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“Work Matters to God” Beyond Sunday: Week 1 (Genesis 1-3)

Todd Gray January 6, 2019 Beyond Sunday

We were created in the image of God to do the things God does. We often forget that God didn’t just create, but he worked. As we follow Him, we need to remember that work is good and it honors God.

Sermon Notes:

  1. God Is a Worker
  2. God Created You in His Image to Work
  3. Work is Good
  4. Work is Worship
  5. Work is Sanctifying
Sermon Transcript:

                                Amen. If you have your Bibles this morning, let’s open them together to the book of Genesis. We’re going back to the beginning. In Genesis Chapter One. We’ll be looking at Chapter One, Two, and Three. This morning I start a new series called Beyond Sunday, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. We’re going to be looking at what is your faith supposed to be doing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, the rest of the week. You know, sometimes it’s sad but true that Christians come to a place of worship on a Sunday morning and we talk about faith, we sing about faith, we pray about faith, and then we leave it right before we walk out those doors, and the anger and bitterness that was in our hearts and the sadness and whatever sin we’re dealing with, the struggle that we’re dealing with that was on our hearts on Saturday night that we try to leave out of here on Sunday morning, we pick it right back up like a suitcase on our way our the door and we take it with us on Monday morning.

                                Sadly, too many people leave their faith in the church house on a Sunday, but everything in our life outside of this hour or two that we meet together, everything matters to Him. I had a quote that I read this week I want to share with you from a man named Abraham Kuyper. He says, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ who is sovereign over all does not cry mine.” Those are beautiful words, but you know what that means? Yeah, on the Sunday morning hour, Jesus says, “That’s mine.” We get that. That’s not hard for us to understand. But on the Monday morning drive to work, Jesus says, “That’s mine too.” Uh oh, it’s already getting personal and we’re just getting started. And when you arrive at work and that boss that you don’t like, the coworker that is a real pain, Jesus says, “Mine.” That vacation that you say we’re just going to take with those guys or those girls, Jesus says, “Mine.” That alone time that you spend on the screen or on the computer, Jesus says, “Mine.” All of it belongs to him, not just when we gather together on a Sunday. At the work bench, at the computer, and wherever you are, God wants the glory for that because it’s also worship.

                                We’re going to be talking about a lot of things through this series, but today we’re going to focus on work. That vocation that you do. Maybe it’s that literal hammer that you hold on a Monday morning. Maybe it’s that computer screen you sit behind. Maybe in the modern world it’s those pajamas that you sit in as you do work from your phone on a Monday through Friday. Wherever it is. For some of you, you’re like, “Oh, this doesn’t apply to me. It’s talking about work.” Well, you might be a student. Guess what you’re doing as a student. You’re preparing to work for most of your life. That’s what your mom and dad say. That’s why we’re sending you to school. We want you to make good grades so you get accepted at the right college and do the right thing in college so you can do what? Well, maybe it’s not college. Maybe it’s a vocation school. Get to the right job and make lots of money and work for those whatever many years.

                                Some of you are sitting here retired. You’re going, “That doesn’t really apply to me.” Sure it does. You spent most of your life working, and you still have things that you do in those daytime hours outside of here. I want you to know this morning that wherever you’re at here today, when you leave here, those hours, they belong to God. He wants you to use them and leverage them to worship Him. So, we go back to Genesis One, Two, and Three, and here’s what I want you to see today, that God created work, therefore work is good. Work is worship and work is sanctifying. And here’s what I pray that you leverage your work, your vocation for Him.

                                In Genesis Chapter One, let’s start reading here in the first verse. It says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” You know what I see here? I see that God is a worker. Right from the very beginning. In the beginning, God worked. That word created there in your Bible, it’s the Hebrew word bara, and at the very base meaning of that word is to work. That’s what God did for six days. The first verb we have in the scripture is about your God being a working God. Is that what he did? Yeah. Look at day one, what did God do? He created the heavens and the earth. This is the whole universe that we even know about. He separated light from darkness. Day two, what does it say? He worked and he created what you and I know as the sky and the atmosphere. On day three, he worked and he separated the land from the sea and he started to create what we know as plant life, which provided this environment that we need on earth for us to survive. Day four, what did God do? Yeah, he kept on working. He worked and he created the stars, and it says the heavenly bodies. The sun was now shining light on the earth and the moon was now reflecting that light.

