Eyes Wide Open: The Keys to Watchful Prayer (Part 2)

After discussing what watchful workplace prayer looks like in Part 1, I want to offer some verses and commentary when specific situations are encountered. For those who missed my introductory post, the goal of this series is two-fold:

  • To equip and default us towards God’s Word during stretching circumstances.
  • To help us hide God’s Word in our hearts so we’ll abide in His Word in our interactions.

Again, we’ll explore different vocational components as time goes on. For now, let’s start with how we can encourage saints at work and how we can endure when dealing with challenging clients/situations. Sound good?

If so…

Encouraging Unity

Beyond all these things put on¬†and¬†wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of¬†unity¬†[for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others].” ~ Colossians 3:14

For we are God‚Äôs fellow¬†workers [His servants¬†working¬†together]; you are God‚Äôs cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God‚Äôs building.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:9

Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful].” ~ Ephesians 4:3

Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same¬†love [toward one another], knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose [and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel‚ÄĒthe good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ].¬†Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves.” ~ Philippians 2:2-3

Therefore¬†encourage¬†and¬†comfort¬†one¬†another and build up¬†one¬†another, just as you are doing.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

But continually¬†encourage¬†one¬†another every day, as long as it is called ‚ÄúToday‚ÄĚ [and there is an opportunity], so that none of you will be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [its cleverness, delusive glamour, and sophistication].” ~ Hebrews 3:13

Not surprisingly, the Bible has much to say about community and relationships.

Case and point: While I was stitching this six-pack together, there were still 8-10 more verses I wanted to add but couldn’t due to length and reference strategy. Honestly, the Word is just that rich on the matter.

Still, while many can agree to the principles of these passages, the struggle to stay consistent in them is worth discussion. Ideally, these absolutes reflect unconditionally regardless of setting; however, if we’re honest with ourselves, how we live with our church family and inner circle often contrasts how we work with colleagues and clients. Why is that?

For starters, I believe many of us compartmentalize who we do mission with because we’ve lost sight on what mission is altogether. Why do we do anything at the end of the day? Is it to hit our bottom lines? To feel fulfilled, meaningful…to belong? Or is it with the heartcry of as in heaven, so on earth (Matthew 6:10)? As in heaven, so in my office? As in heaven, so with my clients entrusted in my care? As in heaven, so with the team I get to serve alongside with? I could go on.

In fewer words, we rank, compare, and categorize any time we detach Kingdom from our uniqueness and calling. And while a closer examination of this point will take place in ‘Part 3’, for now…

  • Consider the temptation to tier off relationships based on the nature of individual connections over corporate identity.
  • Rely on the Spirit as you make God’s joy complete from one to all, in big or small.
  • Encourage colleagues/clients with the intent to build them up as God builds you up.

After all, we’re all co-laborers and co-ambassadors called to be co-dependent on God. As much as we love the ‘go’, we can’t get anywhere without the ‘co’.

Again, more on this in future posts.

Enduring Challenges with Confidence

Just consider¬†and¬†meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in¬†comparison¬†with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ~ Hebrews 12:3

Let no¬†one¬†deceive you with empty arguments [that¬†encourage¬†you to sin], for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience [those who habitually sin].” ~ Ephesians 5:6

As you come to him, a living stone¬†rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,¬†you yourselves like living stones are being built up as¬†a spiritual house, to be¬†a holy priesthood,¬†to offer spiritual sacrifices¬†acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.¬†For it stands in Scripture:¬†‚ÄúBehold, I am laying in Zion a stone a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.‚ÄĚ So the honor is for you who¬†believe, but for those who¬†do not believe, ‚ÄúThe stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,‚Ä̬†and ‚ÄúA stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.‚Ä̬†They stumble because they disobey the word,¬†as they were destined to do.¬†But you are¬†a chosen race,¬†a royal¬†priesthood,¬†a holy nation,¬†a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you¬†out of darkness into¬†his marvelous light.¬†Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”¬†~ 1 Peter 2:4-10

