Stop Avoiding Your Part In the Work: God Alone Isn’t Responsible For the Work

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first sixteen verses of the sixth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the passage centering upon a principle that was implemented since the very creation of the heavens and the earth. In fact, I am convinced that in order for jus to truly and properly understand that this which is found and contained within this passage of Scripture it is absolutely necessary that we begin in the Old Testament book of Genesis—begin at the very creation of the heavens and the earth—and move forward within Scripture to first set a foundation for why we have in the New Testament gospels the events within the life and ministry of Jesus which are before us. If you read this particular portion of Scripture you will find that the central theme of the verses contained therein is not even necessarily about Jesus, but rather about the implementation of the sabbath—a practice which had been in place since the creation of the heavens and the earth, and then again implemented and made law when the Lord gave the commandments unto Moses atop the mountain of God in the wilderness. In order to truly understand and truly appreciate what is found within the verses here before us today we must come face to face with that which was written and contained within Scripture concerning the sabbath, and must recognize and understand that the sabbath was not only something which the living God participated in at the beginning of creation, but was also something which He commanded when giving the law unto Moses when he was atop the mountain in the wilderness. Perhaps one of the single greatest realities concerning the sabbath is that the very first sabbath that was ever recorded was performed and completed by the living God Himself. When we seek to have a discussion concerning the sabbath we must not only begin in and with the Old Testament book of Genesis, but we must recognize and understand that the first one to ever observe the sabbath was the Lord Himself after the six days of creation had been completed. No true discussion and no true dialogue concerning the sabbath can be had without and apart from this central truth, for what’s absolutely and incredibly interesting is that the Lord didn’t command, nor did He implement something which He Himself had not already partaken in and given Himself to. We would be incredibly wise and discerning to recognize that when speaking of the sabbath, it did not begin with Moses receiving instruction and commandos atop the mountain in the wilderness, but with the living God Himself after the six days of creation were completed. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded by Moses in the first and second chapters of the Old Testament book of Genesis:

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He Him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed: to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made” (Genesis 1:26-2:3).

THE SABBATH DIDN’T BEGIN WITH MOSES! If we are going to truly have a discussion and dialogue concerning the sabbath and its direct implications on men within and throughout the years, it is absolutely necessary that we first recognize and understand that it did not begin with Moses atop the mountain of God within the wilderness. There would be those among us who would think that the sabbath and the command to partake in the sabbath day was first implemented through Moses when the Lord gave Him the commandments, the laws and the statutes which were given unto the children of Israel. The truth of the matter is that the sabbath didn’t begin in the wilderness while Moses was atop the mountain before the Lord within His presence, but at the end and completion of the creation of the heavens and the earth. If you journey back to the first three verses of the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find that after the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them, the living God ended His work which He had made, and rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that the heavens and the earth had already been completed—together with everything that was present within them. Consider the fact that everything we read in the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis was the description of the creation of God which took place within six days. The first six days of history as we know it were days that were filled with the creative power of God working together with the spoken word of God, as the heavens and the earth, and everything in them were created by the spoken word of God. Interestingly enough, it isn’t until we come to the sixth day of creation when we find the spoken word of God in creation being completed, and the Lord Himself actually engaging in the work. Everything that had been made within the first five days—the heavens, the earth, the stars in the heavens, the sun and the moon, and every living creature—were all created and brought into existence with and by the spoken word of the living God. It is only when we come to the sixth day and only when we come to the formation of man that we find man not coming into existence by the spoken word of God, but by the actual work of the hands of the living God, as well as with and by the breath of God. If you begin reading with and from the twenty-sixth verse you will find that it began with the living God communing within Himself among the members of the Trinity declaring that He would make man in their own image, and after their own likeness. In the twenty-sixth verse of the first chapter we find the intention and desire of the Lord to make man in their own image, and after their own likeness, and in the twenty-seventh verse we find it written how God created man in His own image, and in the image of God created He them.