                                Day five, God created life in the waters. God created birds of the air. And some people believe maybe this is the day he even created insects. It’s God working. Day six is an exciting day, because that’s when he created life on land, which included the pinnacle of his creation, you and me. And then what does it say on day seven? He rested. I understand if you’re a student of the scriptures, there’s a whole lot we can be talking about in Genesis Chapter One and the six days of creation. We could be talking about the word yom, and how it’s a 24-hour period, and what exactly that looked like. We could be talking about how our society, science in general, kind of misunderstands creation. We could talk about a lot of different things. But I want you to not miss two this morning in the context of work. Number one, God did it. That may not sound important, but I want you to let that sink in for a second. Turn to your neighbor, look at them in the eye, and say, “God did it.”

                                God did it.

                                That’s important. There’s a lot of discussion about creation right now. Well it’s been that way a long time, and there’s lots of things I want to talk to you about creation. But the thing you must walk away with the first six days of the creation account is that God didn’t mess up, that God wasn’t surprised by it. But that God did it. And number two I don’t want you to miss that God is a worker. And everything that he made was good.

                                Now, go back to day six, the pinnacle of his creation. As we continue, not only do we see that God is a worker, that what we see God doing in the very first pages of the scripture is working. But then we see that God created you and me, the pinnacle of his creation, to be like him and diligent about our work. Look at verse 26 through verse 28. Let’s read verse 26 and 27 together. God said, “Let us.” Now, I want to stay here for a long time, but we’ve got to move on. You know what us is? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. “Let us make man in our image according to our likeness. And let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the ground.” Verse 27. God created man in his own image. In the image of God, he created him, make and female he created. You know the verse, them. Church, God is a worker. And it tells us right here that we’re created in his image.

                                That means … Well, there’s a lot we could talk about being created in the image of God. But let’s not travel to the rest of scripture. Let’s just stay right here in Genesis One for a second. What do we know about the image of God at this point? There’s lots of things we can draw reference to, like maybe a sovereignty. But you’re not sovereign. We could draw reference to his power. And you may get to share in the image of God and a little bit of his power. But what’s the one thing that’s undeniable at this point in Genesis Chapter One? The image of God that you are created in was his work ethic? There’s lots of others we could talk about in the image of God. But he was a working God and he created you in his image to be a worker as well.

                                We must not miss that work is an expression of God’s own image. Therefore, let me make another bold statement, that laziness is a rejection of the image of God. If you’re still not convinced that God created man in his own image to work, just keep reading. Look at verse 28, what did God give man to do in his own image? God blessed him, it says in verse 28. So, what’s about to happen is a blessing. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” but it doesn’t stop there, “And subdue and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” God gave man work to do. Yes, it says to be fruitful and multiply. We know a part of that is procreativity. If you’re a mom and dad in here, you know what that means, don’t you? It means the production of children. Having children is a part of the work that God created us to do, but it’s not just procreativity, it’s productivity.

                                What do you think it means to subdue and to rule? It doesn’t mean laziness. It doesn’t mean inactivity. You can’t do that while sitting on your haunches. No, you have to do work to subdue. Adam had to do work to cultivate the garden and to care for the animals. God gave Adam work to do. And then look at verse 15 of Genesis Chapter Two. It becomes explicit here. After God put man in the garden, he says, “I put man in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to keep it.” Later we read in Genesis Chapter Two that God created … we talked about this yesterday at the wedding, woman out of man to be a suitable helper to do what? Yes, to assist in procreation, but also to assist him in production, to do the work of the garden, to cultivate it and to keep it. All of this, ladies and gentlemen, is work. Work for Adam and Eve.