Tell¬†them¬†these things.¬†Encourage¬†and rebuke with full authority. Let no¬†one¬†disregard¬†or¬†despise you [conduct yourself and your teaching so as to command respect].” ~ Titus 2:15

While this one hits home and is borderline “too soon“, I can’t resist this palate cleanser of a series. In essence, Christ is the supreme relator to what we’re going through (Hebrews 4:16) and can be trusted in times of suffering since He set the ultimate precedent through the Cross. As long as we’re working as blameless ambassadors, there’s no shame to those in Christ and are rejected accordingly. Yes, mistakes will happen and yes, these miscues aren’t necessarily safeguarded by your ‘loved by Christ’ identity. Even outside matters of morality, we are a people who have fallen short; however, this doesn’t have to a source of disappointment. If anything, this should be the opposite, specifically an invitation to see the Rock of offense as the reason we forsake offense.

Again, this goes back to the turned cheek principle. When you consider how Jesus kept the Cross before Him, we can sympathize, empathize, and most importantly, pray for those who hurt, slander, even persecute us. Granted, this doesn’t save us from bad days when we’re wrestling to cope. It just means when we lack the strength to stand, we can rest in the arms of God, our living stone, the epitome of steadiness and steadfastness who happens to be the reason we live.

After all, we’re not only called as a royal priesthood but as fellow constants and faithful stewards declaring light in a darkening world. If we want to make a difference, why not start by extending grace and understanding to those craving refuge…and don’t even realize they do?

Cover photo creds: Scottsbluff Bible Church

Fearless Faceoff: When Clients Become Hockey Players

I’ll be honest. This week was …ummm…’interesting’…

…some ups and downs, a few unexpected convos, a couple rough patches. The works really. 

Granted, I’m stiff-upper lipping this as vague vulnerability is often wise on these platforms.¬†

Yet, as I type this at my local Denny’s 10:00 am CT on the first sunny Saturday morning in God knows when, I’m refreshed. 

Why? I don’t know… …correction: I know; hence, why I’m writing this. 

Here’s the thing…and I’ll try to keep this brief. 

While we all work hard, for some, our professions compel us to deal with difficult clients or patients on a regular basis. Given the sage savvy you possess, I don’t need to tell you how to troubleshoot vocational pests who get under your craw.

Still, there are times that just flat-out sting, like when a person with a noble title treats you in an ignoble way – who gives the impression of accepting your apology only to betray it with a vindictive power play.

What do you when an influential figure turns into a hockey player before your eyes? What do you do when a religious leader spearheading a dignified cause threatens or blackmails you? 

For starters…

  1. Don’t take the assault and character breach personally. You are not on trial. You are a peacemaker…a son of God (Matthew 5:9). As a divinely blessed ambassador, listen, acknowledge, and confess as needed. Whatever you do, in your thirst for understanding, do not take offense to the point you react on defense. 
  2. Slow down, take a breath, and give yourself time to pray. Pray silently as you talk, out loud as you declare, and all out once secure in a safe place. In this way, you can receive grace on the go…and later in the slow.
  3. Understand that challenges have a place and a purpose. As the story of Joseph reminds us, what the enemy intends for evil, God can intend it for good. Thus, when colleagues and clients unfairly criticize you with half-baked accusations, consider the character sharpening that can occur in the moment and how it can trigger a domino-effect of resolution.
  4. Forgive the offender. Whether lost or found, remember they are the ones with blinders on and know not what they do, mean or possess for that matter. Regardless of the emotional toll, aim to forgive by day’s end knowing there’s no forgiveness without ‘give’. For when we choose to forgive an offender, we give them a turned cheek, an opposite-spirit response with the Cross at the center. Sure, they may deserve retaliation; you may think you’re worthy of vindication; however, when you put the entire situation in God’s hands, you’re leaving the grudge on the other side and trusting God to deal accordingly. I don’t know about you but if I had to choose between bitterness and a humility aware of God’s ability to reconcile anything, give me the latter every time.

Back to my case, while I could have been more administratively aware, while I could have ensured my understanding wasn’t a ship passing in the night, in the end, I found the victory. 

