My Devotionals


I bet Paul wished he could “unsend” this letter

2 corinthians on work Jun 20, 2022

Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia. (2 Corinthians 2:12-13)

As soon as I left the Zoom meeting, I knew I had screwed up. I was arrogant and defensive in response to a well-intentioned member of my team. My plan was to get back to writing as soon as the call ended, but I couldn’t. I just stared at a blinking cursor knowing that I had to make peace with my team member before I did anything else. Today’s passage was on my mind as I did. 

It appears that Paul had sent Titus to deliver a severe letter of rebuke to the Corinthians (see 2 Corinthians 2:3-4). But the lack of response appears to have left Paul feeling troubled. So troubled that he couldn’t focus on his work because he “had no peace of mind.” I imagine Paul felt a bit like you and I do...

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When God gives you more than you can handle

2 corinthians on work Jun 13, 2022

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)

While it is absolutely true that God “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (1 Corinthians 10:13), the cliche that “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is an unbiblical lie. Paul says so directly in today’s passage. He says the “troubles” and “pressure” he experienced while working in Asia were “far beyond [his] ability to endure.” 

Later in this letter to the Corinthians, Paul explains that one of those many “troubles” was “a thorn in [his] flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7)....

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Why the end of Scripture is just the beginning

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:3-5)

The science-fiction writer, Isaac Asimov, once remarked that “whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.” I don’t know any Christians who would say those words out loud. But I suspect there are many who have quietly shared in this fear, which is rooted in this half-truth about heaven:

Half-Truth #4: We will worship for all eternity

Scripture is clear that we will indeed worship forever (see Revelation 5:13 as one example). But the reason this is a half-truth is because of our limited understanding of the word “worship.”

When we think of...

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Kingdoms have more than Sovereigns and subjects

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2)

Last week, we saw that Earth is our temporary home until it is our permanent one. But in my experience, even Christians who understand this can have an anemic view of what life on the New Earth will be like, leading many to believe the third half-truth I want to explore in this series:

Half-Truth #3: We are going back to Eden

There is some truth to this. As we see in today’s passage, the “tree of life” from Eden is present once again. In the words of my Bible’s heading over Revelation 22, the New Earth is “Eden Restored.” But it is also much more than that.


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Is Star Wars or Moana a better picture of the New Earth?

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1)

Countless sermons and songs have convinced us of this half-truth about heaven:

Half-Truth #2: Earth is our temporary home

It is true that when we die, our “spirit returns to God” (Ecclesiastes 12:7), departing earth to be with Jesus in what theologians call the “present heaven.” The lie is that we stay there.

One of Jesus’s most famous references to heaven is in John 14:2 where he says, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” Get this: The Greek word for “dwelling places” is monÄ“, which denotes temporary lodging.

Why temporary? Because God’s plan all along was to bring heaven to earth and live with us here! Not ultimately to “fit...

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4 half-truths about heaven

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

“The kingdom of God” was the dominant theme of Jesus’s teachings. But he also preached about “the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 4:17). Are these two separate ideas? The world’s leading New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright says no: “‘God’s kingdom’ and ‘kingdom of heaven’ mean the same thing.” 

Understanding that detail will be critical as we enter this series unpacking four half-truths about heaven. Here’s the first:

Half-Truth #1: Heaven is a place we go to in the future

Jesus did say that heaven is a place (see John 14:2). And Scripture also makes it clear that heaven is in the future (see Revelation 11:15). But heaven is so much more than a place in the future.

In Matthew 10:7-8, Jesus instructed his disciples: “proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The...

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“The smile of God is the goal of your life.”

the creator in you May 09, 2022

The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. (Psalm 37:23)

In this short series, we’ve seen that God works and called us to work on his behalf. But why? To what end? How exactly does our work matter to God?

There are many answers to that question. Our work is part of how God sanctifies us, how he meets the needs of others, and one of the primary ways we win the respect of non-believers. But perhaps most foundationally, our work matters because it is part of how we show the world what God is like.

As we saw last week, God created us in his “image” (see Genesis 1:26). And what’s the point of an image? “The point of an image is to image,” John Piper says bluntly. “Images are erected to display the original. Point to the original. Glorify the original. God made humans in his image so that the world would be filled with reflectors of God. Images of God. Seven billion statues of...

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What’s that gold doing in Eden?

the creator in you May 02, 2022

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule…God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:26, 28)

After the first six days of creation, the earth was still largely empty. As I say in my new children’s book, The Creator in You“while in six days God created a lot, there are so many things that He simply did not— like bridges and baseballs, sandcastles and s’mores. God asked us to create and fill the planet with more.”

That’s what we see in today’s passage. God never intended for Eden to remain a garden. He commissioned human beings to “rule” over it. To “fill the earth and subdue it.” To work the garden and turn it into something far more.

There’s a beautiful detail in the second chapter of Scripture that helps make this clear. Genesis 2:10-12...

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You are called to Someone before something

the creator in you Apr 25, 2022

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

As we’ve seen over the past two weeks, we worship a God who works! And next week, we’ll see that God has created us to work in partnership with him. 

But before we look too closely at God’s call for us to create, we need to remember this: Before God calls us to do a single thing, he calls us to be his child. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

Before we were given a task, we were given an identity—children created “in the image of God” (see Genesis 1:27)—a scene wonderfully reimagined by Jonathan David, the illustrator of The Creator in You.

And there was clearly a relationship between God and human beings before he put them to work in the Garden of Eden. There was love and...

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Hacks and rip-off artists

the creator in you Apr 18, 2022

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:8-9)

Last week, we worshiped God for the fact that he works. But now we must make one thing clear: God works in ways that are totally unlike the way you and I work today.

We worship the God who simply “calls into being things that were not” (Romans 4:17). As I say in my children’s book, The Creator in You“With just a few words, He made creatures appear, like polar bears, penguins, alpacas, and deer.”

My kids love pretending to create animals and magical snow with their words, but so far, their play hasn’t turned into reality. You know why? Because only God can create out of nothing (see...

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