                                Now, this is huge. So, I’m going to look at you real close. Work for Adam and Eve was their primary expression of worship. We don’t read about Adam and Eve gathering at a central location and singing praise songs. There’s nothing wrong with it. I love that. We don’t read about them gathering the family together. At this point, they didn’t have a family, and sitting down for a family Bible study. You should be doing that. That’s super important. But what do we read about Adam and Eve doing? Yeah, they had interaction with God, but that’s not the only time they worshiped him. They worshiped God through their cultivating and keeping the garden. They were worshiping God through their work. That’s something you need to put in your pocket and take with you today.

                                Work, Church, is worship. Now, what we sometimes think is that work is a production of sin, this is pre-fall. God says, “I bless you.” And what did he bless them? Blessed them by giving them work to do. When did sin come into the garden? Genesis Chapter Three verse 15. It’s not until later that sin came into the garden. So, what happened to work after sin came into the garden? Sin corrupted work. Sin makes work hard. But work was in the garden before sin was. So, what do we do with all this? Pastor, what do we do? Well, I think you just need to change your approach to work, maybe. There’s several things that we can do at this point. In fact, there’s three things I think most people do.

                                God created work and God is good. And I think we should see work as good and work as a blessing from God. That’s what the text says. But because sin entered in the garden and sin corrupted work, what do we sometimes do? Option one, we hate work because work is hard. We say, “I hate it.” Number two, some of you may be really good at it despite how hard it is, the sin gets us on the other end. Not only does it makes us hate work, but sometimes it can make us worship work. We’re not supposed to worship work. And the third option is what I want to encourage you to do today. We can let Christ redeem work and we can use it as a means of worshiping him. But sin is tricky.

                                As we look in Genesis Chapter Three, look at verse 17 when sin entered the garden, we find out that the ground is cursed because of it. God says, “Curse this ground because of you. In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life, both thorns and thistles shall grow for you and you will eat of the plants of the field,” meaning after you work hard, “By the sweat of your face, you will eat bread until you return to the ground.” This is God telling Adam that the work that he gave him to do because of sin was now going to be hard. And because work is hard, some of you choose option one, to hate it. Thorns and thistles made it harder for Adam to cultivate the ground. Like Ellis County mud, I mean the ground was easy to cultivate, but now after sin, God says it would be hard to cultivate.

                                When I was in South Carolina, I became familiar with thorns and thistles. They have this … I don’t know. I call it the Devil Vine. It’s probably not called that. But it grows like ground cover all over the ground. And every time you want to do something on the ground level, at least where I lived in South Carolina, you had to deal with this plant that had little thorns that you could barely see on it. Now, sometimes they were bigger, but most of the time they were small. And you didn’t realize it was a thorn until you already did what? Already grabbed it. So, there I’d be. I’d be hunting, I’d put my hand back, and yep, guess what was there? A thorn, both in my hand and also in my backside. There was thorns everywhere.

                                One time when I was golfing, as an Air Force Officer I did this sometimes, sometimes they called it work. Anyways, so you come to the T-box. Okay, that’s funny. And I swung, and there goes the ball. And I’m like, “It must be a good shot.” And if you’ve ever golfed with me, what happened next, Charles? Yes. I sliced it and it went into the woods, and I did not make enough money to leave my golf balls in the woods. So, I went to find it. And I went into the woods and I started looking around. And guess what I found? No, not my golf ball yet. I found those thistles. But then I can see my golf ball in the distance. 30 minutes later, I came out of the woods. I was drenched in sweats, I had some cuts in my hand from those beautiful thorns. And some of my sweet golf clothes, they were ripped. What I’m telling you is that the thorns and the thistles made it harder for me to accomplish the work of finding my golf ball.

                                Church, this is what hardship and sin and conflicting personalities and computer programs and traffic, this is what hardships can do for you at work. It can make it harder. And sometimes it can make you hate your job. Maybe it’s not the thorns on the farm, maybe it is that traffic that you deal with. Maybe it is that difficult boss or coworker. But I want to tell you, God doesn’t want you to hate your job. You know, sometimes the things that hurt us refine us. Therefore, those things that hurt us sometimes can be good for us. This is what hardship can do for you at work, it can refine you. Now, we’re going to talk about that a little bit later. But some people don’t just choose option one. Maybe work is hard, but they deal with stress well and they deal with the difficulty well, and they find success despite the hard ground. They find success despite the thorns. Here’s where sin can get you going and coming.

