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David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them.” (1 Samuel 17:32-36)

We open our study of David with one of the most famous scenes from his life: His decision to fight the seemingly undefeatable Goliath. 

Saul’s response to David’s eagerness was essentially, “Pump the brakes kid. You’re crazy. And massively unqualified to go...

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What the daytime darkness of Good Friday means for your work today

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)

Imagine you live in Jerusalem in the first century. Like so many of your neighbors, you work as a farmer. One day, you’re out harvesting olives, when all of a sudden, the clock strikes noon and the sky goes dark. You can’t see your hand, much less the olive trees, and so you are forced to head inside and rest from your labor.

Thousands of people must have experienced something similar the day Jesus died. The darkness that accompanied Christ’s finished work on the cross undoubtedly led many people to rest from the work of their hands that first Good Friday. 

But it also led to a rest for you and me today. Not a rest from the work of our hands so...

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How you, me, and Barabbas pursue God’s mission without God’s methods

But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man [Jesus]! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23:18-21)

For most of my life, I viewed Barabbas as a senseless murderer—the ancient equivalent of Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer. But that’s likely an inaccurate portrait of this man.

Many scholars believe that Barabbas (or “Jesus Barabbas” as he’s referred to in Matthew 27:17) was likely a religious zealot. As pastor Daniel Darling explains: 

“Many Jewish people in the first century were wary of Rome…But the cohort of zealots to which Barabbas belonged to took resistance to another level. They sought to overthrow the Roman government by any means possible…assassination plots, targeted murder, and terrorism.”

If Jesus...

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Jesus said he’s the “bread” of life. Not the “grain.” Here’s why that matters.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” (Mark 14:22)

We’re in a four week series exploring what the vocations of some of the characters of Easter can teach us about our own work today. This morning, we turn our attention to someone in the background of today’s passage: The unnamed woman or man who baked the bread Jesus used at the Last Supper.

Scripture gives us zero detail on who this person was. But I think it’s safe to assume that they viewed baking this bread as just another mundane task on their to-do list, much like you might view the emails you have to type, the papers you need to grade, or the nails you have to hammer today. 

And yet, today’s passage shows that God used the work of this baker’s hands to accomplish something extraordinary. Their bread helped Jesus reveal something about himself—namely the way his...

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How Mary’s perfume frees you from the tyranny of utility

…a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor….Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:2-3)

Because you’re subscribed to my devotionals, I’m confident you’ve overcome the unbiblical hierarchy that elevates the calling of pastors and missionaries above the work of mere Christians who work as entrepreneurs, accountants, and baristas.

But if we’re not careful, another hierarchy of callings can slip into our thinking—one that elevates the work of mere Christians most clearly “changing the world” above the work of those of us who are simply sustaining and serving it. Prosecuting human traffickers matters, but not selling insurance. Curing disease matters, but not waiting tables. Teaching kids matters, but not writing novels. 

This too is an unbiblical way of...

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A White House case study on mercy in the workplace

the most excellent way Mar 04, 2024

I will show you the most excellent way…love…keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 12:31, 13:5)

Tim Goeglein collapsed in his White House office. His secret life of plagiarism had been found out and the guilt and shame were literally crippling.

A couple days after his resignation, Goeglein received a call. His former boss, President George W. Bush, wanted to see him.

Terrified, Goeglein entered the Oval Office, looked President Bush in the eye, and began his groveling apology: “Sir, I owe you…” 

But the President wouldn’t let Goeglein finish his apology. “You’re forgiven,” Bush said.

Goeglein was certain he misunderstood what the President said, so he attempted to apologize twice more until Bush said, “You know, Tim, grace and mercy are real. I have known grace and mercy in my own life and you're forgiven. We can talk about all of that [referring to Goeglein’s plagiarism] or we can talk about the last eight...

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How to replace self-seeking with self-sacrifice at work

the most excellent way Feb 26, 2024

I will show you the most excellent way…Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 12:31, 13:4-5) 

To the church in Corinth, Paul promised to show them “the most excellent way” to steward their spiritual and vocational gifts. He then proceeded to launch into the famous “Love Chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13 explaining what Christian love is and what it is not.

Of all the attributes Paul lists, not being “self-seeking” may be the rarest in the modern workplace. We live at a time when the idea of self-sacrifice is viewed as naive at best and career-ending at worst. But self-sacrifice is the way of The Way, Jesus Christ.

In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition…Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own...

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3 things Scripture encourages us to boast about

the most excellent way Feb 19, 2024

I will show you the most excellent way…love…does not boast. (1 Corinthians 12:31, 13:4)

George Washington Carver had captivated the United States Congress. It was January 1921, and Carver was testifying about the dozens of different foods he had learned how to make out of peanuts: ice cream, cereal, pickles—the list went on and on. 

Amused, one congressman asked where Carver learned how to do this. “From a book,” Carver replied. What book? the congressman wanted to know. “The Bible,” Carver said. “I didn’t make these discoveries,” Carver explained. “God has only worked through me to reveal to his children some of his wonderful providence.”

What a terrific example of the “the most excellent way” Paul calls us to at work: without boasting. The NASB translates this passage as saying, “love does not brag.” The NKJV says “love does not parade itself.” Because that is the...

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How Mr. Rogers’ dad showed kindness to thousands of employees

the most excellent way Feb 12, 2024

I will show you the most excellent way…love is kind. (1 Corinthians 12:31, 13:4)

If you had to describe Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame) in a single word, it would likely be kindness—a virtue he learned from his father.

According to Fred’s biographer, Maxwell King, Jim Rogers made it a habit to “walk through the rows of manufacturing machines,” in his businesses, “addressing each employee by name, inquiring about their work and about their welfare.” 

Those inquiries helped Jim Rogers discover financial pain in the lives of his employees, which he frequently offered to alleviate. When Jim died, his journal recorded “thousands of ‘loans’ that were never collected.”

The kindness of Fred Rogers’s father led to extraordinary acts of kindness of his own—stories of which have literally filled many books. 

So it should be with us. As we meditate on the kindness of our Heavenly...

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This famous “Love Chapter” is primarily about work, not marriage

the most excellent way Feb 05, 2024

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you’re bound to see today’s passage popping up in your social media feeds as a reminder of how God calls us to love our significant others. But the context of this passage was not primarily marital love. Paul was writing about how to steward spiritual and vocational gifts.

After listing out gifts such as teaching, healing, and helping, Paul says this: “And yet I will show you the most excellent way….If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (see 1 Corinthians 12:31 -...

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