Devotionals

Devotionals

2016 – 1st Quarter:

““For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you so that you would follow our example.” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9, NAS)

In business, a key strategy for the development of an employee is mentoring. Typically, an employee is paired with a more seasoned veteran. The seasoned vet’s job is to provide insight, guidance, and wisdom to his/her protégé. The mentee’s job is to watch how the seasoned vet acts, how they talk, how they conduct their business. The mentee is soaking in the verbal wisdom, as well as the non-verbal behaviors of their mentor. The end goal is for the mentee to develop professionally and be in a position to become a mentor to less experienced employees.

For many believers, we also have a spiritual mentor. This is someone who is a little further along in their walk; someone who provides spiritual wisdom and guidance to promote our spiritual growth. However, often times our professional mentor and our spiritual mentor are not the same. In fact, often these two aspects of our world are so far separated, that even the thought of combining them seems awkward and uncomfortable.

Paul absolutely shatters that sentiment in 2 Thessalonians. When Paul was in Thessalonica he worked in a “secular” job. It is often believed that Paul and his companions worked making tents; however Paul does not mention his specific job here. Why is that? Because the job itself was not what was important to Paul; it was the opportunity for ministry that attracted him. As a spiritual leader, Paul had more than enough reason to collect monetary support for his spiritual ministry, however for the greater good of his converts in Thessalonica, Paul forfeited that right. He wanted to provide a model of how to live the Christian life in their daily business and routine. He wanted to provide spiritual mentoring in a business environment.

What does it look like to be a spiritual mentor in a business environment? What model did Paul set for us to emulate in the workplace? The text doesn’t say, but we can draw some conclusions from the rest of the Bible. I imagine that Paul strongly reflected the character of Christ in everything he did in business. The way he loved his coworkers, the way he demonstrated leadership, the way he defined success. These are all things we can do that reflect Christ appropriately in the workplace. It is a way of working in ministry, while working in business. It is a way to mentor those younger in the faith about how to reflect a Christ-like character even if conventional culture doesn’t.

The start of the new year always brings about resolutions. Promises we make to ourselves that are aimed at making us better. In 2016, CCEM wants to encourage all of us here on campus to partake in the ministry opportunity we have here every day. This does not mean we need to verbally preach the Word to everyone we meet at all times. This does mean that we need to reflect on the character of Christ, and on our own character, to determine where the gaps are. If you are anything like me, I am sure you may find more gaps than you were hoping. Identifying those gaps, and acknowledging them, is just one step in our Christian walk as we aim to become more like Him.

In light of this effort, the Living Your Faith at Work video series (mentioned above) will provide examples of ways some of our peers have found to live their faith, and to reflect the character of Christ, here at work. It is a form of knowledge transfer, lessons learned, and mentoring. The series is meant to inspire and encourage each of us as we reflect on how we may become more like Christ here at work.

2015 – 4th Quarter:

“It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and will present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:13-15 NIV)

Have you ever reflected on why you go to church? Why do you show love to your neighbor? Why do you help a brother or sister in need? The quick and easy answer is, “because we are commanded to,” which is true, but let’s look at that a little deeper.

How do you feel when you are commanded to do something? To me it feels like I am being forced to comply. Do you think God wants us to feel like we are obligated to follow His commands? Do you think Jesus’s death was one big guilt trip that God is playing on us so that we would finally obey Him?

Of course not! The truth is that was never God’s intention. Jesus’s death was an act of immense love and mercy on a sinful people. God does not want us to have that hanging over our heads to guilt us into obeying, or to do good deeds in His name. So then why should we obey, why should we do good deeds in His name?

The answer lies in what Paul wrote to the Corinthians. God showed us grace so that we would be overflowing with thanksgiving. In fact, the word Paul uses for grace in Greek is charis; the word he uses for thanksgiving is eucharistian. Grace is literally at the heart of thanksgiving (how cool is that!). This was not an accident; Paul was trying to show the Corinthians the vital connection between grace and thanksgiving.

It is with intense thanksgiving that we respond to God. It is with intense thanksgiving that we obey Him; it is with intense thanksgiving that we carry on His will on earth. I know this may sound like semantics, but having a subtle change of perspective will change the way we interact with God. A change of attitude will change how we feel. How we feel will affect our demeanor. A change in demeanor will impact how we reflect the light of Christ to the world and bringing glory to the one who is full of unlimited grace.
So as we enter this season of thanks and giving, let’s all reflect on how we respond to the amazing grace that our father has poured out abundantly on us. Merry Christmas!

2015 – 3rd Quarter:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their numbers daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2: 42-47 NIV)

Acts chapter 2 gives us a beautiful picture of the early church in Jerusalem. Believers (New and Old) would come together daily in fellowship to eat, teach, pray, and praise God. The early Church’s persistence in these activities demonstrated that they felt a strong need for these activities in their daily lives. They were in awe of the works that God was doing through the Church, deepening their faith and fellowship. The early Church members sold their property in order to help each other and lived in community. They enjoyed unity in the Spirit and God added to their numbers daily.

