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If you are new to The Celebration of God, I want to warmly and strongly encourage you to listen to our introductory episodes. They are incredibly important in explaining exactly what it means to celebrate God and how this experience is designed to help you become a more mature follower of Christ.
And I also want to invite you to listen to our What is Worship Series. It is painful how much misinformation is out there concerning the nature of worship. It’s not something about which disciples of Christ can afford to be confused.
And I mention all of this because we’re starting a new series today called “Celebrating God at Work and School,” and we won’t have the time to re-lay the necessary groundwork of what it means to celebrate God.
So, make sure you check out those resources.
And also make sure you seriously pray about inviting me to your church or camp or conference in order to discuss discipleship, worship, and Christian holidays.
I would be honored to preach and teach and sharpen you and your fellow believers as we open the Bible to better understand these desperately important facets of our relationship with God.
And — until then — be sure to subscribe to this show so that you can benefit from all of this free content. In addition to our nearly 100 episodes, we also have free episode notes, transcripts, and a growing library of worship resources at CelebrationOfGod.com.
And I am honored to be discussing this material with you.
So, as we near our 100th episode, let’s start a conversation about how God’s people can actively and consciously worship Him when they’re at work or school.
I thought carefully about doing two different series — one about work and one about school — but as I looked at the biblical data concerning how we are to approach these seemingly different activities, I realized that the same truth applies to both.
And — honestly — school is to children what employment is to adults. They both last as long and require equal amounts of comparative labor.
So, regardless of your age, regardless of whether you’re in grade school or doing post-graduate work, and regardless of the kind of job you have, the truths we’re going to study can help us all glorify God better.
And right now my plan is for this to be a four-part series, each of which will investigate two responsibilities we have in light of our work and school.
Today we will look at the double-responsibility of Living and Learning.
Next week we’ll look at Following and Leading.
Then we’ll look at Acting and Speaking.
And then we’ll talk about Praying and Praising.
Of course, I’m using those terms in very niche kind of ways. I wanted them to be simple and yet packed with meaning so that we can be more intentional while at work and school.
Lastly, it’s not my intention to say “work and school” every time I refer to them. I may just say “work,” and I may just say “school,” but regardless of which I say, I’m referring to both.
Alright, let’s talk about our dual responsibilities of Living and Learning as it relates to work and school.
And for that, I want us to consider James 1:2-8.
Let’s start by reading the passage. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
And now let’s work through the details of this passage by considering what it means to Learn and Live at work and school.
Whether you’re a CEO or a 1st grader, God expects you to be learning every day of your life. You don’t know everything — you never will — and we always have more growing to do in our relationship with God.
In our Discipleship Spiral Series we discussed the fact that God created us to learn, He commands us to learn, and He capacitates us to learn. It’s an absolute necessity.
And — of course — we could talk into eternity about all of the unique specifics that we could learn in our various classes and employment opportunities.
But — instead — I want to discuss one exceptionally important lesson that we all need to learn regardless of our age or current experiences.
And that lesson is going to come from James 1:2-4.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Listen very carefully. It doesn’t matter how easy or hard your job it is. It doesn’t matter how nice or mean your teacher is. It doesn’t matter who your coworkers or fellow students are. Absolutely everything you encounter in this life — comfortable or uncomfortable, happy or sad, pretty or ugly — has been sovereignly ordained by God for two glorious purposes.
A. Every experience in your life is designed to give God glory.
I Corinthians 10:31 tells us “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” And in Matthew 5:16 Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
To glorify something is to speak of it or represent it in such a way that others think more highly of it. When you boast about your favorite team, you’re glorifying it. When you tell your friends about your new car or game system, you’re glorifying it. You’re causing the other person to think more highly about the object you’re discussing.
And that is what God wants for every moment of our day — it should give Him glory. Everything you say and do should cause others to think more highly of Him.
