16-Life in the Kingdom of God - Working For God
By Colleen Donahue
We were meant for work. Work was to be the way that we would develop God's universe in partnership with him. Doing God's work with God makes for great joy and satisfaction. It's every Kingdom of God citizen's high privilege to work with God and for God. But along with everything else that resulted from the fall, "work" became hard and joyless. Today work is almost a dirty word. It's something we do to "pay the bills" until we can do what WE want to do in the evenings, on the weekend or in retirement. So whether you're a new Kingdom of God citizen or an old one, we all need a fresh perspective on work.
THE FOUNDATION FOR ALL OUR WORK
1. What is it that makes us strong for work?
2. What is it that secures the working of God for us and in us?
3. It is this waiting upon God that must lie as the root of all work for God. Jesus is our great example in this. The Father did the work through Jesus as he lived in continual dependence upon the Father.
John 8:28 / John 14:10
Today we take pride in being independent, self-made men and women. But this is opposite to what Jesus taught. He worked only in close fellowship with the Father because He was filled with the same Holy Spirit that His Father had. To work without first waiting on God means that we do the work in our own limited strength. God's work must always be done in God's strength working through us.
4. Why can we always count on God's strength for our work? These verses list two reasons.
THE GREAT PURPOSE OF OUR WORK
Have you ever developed and made something for a specific use and then found that it actually worked and did the very thing you made it to do? I can tell you from experience that it makes one feel completely gratified and happy.
5. God, as our Creator has made everyone of us for a special purpose and when He sees us using our gifts and talents to do what He planned them for what happens?
1 Peter 4:11
Praise and glory are the main things that we as God's children can give back to Him. The Father pours into us his blessings and talent, we receive them and yield them to Him so He can work through us and then we acknowledge that all the results are because He has done His work using us! We have the fun of being used by God and He has the joy of using you and I to accomplish his plans and purposes. The more we depend on God alone for our strength, the more He will be glorified.
6. How did Jesus being glory to His Father while He was on earth?
And so it will be the same with us.
GOD WORKS AS A LIGHT IN THE WORLD
7. Originally our mandate from God was to "be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue (or govern) it." (Genesis 3:28-30). That is still our mandate. But the entrance of sin in the universe caused a detour as man forfeited his dominion to Satan. Therefore Satan has become the god of this world. Today there are millions of men and women who are dead in their sins, without God, and therefore without purpose as to why they are even here. Why has this happened?
2 Corinthians 4:4
8. For those of us who have become reconciled to God through Jesus and are part of his kingdom again, we are called to be part of bringing lost souls back to God se we can all get on with our purpose for living.
1 Peter 2: 9,12
9. Since Satan has blinded the eyes of unbelievers it will take light to pierce the darkness. And what is this light?
1 Corinthians 3:16 / 1 Corinthians 6:19 / 2 Corinthians 4:6-7
10. The light is nothing less than the King dwelling within his citizens. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:6-7, that even though our bodies are like fragile clay jars, they contain the great treasure of Christ's Spirit. Jesus is both our life and our light because he dwells within us.
John 1: 4-5 / John 8:12
11. What does Jesus call those of us who have his Spirit indwelling our own?
12. Jesus tells us that we are placed where we are to be a light. And how will this light manifest itself to others?
It is the light of our good works that will conquer the surrounding darkness with its ignorance of God and alienation from Him. The unsaved around us need to see the light of good deeds so that they can find their way to God. And God needs us to let His glory be seen through us.
13. So while the original mandate of God is still there to be fulfilled, it's now part of our work to draw as many lives back to Him as will come so that we can all get on with our role in developing God's universe. This makes every Kingdom of God citizen an ambassador. An ambassador represents their government while living in a foreign country. We represent the Kingdom of God on earth. What is our work as ambassadors for God?
2 Corinthians 5:17-20
Our main work in these days of grace is the task of delivering the message of reconciliation. God wants us to be right with Him so that we can ALL get back to walking with God while developing his universe.
TO EACH ONE ABILITY AND WORK
14. Every believer has the calling to live and work for the Kingdom of God. No one can be left out because the Master has entrusted his work to all of us. This parable illustrates this.
