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God fed Hitler. Here’s what that means for your work.

[God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45)

When the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 2:8 that “it is by grace you have been saved,” he was referring to God’s saving grace: the grace that, through Christ, saves human beings from their sins.

Separate from saving grace is the doctrine of God’s common grace: the goodness God shows people regardless of their relationship with or faith in him.

That’s what Jesus was referring to in today’s passage when he said that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good” (Matthew 5:45). Christ was saying that, while God is the source of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17), God chooses to give those gifts to “the righteous” and “to ungrateful and evil people” (Luke 6:35).

So, while only Christians are recipients of God’s saving grace, every human being is a constant ...

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“The curse is God’s love in disguise.” Here’s why.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:9-11)

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry stumbles upon an enchanted mirror. Unlike normal mirrors, this one does not show the reflection of the person standing in front of it. Instead, it shows a reflection of “the deepest, most desperate desire” of that person’s heart.

But the object inside the mirror is just a mirage—a tantalizing vision trapped on the other side of the glass. This, of course, drives the mirror’s visitors mad with frustration. 

But you and I both know this is a blessing in disguise. Because even if they were able to get their hands on the object of their affection, unless that object was Christ, it would inevitably disappoint....

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How to transform your frustrations into others’ blessings

Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)

When I was researching my next book, I read tons of dense books with “paragraphs” that spanned entire pages—sometimes multiple pages. Every time I approached another mammoth passage, I felt exhausted before I even began reading. It felt like the cognitive equivalent of staring up at Mount Everest before an ascent.

After complaining about my own pain long enough (first-world problems, I know), the Lord reminded me that I’ve written some long paragraphs myself. And if long paragraphs made my work feel arduous, my longwindedness probably makes your reading feel arduous too.

So I went back through the manuscript I was writing and took a machete to the document, chopping every paragraph down to size.

That’s a small example of one reason I think we can all give thanks for the “thorns and thistles” that make our work difficult: Painful work...

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What Jesus’s “crown of thorns” means for the “thorns” in your work

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. (John 19:1-3)

God never intended for work to be painful and frustrating. According to Genesis 1 and 2, work was God’s first gift to humankind!

But when sin entered the world, the curse broke every part of creation, including the world of work. God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you” (see Genesis 3:17-18).

That backstory makes the Romans’ choice of a “crown of thorns” for Jesus all the more interesting. Knowingly or not, the Romans used a thorn—this symbol of the curse—to crown the One whose resurrection would overturn that curse. It is precisely...

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“Everyone I meet is my superior in some way.” Here’s why that’s a good thing.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but wisdom is with the humble. (Proverbs 11:2)

A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with one of my favorite authors—someone who has sold millions more books than I have.

I was picking my friend’s brain on publishing and book marketing, when all of a sudden, he started asking me questions about marketing children’s books.

Given the massive respect I have for this person, I was really taken aback by his questions. “Why are you asking me about book marketing?” I asked.

My friend replied, “Because I have not cracked the nut on children’s books, and honestly, it’s been a bit frustrating. You, on the other hand, seem to have figured this out.”

After muttering some false humility, my friend cut me off by quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Jordan,” he said, “Everyone I meet is my superior in some way.”

I love that perspective. And my friend only had it because of the frustrating...

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5 reasons to give thanks for “thorns and thistles” that make work difficult

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.” (Genesis 3:17-18)

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." I don’t know who coined this popular piece of fortune cookie wisdom, but I can tell you they never read Genesis 3.

After sin entered the world, God said that work will be “painful toil…all the days of your life.” Not “painful toil…until you choose a job you love.” Work will be frustrating until the New Earth (see Isaiah 65:17-23).

Now, I love what I do. I’ve never been more confident that creating content like these devotionals is the work God created me to do. And Lord willing,...

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5 ways to “glorify” God at work today

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.” (Psalm 50:23) 

“Glorify” is one of those Christianese terms we use so much that its meaning can feel muddled. So, when you read a passage like 1 Corinthians 10:31 that urges you to do “whatever you do…for the glory of God,” you might understandably wonder what that looks like practically—especially in the workplace.

Let’s look to God’s Word to remove some of the mystery together. Here are just five ways Scripture says you can “glorify” God at work today.

#1: Give thanks. Psalm 50:23 makes clear that simply thanking God for the gift of your work and the fruit it’s producing “glorifies” him.

#2: Do good work. Jesus said, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The Greek word ergon that we translate to “good...

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David’s logical flow of thankfulness, rest, and ambition

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you….What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? (Psalm 116:7, 12)

A friend of mine was watching a kid play his heart out on the basketball court even though his team was up 20 points. After the game, my friend asked the boy why he was hustling so hard when victory was guaranteed. The kid’s response was perfect: “Because I love my coach.”

That’s a pretty good picture of what David is getting at in Psalm 116.

In verse 7, David instructs his soul to rest. Why? Because “the Lord has been good” to him. As we express gratitude for the things God has already done in and through our work, we can rest and be content even if the Lord doesn’t provide anything else in the future.

In short, thankfulness is a path to rest. But it’s not just a path to rest. In verse 12, David says that rest is a path to ambition—to leave it all out on the court, if you will....

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How God uses your work to answer prayers

[God] makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth...All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. (Psalm 104:14, 27)

After praying and thanking God for our dinner, my daughter Kate (3 at the time) said, “Daddy, God didn’t give us this food. Mommy bought it at the grocery store!”

“You’re right, Kate,” I said. “Mommy did buy this food at the grocery store. But who created the apple on your plate?” 

“God,” Kate answered.

“That’s right,” I said. “And he also made the farmer that picked that apple, and the engineers who built a truck to take the apples to the grocery store which was built by entrepreneurs, carpenters, and bankers. God used the work of all of those people and more to give us this dinner!”

By this point, I had long lost Kate’s attention. But one day, I pray she will read Psalm 104 and...

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Are the things on your to-do list on God’s?

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17)

This is the final verse of Psalm 90, the only Psalm that credits Moses as its author. It’s not surprising that Moses concludes his Psalm with these words, as he prayed a similar prayer six times in the book of Deuteronomy alone (see Deuteronomy 2:7; 14:29; 16:15; 24:19; 28:12; 30:9).

Why was this such a frequent prayer of Moses?

First, I think Moses understood that this prayer is a practical way of reminding ourselves that God alone produces results through our work. In Deuteronomy 8:18, Moses said that “it is [God] who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” How do we remind ourselves of that truth? By joining Moses in praying the words of today’s passage.

Second, I think Moses continually offered up this prayer because it is deep within the heart of any human being for our work to outlive us. That’s what...

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