Now, the implications of that are are infinite. How on earth are you supposed to eat in the lunch room so that people will think better of your God? The answer is both deep and wide.
But that’s not the focus of today’s discussion. The point is that we must learn that God has a job for us when we’re on the job. We are to work in such a way that God is glorified by our choices.
But there’s something else we need to learn from this passage.
B. Every experience in your life is designed to enable you to mature in Christ.
The word translated “trials” in verse 2 can refer to temptations as well as testings. It can describe the temptations to sin that come at us from our Flesh, the World, and Satan. Later in this same chapter God explains the nature of temptation, and even though God never tempts anyone, He is sovereignly capable of using that temptation to sin to produce godliness in us.
But this same Greek word can also refer to the testing that God brings into our lives to purify us. In Job 23:10 Job proclaims, “He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
Both of these realities teach us that God has a plan for absolutely everything you’re going to encounter at work and school. Every assessment, every project, every interpersonal interaction, every moment of discipline, every instance of fun, absolutely every moment of your day is designed by God to give Him glory and to conform you to the image of Jesus Christ.
This is where Romans 8:28 and 29 come in, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.”
We have the promise of God that absolutely everything we will encounter at school today is sovereignly ordained by Him to be able to conform you to the image of His Son. However, there’s a condition. All things do not work together for good to those who don’t love God and who aren’t working according to His purposes.
And that makes all the sense in the world, because we will not be more like Christ, we will not grow in our faith, and we will not become complete if we’re sinning.
However, as we recognize what God wants us to learn when we’re at work, then when we encounter various trials, we will recognize them for what they are. We will see that they are an opportunity for us to glorify God by loving Him, trusting Him, and — thereby — becoming more like Him as our faith is increased and as we grow in our endurance.
This means that we need to stop whining about work. We need to stop complaining about our teachers and our tests. Instead, we need to recognize that God has a plan in all of it, and that plan is that we become more mature disciples of Christ.
If we do not start with this lesson, we will never be able to celebrate God at work and school.
If life is all about us, then we will enjoy the parts of work and school that makes us happy, and we’ll hate the parts that make us uncomfortable. But God calls us to something far greater. We are to submit to Him as our Savior and Lord and recognize that our highest calling is to please Him in all things by taking every opportunity to consider how Christ would respond if He were in our position, and then respond in the same way.
Do you have an assignment due? How can you glorify God in it?
Are there people at work who are awful to you? How can you become more like Christ because of it?
Are you exhausted by the end of the day? How can your love for God and trust in Him increase in light of that exhaustion?
Now, the main point today is that you can do these things. However, how each of you react in your unique circumstances will vary from person to person. So, if you need some assistance in learning specifically how you can glorify God in Mrs. Funderburg’s senior high English class when you have to give your “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay in front of the class and you’re 100% certain that Jessie is going to make fun of everything you say and do and tell the entire basketball team how awful you were . . . then I encourage you to reach out to us at counselor@CelebrationofGod.com so that we can provide the unique assistance you require.
However, for now, this — my friends — is the first step to being able to truly celebrate God whether you’re working as a cash register at Walmart, filing taxes for your non-profit, playing at recess, taking a test, or interviewing for a new position.
You can know for certain that God wants to use those situations to test your faith. And if you choose to trust that God wants to work out that situation for His greatest glory and your greatest good by conforming you to the image of Christ so that you grow in your spiritual endurance and continue to be perfected . . . you can trust that it will happen. It will result in your greatest good.
There will be no reason for worry, doubt, fear, discontentment, anxiety, or anger. Learning this one truth, I can be joyful and peaceful and content and optimistic in every work and school endeavor.
And that leads to . . .
It’s one thing to know and understand something, but it’s something completely different to actually live in the reality of what you know and understand. That’s what we call true learning. That’s called being wise.
It’s not enough to “learn” this lesson if we’re not going to actually live it.