Jesus is the man going on a long trip -- back to His Father in Heaven. He has given his Kingdom of God citizens a work to do -- each with an assigned task -- to do faithfully until He comes back to earth.
15. The law of the Kingdom is that every believer is to live wholly for God's service and work. God counts on what we give him -- our time and our strength. But what does God in turn do for us?
The key to effective work for God is knowing that HIS power is at work in us doing far more than we can ever imagine!
16. Here is another parable Jesus told about the work entrusted to all Kingdom of God citizens. Read through the entire parable first and then let's look at it more closely.
-vs 14- Once again Jesus is that man going on a long journey -- back to His Father in Heaven. But before He left, it says that He entrusted his property -- His Kingdom -- to those of us in His kingdom. Jesus took us as His partners and entrusted the work He started on earth --rescuing, restoring, and developing --entirely to our care. In this way Jesus made Himself dependent on the faithfulness of His people for the extension of the Kingdom of God.
-vs 15- Talents are a measure of money and notice that Jesus distributes it "each according to his ability." While every believer without exception is set apart for the work of God, Jesus has foreseen what each of us is capable of doing and distributes to us accordingly. Paul affirms that in this verse. Ephesians 4:7
-vs 16-17- Therefore the first duty of the servants is to care for the Master's interest and not their own. Notice that both the men with the 5 talents and the 2 talents began at once to invest the money they were given so that they doubled it.
-vs 18- But the third man that dug a hole and buried his talent meant that he didn't even try to invest it so he could give the Master an increase. He represents all Kingdom of God citizens who are lazy and casual in their work for God and don't use the time, money, and talents given to expand the Kingdom of God.
-vs 19- Jesus is telling us here that though his return might seem to be a long time in coming, He will be coming back and He will hold us accountable for what He originally entrusted us with.
-vs 20-23 - You may have been given less than someone else but if you use your "talent" to the best of your abilities you will receive the same commendations. What three things does the Master award these workers? Notice that one of the rewards for work well done is more work and responsibility!
-vs 24-25 - Here we have a lazy man calling the Master a hard man and not using what he has been given out of fear he would lose the little he had. He obviously knows nothing about God's power within Him to use and bless the little he has. How many of God's children are like this man?
-vs 26-27 - What does the Master call this man? Notice that even a lazy person could have put the money in the bank to gain some interest. The fact that he didn't, made him wicked -- showing no regard for the Master or his property. In truth this man could not have been a true Kingdom of God citizen or he would have been a good steward of the money like the first two were.
-vs 28-29 - What did the Master order to be done with this lazy servant's one talent? Every branch on the vine of Christ is to bear fruit no matter how big or little. By our faith in Jesus that He will help us use even the little we have, we can be a successful worker in His kingdom. Through John's gospel Jesus gives us a similar message.
John 15:1-6 (especially vs 2 & 6)
-vs 30- These final words in the parable should snap all of us awake as to the seriousness of our situation. What does the Master call someone who won't use his gifts and talents to expand the Kingdom of God? This verse makes it clear that there will be no impostor citizens in the Kingdom of God.
17. Failure in service is caused chiefly by wrong thoughts of God and looking upon His service as that of a hard Master. Unbelief lies at the root of all laziness. But according to Paul's prayer, what will God do for us if we take even one step to work for Him?
Ephesians 3:16, 19-20
If we use it we will not lose it! Rather we will have the power to do more!
18. Life is action and it reveals itself in what it accomplishes. Without work there can be no full development of the life and this is true of the spiritual life as well. Read how Jesus put this truth for his own life.
If work is to be the means to fulfilling our life purpose, we must remember two things:
A. We have to start and that will usually mean doing whatever is at hand to do.
B. The fact that "Christ lives in me" means there is sufficient grace for all I have to do.
IT'S GOD DOING HIS WORK THROUGH JESUS AND NOW THROUGH US
19. Who did Jesus credit for all the work he was doing in his ministry among men?
This means that Christ's work was the fruit or the earthly reflection of the Father working. What we see Christ doing is what the Father wanted done and actually was doing by His Spirit within Jesus.
20. The same Spirit of God filling the Father, filled Jesus and now fills you and I as new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
According to these verses in Romans 8, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit that now fills you and I are one and the same.