                                If you’re good at work despite the hardness, here’s what you choose, option two. Sometimes you worship work, “Where everybody else is failing, I’m succeeding. So, I love my job.” And what do we do? We start to worship it. Is that how should we approach work? No. We were created to worship one person, and it’s the God of the universe. I want to submit to you option three. You don’t have to hate work. You don’t have to worship work. You can let Christ redeem work and use it as a primary means of your worship.

                                So, how did Genesis Three find resolution? Remember how sin entered the garden through Adam and Eve? Remember how God solved that problem? No, it wasn’t through the law. No, it wasn’t through the sacrificial system. No, it wasn’t through man’s morality. He solved it when Christ came. Jesus is the only answer to the sin problem both in your heart for eternity and in your job so it can be redeemed for God’s glory. Adam and Eve were born into this world, and they, like we, fell into sin. Jesus Christ was born both the son of God and God the son to deal with and to reconcile the consequences of sin for the children of Adam and Eve. That’s you and me. He did that by living a perfect life, by dying a death that took the punishment and the penalty and was a substitute for what you deserve for your sin. He died on the cross as a payment for your sin. He rose from the dead. And if you were to repent and believe, Jesus would redeem the consequences of sin in your life and set you free from that for all of eternity.

                                But, Church, it’s not just for eternity. He wants to redeem the negative effects of sin in your every day life. I would suggest work included. So you don’t have to hate work. You don’t have to worship work. You can let Christ redeem work and use it for his glory as a vehicle, maybe even in your life the primary vehicle of your worship. The Work Matters website tells me that we work for half of our life. I looked at other studies and they say we work maybe anywhere from a third of our life to half of our life. I don’t care what study you look at, that’s a lot of time. In fact, work comes in second only to sleep in the amount of time that it consumes in your life. Do you think God wants access to that time? Do you think God wants to use that time for him? The answer is of course, yes. Everything that you do on Sunday, but everything also that you do beyond Sunday.

                                I want you to see three things today before I let you go. Number one that work is good. Number two that work is worship. And number three, that work is how God … well, one of the ways that God sanctifies us. Work is sanctifying. So, let’s talk about how work is good. I’m going to challenge you to do a lot of things today. One of the things that I’m going to challenge you to do is ask God for a paradigm shift that he would come into your life today and this week, and maybe for the rest of your life, and help you to see that work is not to be worshiped, that work is not to be hated, but that work is good. For some of you, it’s going to take God doing that. I want you to see work as good, even when it doesn’t feel good.

                                I listened to a very helpful story this week, a story by a man named Otto, he was a missionary in Papua New Guinea. He wrote a story called The Pineapple Story. You can just look that up this week, The Pineapple Story by Otto Koning. K-O-N-I-N-G. He dealt with this people group in Papua New Guinea that he, when he first got there, hated. It’s hard for a missionary to say that. But he really struggled with the people group that he was called to. They were thieves. And what he called them before he understood them was savages. Kind of a tough term. They would steal everything that Otto and his family had. They would steal everything from the writing pens that he used, he would see them as he interacted with them in the village, and they’d have his pens in their nose. He’s like, “Okay, great. Give me my pen back.” And it made him angry. And they’d even take the diaper pins that we used to use for babies, you know, to change their diapers. He’d find those in the women’s ears and in their lips.

                                The clothes that he would hang out to dry would be on their backs. Day after day he would get angry and more angry and more angry by seeing the people that he was called to steal his stuff. One day he says, “You know what? I’m going to create my own stuff. I’m going to grow my own food.” So, he planted a garden. And one of the first things that he put in his garden was a pineapple tree. He loved pineapples and he hadn’t tasted the sweet meat of pineapples in so long. So, he planted the trees, he cultivated the pineapple seed. And eventually they grew. But listen to this. It took three years for them to produce fruit. But on the third year, Otto and his family, they’re like, “Yes, it’s going to be worth it. These pineapples are going to be amazing. We’ve been waiting for three years.” But you know what happened? He never got to taste the pineapples because the people in Papua New Guinea, they would steal the pineapples off the tree even before they were ripe enough to eat. It was just in their culture. If you had it, they wanted it. They took it.

