For this Monday

…..What a good reminder for an otherwise tired, mundane, unwelcome Monday.

….I belong to God because He is my creator. I am redeemed – created new in Christ – because of his good work of redemption on the cross and resurrection over death.

….Since he has called me to himself, I have a hope-filled purpose- not for sloth and slumber, but works. This is not a call to meaningless toil, but fruitful, productive, good works. These are good works that were prepared for me, and that I was created to do.

….So I look to Him for my work, for the endurance with joy they will require, and for the sure hope that my labor in the Lord is not in vain.

….What a welcome reminder for a renewed, hopeful, already-in-God’s-plan Monday. ❤️

To my Teacher Self: you are serving the Lord Christ

This week in my fifth grade class we are reading “This I Believe: Free Hearts and Minds at Work”, a radio talk by Jackie Robinson. This quote toward the end really stood out to me:

“And in the largest sense, I believe that what I did was done for me — that it was my faith in God that sustained me in my fight.” – Jackie Robinson, This I Believe: Free Hearts and Minds at Work

That got me thinking: How often do I think about what I have to do instead of what has been done for me by God? How often do I think about what God will do for me?

When my heart is focused on the work I have to do, expectations from myself and others, that student (or administrator) who seems to have it in for me, or the sleep I just can’t seem to get, my heart is overwhelmed and temped toward resentment, impatience, and worry.

As I was praying through today, the Lord brought this verse to me:

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”  Colossians 3:23-24 ESV

So that got me thinking through practical implications of how to address frustrations. Some of these apply to me at the moment, some do not. However, they are all possible in the world of teaching. I don’t voice these frustrations because we should dwell on them, but to practice meeting real frustrations and temptations to sin with the truth of what Christ has done for those who hope in him alone for salvation. In other words, I hope to address what I have to do with what Christ is doing and has done for me, because I am serving the Lord Christ.

When I am planning my lessons with my weekends or late nights, I am serving the Lord Christ who loved me and gave himself for me. (Ephesians 5:2)

When I write my agendas on the board every morning, I am serving the Lord Christ who is my strength and song. (Psalm 118:14)

When I am dealing with a defiant – or even just annoyingly talkative- kiddo, I am serving the Lord Christ who has shown me mercy. (1 Peter 2:10)

When I’m faced with a conflict with co-workers or supervisors, I am serving the Lord Christ who multiplies grace and peace to me. (2 Peter 1:2)

When my planning (or lunch) is taken up with petty annoyances or more serious, seemingly impossible issues, I am serving the Lord Christ who awoke my heart from death and sin to salvation and life- a work impossible for me, but not for him. (Luke 18:27)

When I am grading papers, I am serving the Lord Christ who has promised to never leave me. (Hebrews 13:5)

When I am having an observation that may or may not be going according to plan, I am serving the Lord Christ who has already placed his favor on me. (Psalm 84:11)

When I seem to not be getting answers to work e-mails, I am serving the Lord Christ who hears my prayers and answers them. (Psalm 116:1)

When I’m buying more school supplies for my classroom out of my pocket, I am serving the Lord Christ who deals bountifully with me. (Psalm 116:7)

When I’m talking with or being harassed by an upset, unpleasant parent, I am serving the Lord Christ who enables me to do what is right. (Philippians 2:13)

So my prayer for myself today, as well as for us all, is that I set the Lord always before me so that my heart will not be shaken with resentment or worry.

“Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.

Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:6-9

And may God guard my heart and faith today against any lie that would tell a different story. May he increase my faith to believe in the good promises and hope of his word.

To love and good works

“Look Miss W. I put the encouragement up on the board so that everyone would know to do their best job today.” -G, 5th grade

I smiled at his sweet sincerity and helpfulness. I was also a little disconcerted. Had he known that Hebrews 19:24 was that morning’s “verse of the day” on my Bible app?

It got me to thinking. I had to ask myself about what stirs up my heart – especially as a teacher- to endure in loving others and doing good, even when I’m tired and discouraged. A couple things came to mind. Admittedly, it feels disjointed, but it is a beginning of the beautiful canvas of hope painted in Scripture. So, disjointed thoughts or not, I want to share in hopes that it can encourage us all to love and good works today.