‘Cause…

…any time you can come to the end of yourself and not only pray your new adversary finds Jesus but for blessings to follow their endeavors, God is clearly being glorified in that moment.

Not to sound like I’m tooting my own horn; hopefully as you know, I take zero credit abiding in freedom that’s already been given.

I guess my point in sharing this is: Although arriving at this point is rarely easy, it can be simple. All you have to do is know what’s right and have a gameplan on how to get there especially when you’re on the clock and in pressure situations. 

In summary (and I’ll let the Word do the talking)…

  1. Do your best to win God’s approval as a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed and who teaches only the true message (2 Timothy 2:15).
  2. Know a false witness will not go unpunished, nor will a liar escape (Proverbs 19:5); vengeance is the Lord’s!
  3. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. (Mark 11:25)
  4. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12)
  5. Apply the heart of David who was no stranger to betrayal: ‚ÄúIf an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.‚ÄĚ (Psalm 55:12-14).

In short, abide in endurance and discern with confidence when you face pride and prejudice in the office. After all, you have the mind of Christ and by proxy, everything you need to stand up and stand firm in those moments. You got this!

Selah.

Cover photo creds: City National Insights

Lockstep Leaders: A SOAP Bible Study on Galatians 5:25

Scripture: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (ESV)

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” (MSG)

As God-fearing vocationals, this verse packs a punch on multiple levels. On one hand, Paul is confirming the Holy Spirit as a perpetual gift received upon conversion; on the other, he’s charging the Galatians to see living as Christ as abiding by the Spirit. Given the acceptance of Christ is not detached from this process, the question, as captured throughout the second half of Galatians, becomes clear: “If I have the Holy Spirit through faith, what’s next?

In few words, if God’s Spirit lives within you, live by it; to live by it, keep in lockstep.

Simple enough, right?

Well, it can be…but to get there we have to remember the life we have chosen through free will and divine inspiration was also predestined from the beginning. Essentially, to abide in our calling is to not only believe God ordained it before creation but continually blesses it as we live. Big picture, the implications are massive but for starters, we’ll keep it basic:

Just as God is faithful to help us discover Him, so must we be faithful to discover Him through His Spirit

In worldly terms, the word ‘discover’ often implies a one-time or seasonal pursuit; however, with heaven in mind, believers can know as long as we have breath, we’re meant to discern and mature in the likeness of Jesus as sanctified new creations. Since we live by the Spirit, we have everything we need to remain tethered to God’s nature through His Word and the still small voice reminding us we can do all things with the mind and strength of Christ. 

Application: As for how this looks occupationally, I love how the Message translation provides focus. If we accept the truth that abiding by the Spirit is a daily exercise, we can further embrace our unique identity as dedicated stewards of the jobs we’ve been given. For instance, since we know perfect love hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), we can abide in God’s presence with confidence and accept His perfecting work knowing we’re 1:1 masterpieces designed to bring God glory.

Accordingly, it makes sense, as Paul suggests, to associate life in the Spirit with a life lacking room for vain imaginations and false comparisons; granted, in our insecurity, we can succumb to the idea respect and love is contingent on skills, knowledge, charisma, and chemistry.

Yet, as for you, dare to have more interesting things to think about and work towards. Sure, you may feel left at the altar with certain dreams; you may feel like you got the short of the stick in how people treat you. You may even struggle to understand why some don’t give you benefit of the doubt and/or are quick to write you off. Honestly, there many ways to struggle and wrestle in this day and age.

However, when we bask in this verse, we can know God not only as the one who has our back on the clock but also as one who never stops refining what He’s planted within. Therefore, while the daily grind may weary our flesh, we can delight through the Spirit as the gap between joyful dependence and fear-based anxiety expands over time.


Bottom Line: By abandoning the distractions of unholy fears and passions of former ignorances, we can keep each step in perfect sync with the Spirit as faithful stewards/marketplace leaders. 


Selah.