                                He became so angry, they did not give him the label of Christian White Man. They gave him the label Angry White Man. That literally was his name. That’s what they called him. They’d go, “Why are you so angry?” He’s like, “Because you’re stealing my stuff.” And through a long process of God really convicting him, Otto had a paradigm change as a Christian. Over time he learned that that pineapple garden wasn’t his garden, it was God’s. And so, the first thing that Otto Koning gave to God was his pineapple garden. Turns out, he says, God knows how to grow pineapples better than he did. And the stuff in his house, that was a little harder for him because he worked hard for it and he didn’t want them to take it. He gave the stuff in his house to God. His clothes to God. And eventually he gave his children and his wife, everything that he had, he says, “It’s not mine. I’m giving it to God.” And he started seeing the work that he did, that he used to hate and become angry about, he started to see it as good.

                                And so, I’ll tell you what happened to Otto through this paradigm shift. He started to let go of his anger. And you know what came in? Compassion. He started to let go of the negativity. And instead of seeing his job as something he had to do, he started seeing his call to these people as something he got to do, he was able to do. It was a blessing for him to do it. And eventually, when they saw his character change … don’t miss this. When they saw his character change, they stopped calling him The Angry White Man. And one of them come up to him and says, “Oh, you’re a Christian now.” He’s like, “What? I thought I’d been a Christian a long time.” But it was such a vast difference when he gave his vocation to God. When he started seeing the work that he did as good, it changed everything.

                                And so, you may go to work on Monday morning and still do the task this week the exact way you did it last week, but what you may be in need of is not a new job, but a paradigm shift. Pray that God gives it to you, that you would start seeing instead of that you have to go to work to make money to put food on the table to create this lifestyle that the American Dream has told you that you need, that you get to go to work for his glory. Maybe it would be a paradigm shift that instead of being angry and frustrated at this job that you’re pouring your life into and nobody appreciates you, that you’re not doing it for them, that you give your job itself to God. And like Otto, maybe the fruit that you’re trying to produce for yourself at work, once you give it to God, he’ll start producing that fruit. And I promise you, God can produce better pineapples. He can produce better work production. He can grow a church. He can do anything and everything better than we can if we would see it the way he sees it and just give it to him.

                                Would you give ownership this week of your job and your vocation to God? If you say, I will, the next question is, how do I do it? That’s the real question. Here’s where it gets hard. It’s not going to happen. It could. I mean, you could give it to him this week and you could see everything that’s associated with your job in one day as God’s, but that’s probably not going to happen. It didn’t happen that way for me, by the way. I listened to The Pineapple Story because I needed it. You may need to listen to The Pineapple Story because you need it.

                                I had to listen to the story, I’m just being real with you this morning, because I found myself frustrated sometimes. Did you know that the ministry is not always easy? Right? Like your job, people are hateful, they’re irrational, and sometimes what they say is mean. You have expectations that you set for yourself. And yes, in the ministry sometimes you don’t meet them. It can be a job like anything else. And my vocation is no better or worse than your vocation. It’s where God called me to live out my salvation just like you. And so, if you’re frustrated, let me encourage you because I’ve been there. Give your vocation to God. And here’s how you do it one day at a time, one step at a time. Here’s what I want you to do this week. Here’s my challenge. Instead of saying, “God, I’m giving you all of it.” You can try that. But here’s something a little easier, more bite sized.

                                Think of two things that you hate about your job. And I know that’s a strong word, and I’m sorry, but you may feel like that. Think of two things that you hate about your job this week, and today when you go home or tomorrow morning when you wake up, ask for a paradigm shift in those two things. One of them may be a boss. One of them may be a coworker. One of them may be a computer or a computer program. I heard in the first service, “Mine’s traffic, Pastor.” Okay, maybe it’s traffic. Maybe it’s not even getting to work that frustrates you, maybe it is getting to work. Whatever, pick two things that you hate about your job and say, “Lord, these are yours, like the pineapple garden. This is one thing I give to you and here’s another thing I give to you.” Maybe it’s so bad, you need to start with one.

