My Devotionals


Time Redeemers

ephesians on work Dec 07, 2020

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Today, we’re looking at what my friend Matt Perman calls “the core New Testament passage on productivity.” But before we take a closer look at Ephesians 5:15-17, we need to establish some context.

After expounding upon the gospel of grace in Ephesians 1-4, the apostle Paul reminds us of our status as “dearly loved children” of God in Ephesians 5:1. What is our response to our adoption as sons and daughters of God? Today’s passage contains part of the answer to that question.

Paul is saying that part of our response to the gospel is to “[make] the most of every opportunity.” I prefer how the NKJV translates that phrase as “redeeming the time.”

The Greek word exagorazó which...

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Paul: Do Something “Useful”

ephesians on work Nov 30, 2020

Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. (Ephesians 4:28)

Even if you’re not known to steal to make ends meet, this passage still offers a lot of wisdom for our work. The key is found in Paul’s choice of the word “useful.” If the only reason for our work was to generate enough income to “share with those in need,” then why would it matter if our work was useful to the world? It wouldn’t. We’d be free to do any work so long as it generated enough financial resources to serve the poor. But with just one word, Paul is reminding us of one of the main themes of all his letters: That the work you and I do today has many God-glorifying purposes.

We have been exploring some of those purposes throughout this series. In Ephesians 1, we learned that our work is a means of pointing to the marriage of heaven...

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Small Prayers for Our Work

ephesians on work Nov 23, 2020

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

John 14:12 records what I have to imagine was one of the most shocking things the disciples ever heard Jesus say: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Upon hearing this, the disciples must have been floored. They had seen Jesus give sight to the blind, feed the five thousand, and raise Lazarus from the dead. We’re going to do “greater things than these” Jesus? Yes.

Paul is reminding us of this same truth here in Ephesians 3, saying that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” As we’ve...

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The Gospel: Our Source of Rest and Ambition

ephesians on work Nov 16, 2020

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

For good reason, Ephesians 2:8-9 is one of the most quoted passages of Scripture in the Church. But in my experience, it’s rare to hear someone preach all the way through verse 10. That’s a shame, because the marriage of verse 10 to verses 8 and 9 could not be more important for our work. When read in its entirety, this passage shows us that the gospel is our ultimate source of rest and ambition.

The first half of the passage couldn’t be clearer: Our status as adopted children of God is “by grace….through faith,” and thus “not by works.” What a glorious truth! While we were His enemy, Christ died for us, gracing us with...

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New Series: Ephesians on Work

ephesians on work Nov 09, 2020

With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ….I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:8b-10…18-21)

What is the will of God? “To bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (see verse 10). Heaven and earth are not meant to be...

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Vote AND Create for Change

how change happens Nov 02, 2020

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)

On July 26, 1833, the British Parliament voted to abolish the slave trade. The great victory came more than 45 years after William Wilberforce first met the great Hannah More.

A few days later, Wilberforce died. A few weeks after that, More joined her friend in glory—a poetic end to the lives of the great poet and parliamentarian.

A few years after More’s death, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote a now-famous essay titled A Defence of...

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The Poet & The Parliamentarian

how change happens Oct 26, 2020

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

After William Wilberforce’s conversion to Christianity in 1786, he defined the “Great Object” of his work in Parliament as nothing less than the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire.

To his credit, Wilberforce sensed that this change could not immediately be legislated. First, the hearts and minds of his countrymen would need to be...

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“The only way to change culture is to create more of it”

how change happens Oct 19, 2020

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7)

As we saw last week, the most proven strategy for cultivating large scale cultural change is not electing the “right people” and trusting them to force legislative change from the top-down. Mass change happens when hearts and minds are transformed. And hearts and minds are transformed not by laws but by acts of culture. As Andy Crouch says in his exceptional book, Culture Making, “The only way to...

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New Series: How Change Happens

how change happens Oct 12, 2020

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:27-28)

It seems like every day a new skirmish breaks out in our never-ending “culture wars.” Whether the fight is over COVID, race relations, abortion, or gender equality, we are more divided than ever in the battle over right and wrong.

Every four years, the American political machinery pitches the same strategy for winning these culture wars: Elect the right person and they will introduce new laws or appoint the right judges to legislate our desired brand of change.

But is this really how large-scale cultural change happens?

The evidence suggests that it is not. Just as Adam and Eve were called to “fill the...

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The Biblical Story of Work

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

Over the past two weeks, we have looked to Scripture to refute two of the most common stories the world shares about the meaning of work: “The Office Story” (work is a meaningless means to an end) and “The Hamilton Story” (work is a means of justifying my existence). Both of these narratives about work are minuscule when compared to the epic narrative the Bible assigns to work.

So, what is “The Biblical Story” of work?

It starts “in the beginning” when God created work as worship in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1 and 2).

Once sin entered the picture, work became difficult (Genesis 3:17) and the world needed to be put back to rights. There was now a need for God’s Kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Fast forward to the first Easter Sunday...

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