This is our God, The Servant King, He calls us now To follow Him,
To bring our lives As a daily offering Of worship to The Servant King.
Romans 12:1 ¶ So then, my brothers, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer.
What does it mean in practice to bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the Servant King? How can we turn all of our work into worship – an offering of service to God? What we are talking about today applies to every kind of work. Paid work. Voluntary work. House work. Church work. How can we become living sacrifices in the workplace. Living sacrifices at home. Living sacrifices in Church.
The song goes, “whistle while you work.” God calls us, not to “whistle while you work” but to “worship while you work” !! Here are 10 way to “worship while we work!”
1. Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good deeds he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
The good deeds God has lined up for every one of us to do are not just our Christian activities – but ALL our activities! God has made you according to a specific design. He has given you personality, talents, abilities, and interests which can be used in your life’s work. God has crafted you in a very unique and personal way and this means that you are fit to do certain tasks. There exist “right” jobs for all of us, paid jobs, jobs serving the community, jobs at home – jobs which match the way God has designed us and the needs of the tasks. All of those are the “good deeds” God has lined up ready for us to do.
God has a plan for each of our lives. Each of us has a calling. He has uniquely designed each of us up for particulars kind of work. So the starting point for worshipping God in our work is to make sure that the work we are doing is what God wants us to do. The right kind of work. In the right place at the right time. Whether it is paid work, or Christian service we need to seek God’s guidance over the work we are going to do. And continue to seek His guidance to make sure that he still wants us doing that specific work, with those people, in that particular place.
If you are really finding it impossible to worship God in your daily work, in your workplace, in church, in the home, perhaps you have not yet found your calling. Maybe you are not actually where God wants you to be. Maybe you actually know where God really wants you to be, but have been too afraid to pursue it. Some people opt for the cash rather than the calling! In your paid work, in your voluntary service, in your Christian work, make sure you are doing what God wants you to do.
2. Be living sacrifices – offering ourselves to God in worship
God calls us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices Monday to Friday, not just Sundays! In our place of work and not just at church. It is not the activity but the attitude of the heart, which makes something worship. We can worship God in whatever we do and whenever we do it, if we offer that activity to God and do it FOR God.
HYMN “New every morning is the love” by John Keble
If on our daily course our mind be set to hallow all we find
New treasures still, of countless price, God will provide of sacrifice.
The trivial round, the common task, will furnish all we ought to ask;
Room to deny ourselves, a road that brings us nearer God.
It is not the activity – but the attitude of the heart – an attitude of offering ourselves to God, sacrificing ourselves in order to please Him.
3. Do it working as for the Lord and not for men
Col 3: 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, …24 … It is the Lord Christ you are serving. For Christ is the real Master you serve.
We aren’t serving God only when we are doing “Christian work” or “church work”. As Christians we are serving God WHATEVER we are doing, paid or unpaid. WHATEVER you do, it is the Lord Christ you are serving.
The work of a Beethoven, and the work of a charwoman, become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly “as to the Lord.”
C. S. Lewis
You may have heart about some of the unseen works of art which have been found in great cathedrals which craftsmen created on the backs of sculptures and paintings. They were hidden from where people can see – as offerings of worship for God’s eyes only.
“Throw your soul into the work as if your one employer were the Lord!”
God is never satisfied with a halfhearted effort. Young Harry worked for a Christian shoemaker. His job was to prepare the leather for soles. He had to cut a piece of cowhide to size, soak it in water, and then pound it with a flat-headed hammer until it was hard and dry. Harry always wished he could avoid this very tiring process.
He often went to another shoeshop nearby to watch their competitor at work. This man didn’t pound the leather after it came from the water. Instead, he immediately nailed it onto the shoe he was making. One day Harry approached this man and asked, “Are the soles really just as good when you put them on wet as if they were pounded?” With a wink and a cynical smile the man replied, “No, but they come back much quicker this way!”
Young Harry hurried back to his boss and suggested that perhaps they were wasting their time by drying out the leather so carefully. His employer read Colossians 3:23 to him, “working for the Lord and not for men,” Then he said, I do not make shoes just for the money. I’m doing it for the glory of God. If at the judgment seat of Christ I should have to view every shoe I’ve ever made, I don’t want to hear the Lord say, ‘That was a poor job. You didn’t do your best.’ I want to see His smile and hear, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’” Working as for the Lord and not for men.
4. Do it all to the glory of God
1 Cor 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Martin Luther wrote, “The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays—not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”
“Too many people stop looking for work once they get a job.”
Again we say, if we want to glorify God, only our best is good enough for Him.
A few weeks ago: Eccles 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men
“It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. God prefers quality to quantity.” George Macdonald (1824–1905)
5. Let your light shine
Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
We talked last week about witness in the workplace – living the gospel and preaching the gospel. Of course we are paid to work, not to preach! We are there to do our job as best we can. But when people see our good works they will not be able to give glory to God if they don’t even know we are Christians. That’s why it is important that we do try to link up with other Christians at our place of work. We must find ways of letting others at work know that we are Christians and ways to actually talk about Jesus. We MUST be prepared to step out in faith and push boundaries and take risks in talking about Jesus.