That’s why James 1:5-8 says, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
In order to live wisely, we must seek God. We need His truth, we need His power, we cannot be wise on our own. And God will generously give us what we need without reproach. That means that He won’t insult us. He won’t say, “Well, okay, I suppose since you’re such a failure, I’ll go ahead and help you.”
No, He gladly and generously and graciously gives us more than we could ask or think.
However, again, we see that something is required of us. We mustn’t ask God for wisdom if we’re not actively planning to live wisely. We must believe that God will do exactly what He says, we need to believe what He teaches us, we need to lean on His strength, and we need to live accordingly.
We have another series called “Grow Your Worship” — you can find a link in the description of today’s episode — and that series teaches us that to believe is not to know, to believe is to live according to what we know. To believe God’s truth is to live wisely.
Therefore, to not truly trust that God is going to give us everything we need for life and godliness is to be like a wave of the sea and a leaf blown around by the wind. We’ll be unstable in everything because we’ll be what the Bible calls a double-minded man.
James 4:8 tells the double-minded individual that they need to purify their hearts. They need to remove the unbelief and surrender to God’s plan for their lives.
So, what does this look like?
This looks like praying on the way to work or school and having a conversation with God about the day. It may involve telling God that you trust that whatever you face today is a gift from His sovereign hand to help you mature and grow.
You can tell Him that you trust His plan for your life. You can tell Him how you want to depend on His Word to guide you today. You can ask the Holy Spirit for strength to live wisely. You can recite the passages that you know apply to your unique situation. You can ask God to keep your eyes fixed on Him regardless of what you encounter.
There are so many ways that conversation can go, but each of them should recognize the truth we learned today that God desires to mature you through your work and education and that you plan to submit to that reality today.
And then you need to put one foot in front of the other and actually live in the truth.
Colossians 3:1-3 says, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
In Ephesians 4:22-24 we learn, “in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
These passages and many more are calling us to recognize that we no longer need to live as we did. We can see life for what it is and choose to respond differently.
I know that nothing I said today actually changes your circumstances. It doesn’t make your teacher or boss or co-workers or classmates nicer. It doesn’t give you more time for your project. It doesn’t make math or engineering any more fun. It doesn’t speed up the clock. And it doesn’t make you smell less like food when you leave work.
But it can revolutionize how you look at God’s design for your work and school. Yes, God wants you to learn new things. Yes, He wants you to be able to provide for you and your family. Yes, He wants you to be salt and light in this world. But He also wants to use every single one of the trials and temptations that you’re going to face to mature you, increase your faith, and conform you to the glorious image of Christ.
And simply learning that one lesson can so completely change the way you view your work that what once scared you can not excite you, what once depressed you can make you glad, and what once caused you great concern can be approached with confidence because you serve a great God Who wants to do great things in your life today.
Of course, there is so much more that could be said, but my desire is for these discussions to be concise and memorable. I want you to easily remember that 1. God wants you to Learn the important lesson that your work and school is for His glory and your good. And 2. You need to live in that reality today.
Again, if you need assistance with the specifics, please write us at Counselor@CelebrationOfGod.com.
And please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so that other students and employees and bosses and teachers can learn and live this eternally vital lesson.
And join us next time as we seek to better know, love, and worship God . . . and help the people in our lives do the same.
To that end, we’ll be discussing how God expects us to Follow and Lead when we’re at work and school.
The Year Long Celebration of God is a dynamic, holistic resource that utilizes the Bible, our holiday calendars, and even the most average moments of the most normal days to equip Christians to worship God all year long
and disciple others to do the same.
AMBrewster is the creator and host of the Celebration of God. He originally designed the COG to be a discipleship tool for Christian parents to train their children to know and love God, but he quickly realized how valuable it is for all Christians. Whether it's a small group, church, classroom, one-on-one, or community relationship, this resource is guaranteed to draw people closer together as they draw closer to God.
Aaron is the President of Truth.Love.Parent. and host of its podcast.