Christianity is unique among religions because it exalts work and gives it dignity.  So come meditate on the wonder of godly work.
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Working Out Your Salvation

How Christianity promotes the spirit of industry

An industrious spirit is one of Scripture's chief virtues.
It is right there at the beginning.  As soon as Adam had opened his eyes God put a shovel in his hand and said, “Go take dominion.”  

The idealized woman in Proverbs 31 tires you out just reading about all that she does in a day.  Her productivity begins long before the sun awakes, and she is still going after it has fallen asleep.  

Work is embedded in Sinai’s law too.  â€œSix days shall you labor and do all your work.” And, just in case you missed it, “Thou shall not steal.”  That’s God’s way of telling you to get off your rump and get a job because you are not allowed to mooch off other people.

Theologians have often talked about the Protestant work ethic, and with good reason.  That’s because Scripture offers a full and comprehensive doctrine of vocation (i.e. “calling.”).

Prior to the Reformation, Catholicism had divided life into the sacred and the secular.  Those things that mattered were those associated with “spiritual” things (read Church).  Secular people, like farmers and blacksmiths, were thought to be carnally oriented.

As you might guess, it is a little tough to work under those conditions.  When people see their work as unspiritual drudgery, they lose some of their occupational gusto.

In pagan lands, work often considered to be inherently evil, or, at the very least, it is a necessary evil.  Just think of the fellow who lives for the weekend.  His god is his pleasure.  Work is something to be escaped and avoided.  In sum, pleasure is everything, and work is to be limited to only necessary amounts for survival.

Or how about the pantheistic person who advocates his environmentalism?  His main work is to limit as much work as possible so that man does not interfere with the creation/god.

Christianity stands out as unique for this reason: work is godly activity that is to be enjoyed, pursued, and expanded.  Work is exalted by God and blessed by Him when lawfully undertaken.  

Being that this is so, we wish to encourage you to “work heartily, as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23), and may this brief study in the doctrine of work be useful to that end.

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Manure is Good for the Soul

Work as spiritual remedy

A parishioner frequently came to Martin Luther for counsel.  He struggled with melancholy, or what we would today call depression.  

On one such occasion, Luther upbraided this fellow saying, “Saddle up the horses and start spreading the manure!”

This might seem almost hostile, but it was actually good pastoral advice. Luther understood that this man was neglecting his employment (farming). He was opening the door to idleness and allowing his mind to stew upon unhealthy thoughts, which only allowed his melancholy to fester.

In Luther's eyes work is therapeutic.  Such wisdom is no doubt in keeping with Proverbs 19:15, which says, “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep.”

The premise of the proverb is that mental vigor is lost through inactivity. The mind begins to shut down and, in time, the body becomes dreary.  

In contrast, godly activity sets in motion your body’s internal system.  You produce endorphins that stimulate the healthy mental activity and physical vitality.

Jay Adams is a pastor and professional Christian counselor.  Over the years he has counseled many women who have struggled with sullenness and depression.  The first question he usually asks her has to do with the laundry.  Was it being done in timely fashion?  

The answer is usually no.  He would then send these women home with the command to get it done before the next session. Surprisingly, most of these women report back that they feel great.  

The problem was that these women had neglected their duties around the house.  Instead of working they were eating too many potato chips, playing too much Facebook, and watching too many soap operas.  Once they put down their phones and concentrated on their callings as housewives, things quickly changed.

Adams recognized that a housewife doesn’t have her time budgeted as rigorously as someone who is out in the workforce.  Idleness is able to creep in much more easily.  His diagnosis is that a house wife needs to be extra vigilant to not doddle and become unproductive.

The same holds true for young people and retired folks.  There are many kids who are diagnosed with depression. Some of this is likely do to the fact that they stare at their X-box for extended amounts of time, click through YouTube videos, or even sit through endless hours of schooling.  

Men who are retired fall prey to this as well.  After they quit their jobs, they have little with which occupy themselves.  They seem aimless as they do not have any regimented daily goals.  Such inactivity can easily breed a mental and physical palsy.

While not every form of sullen spirit may be cured by work, the Lord has laid out for us a good remedy to keep in mind.  The blues may be battled by good old fashioned labor.

Work, Gifts, & Discipline

God's provision stimulates work

One of the ways we can see that God has called us to work is through our unique gifting.  God equips us each with the ability to serve by endowing us with our respective talents and sphere of mastery.  

The mother comes equipped with special patience.  The plumber finds pleasure in the use of his wrench.  The computer geek finds the tedium of digits & bytes exhilarating.  

These special powers and the ability to exercise them effectively are divine in their origin.  Since this is so, we ought to remember three things:

First, we ought to make it our aim to maximize our talents.  This is because these gifts are the means God uses to accomplish his purposes in the world!  

Some have said that this is God’s way of “hiding” himself in the world.  Martin Luther makes this point in his development of the Christian doctrine of “vocation.”  

