The Christian Public Servant – “no waste of time or effort”

January 29, 2016 – Friday

Reading
1 Corinthians 15:58 (MSG) With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.

Reflection
There’s a young brother here on Life Row who has been unbearable because of his addictions. So unbearable, no one wanted to talk with him. But he reminded me of me when I was addicted. Selfish. Unclean. Far from God.

Well, a couple of Christian brothers and I did not give up on him. We stood our ground and didn’t hold back, despite his addiction and ill behavior.

Last week, he sent me a thank you note that read, “I love you.” Turns out, the work Jesus had for me and the other Christian brothers was no waste of time or effort.

This happened where I work. But what about where you work?

Today, will you stand your ground until someone learns a lesson about Christ? Will you not hold back? In addition to your job work, will you throw yourself into your Christ work?

In your Christ work, there is no waste of time or effort!

Prayer
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Thank You for not only encouraging me, but also for showing me Your heart. I will not get weary. I will not give up. I know there is no waste of time or effort when I stand my ground for Your glory. Amen.

Jimmy Davis, Jr.
Z-557 Unit N-10
Death Row
Holman Correctional Facility
Atmore, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “really not that far from paradise”

January 28, 2016 – Thursday

Reading
Isaiah 65:17-18 (NAB) See, I am creating new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered nor come to mind. Instead, shout for joy and be glad forever in what I am creating.

Reflection
In class yesterday, a young preschooler told me it was Paradise Day and “there was no rain on that day.” I have no idea where she came up with this idea, but it made me smile. After all, I tend to think of my workplace as a long way from paradise! It’s full of messy, noisy children and tired, overworked adults. But on that day, I felt incredible joy thinking about that one word – paradise – and realizing my workplace is really not that far from paradise!

Like me, you may work in less than ideal conditions — but it’s really not that far from paradise. As a Christian public servant, look past those dirty floors, that “out of order” sign on the restroom door, and your grumbling coworker.

Each day God is making your workplace part of His new earth. So truly look around. Have eyes like a child and shout for joy in what you see!

Your workplace is really not that far from paradise.

Prayer
Lord, I love You so much, and I know You are in my life and thus in my workplace. Teach me how to be open and present with You in all my thoughts and actions. Let me see a paradise for Your glory in my workplace today and every day. Like a small child, I will shout for joy and be glad forever. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Joanna Knight
MPA Candidate
Robertson School of Government
Regent University
em>Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA

The Christian Public Servant – “only test you need to pass”

January 27, 2016 – Wednesday

Reading
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Reflection
Some time ago, my husband took a big test that would give him a much-needed pay raise. He studied hard for several months. I took our two kids to different places every weekend just to give him time to learn. Unfortunately, my husband and I are both terrible test takers, and he failed. Now, he wants to take it again, and I’m trying to figure how we can pay for the test he failed, let alone pay for him to re-take it. Like most people, we live paycheck to paycheck.

Well, I got very mad at God. I screamed, “Why did You do this to us?” I cried, “How could You let him fail when You know he tried his best?” I gave up hope, questioned my faith, and even stopped praying – just to show Him how angry I was. A good friend took me aside to remind me of all my blessings: a beautiful house, a good job, two healthy kids, and a loving husband. Yet, none of that mattered because all I wanted was for my husband to pass the test and earn the extra money he deserved.

And then something happened… I read something… A glimmer of hope entered when I finally listened to God. Not job, nor house, nor even pay-raise — nothing matters other than following Him and knowing He has a plan for me and my family. And it’s only been a few weeks and the wound is still raw. I try to hold my head up high but some days are harder than others because we feel so defeated. And I wonder, should my husband take the test again? Or is this God’s way of saying there’s something else. And waiting on God’s plan really doesn’t help pay the bills.

But I’m no longer mad at Him. My husband and I will get through this with Him and become stronger because of Him. I don’t know when He’ll let us in on His plan, but that doesn’t matter. All I need to do is follow Him and have faith in His plan, not mine.

As you follow your own route to work this morning, make sure you also follow Him and have faith. It may be a rough day – shoot, it may be a rough year. Doesn’t matter. The only test you need to pass is to follow Him and have faith.

Yes, His is the only test you need to pass. Then He surely will get you where you need to go.

Prayer
Dear God, thank You for giving me the strength to go on when all I want to do is quit. I know You have a plan much brighter than I can imagine. Thank You for always standing tall and being there when I feel so alone. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Maureen Bereznak
Research Analyst
State House of Representatives
State of Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania USA

The Christian Public Servant -“like sandpaper on your heart”

January 26, 2016 – Tuesday

Scripture
Colossians 3:12 (NKJV) Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering

Reflection
I work with someone who has led a tragic life. Abuse. Dysfunctional family. Divorce. These are just some of my coworker’s problems. Patterns of life-destroying habits and decisions abound. And I’ve tried to advise this individual, but it falls on deaf ears. I’m tempted just to write this person off.

Longsuffering. Ahhhh, now that’s what scripture reminds us to be. Into your life and mine come those who seem bent on challenging our well-being or demeanor. That’s life, and there’s nothing you or me can do about it. And who knows, God may well be choosing that person to take off our own rough edges, kind of like sandpaper on your heart.