What’s so incredibly unique and profound about the creation of man is that man was not brought into existence through and by the spoken word of the living God as had everything else in creation. Absolutely everything else within the heavens and the earth were created and brought into existence with and by the spoken word of God, for there was not a single that was made that was not made without and apart from the spoken word of God. It was the spoken word of the living God working together with His creative imagination that brought into existence the heavens and the earth and everything that was present within them. When we come to the creation and formation of man, however, it’s important to note that not only was man the only part of creation that was made in the image of God and after the likeness of God, but man was the only part of creation that was brought into existence by the actual hands of the living God. It’s worth noting that when we speak of the creation of man, it did not take place as everything else in creation had taken place, but was something completely and altogether different. In the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find and read God communing with Himself and declaring the creation of man within His own image, and after His own likeness, however, it isn’t until we come to the fourth verse of the second chapter where we truly begin to encounter the actual act of God creating man. In the first chapter we find the intention and desire of God to make man in their own image, and to make man after their own likeness, however, it isn’t until we come to the second chapter where we find the physical act of the creation of man taking place. Consider if you will that which is written and recorded in the second chapter beginning with the fourth verse concerning the creation of the heavens and the earth, and man’s part of that creation:

“These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into His nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:4-7).

When we speak about the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in it we not only understand that everything within the heavens and the earth were created with and by the spoken word of God, but everything was created “ex nihilo” or “out of nothing.” When speaking of the creation of the heavens and the earth it is necessary that we understand that the heavens and the earth were created with and by the spoken word of God as God spoke what was in His heart and mind, and that which was present within His mind was manifested before Him. It’s actually quite remarkable and astounding to watch the creative mind of the living God work together with the spoken word of God, and how it was the spoken word of God which brought forth that which was found to be within His heart and mind. Absolutely everything that is found within the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis—with the exception of the creation and formation of man—was brought into existence by the spoken word of God. The creation of man, however, was something that was altogether different, for the creation of man was not performed by the spoken word of God, but rather by the Lord actually forming man from the dust of the earth. The creation of man began with the Lord forming Him from the dust of the ground—forming Him from that which was already present within creation. Man was not created ex-nihilo and out of nothing, but was formed from the dust of the earth which was already present and in existence. It’s worth noting that God first formed man from the dust of the earth, and then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. It was when and only after the living God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life that man actually became a living soul. What I so love about the creation of man is that man wasn’t simply created from nothing, and man wasn’t simply brought into existence by the spoken word of God, but was actually formed and shaped by the hands of God. There is something truly remarkable to be said about this particular reality and concept, for when we speak of the creation and formation of man, we must not only understand that man was formed and shaped by the hands of God, but man continues to be formed and shaped by God. It’s worth noting that within the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis—not only do we find the first mention of the forming and shaping of man as a physical and natural being, but we also find the first mention of the sabbath day, and the rest which is directly linked and associated with it. Within the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find the Lord forming and shaping man into a physical and natural being—a work that would continue within and throughout history as the Lord would form a people and nation from the loins of Abraham, and as the Lord would continue to form and shape the church of Jesus Christ in the days immediately following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. Man was first formed by the living God from the dust of the ground outside the garden of Eden, and once he was and became a living soul, he was then placed in the garden to dress and to keep the garden.