Luther explains that God could give us our daily bread like he gave the manna to the Israelites.  But instead, he uses the labors of the farmer, miller, and baker to produce it.  In each case bread is served by the hand of God. However, the latter exemplifies it in a more “hidden” way.

To put it in Luther’s own words, “God himself is milking the cows through the vocation of the milkmaid.” 

If this is true, then ought we not to employ ourselves diligently to accomplish the acts of God.

Secondly, we should remember that sloth is a severe sin in the eyes of God.  Throughout the book of Proverbs the sluggard is rebuked with stinging force.  Why is this?  It is because he refrains from the use of his gifts & graces.  His negligence is reprehensible because he scorns the gifts God has given him.

This is certainly reinforced with the parable of the talents that Jesus told.  It is interesting to note that the wicked servant in that parable wasn’t punished because he did anything overtly wrong. He was punished because he did nothing!    

If we continue our line of thinking from above, we understand that slothfulness is, in a real sense, putting a restraint on the work of God!  No wonder the sluggard is so hated!  

Thirdly, we should keep in mind that the Bible never says that our personal preferences should be what guides or determines our work.  

For instance, we might not like digging ditches.  We might even say that it isn’t our “gift.”  Our personal pleasure might be found in our knack for painting.  However, digging ditches might be what puts supper on the table.  

Painting certainly shouldn’t be put off altogether.  You will want to see the Lord honored in it and make every effort to make something profitable come from it.  Nevertheless, your calling to provide food for your family takes precedence. 

In sum, the Bible just tells us to work.  It doesn’t care whether or not we like it or not.  That’s what makes work a discipline.  Work is something at which we work.  Though we might not necessarily like what we are doing we are to do it, and that for the glory of God.

Monthly Couples Fellowship & Study

You are invited to join us for our monthly couples fellowship/study this Saturday.  

We will be meeting at Panera in Wooster (directions) at 5:15 p.m. Afterwards we will go over to the Davenports for our study.  [If you stay for dinner and study, feel free to join us for one or the other.]

We have just started into the Love and Respect DVD series by Emerson & Sarah Eggerichs.  This series seeks to bring couples closer together by unfolding the dynamics of male/female relationships as it is set forth in Ephesians 5:33.
"Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

Couples study meets every second Saturday of the month at a designated location, and is open to anyone who would like to come.

"Whatever you do,
do it all
for the glory of God."
Col. 3:17


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Women's Bible Study

Our ladies meet monthly to study Scripture together and encourage one another as wives and mothers.  Feel free to join in each 2nd Thursday of the month from 9:30-11:00.

For more information and for location details, email us!
"Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house." 
Prov. 24:27
This proverb teaches the necessity of prioritizing your life:  Before you build a house—and before you jump into a marriage where you begin building a home, you need to make sure you have solidified appropriate means. 

In sum, financial stability needs to be in order before you enjoy the perks of life.

Yet this proverb contains an even deeper truth.  It reminds us that all of our life must be brought under the dominion of Christ.  Whether it is our occupations (fields), our marriages (home), our luxuries (house), all of it is “sprinkled with drops of God’s glory” (CS Lewis) and should be undertaken in that light.

One might even be able to see further ripples in the proverb’s range of meaning. "Preparing everything” may in fact imply some form of political activity, education, scientific and technological inquiry. 

If anything, this proverb reminds us that God is concerned that we manage every detail of our lives in an orderly fashion and with the utmost care.   

When looked at in this light, we are reminded that God takes pleasure in every aspect of our lives.  He owns it and seeks to have it rightly governed it so that it might be ordered for His Name’s sake.

This is what lead Puritan pastor Richard Baxter to say, “This interest of God in your lowest, and hardest, and servilist labour, doth make it honourable and should make it sweet.”

What does this mean?  It means there is no menial labor with Christ.  Flipping hamburgers at a fast food chain is not a dead end job to the Lord.  It is a place where Christ rules and is glorified. 

That the Lord has such interest in plowing fields and architectural tedium reminds us that all of life is holy to the Lord.  There is not one aspect of life that is “more spiritual” than another.

To that end, it is interesting what the proverb does not say.  It doesn’t say, “Forget the fields and let someone else build your house, just go preach the gospel.”  This is the mistake made by many fundamentalist churches.  These brethren see the ministry as more God glorifying than anything else in life. 

While saving souls is an important calling, it is not any more sanctified than any other vocation.  Perhaps William Tyndale put it best when he said, “There is a difference between washing of dishes and preaching of the word of God, but in so far as which pleases God more, there is no difference.”

Whether it be designing a new software, preaching in the far jungles of Brazil, or changing a diaper, all of these are noble callings.  They are means of kingdom work.
"Fear God 


work hard."

David Livingstone
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Come Worship at Providence Church

Service Time:  10:30
Location:           55 Maine Street
                             Mifflin, OH 44805

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