Prayer: “Lord, we thank you for calling us to a free life and celebrate your sovereign hand in guiding us towards your heart. As faithful workers, we are humbled to represent your nature to our colleagues, clients, and connections; however, we also confess we can’t possibly do this in our own strength. As willing vessels weak in the flesh but strong in your Spirit, we ask you continue to sharpen our desire to do your work your way. Develop and cultivate an internal thirst to stay persistent in perseverance and consistent in compassion. May our commitment to what we believe is true be a banner by which we conduct our behavior and affairs. Guard us from legalism and self-righteousness as we help others discover your plans and purposes. Help us get out of our way regarding prideful comparisons and coping mechanisms. Above all, as Galatians 5:25 reminds us, open our eyes to any place where we’re abusing grace, reducing the Spirit-filled life as a warm sentiment, as fortune cookie wisdom. Convict and channel what needs to waste away so we can taste your goodness in all things. Finally, create in us a new heart conformed to your precepts and new efforts seasoned in sensitivity and expectancy. While we believe good fruit and good days are ahead, we acknowledge you as the reason. Whatever happens in the weeks and months ahead, make us more and more like you as your will is perfected in us. Inspire and champion your ways in us today. In your precious name we pray, amen!” 

Graphics creds: istockphoto.com

Eyes Wide Open: The Keys to Watchful Prayer (Part 1)

As I ponder the marketplace applications in Colossians 4, I find the initial imperative in v. 2 intriguing:

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”

In its purest form, this verse is straightforward. As we’re devoted to persistent prayer, may our focus be coated in gratitude and humility – a fitting charge for supervisors and subordinates alike.

However, digging deeper, I find the next layer even more compelling.

As we worship on the go, on the clock, on the way…not only should we be alert in prayer, but also watchful in it..¬†

Consider John 16:13 (AMP) and 1 Corinthians 16:13 (AMP):

“…the Spirit of Truth…will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth]. For He will not speak on His own initiative, but He will speak whatever He hears, and He will disclose to you what is to come [in the future].”

Be on guard; stand firm in your faith [in God, respecting His precepts and keeping your doctrine sound]. Act like [mature] men¬†and¬†be courageous; be strong.”

Fusing these contexts, we find powerful truth regarding God’s intent for our employers. As we act wisely towards clients making the most of our time (4:5) with solutions seasoned with salt (4:6), let’s not compartmentalize prayer as an extemporaneous exercise; rather let’s integrate it with expectancy into all we do from procedure and protocol to communications and collaboration.¬†

‘Cause¬†truth is: While popcorn prayers are perfectly acceptable within mind and with colleagues, to be watchful for God’s unfolding purposes, we must also be sensitive to what we should ask the Holy Spirit in terms of corporate direction. For many are the meetings we set to plan our course, but fewer the ones we set for God to establish His steps.

The steps¬†of a [good and righteous] man are directed¬†and¬†established by the¬†Lord, And He delights in his way [and blesses his path].” ~ Psalm 37:23 (AMP)

A man‚Äôs mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], But the¬†Lord¬†directs his¬†steps¬†and¬†establishes them.” ~ Proverbs 16:9 (AMP)

Granted, these exchanges can be one and the same but that, in part, is my point in writing this: As much as we chart and map our goals, for them to be set apart as anointed strategies, we must be steadfast and watchful in meekness, in praise, and the effort in between. Only then can we discern how to communicate the mystery of Christ through our work (v. 3).

As for today, my friends,¬†uphold¬†the¬†mystery¬†of¬†the¬†faith with a clear conscience, spiritual maturity, and the belief that as your hearts are encouraged, you’ll be able to understand the doors of opportunity (4:3) God opens for you to proclaim that mystery. Remember as you seek the Lord with a pure heart to ask Him to make His intentions known¬†and¬†His ways straight. In this way, even during your darkest days, you’ll be in position to stay alert and be watchful in prayer when you engage God at work.

Selah.

As for next time, I will aim to build off this post with some more practical, baseline ideas on how we can abide in watchful prayer and thanksgiving during our daily routines. 

‘Til then…

As I always say, you got this!

~ Cameron

Cover graphic creds: Cities Church