6. In the name of Jesus In “the Jesus way”, as representing Him!
Col 3:17 Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
We should do everything in Jesus’s name. As representing Jesus. So God calls us to do our work as Jesus Himself would do it. So God calls us to show the character of Jesus as we work. Working “the Jesus way”. “What would Jesus do?” The Fruit of Spirit doesn’t always grow easily in the workplace. Love joy peace patience kindness goodness patience gentleness self-control!
I believe that Jesus was a VERY good carpenter! But more than that, Jesus always cared about people. People matter more than “getting the job done”.
7. Work as an act of thanksgiving and praise
This does not mean that we have to sing hymns or songs all the time while we are working. Although if the job allows that – why not? But it does mean that we work, not because we have to, but because we want to express our praise to God for who He is and our gratitude to God for all He has done for us.
FILL THOU MY LIFE, O Lord my God, In every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim Thy being and Thy ways.
Not for the lip of praise alone, Nor e’en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up Of praise in every part:
Praise in the common things of life, Its goings out and in;
Praise in each duty and each deed, However small and mean.
So shall no part of day or night From sacredness be free;
But all my life, in every step, Be fellowship with Thee.
8. Praying for our work – praying the ordinary and practising the presence of God
Our jobs are not a hindrance to prayer but an opportunity for prayer. We can sometimes pray while we work. We should always pray about our work and for our work. But we can also pray through our work. Our work can become prayer – prayer in action.
God calls us to “pray without ceasing.” This time last year we thought about prayer through the teachings of Richard Foster. Let me remind you of two aspects of prayer which are very relevant to prayer at work.
We talked last year about “praying the ordinary”. We need to get rid once and for all of the idea that God is only interested in the “religious” “Christian” and “church” bits of our lives. We can’t shut God in a box! There is NO division between “the spiritual” and “the secular”. God is involved in EVERY aspect of our daily lives. We need to learn to trust God in EVERY area of our lives.
We need to recognise the sanctity of the ordinary, the holiness of all created things. All work is holy work. Our homes are just as holy as our church. All places are sacred places! We are Christians WHEREVER we are. So WHEREVER we are is Holy Ground!
We need to learn to pray the ordinary. To turn the ordinary experiences of life into prayer; to see God in the ordinary experiences of life; to pray throughout the ordinary experiences of life.
“Every action performed in the sight of God, because it is the will of God, and in the manner that God wills, is a prayer,” “Everything that one turns in the direction of God is a prayer.”
That is the theme of the little book by Brother Lawrence which I have talked about before, “Practising the Presence of God.” Brother Lawrence encourages us to make every part of our everyday lives a subject for prayer. But more than that, he challenges us to engage in continuous conversation with God in prayer, whatever we are doing. Here are some of Brother Lawrence’s inspiring words.
We should strive for `a habitual sense of God’s presence’ – `to be always with God’
To be with God, there is no need to be in church. We may make an oratory of our heart wherein to retire from time to time to converse with him in meekness, humility, and love. You need not cry very loud. He is nearer to us than we think.
Our biggest mistake is to think that a time of prayer is different from any other time. It is all one. The time of business does not differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees.
We can do little things for God: I turn the cake that is frying on the pan, for love of him …. Do everything for the love of God. Make use of all the tasks one’s lot in life demands to show him that love, and to maintain his presence within by the communion of our heart with his.
The depths of our spirituality does not depend upon changing the things we do, but in doing for God what we ordinarily do for ourselves. A little lifting of the heart suffices; a little remembrance of God, one act of inward worship, are prayers which however short are acceptable to God.
Something to try this week: Praying the ordinary: Practising the presence of God
9. Pray without ceasing – breath prayers
Another very helpful suggestion I have spoken about before is to use what Richard Foster calls “breath prayers.” These are specific short prayers which we can say in a single breath. Whenever we want to bring God to mind during the day and acknowledge His presence with us, we breathe this prayer. Whenever we want to dedicate a particular activity to God, we breathe this prayer. Whenever we want to ask for God’s grace and help and draw God into a particular situation, we breathe this prayer. It is a form of prayer which helps bring God into every part of our lives as we use it many many times through the day. First thing in the morning. Last thing at night. When we move from one activity to another. As we go to greet someone.
There are many excellent breath prayers. “Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Last year I suggested the first line of the prayer of St. Francis, “Lord, Make me a channel of your peace.” While you are doing work, you might like to try, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done”” Or God might lead you to a different “breath prayer” that is personal to you. I do recommend breath prayers. Why not try, starting today? Practise today and then use your breath prayer at work tomorrow?
Breath prayers are just one way of praying without ceasing. I should of course also mention speaking in tongues as a private prayer language. The gift of tongues is a another valuable way of communing with God in the busyness of life – even at work.
10. Giving the glory back to God
I could talk here about our tithes and offerings – giving back to God the rewards of our labours. Our wages belong to Him who gives us the talents and the strength to earn them. But one final even more important way of worshipping God in our work is to give Him the glory. A prayer of thanksgiving when things go well. And a public acknowledgement that our success is all by God’s grace. “I am a Christian and I know I couldn’t have done that job without God’s help. Give God the glory!