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What does obedience have to do with work in heaven?

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)

As we’ve seen during the global COVID-19 crisis, the world’s definition of who is and who is not an “essential worker” is a moving target. But not so with God, which should lead Christ-followers to this question: Who will be deemed the essential workers in eternity? Who will hold the positions of highest authority? Or, to borrow the language of our Savior, who “will be called great in the kingdom of heaven”?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus answers these questions clearly: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of...

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New Series: Essential Workers in the Kingdom

Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an interesting moment in which who is deemed an “essential worker” has been flipped on its head.

For years, many have been predicting that factory workers, Shipt shoppers, and Amazon delivery drivers will soon be replaced by robots, delivery drones, and self-driving cars. According to these futurists, the workers who are “essential” in our economy are the entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and programmers who will bring these technologies to life.

Don’t get me wrong, of course these jobs are important and eternally significant. And no, I’m not interested in debating if and when the above future will occur. What I am interested in is the fact...

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One Last Thing

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.’” (Exodus 31:12-13)

We began this series by reading Exodus 31:1-5 in which we are told that Bezalel—an artist and culture-creator—was the first person to be “filled with the Spirit of God.”

The context of that passage is a large chunk of Scripture in which the Lord gave Moses detailed instructions on Mount Sinai, starting with The Ten Commandments in Exodus 19-20. Exodus 31 is the last chapter in this run, but it doesn’t end with the aforementioned scene of Bezalel being filled with God’s creative spirit. Before the Lord adjourns His meeting with Moses at Mount Sinai, he has one last thing to say: He reminds His people to observe His Sabbaths (see today’s reading above).

Now, keep in mind, the Lord has already...

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Bezalel, Harry Potter, and our need to create in community

So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded. Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” (Exodus 36:1-5)

We’re in a series exploring the few passages of Scripture that focus on the life of Bezalel—the first person the Bible says was filled with the Spirit of God—extracting applications for...

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Grace and Grit

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.” (Exodus 31:1-5)

We’re in a four week series studying the life of an obscure biblical character named Bezalel, extracting applications for our own work today. Last week, we saw the significance of Bezalel—a creative—being the first person said to be “filled with the Spirit of God.” This week, we’re looking at this same passage from Exodus 31 from a different angle.

Exodus 31:1-5 is one of many sections of Scripture that debunk the myth of “the creative genius.” In our culture today, we are enthralled with entrepreneurs, YouTube celebrities, and other...

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New Series: Bezalel and the Creative Spirit of God

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.” (Exodus 31:1-5)

Here’s a mind-boggling truth to start your week: The very first person the Bible says was “filled with the Spirit of God” was not Adam or Eve. It wasn’t Abraham. And it wasn’t Moses. It was a creative named Bezalel.

On the surface, this seems startling. But I would argue that in singling out Bezalel in this remarkable way, God is simply reminding us of something He’s been saying all throughout time: creativity is central to who He is and who we are as His image-bearers.

After all, the very first thing God reveals about himself in Genesis...

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Anxiety-Inducing News

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:4-8)

I’m not sure about you, but until recently, I always heard verses 6 and 8 from this passage as separate, largely unrelated commands. But of course here they are, back to back, separated only by verse 7. Could that be because part of the solution to our anxiety is found in what we’re choosing to think about?

Based on common sense and our collective experience working...

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Vice-Regents

For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:18-21)

“Everything [is] under his control.” What a glorious truth to cling to this morning.

God is in control of our health.

He is in control of our economy.

He is in control of our work.

And while we may not know or understand His plans, all throughout Scripture, He has proven Himself to be faithful and sovereign, working all things for His glory and the ultimate “good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

One day, we will see the ultimate culmination...

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How to “Value Others Above Ourselves” during COVID-19

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:1-8)

Last week, we looked at Philippians 1 and how Paul used his time of isolation to “advance the...

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New Series: Gospel Driven Work in the COVID-19 Crisis

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. (Philippians 1:12-14)

Isolation through imprisonment was not a part of Paul’s plans.

At first glance, his imprisonment must have looked like a disruption to his attempts to spread the gospel through his work as a tentmaker and preacher. But Paul stated very clearly that “what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.”

How? As verse 13 makes clear, the gospel was able to shine precisely because it gave Paul an opportunity to show that, regardless of circumstances, he was ultimately “in chains for Christ,” willingly shackled to the sovereignty of God.

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