This passage not only gives us a glimpse into the history of the Church, but it also should serve as a model for us to emulate. Now I am not suggesting we all sell everything and live communally and neither is the Bible (you can all exhale now!). Communal living was voluntary and temporary in the Jerusalem Church. No other New Testament Church practiced communal living as intensely as the Jerusalem Church did and the New Testament never commands such a thing. The purpose for Luke’s mention of this is to emphasize the love the members of the Jerusalem Church had for one another and the sacrifices they made for their brothers and sisters.

What I am suggesting is that we should take note of the love each member had for one another and how they relied on each other. The body of Christ is designed for community! We are designed to be in fellowship with our brothers and sisters, not to go at it alone. We need each other for encouragement, to study together, to praise God together, to sanctify and edify His body. We need our brothers and sisters in our times of need, our times of joy, and our times of apathy… and they need you. The body of Christ grows stronger with each member working in unity with one another; it needs every part!

Are you connected with the body? Are you in fellowship with your brothers and sisters on a regular basis? Do you see a new face (maybe a new face to campus!) who looks lost and could use your fellowship and prayer? Or is your “Christian Fellowship Time” only reserved for Sunday mornings? One hour a week was not enough for the early Church and I suggest it is not enough now either. The more we live/work/praise/cry/pray/sing together as a community, the more we will see the amazing things God is doing in the body.

2015 – 2nd Quarter:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-12)

He is risen!…He is risen indeed! Every time I hear those words shouted the Spirit inside of me jumps a little with excitement. And how appropriate it is that we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior in the spring. A time where the dark, cold, lifelessness of winter suddenly turns into sun, warmth and a renewal of life.

With the world coming to life again around us, I can’t help but think about the spiritual life of a believer. How is your spiritual life? Are you in the spring season with a sense of renewed hope that comes when we reflect on the resurrection? Or are you still stuck in the coldness of winter?

The truth is every believer will go through spiritual cycles throughout this life. David knew that and he pleaded with God for a more faithful, stronger spirit than that of his own natural being, which had an inclination to run from God (Psalm 51). Fortunately for believers today, the justifying work of Christ on the cross has us, “marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13) that will never be taken from us. Though we may “quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19), we will always have God with us and can rejoice in the joy of His salvation.

Our prayer this quarter is that our community would have a heart like David’s, a deep desire to know God and draw nearer to Him, to feel a sense of renewed hope because of the work that Christ has done for us; and the faith to place the control of our lives in the hands of our Creator. So once again I leave you with a question, how is your spiritual life?

2015 – 1st Quarter:

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10: 24-25)

Do you feel encouraged at work? I am not talking about encouragement that comes with the praise of your supervisor for your thorough report, or from your work mentor who is helping you drive towards your career goals. I am talking about spiritually encouraged. Do you feel like you’re free and open to express your faith at work or is that something that needs to be checked at the door?

Whose responsibility is it to spiritually encourage our brothers and sisters at ExxonMobil? It’s not your pastor’s responsibility, and it’s not just the responsibility of the small group leaders on your campus; it is a mutual responsibility for all of the members of the body here at ExxonMobil. We are all called to be the spiritual encouragement for our fellow brothers and sisters around us, exhorting them towards love and good deeds; that they may reflect the light of Christ here at ExxonMobil.

How can you encourage your fellow brothers and sisters on your campus? That is something that each of us need to prayerfully consider each day as we walk through this life. It starts with building a community of believers; a community that is more than just a smile as we pass in the halls, but one where we genuinely care for one another. Maybe that means taking just 1 hour a month to meet with brothers and sisters for lunch, maybe it means getting coffee every Friday morning, maybe it is attending a small group.

There is no prescribed formula on how to build a genuine community, but it can be a great blessing to those involved.

How can you help our community grow? I don’t mean by numbers, I mean how can you help grow a genuine Christian Community at ExxonMobil? As our community grows, others will take notice. When the light of Christ is being reflected it is hard to ignore its impact. As our community’s reflectiveness increases, so will the encouragement. As our community grows genuinely, the gospel will be spoken without the use of words.

2014 – 4th Quarter:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

As the year approaches an end and our days get shorter, it seems as though our “To Do” list begins to get longer. At work, we have year-end project deadlines, reporting requirements, and 2015 planning approvals that need to be completed. At home, we are attempting to coordinate holiday logistics, find the perfect presents for our family and friends, and brace for the “cold” weather approaching. Yes, it is the end of the year and once again it seems as though our stress levels are at an all-time high.

At this time, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle of the world and our daily schedules. However, now more than ever, it is important to ensure that we have put aside time to be with God. Whether that time is spent studying His word, praying, enjoying fellowship with other Christians, etc., it is amazing the true “rest” that the Lord can provide and just how refreshed you can feel after truly connecting with Him.