The love of God

“God loves his people. If you are a believer in Christ Jesus, trusting only in His merits, God loves you as surely as He is God. There is no question about the matter. His divine love is yours as certainly as His power is displayed in creation. Set God’s lovingkindness before your eyes. Think of His faithfulness! God’s lovingkindness never pauses. It is as constant as the flight of time. Never a moment but there has been love for that moment. Never an hour but there has been that hour’s portion of lovingkindness.” C.H. Spurgeon

Since I am loved out of a never-ending abundance of pure, perfect love, I am free to pour out that love on my students and others, not worrying about keeping back for myself. May God use the conviction of His steadfast love to increase my patience and kindness- in short- my loving actions. May His love empower my mouth to speak gracious words that build up, my eyes to shine kindness, my posture and tone to show His patience. Out of the divine security of resting in his love, may my classroom hold security for the children who enter.

God’s Presence

God goes with me today and everyday. He has promised to never leave nor forsake His children. So I can go back to our classrooms and say “God is in this place” and know He is. He is just as much with me when I’m walking to pick up copies as He is when I am dealing with a student’s battle of the will, or talking with a parent, or writing (more) lesson plans, or trying to get 5th graders excited about writing a summary… again. The presence of God gives me joy that doesn’t depend on my circumstances. May that knowledge make me smile and laugh and take joy in the presence of God today. May my students get to share in that joy.

“Surely His goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.” Ps. 23

That includes today. May the recurring refrain of my daily thoughts not be worry or resentment, but the thanksgiving of remembering:

God is so good, he cares for me, he loves me, he is with me.

For days to come

May the Holy Spirit always bring to my mind the words of the Bible so that I can get through each day strengthened (because of his power!) to bear good fruit and “work good work” as one of my students says. May I always delight to remember that in the faithfulness of God I have “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” (hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness)

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9 NIV

Plans of the Heart

It’s a brand new year. On this day, perhaps more than any other, my heart is brimful of hopes and plans for the future. Maybe your heart is also.

Proverbs 16:9 reminds me that there is a plan bigger and more sure than mine. The Lord has a plan that cannot be altered by human will. It is also a reminder that I do not secure my future- that is God’s doing. So, I’ll make plans and work toward them, but I’ll rest in the knowledge that is does not depend on my power to establish them.

My list of resolutions and goals encompass all my little cares in life, but by God’s grace, I don’t have to cling to them fiercely. I’ll make my plans and then submit them to the Lord’s plan for completion or unfulfillment. In prayer, I’ll work, because stewardship is my providence, but success is God’s. In faith I can trust because His plans are full of love and for my good.

“Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” Proverbs‬ ‭16:20‬ ‭

Read all of Proverbs 16 here.

Pointless, Mundane, and Redeemed

Practical. Transitory. Ordinary.

Mundane life. It is most likely resented because it is not spectacular.

While we encourage each other to stop and appreciate the small things in life, we don’t always mean it. Not really.

We want to be known for doing impressive things — or at least things that are worthy of noticing.  We dread being unseen and ordinary. We dread living a mundane existence.

At the root of our ill-will toward mundane activities and mundane living, however, I believe is the annoyance that it is pointless. We begrudge the repetitive nature of the mundane. At least I tend to.

Washed dishes will become dirty again.  Gas tanks need to be refilled. Lawns are cut, only to regrow. Weeds in flowerbeds are maddening in their reappearance. Endless stacks of documents need stapling, sorting, or filing. Thousands of phone calls need answering. Years come and go, marked by the same paperwork, the same taxes, the same repairs, the same cleaning and re-cleaning, the same organizing and reorganizing, the same frustrations. Even successes in everyday life can turn mundane.

What has been will be again. There is nothing new under the sun. (See Ecclesiastes 2)

Hopeless, right? The mundane nature of life has created a rut that we cannot escape.

So we look for a plot twist. We find out we’re really royalty (it makes a good movie)… or we come into money… or we finally receive that accolade… or we get our breakthrough to fame. With a plot twist like that we could escape the rut created by a mundane life.

But what if the office worker, the teacher, the mother, the father, and the hundreds of other professions were not necessarily meant to escape mundane life? What if the mundane could be redeemed from pointlessness?

Plot twist.

It has.

The sovereign purpose of God has given purpose to the most mundane of lives.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

Christ has redeemed the mundane for his followers because all our works are for him.  The fulfillment for our work is in him. The honor, gratitude, and advancement we hope to attain in our earthly work pale in comparison to our inheritance in the Lord.

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

God has planned all our works — the mundane, the noteworthy, and the spectacular. All are unto him.  He accepts our work because of Christ. The presence of his Holy Spirit in us reminds us that we do not work for the futility of a passing world, but in his strength and with the hope that our work is not in vain. Therefore…

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

We work, even in the mundane, with the hope of the only accolade that matters: God’s.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'”

Matthew 25:21

We work with hope and courage to do the ordinary because we know that God is at work — even in the mundane.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28