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James 5: Living in Luxury

james on work Mar 18, 2019

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. (James 5:1-5)

In the final chapter of James (and verses 1-5 in particular), the author has some strong words of warning for the rich and powerful. In verse 4, James condemns how the “rich” he’s addressing in this passage acquired their wealth, by unfairly withholding wages from their workers. While this isn’t the place to comment on what does and does not constitute “fair pay,” it is...

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James 4: “Evil” Planning

james on work Mar 11, 2019

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)

Busy professionals love to plan. We meticulously plan out our days and weeks. Some of us even plan out our careers five years at a time. Planning is a good thing, as it is the process by which we steward the time, money, and other resources the Lord has entrusted us with. But as James 4:13-16 points out, our planning is “evil” and dishonoring to the Lord when we plan without humbly recognizing that it is the Lord—not us—who is in control of the outcomes of our planning.

This is an...

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James 3: The Alternative to Selfish Ambition

james on work Mar 04, 2019

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:14-17)

In James 3, we find plenty of wisdom for busy Christian professionals. Which of us doesn’t need a reminder to tame our tongues so that we might be more accurate reflections of Christ amongst our colleagues? But today, I want us to dig into the second part of James 3, and look at what the Scriptures have to say about ambition.

In verse 14, James warns us not to deny “selfish ambition,” but to recognize it for what it is: “earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” Those are some strong words. But James...

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James 2: Modern Day Favoritism

james on work Feb 25, 2019

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your...

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New Series: James on Work

james on work Feb 18, 2019

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. (James 1:5-8)

This morning, we start in chapter 1 with a focus on James’s call for us to ask God for wisdom. In verse 5, James writes, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James leaves it open-ended as to what specifically we are to ask for wisdom about, leaving us to assume that he is inviting us to ask the Lord for wisdom about anything—including the seemingly big and little things related to our work.

Often times, I’m afraid we expect far too little from God, welcoming his wisdom...

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Mediocrity: A Failure of Love

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters (Colossians 3:23)

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandments were, he replied, “Love the Lord your God…and…Love your neighbor as yourself.” As we saw last week, excellent work is one way in which we fulfill Jesus’s command to love God by revealing his character of excellence to those around us. As we’ll see today, excellence is also necessary for keeping the second commandment in our work.

As Christians, we can’t say we are seeking to love our neighbor as ourselves and then do our work with mediocrity. Think of the extreme example of a Christian doctor. While that doctor may pray with her patients, share the gospel with her co-workers, and donate money to her church, her most basic form of ministry is in being an excellent doctor. If she were a mediocre medical professional, her patients’ lives might be at risk. The doctor’s...

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How we “proclaim the excellencies of God”

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

The purpose of our work is no different than the purpose of our lives, namely to glorify God in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). “Glorify” is a word we throw around so much that it can become difficult to define. As John Piper says, to glorify God simply means to “reflect his greatness” or reveal his character to others.

So, if the purpose of our work is to reveal the Lord’s character to the world, what exactly are his characteristics? The Bible describes God in many ways, but it is his character of creative excellence that is perhaps most visible to us. You can’t stare out at the Grand Canyon and not marvel at the masterful work of God. You can’t go to a zoo without appreciating the creative supremacy of the Creator. And you...

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New Series: The Ministry of Excellence

People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He [Jesus] has done everything well,” they said. (Mark 7:37)

Today’s passage is one of my all-time favorite descriptions of Jesus: “People were overwhelmed with amazement. ‘He [Jesus] has done everything well’” [emphasis mine]. As followers of Christ, this passage should give us great pause. As those seeking to imitate Jesus in every way imaginable, can we say we are doing everything well? Can we say we are doing everything with excellence at work and at home?

The fact is that all of us have areas of our lives where we are falling short of Jesus’s excellent standard. I think this is truer today than ever before. Why? Because now more than ever, we believe the lies that we have to do it all, be it all, and have it all. We are overcommitted, overwhelmed, and overstressed, making a millimeter of progress in a million directions because we fail to discern the essential from the...

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How to Create with Boldness, Not Fear

anxiety at work Jan 21, 2019

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

What’s the Biblical response to the mounting anxiety in our lives? As we saw in the first week of this devotional series, we must first confront our anxiety honestly, recognizing our stressors for what they are. Second, we take the Lord up on his offer to cast our anxieties and worries upon him, for He cares deeply for us. Finally, as we will see in this final devotional of this series, once we have confronted our anxieties and cast them upon the Lord, we must carry on in the work the Father has created us to do. We rise up from our confession full of faith. We believe that God has graciously taken our anxieties upon Himself and that He has become our burden-bearer. We trust that, because God cares so much for us,...

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What It Means to ‘Cast’ Our Anxieties

anxiety at work Jan 14, 2019

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:22)

Last week, we opened up about the realities of stress and anxiety related to our work. We noted that there are a whole host of workplace issues and experiences that contribute to our ever-increasing levels of stress. Many of these things are out of our control. And that is precisely what causes us anxiety. On the surface, there appears to be nothing we can do to remedy this unfortunate reality, but as we began to explore yesterday, that is simply not true. The Bible speaks extensively about the issue of anxiety, offering us practical ways to relieve the stress in our lives.

First, as we saw previously, we must recognize and confront our anxiety. Today, we will look at the second thing Scripture commands us to do with our anxiety: cast it upon the Lord. In 1 Peter 5:7, the Apostle Paul instructs us to, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.” Once...

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