In the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis—not only do we find the Lord God Himself ending His work on the seventh day and resting, but we also find Him forming man from the dust of the ground, breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, and then placing him in the garden in order that he might dress and keep the garden. How absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that after the Lord had finished creating the heavens and the earth, and after the Lord had ended His work of creating the heavens and the earth, He rested. What’s so interesting and unique about this, however, is that with the end of the work of God that we find the work of man beginning. This is actually quite interesting and unique, for the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis begins with the Lord ending His work—the work of creating the heavens and the earth—and yet when the work of God ends after six days, the work of man actually begins. WHEN THE WORK OF GOD ENDS AND THE WORK OF MAN BEGINS! This concept of the work of man beginning is actually found earlier on in the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis, for within the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find the Lord instructing and commanding man to be fruitful, to multiply, to replenish the earth, to subdue the earth, and to have dominion over every living thing that moves upon the earth. In the first three verses of the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find the heavens and the earth being finished and completed, we find the Lord ending His work which He had made, and resting on the seventh day from all the work which He had made. It would be the seventh day that the Lord would not only rest, but would also bless and sanctify it as holy and consecrated, for in it He had rested from all the work which He created and made. It’s quite remarkable and extraordinary to think about and consider the fact that while the Lord ended and finished His work on the seventh day, and while the work of God seemed to end on that day—the work of man would just begin. In the first three verses of the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find the Lord resting from His work and all that He had created and made, and yet in the ending of His work, and in His rest we also find the beginning of our work within and upon the earth. In fact, it’s almost as if the rest of God on the seventh day was directly linked and directly connected to the work of man beginning upon the earth, for there was a period of a single day between the conclusion of the work of God, and the beginning of the work of man. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that more often than not when the work of God ends and draws to a close, it is then that the work of man actually begins. It may very well be that there are times in the earth when the Lord Himself seems to be inactive or “resting” so to speak, and yet it’s in those moments when we are not be inactive ourselves, but to actually engage in the work which is before us.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that while it is true that on the seventh day the Lord rested from His work which He had created and made, it almost seems that on the eighth day of the history of the heavens and the earth the work of man within and upon the earth would begin. The first six days of history, and the first six days of creation would be all about the work of God which He created and made, however, on the eighth day of the history of the heavens and the earth we find the work and assignment of man beginning. I do not believe that what we find in the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis—particularly and specifically in verses four through twenty-five—is a secondary work which took place after the Lord rested from all His work which He created and made. In the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find the Lord creating man in the image of God, and after the likeness of God was man created. What’s more, is that we also find in the first chapter the living God creating them male and female, and giving them specific instruction and command to be fruitful, to multiply, to subdue the earth, and to exercise dominion within and upon it. I am convinced that what we read and what we find in the second chapter is a beautiful picture of that sixth day of creation when the Lord first formed man from the dust of the ground and then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and then how the Lord would cause a deep sleep to come upon the man in order that he might take from him and form a partner and help meet suitable for the task and assignment that was before him. I happen to find this to be absolutely wonderful and remarkable, for not only do we find the work of God coming to an end on the seventh day as the Lord rested from all His labor, but we find the work of man upon the earth beginning on the eighth day. WHEN THE CREATION OF GOD ENDS THE WORK OF MAN BEGINS! Pause for a moment and consider the fact that when and where the creation of God ends—it is there in that that place and there in that moment when the work and assignment which has been given unto us truly begins. It is so incredibly unique to read the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis for in the first three verses of the chapter we find the Lord ending His work and resting from that work, and yet in the rest of God we find the work of man beginning. Pause for a moment and consider this reality, for what we find in the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis is the creation of God—the work of His hands and everything He created and made—coming to an end, and the work of man beginning with, upon and over the earth.

The more I sit here and think about and consider this particular reality and concept, the more I can’t help but be gripped and captivated by the fact that more often than not it is in the rest of God that we find the work and activity of man beginning. There are times when the Lord appears to be inactive within our lives and doing absolutely no work, and more often than not we grow discontent, discouraged, and perhaps even frustrated with the living God because of His apparent disregard for being involved within our lives. How many times have you felt and believed that the Lord has been inactive and seemingly uninvolved within your life, and as a result of this, you have found yourself growing frustrated, and perhaps even offended with Him? How many times have you looked for the work of God within your life, and yet regardless of how often you look, and regardless of where you look, there seems to be no evidence of the Lord actively working? I know there have been times within my life when I have felt this way, and times within my life when I have felt the Lord has seemingly been inactive and uninvolved within my life. What we find in the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis, however, is a wonderful and powerful picture of what appears to be the inactivity and seeming lack of involvement by the living God within our lives. In the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find the Lord ending His work and resting from all that He created and made, and yet it is in that rest where the work and assignment begins. The Lord had finished creating the heavens and the earth and everything in them, and upon the completion of the heavens and the earth the Lord rested from all His work. With that being said, however, it’s worth noting that while the Lord ended His work—and not only ended His work, but also rested from all that He had created and made—there was still a work which needed to be done. IN the fifth verse of the second chapter we find that the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. In the sixth verse we find how there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. It is what we find in that fifth verse that is so incredibly interesting and unique, for it is in that fifth verse where we find the absence of a man to till the ground. In other words—despite the fact that the Lord had created the heavens and the earth, and even planted a garden eastward in Eden—there was no man to till the ground. When speaking of the formation and creation of man it’s imperative to note that when man was formed and created by God, he was formed with and for a specific purpose—to be fruitful and multiply upon the earth, to subdue the earth, to exercise dominion upon the earth, and to till the ground, and originally to dress and keep the garden.