As Christian public servants, you and I are called to walk with hearts of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, and, yes, even hearts of longsuffering. And not just in dealing with the easy ones who come into the workplace. We simply don’t get to choose. Even the most troubling person, you cannot write off.

Yes, as a Christian public servant, you have to show the attributes Christ places in your heart.

So at work today, welcome that most troublesome person because God sends him to take off your own rough edges – like sandpaper on your heart.

Prayer
God, open my eyes to see You among all the people I work with. Today, give me a heart to understand Your need for my compassion and kindness in working with even those “sandpaper people.” I desire to be longsuffering in Your eyes. In Your Son’s name, I pray. Amen.

Jan Bedogne
Vice President of Finance and Human Resources
Parroco Production Group
Chesapeake, Virginia USA

The Christian Public Servant – “walk pleasing to the Lord”

January 25, 2016 – Monday

Reading
Colossians 1:10 (NKJV) Walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Reflection
There’s a correctional officer who always seems to have his bible close by. It’s not just a door stop or a paperweight on his desk. It’s always opened with turned pages. This godly man reads the Word each day at work. The Word feeds his inner spirit and guides him. So, he tends to walk pleasing to the Lord. Everyone can see this because of the manner in which he interacts with inmates, correctional officers, and others.

As Christian public servants, you and I can and should feed our inner spirit with the Word. After all, the Word is central to communing with Jesus in prayer. The Word is central in knowing how to submit to the commands of the Holy Spirit. Feeding our inner spirit with the Word will assist us in sharing the love of God with everyone. A daily indulging of the Word at work will guide us so that we can walk pleasing to the Lord.

As this workweek begins, will you feed your inner spirit so you can walk pleasing to the Lord?

Take the Word to work. It will be a much better week if you do.

Prayer
Lord, You give me legs and feet so I may walk. Give me courage to walk pleasing to You. Let my walk bring others closer to You – in my workplace and each step I take throughout the day. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Chaplain Chris Summers
W.C. Holman Correctional Facility

Alabama Department of Corrections
Atmore, Alabama  USA

The Christian Public Servant – “miss the right results”

January 22, 2016 – Friday

Reading
Luke 5:5(b)-6 (NLT) we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again. And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear!

Reflection
Simon, a fisherman, never got his nets so full as when he obeyed Jesus.

As Christian public servants, you and I must be very careful not to miss the right results intended by Jesus. It’s easy to let your job or marriage or friendship or family get in the way of following His commands. Even here on Life Row, it’s easy to let things get in the way.

Sure, doing what you think is right might still have good results, but you will miss the right results – His results. And those results are advancing His kingdom, not yours.

So today at work, don’t get too independent. Don’t stray away from Him. Don’t let things get in the way. You may work hard, but not catch a thing. You may do good, but miss the right results.

Today, follow Jesus’ commands and don’t miss the right results.

Prayer
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Continue to speak to my heart, Father, so I can not only get the right results, but also get to be used by You! Amen.

Jimmy Davis, Jr.
Z-557  Unit N-10
Death Row
Holman Correctional Facility
Atmore, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “get rest”

January 21, 2016 – Thursday

Reading
Exodus 20:10(a) (NKJV) but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work….

Mark 2:27(b) (NKJV) The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

Reflection
I have a confession to make. I have sinned repeatedly. For five years I worked 80+ hour work weeks, and that included working every Sunday. Work always came home with me. I worked long past the time when my wife and kids were in bed, and I was often up before them checking my email. I never took a vacation, not even on the Sabbath. The work had to be done.

Oh sure, I begged for relief – but my boss said none was available. Just work harder. My health was breaking. I had no enjoyment in life. My spirit ached for more time with God. And my work, which had been known for its excellence, became merely good enough. I finally had to choose: this job or my life. And so I made the best decision – I walked away from the job. (My boss had to hire two people to do what I did and give a lot of my duties to a third coworker.)

Now, you may say my boss took advantage of me – but you’d be wrong. I let things get out of control by refusing to get rest — by refusing to take a Sabbath as commanded by our Lord. I may have never killed anyone or committed adultery, but I did shatter the fourth commandment! And I was responsible to obey all of God’s commandments.

It’s tough to do, I know. But God commands you to have balance and to get rest. Your job may require working Sundays, but you can still take one day off – completely – for your sake and His. Dedicate that one day to God. (Make it your personal Sabbath.) You cannot be an effective Christian public servant if you are too tired to perform well. You cannot perform well when you are too tired to obey God’s commandments.

So at work today, take a moment to look at yourself. Is there balance in your life? Do you work hard, but do you also get rest? If there is no balance, ask God to show you how to regain that balance in your life.

Today remember, God wants you to be excellent in your work time and in your private time. Honor Him because you work hard. And honor Him because you get rest.

Prayer
Dear Lord, help me get rest and have balance in my life. Help me see all Your commandments were made for my sake. Help me obey You with balance. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Kevin Cooney, Ph. D.
Visiting Professor
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
Beppu, Japan