                                Some of you are sitting right now thinking this, “I need to change jobs.” Maybe. You may need to change jobs to where you feel like this is where God called you to live out your salvation. But more likely, you just need to have a paradigm shift in the job that you’re already in because there’s people there. And where there’s people there needs to be gospel power. Where there’s people, there needs to be love. Where there’s people, there needs to be understanding. Where there’s people, there needs to be grace. And where there’s hardship, that means you can get refinement, even if you don’t even talk to a person and it’s hard. That means God wants to use it to refine you. Where you’re at right now, today, I don’t know about tomorrow, is where God wants you to be. Leverage it for his glory.

                                Church, work is good, but not only do I want you to see that work is good. I also want you to see that work is worship. Did you know that how you do your job is worship? For Adam and Eve, it was how they cultivated the ground. For Adam and Eve, it was how they managed the plants and the animals. It was their ruling and subduing is how they worshiped God. So, here’s my question for you, how do you worship God when you leave here today? For you, it may be in a classroom. For many of you, it’s in some kind of work environment. How do you worship God at work and through work is my real questions.

                                Colossians 3:23 says, whatever you do, do it heartily as if you’re doing it for the Lord rather than for men. So, how do you clean the floors? That’s how you worship God. How you build the house, how you teach the children at home, how you run your business, how you dig the holes, how you learn in the classroom, how you perform on the athletic field. Ladies and gentlemen, all of that is worship. So, make a paradigm shift and realize that it’s all God’s. And you’re not doing it for them, you’re doing it for him.

                                Would it change how you went to work and how you perform your job this week, instead of the brute that is your supervisor, I’m not being offensive to him or her, but it was God that was looking over your shoulder? Would it change anything at all? Well, I think it would because it did for me. And that’s not just something that you can pretend. That’s actually true. That’s what Paul says, you do it for God and not for man. So, how do you worship at work? How do you treat your clients? How do you deal with your employees? How do you speak about your boss? How do you speak to your children? How do you interact with your coworkers? When you answer those questions, whatever the answer is, that’s how you are worshiping God at work.

                                A great way to start worshiping God at work with a proper perspective is this, I think this is going to help you a lot. Stop drawing your identity from your vocation, and that’s speaking to somebody this morning. See, when you let your identity come from your place of employment, when it goes good, you feel good. And when it goes bad, you feel bad. But if you do good work, it doesn’t make you good. And if you do bad work, it doesn’t make you bad. Why? Because your identity is not in your work. Your identity is in Christ. You can’t be good on your own, and without Christ, you’re already bad.

                                Someone that has done a good job of dealing with this is a very young man. I heard an interview with him this week. His name is Trevor Lawrence. Anybody recognize his name? He’s actually the quarterback for the Clemson Tigers and they have a national championship battle this week with Alabama on national television tomorrow night. You want to talk about pressure. You want to talk about a big moment. This young man understands that. So when he was interviewed this week, he was asked, “How do you deal with the criticism? How do you deal with the wins and losses? How do you deal with the performance?” And he goes, “I want to be honest with you.” He says, “I love football.” But listen to this. He says, “Football is not the most important thing to me.” He said, “My faith is.” And literally, he says, “It doesn’t matter how big the situation is.” And I would say facing Alabama, that’s a big situation. He says, “It doesn’t define me.” he says, “My identity is in Christ. It’s putting my identity in what Christ says and who he says I am.” He says, “So, I tell you, the moments they’re not that big a deal for me.” “Why?” “Because they don’t define me.”

                                That’s a lot of maturity for a young man, and that’s why I’m pulling for Clemson. No, I’m just going. I couldn’t help it, Rick. I’m sorry, Lithia, sit back down. Man, listen, it doesn’t matter who you’re pulling for, that’s how you worship God on the athletic field. That’s how you worship God at work. Don’t you dare let your job performance define you. Don’t you dare let the amount of money that you make or that you don’t make be your identity. Your identity is in Christ. And if your identity is in Christ, then you can go to work and worship him there, and it doesn’t have to affect you the way that it is that I see it affecting you, that I saw it affecting me. Work is good. Work is worship.

