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“Be strong and courageous”

the courage to create Jan 04, 2021

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5-9)

We’re in a series exploring three biblical truths that give us the courage to create and work boldly in the midst of uncertain times. This morning, at the beginning of...

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A God Who Risks

the courage to create Dec 28, 2020

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

We’re in a series exploring three biblical truths that give us the courage to create and work boldly in uncertain times. Last week, we saw how the truth that God works everything for our good gives us the courage to create. This morning we look at our second truth: We are made in the image of God who took the ultimate risk to create.

It can seem borderline heretical to claim that omnipotent, omniscient God is capable of taking a risk, but pastor Tim Keller argues that’s precisely what we see in Genesis 1-3. Here’s Keller: “You can see the risks and the costs from...

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New Series: The Courage to Create

the courage to create Dec 21, 2020

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

When will this virus get under control? What will happen to our once-booming economy? What will that economy mean for our work? More than ever before, we have far more questions than answers.

My fear is that amidst all this uncertainty, we Christ-followers will hold back and be less courageous in our work than we have been before. I fear we’ll set smaller goals, dwarf down our God-given visions, and “play it safe” in the New Year.

There are certainly times when it may be wise to risk less, but I’d hate to see us—the Christians in our work communities—earn the reputation for having a lack of courage during these times.

To be clear, I’m not talking about the courage to fly on an airplane or go to a restaurant. I’m talking about the courage to create—to take big swings to create new things...

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Your Eternal Reward

ephesians on work Dec 14, 2020

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. (Ephesians 6:5-9)

Today, we conclude our study of Ephesians with a passage that contains some of the most direct instructions about work in all of Scripture for both “slaves” and “masters” (or in our modern parlance, employees and employers).

First, let’s look at the most obvious commands. If you work for someone else, Paul commands you to obey them...

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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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