Lesson 2 - Growing Closer to God Through Labor

Introduction
Sometimes we might think like this, "I'm all for growing closer to God if...
...it doesn't cost too much"
...it doesn't take too much time"
...it doesn't cause me to sacrifice anything"
...it isn't too much work."

We may not be bold enough to say these things out loud, but our actions prove them to be true. Here is the truth, though, anything that allows us to grow closer to God takes hard work, it takes time and money and may cause us to sacrifice things we want. As a matter of fact anything worth having takes work!

In this lesson we will explorer how our labor will allow us to grow closer to God. How keeping our hands and minds busy in service blesses our lives and draws us into a deep relationship with Him. The church needs labors and God saved us so we could be one of them (Ephesians 2:10).

Growing Closer to God Through Labor
James 1:19-20
19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

This section of scripture sets the stage for the thoughts that will follow. Here James is saying "don't run your mouth, don't get mad, don't be dirty, and listen to the Word!" Why? So you will be saved. These verses are "heavy" and yet simple, mainly because they let us know the real "meat" is coming. They cultivate our minds for the teaching that will follow. So listen closely since your soul depends on it.

James 1:22-25
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.


James says we are to be "doers" of the word. This commands action. We live in a world where scriptures representing our faith are painted on plaques and posted on social media in beautiful fonts. This is fantastic, but it is merely a start. We must be the kind of people who write these words on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33) and actively live them out in our physical lives. Don't be a catch-phrase Christian. Our faith must move us to action! Satan wants our Christian lives to be as shallow as possible. When we paint and post verses it feels so good, but we must be willing to

Be blessed in what you do. James says that when we labor for God, He will add His blessing to our labor. This means whatever we can do will be multiplied many times over by His power! Too often we think, "what can I do," or "I am not good enough to do _____?" Isn't it great to know that even if we can only to do little, when God "mixes in" His blessings the results can be incredible. Then, based on this success, we can grow our abilities and become close and closer to God as we discover there's is nothing we can't do with heavenly help (Philippians 4:13).

James 1:26-27
26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.


Our religious faithfulness is judged by whether we are active in service are not. When we do not serve, our religion is "useless." Look at what the verse says, shut up and put up! Close your mouth, and get busy. When we are not busy about the Lord's work our focus can slip and we may lose sight of what is important. In 2 Thessalonians 3:11 we see an example of some women who were not busy and started gossiping (and this is NOT limited to women). I have noticed in my own life the less busy I am, the more I complain about others. There is a saying that says "I wish my sin bothered me as much as your sin bothers me." If I am busy about God's business I won't have time to get involved in yours.

Conclusion
So what should be do? Make SMART goals.

S - Specific * Your goals should be focused and specific. Not a generic, "work more," "study more," "pray more." Instead, "I will ready one chapter of the Bible per week and a year." Or, "I will pray before I get out of bed in the morning, and as I get into bed at night for 6 months."
M - Measurable * Your goals should be something that can be easily measured to see if they are being accomplished or not. If you see progress it will motivate you!
A - Applicable * Your goals should apply to your overall desires in life. Since our biggest overall goal is heaven, our goals should be focused on activities that will help us get there.
R - Realistic * Your goals should be something you can successfully do. Sure, they can stretch you some, but they must be realistic. So instead of, "I am going to memorize the entire New Testament this year," how about, "I am going to memorize the BE Attitudes this year."
T - Time sensitive. Set a deadline and stick to it. Otherwise you will put them off,..... forever.






      


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