                                And finally, I want to tell you … and this is a tough one, but it’s true. Work is sanctifying. “That’s a big word, Pastor. What does sanctifying mean?” “Well, sanctification.” “That’s great, thanks.” What does sanctification mean? Here’s simply put, it’s the process of God making you holy. If you want to look at it in the form of a man, it’s the process of God making you more like the perfect man who is Jesus Christ. A very simple definition of sanctification is becoming more like Christ. Did you realize that the process of sanctification doesn’t happen only on a Sunday morning? For your children back there, we’re just getting started with that hour. You’ve got to continue the process of spiritual formation at home. For you as a teenager, as an adult, you’re not going to become sanctified by showing up an hour or two a week. It’s not going to happen.

                                God uses your vocation, what you do when you leave here as the primary mode of making you more like Christ. That’s what you need to hear, because what matters is what you learn here, yes. I’m equipping you, the saints. But out there is where it matters most because that’s where you’re doing the work of the ministry. Cody gave me a great quote this week and I want to read it to you. “Work is the anvil that God uses to forge his people into his image.” How about that? Write that down. Work is the anvil that God uses to forge his people into his image. Why do I like it so much? Because I love knife making. I love forging. I love that show Forged In Fire. It’s just right up my alley, I think that’s why he gave me the quote. Thank you, Cody.

                                That’s a beautiful description of sanctification being used through your work. But if the steel had feelings that lays upon the anvil of God reforming you, you know what it would say? “Ouch.” How do you think it feels to get heated up? To get stressed out, and to get literally hammered upon? It doesn’t always feel good, but like I said earlier, not everything that hurts you is bad for you. Not everything that heats you up is bad for you. Not everything that stretches you is bad for you. Not every hammer mark in your life is to be avoided. I love knives, really do. I love the process of them being forged. I love a knife where you can tell that it’s been touched by a blade smith. I love that when they leave the hammer marks on the knife. Why? Because I know that they master smith or the blade smith has been there, that their hand touched that blade.

                                Some of you are going to go to work this week at home in your pajamas, or you’re going to go to school, or you’re going to make that long drive to Dallas and it’s going to feel like you’re just getting hammered. You’re going to walk home and be like, “Look at that hammer mark on my spirit.” Maybe it’s physical, literally. “Look at that mark on my skin,” and you’re going to want to avoid those marks. You’re going to want to quite. I want to tell you, if those hammer marks are part of the refining process, you should be proud of them. It’s not easy being the clay in the hands of the potter. It’s not always comfortable being the stone in the hands of the stonemason. It’s not always comfortable being the steel in the hands of the master blade smith, but that’s where you want to be. And God is using your work and the hardship of your work, though it may be uncomfortable, to refine you and to shape you into the tool that he wants you to be.

                                So, accept it. Look at the paradigm of work in a different way, that it’s good, that you worship him there. That it’s a part of the sanctification process. Now, this is just the beginning. There’s a whole lot that goes into the sanctifying process of you being at work. Like, who you work with. Do they need the Gospel? How you bring God glory at work. There’s lots of other things we’re going to get into, not just with the work life, but all kinds of things beyond Sunday. But today, I just wanted to focus on your vocation. You know the word vocation, it comes from the Latin that means to be called. I have a vocation, it happens to be pastoral ministry. You have a calling as well. It’s what you’re doing right now. Unless you’re in sin, then you just stop doing that. That’s not your vocation. Right? God didn’t say vocation is sinning. No. Where do you go on Monday morning? What do you do? That’s your calling. You may need to stop trying to get out of it and start living in it. God is good, Church. God created work. Therefore, work is good. Work is worshiping, yes. Work is sanctifying. Would you take the challenge to wake up tomorrow morning, or whenever you go to work, maybe it’s tomorrow evening, whatever it is. Maybe you look at Monday morning a little different.