21. In John 14:10, that we read in #19 above, Christ reveals the secret of all divine service: As man yields himself for God to dwell by His Spirit, God will work through him. Jesus then reveals to us the reason that we will actually be able to do greater works then he did! What is that reason?
When Jesus entered back into Heaven to be with the Father, all power and authority in both heaven and earth was given to Him as our Redeemer.
Just as the Father had worked through Jesus, so Jesus was going to work through us because God's work can only be done by God Himself. Jesus then connects the greater works the believer is to do with a promise. What is that promise?
Just as Jesus gave the Father the greatest glory by yielding to Him so He could work, so too we will give the Father the highest glory by living in absolute dependence upon the Son through whom the Father works. I will therefore be able to do the works of God by Christ abiding in me!
22. All of us have been created "in Christ". For what purpose?
We have been saved not BY good works but FOR good works. Ephesians 2:10 makes it clear that WE are God's work and therefore all the works that we do are God's as well. We exist to do the good works God has planned for us and as we do them our life develops, our fellow men are blessed, and God gets all the glory! Our good works are the means by which we glorify God.
23. Paul talks about "working out our salvation" in this verse.
This means that we walk in all the good works that God has prepared for us and therefore we work hard to show the results of our salvation (which is all by grace).
And to get us started in our good works what does God do?
First God works in us "to will". He gives us the insight as to what needs to be done. Then God works in us "to work". He doesn't put the desire in us and then leave it to us to do it alone. From start to finish in life we are meant to walk in partnership with God. Most often if we fail in our work it's because we have set about it in our own strength and haven't waited for Him. It is our highest privilege to be in unceasing dependence upon the Father and to tackle everything in the "power of HIS might".
IT IS NOT: We do our best and leave God to do the rest!
24. Every believer must have faith that God keeps His promise. He gives us the Holy Spirit, -- the same Spirit Jesus has -- to fill us so we can do our work. And how does this faith express itself?
Galatians 5:6, 13-14
25. Faith working through love. God fills us with Christ so that we can do our work full of the love that He has towards those we meet. It's what the Apostle Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus.
26. Love is the very nature of God and He wants that same nature to fill us.
Love is God's power to do his work. Love was Christ's power and therefore it must be ours as well.
27. Our WORK will be the product of God working in us and then you and I using our minds and strength to do it. FRUIT however will come spontaneously without thought or will. It is the natural outcome of a healthy life.
In the Christian life these two elements -- work & fruit -- will always be combined. Because God works in us, the work we do is fruit. And this is how we become "fruitful in every good work". It is the calling for every Christian without exception.
ABOUNDING IN THE WORK OF THE LORD
28. Christ's resurrection was the final victory over sin, death, and Satan. It's the beginning and the pledge of Christ's final victory over the earth which He will carry out through His people -- through us.
1 Corinthians 15:56-57
29. It's doing our work with the resurrected life of Christ's Spirit indwelling us that will make us strong and immovable to do the "work of the Lord". And because we know the final outcome and end victory, we can be confident in that work.
1 Corinthians 15:58
This work is telling others of the risen Lord and showing them by our own life the new life that Jesus has brought us. The work is often difficult, slow, and apparently fruitless because Satan doesn't give up anyone without a fight. But 1 Corinthians 15:58 gives us the secret of effective service. In the Lord -- in Jesus --"our labor is not in vain (or for nothing)". Jesus' strength will always work mightily in our weakness.
30. For you and I to do abounding work for God we need His abounding grace and resources. And He has promised this to us.
2 Corinthians 9:8
This verse expresses what it is to "abound". It means that we have enough for all we need with plenty left over to share with others.
31. A life abounding in good works is possible because God's grace is freely given to us, his resources are unlimited and his power to do his work within us is unbounded. Therefore we can say like Paul....
32. The main cause for failure is working in our own strength with little time for prayer and waiting upon God. Are you convinced that God is able to keep his promises and do His work through you?
Romans 4:20-21 / 1 Thessalonians 5:24
OUR MINISTRY AND OUR MISSION
33. Every Kingdom of God citizen has been given some gift to use for God's purposes. According to these verses what is God's first aim for these gifts?
