Labor Day is a national holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. Its purpose is to honor the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country. The American worker has helped create the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known. It is fitting that we have a holiday to honor them.
Just as America needs its work force, our Lord needs those who will labor for Him. Paul wrote to Timothy about his labor for the Lord in 2 Timothy 2:3-6. He says: “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops”. He describes our work for God as comparable to 3 distinct occupations.
We labor for the Lord as a soldier. Soldiers endure hardness. Just as those who go to war will face unbelievable difficulties, those who serve our Lord need to realize they too will face extreme challenges. Soldiers are accountable to their officers. We who serve in the Lord’s army live to please our Great Commander. We also are called to labor as an athlete. Rigorous discipline is part of an athlete’s life. He denies himself certain things so he will perform better at his task. Athletes are also required to compete according to the rules lest they become disqualified. But they can look forward to receiving some type of reward for their persistence. What a challenge for those who serve the Lord. We are also called to labor as a hard working farmer who exercises patience before he can partake of the fruit of his labor.
Many communities chose to honor their workers by throwing them a parade to thank them for their labor. One day when we reach heaven our Lord will honor his laborers with these words: “well done, good and faithful servant”.
The pastor invited some guests to his home after a busy Sunday of ministry. He got home and rested his weary body deep into his recliner. He then promptly took off his shoes and socks. The pastor’s wife reprimanded her husband explaining that we have guests. The pastor replied: “Dear, don’t you know the Bible says my feet are beautiful”. Of course he we was referring to Isa. 52:7 which says: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, "your God reigns!” Those who carry good news to people who are distressed are described as having beautiful feet. The New Testament application of this passage of course refers to those who carry the good news of salvation found only in Jesus Christ.
Those beautiful feet are said to be upon the mountains in that verse in Isaiah. To me this refers to the wide distribution of the good news. We are to share the news of God’s forgiveness and grace to those who are spread all over the world. The mountains, the valleys, the cities, the villages all need to receive the message. I also see that the gospel of Christ brings peace. This peace is not a worldwide peace when everyone lays down their weapons of war. That will come one day, but it is a peace that God gives us in our hearts. Jesus promised to give us His peace, a peace that passes all understanding. The good news we are called to share also has the message that our God still reigns. No matter how things seem to be falling apart in our world around us just knowing that God is still on the throne truly is good news.
Take a look at your own feet. They may be old or young. They may be wrinkled, tired or sore from constant use. But if you are carrying the good news of the gospel of Jesus to lost and lonely people your feet truly can be called beautiful.
One morning I woke up with double vision. I had no idea what was wrong so I went to an ophthalmologist. As he examined my eye he referred me to a neurophtalmologist. My diagnosis was a palsy of one of the optic nerves. There was nothing they could do for me but told me the condition would probably go away in about 3 months. In the meantime I had to wear a patch on my eye to deal with the double vision. Seeing out of one eye was a chore for driving, reading, preaching and a host of little things that I could do effortlessly before. Tying a fish hook and killing flies were impossible. Finally after 3 months my vision returned and I was able to take off the patch and see normally.
As I pondered my eye patch summer I learned to appreciate some things in a new way. The first thing that comes to mind is the awesomeness of God’s creative genius. God gave us two eyes that work together to give us a full range of vision. When my field of vision was limited I began to be extremely grateful for my ability to see. I marvel at how God has designed our bodies to heal themselves. My summer of the patch also taught me to have more compassion for others with medical issues. I soon learned many other people have vision limitations and I gained a greater sense of compassion for them. Another lesson I learned was a sense of dependence. I had to depend much more on my wife helping me with driving and other chores. My independent, self-motivated spirit was tempered somewhat by learning to lean. Prov. 3:5,6 tells us to: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths”.
All of us have eye patches. We have limitations that keep us back. That is when we can learn how much we need the Lord in our daily lives. Lean on Him every day.
When I was a child I used to enjoy taking a long walk in the woods. Sometimes the path was well marked and sometimes it had grown up quite a bit. On the path that I walked was an old enormous beech tree. Beech trees have smooth bark which many love struck teens take advantage of. They carve their initials in the tree and come back later to see their work expanded. You might call them scars of love. All around that tree I saw the initials of lovers who pledged their faithfulness to another. I remember seeing one set of initials that had a mark through them and a new set of initials freshly inscribed. Our love interests do have a tendency to change.
I was reading in Isaiah about the kind of love God has for His people. Isaiah 49:15,16 says: "Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…” Even the greatest of human loves may fail. Yet God’s love for us will never fail. Those romance inspired teens carved their initials into the bark of that old beech tree. Our God is said to have carved our names on the palms of His hands. The trees will get old and die but God is eternal and so is His love for those who are His own. I think of Jesus our Savior who loved the world so much that He went to the cross to demonstrate it. When He was crucified, His love for us allowed the nails to be driven into the palms of His hands. Those scars of love were still visible even in His resurrection body.
Our great God loves us so much that He describes it for us by engraving our names on His palms. Our wonderful Savior loves us so much that He walked the path to Calvary’s tree and bore the nails in His hands. You and I will never be worthy, but we can be forever grateful for those scars of love.
Every couple of months I look for an opportunity to be a blood donor. I don’t mind the stick of the needle and I get a free cholesterol check as well. I was chatting with the guy who was taking my blood and we began to discuss the benefits of being a blood donor. He described for me how regular blood donors have less occurrences of certain types of diseases. As my pint of blood collected in the bag I realized that the greatest benefits of this blood will be realized by someone else. My blood donation could quite possibly save someone’s life.
Have you ever thought that the greatest blood donor of all time was our Lord Jesus Christ? He bled while giving His life for the sins of the world on the cross. All through the Old Testament every animal that was sacrificed to cover sins looked forward to the one great sacrifice of Christ on the cross. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says: “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”. Also 1 John 1:7 tells us: “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin”. We are redeemed, we are forgiven, we are justified, we are cleansed, and we are made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection secures our pardon. But we must choose to accept that pardon. Just as the children of Israel had to apply the blood of the lamb as protection from the death angel we must personally accept Jesus as our Savior.
In two months I will find another Big Red Bus and give my pint of blood. Perhaps it may save someone’s life. But only the blood of Jesus can save our soul. Our Savior is always looking for those who will receive the greatest sacrifice of all. He gave His blood for you, will you accept Him?
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation