jesus—Another Dude?


"I think Jesus is just another dude," was Bryan's bottom line in our impromptu conversation.


I knew little about Bryan. But soon he was telling me about his construction accident. "I should have died," he said. This turned our conversation.


"What do you think would have happened if you had died?" I said.


With little hesitation, he responded, "Nothing."


At that moment, the words of the Apostle Paul pointed at me: "Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ…having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."


I could still remember back when I was a lot like Bryan.

Words like "atheist, Heaven, Hell, agnostic, and Jesus", became part of our eight-minute interaction. Mostly Bryan talked. He detailed much of his spiritual journey. The more he talked, the more I saw my former self.  The one separated from Jesus.


I longed to interrupt him with my "good news" of God's love—His plan of salvation. I could talk and…"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13:1 came to mind.


Love would be to really listen to Bryan's life-story. For a near-stranger he was sharing to a surprising depth.  How long since someone has listened? How long since someone had put down their own agenda?


He sees Jesus as merely another dude. If I act without love, he could see a Jesus-follower as just another irritating noise.


Or he could see 1 Corinthians 13:13, "Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.  And the best of the three is love." 


I trusted God for Bryan's soul.  I slowed down and listened, really listened. With love.



Giving to the Worthy Poor


Margaret was once again showing her concern for the poor. Dropping off used clothes, to help people in the community who are struggling.


She goes back decades in her concern for the poor. She was telling stories about the Great Depression along with her recent stop at the local food bank to deliver some can goods.


She addressed her concern for who would be receiving her donated clothes: "Make sure someone deserving gets these."
She emphasized this because she had noticed what she considered improper behavior at the food bank. She had spotted someone smoking. She said, "If they can afford cigarettes, they can afford food." These types of recipients of charity seem unworthy.


Wouldn't it be best if we all tried to make certain our charitable giving went to the worthy poor.


Well…this isn’t Jesus’ formula. Listen to His words: "Give to him who asks of you." No distinction between the right people and the wrong people.


And then Jesus goes on to say, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?"


People who don’t know Jesus, will give to a worthy cause. A worthy person.


As Christians, we need to different. We should give to those who seem unworthy. Like Jesus did for us on the cross.

For us. Such unworthy sinners.