I am sitting here this morning, and I can’t help but be gripped and captivated with and by the fact while the work of God ended on the sixth day, and while the Lord rested from all His work which He created and made on the seventh day, there is an invitation in His rest—an invitation for us to take up our assignment within and upon the earth, and to begin the work which He has set before us. There are times within our lives when it appears as though the Lord is inactive and is not working within our lives, and yet I am becoming increasingly convinced that it is in the seeming absence of His work that we find the beginning of our work taking shape and taking form. What’s more, is that I am convinced that it is in the rest of God within our lives—and perhaps even the rest of God in creation today in this generation—we find an invitation to take up the work and assignment which is before us. Would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider the fact that when the Lord appears to be inactive, and when the Lord appears to not be working within our lives, it is an invitation for us to take up the assignment that is before us? Would it shock and completely rock your world to think about and consider the fact that in the seeming and apparent absence of the work and involvement of God within our lives we find a tremendous need to take up the work which is set before us? What I so love and find incredibly captivating and challenging within this passage of Scripture in the Old Testament book of Genesis is that what would begin with the rest of God and the ending of His work which He created and made would result in the beginning of the work of man within and upon the earth. It was true that the Lord God rested from all His work and from all that He had created and made, and yet it’s in that rest where we find an invitation to engage ourselves in a work that is before us. There are times within our lives when we are looking for the Lord to be involved, when we look for the Lord to be active, and when we look for the Lord to work within our lives, and yet that which is necessary is not the working of the Lord, but our own working. There are times within our lives when we look for, anticipate and expect the work of God to take place and be manifested, and yet that which is ultimately required is not the Lord working, but rather our working. I fully realize and recognize that this might completely and utterly shock some of you who would dare read this, however, I am thoroughly convinced that it is in the absence of the work and involvement of God within our lives, and even the apparent rest of the living God that we find an open invitation to actively engage ourselves in the work which is before us. We expect the Lord to always be working within our lives, and even though the apostle Paul wrote that He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it—that doesn’t excuse us from our part in the work which is before us. The Lord God created the heavens and the earth and everything that was in them, the Lord planted a garden eastward in Eden, and yet He formed man from the dust of the ground outside the garden and planted him within the garden in order that he might dress and keep it.

IN THE ABSENCE OF THE WORK OF GOD WE FIND OUR ASSIGNMENT! IN THE ABSENCE OF THE INVOLVEMENT OF GOD IN OUR LIVES WE FIND OUR CALL TO WORK! The more I think about and the more I consider this particular reality the more I can’t help but come face to face with the awesome and tremendous thought that there are times within our lives when we look for and even expect the Lord to be working within our lives, and we look for and expect the Lord to be involved within our lives, and yet in the seeming and apparent rest of God we find—not only an invitation to take up and partake in the work which has been set before us, but we also find the beginning of that which we have been called and created to do. I am convinced that more often than not it is during those times when we look for and expect the work of God within our lives and find Him seemingly absent and uninvolved that we the need for us to get involved, and for us to engage ourselves in the work. In other words, we spend a considerable amount of time looking for and expecting the Lord to work within our lives, and yet sometimes during those moments the Lord is actually looking for us to work. I believe with all my heart that there have been times within my life when I have felt the Lord has been absent and seemingly uninvolved in what is going on, and yet that which the Lord was doing was taking a step back in order that I might take up that assignment and work for which He created and prepared for me. Did you know that there is a work which the Lord prepared and made ready for you? It is recorded how the Lord planted a garden eastward in Eden, and how there the Lord put man whom He had formed in the garden in order that He might dress and keep it. It was the Lord who planted the garden, and yet it was man whom the Lord ordained and appointed to dress and keep it. It was the Lord who created the heavens and the earth, and yet it was unto man whom He gave the command to subdue and exercise dominion upon it. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this tremendous reality within the Old Testament book of Genesis, for it’s within this passage that we discover how more often than not it is in the rest of God within our lives when we find our work beginning. More often than not in what appears to be the absence and lack of involvement of God within our lives we are actually witnessing and experiencing the Lord inviting us to engage ourselves in the work which has been prepared for us. There have been times in your life and times within my life when we have been looking for and expecting the Lord to be at work, when what was really needed was not necessarily the Lord working, but rather our part in the work. Perhaps one of the greatest questions that must be asked is whether or not we possess discernment enough to recognize those moments and those seasons within our lives when we look for and expect the involvement and work of the Lord within our lives, and yet it is not the Lord that needs to be working, but rather us who need to be working. In fact, I would dare say that there are times within our lives—perhaps more times than we would care to admit—when we have blamed God for not working within our lives, when the true culprit is not God, but ourselves.