Ephesians 4:11-12 (especially verse 12)
34. Those in the Kingdom of God (and thus in the Church) need to be equipped or perfected until they can stand mature and fully assured about everything that God wills.
This work of perfecting the saints is so that each one can be presented to God, perfect in Christ.
The work of the Lord has the higher end of building up His church which is the body of Christ. You can see God's wisdom in this. If a new believer stays a baby in his spiritual life -- is not taught, prayed for, corrected, and loved --- he/she will be of little use in bringing others to the Kingdom and helping to build Christ's body.
So here is the proper order of working:
A. Every believer must walk in close, humble fellowship with Christ the Head -- to be guided and empowered.
B. Then we must walk in a humble, loving fellowship with our brothers and sisters -- serving them in love. This is our ministry.
C. If we are doing A and B then this prepares us to serve the world around us -- bringing others into the Kingdom and discipling them to be solid and strong in their faith. This is our mission.
35. Jesus has made himself, as our head, absolutely dependent on his members for the growth and increase of His body. Every believer counts. Every believer has the privilege to live and labor for the increase of Christ's body.
This work starts from within. If SELF fills us then our focus is for ourselves. But if CHRIST fills us then it becomes natural to focus on HIS body.
PREPARED FOR EVERY GOOD WORK
36. When Paul wrote to his young disciple Timothy, he gave in one verse the four steps along the path to being a vessel of honor in the household of God. This verse is:
2 Timothy 2:21
Let's look at it closely. The first step along the path is having an intense desire to be cleansed from all the sin in our life. This is the negative side of things.
The second step is the positive side called sanctification - becoming holy and wholly dedicated to God. Once we are cleansed, then we can be filled with the Spirit of Jesus and partake of his holiness. The cleansing from sin secures the filling with Christ's Spirit.
2 Corinthians 7:1 / 1 Peter 1:2
This makes us suitable for the third step on the path. We become suitable for the Master to use us as HE wants.
Finally in the fourth step we are prepared and ready for every good work.
In a very real sense we become God's dedicated servants. We wait on Him for his guidance and then we work by the power that He works within us. It requires our entire surrender to be at his disposal and a joyful confidence that He will use us.
37. When we become a servant fit for the Master's use we will work hard to know our "craft" so that we will not be afraid to have our Master come and inspect his work. According to this verse what is an important part of our work?
2 Timothy 2:15
38. In our work for God everything depends upon "rightly explaining the Word of truth". The training begins for this when we personally subject ourselves to the Word of truth and experience its power.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
God's Holy Spirit is in His Word. This means that the Spirit in His Word and the Spirit in our hearts are one and the same. By the power of the Holy Spirit within us we take the Spirit filled Word and we become spiritual. This means that our life is molded by the Word and our work is directed by applying the Word. It requires a diligent commitment to studying and applying God's Word by our "indwelling tutor" -- the Holy Spirit.
The work God is undertaking is to win back men and women to Himself. Every Kingdom of God citizen is expected to take part because God does all his work through us. What God is asking of us is a heart and life fully devoted to Him in surrender and faith -- willing to do as He asks of us in the power of love. Our love for Jesus becomes the power and the measure of our love for souls.
Good works are the purpose for which we have been redeemed and they are the evidence that man has been restored to his original destiny: working with and through and in God.
The work of saving souls is God's own work and none but He can do it. However, He does all His work through us. He gives the gift of His Spirit to dwell within us and having the Holy Spirit means that we have all the grace and power we need to do the work God directs us to do. It's not that God gives a little wisdom here or a little power there for us to own at that time. No, it's a personal relationship with the indwelling Spirit of Jesus. Having Him means that we have all that we need and when we need it.
Because Jesus is the embodiment of God's saving love, saving souls is His great work. And because Christ lives within us by His Spirit, He will impart His urgency to us so that saving souls becomes our great passion as well. Jesus often helped men's bodies first but always behind that was the desire for their soul to be saved. He waited upon God, prayed and worked. Let that be our pattern as well. God will lead us to the souls He wants us to take special care of. And when He does, make them the subject of your intercession. Count upon God to answer you and He will. Remember that no prayer or work undertaken in the power of the Holy Spirit will be for nothing. God will use it all whether you see it or not.