There have been times when men and women have spent a considerable amount of time at the altar before the Lord asking and wondering why He seems to be absent, silent and uninvolved within their lives, and yet that which the Lord is asking and requiring is for us to do our part in the work. There are countless men and women who expect the Lord to do all the work within their lives, and expect the Lord to do all the work within the earth, and yet they are never willing to take up responsibility for their own actions and part within the work. How many times have we blamed God for seemingly not being involved within our lives, and yet what the Lord is truly doing is inviting us to do our part in the work. It is true that He who began a good work in your will be faithful to complete it, however, that does not excuse or pardon us from engaging ourselves in the work that is before us. The Lord rested from all His work which He had created and made during the six days, and yet it is in the rest of God where we find an invitation given to Adam to begin the work which was appointed, ordained and prepared for Him. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in his epistle unto the Ephesian saints—words which are found in the second chapter and in the tenth verse of the chapter: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto God works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Please don’t miss that which is written and found within that passage, for not only did the apostle Paul write and declare that we have been created in Christ Jesus unto good works, but the apostle Paul also goes on to write concerning those works how they were ordained and prepared by God in order that we should walk in them. How many times have we been looking for and expecting the Lord to be working within our lives, and yet that which is really necessary is not the Lord working, but rather us walking in those works which were ordained and prepared by God before the foundation of the world? I am convinced that this reality is manifested in our every day lives, in our places of work, in the house of the Lord, in our homes, and in every other area of our lives. I am convinced that there are times when we have been looking for the Lord to be involved and to be working within our lives, and when He appears to be uninvolved and absent within our lives, we fail to recognize what is taking place. Would it shock and surprise you to know that in the absence of the Lord actively working within our lives He is still actively involved within our lives? Would it surprise you to think about and consider that even in the absence of the Lord working within our lives He is still involved?

I am convinced that the Lord is actively involved within our lives through our works and through that which we partake in which has been prepared and ordained in Christ before the foundation of the world. The question is whether or not we are able to discern the rest of God as an invitation to take up the works which have been ordained and prepared for us, and do our part in the work. It is not solely up to the Lord to carry out and complete the work, for if this was the case, there would have been no reason for the Lord to form man from the dust of the earth, breathe the breath of life into his nostrils causing him to be a living soul, and planting him in the garden. If there is one thing I would leave you with from this writing—and I know that it seemingly has nothing to do with the words which we find in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke—it is that more often than not in the rest of God we find an open invitation to participate in the work ourselves and to take up what is required of us. We would be incredibly naïve to think and believe that we are to live our lives completely void of any responsibility in and of ourselves, and that the Lord is the only one who needs to be working. We would be incredibly unwise—even deceived and misguided if you will—to think and believe that we don’t have a part and role to play in what the Lord desires to do in the earth, and even within our lives. Oh that we would be able to look back over our lives to those seasons and those times when we thought God was absent, those times when we thought God was silent, those times when we thought God was uninvolved and not at work and realize and recognize that it was in those times when we were called to participate and join in the work ourselves, and to do what was asked and required of us. Oh that we would look upon our lives right now and be able to discern those moments and those seasons when it appears that the Lord is absent, silent, inactive and/or even uninvolved and recognize and understand that it is in those seasons and those moments when we are and have been invited to engage ourselves in our part in the work. Oh that we would recognize and understand that it isn’t solely up to the Lord to complete and carry out the work within our lives, and the Lord cannot and will not do the work which we ourselves have been called to do. The Lord could have very easily taken care of the garden of Eden, and the Lord could have very easily driven out the nations, the peoples, the enemies and adversaries which we in the land of Canaan, and yet the Lord appointed Adam to dress and keep the garden, and the Lord appointed and ordained the children of Israel to conquer and drive out the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. Oh that we would recognize and understand our part and our involvement in the work, and that we would not shirk our responsibility and/or expect God to do everything—particularly and especially that which we ourselves have been called to do. Let us recognize and respect the rest of God and understand that it’s in the rest of God when our involvement and our role in the work begins and must take place within and upon the earth.

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