My Devotionals


Misreading the most cross-stitched verse of all time

out of context Feb 24, 2020

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Over the past four weeks, we have been examining a few of the most popular Bible verses and how their meaning can only be properly understood when read in context. Today’s verse is no exception.

This just might be the most cross-stitched verse of all time, found on countless pillows, keychains, and coffee mugs. I mean, who doesn’t love the promise of prosperity and hope for our careers and families? The only problem is, these promises weren’t made to you and me.

These promises were made to a specific people, at a specific point in time, under a specific set of circumstances. The Lord delivered this promise to Israel in the midst of His punishment of His people. Just a few verses prior to this famous passage, we are told that God had “carried [Israel] into exile from Jerusalem to...

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When God gives you more than you can handle

out of context Feb 17, 2020

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

If you’ve ever heard someone say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” and wondered where that’s found in the Bible—it’s not. But this verse is where that lie is typically derived from.

1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” This, of course, is wonderful and true! As James 1:13 makes clear, God himself is incapable of tempting anyone.

But somewhere along the way, we took 1 Corinthians 10:13 way out of context to wrongfully claim that God will never give us more than we can handle. Nowhere is that promise found in Scripture, and I think we all know from experience that this cliché isn’t true.


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Can we really “do all things” through Christ?

out of context Feb 10, 2020

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

We’re in a four-week series on Bible verses that are frequently taken out of context at work. Today’s may be one of the most abused passages in all of Scripture.

The athlete tattoos Philippians 4:13 on his arm to provide inspiration for the big games.

The sales executive recites the verse before her big pitch.

The author keeps these words on a post-it note to push toward a seemingly impossible deadline.

We tend to use this verse as a bite-sized motivational speech to inspire our striving. Ironically, the context of this verse in some ways inspires the opposite. Philippians 4:13 was not written to fuel your ambitions. It was written to cultivate contentment.

Take a look at the verse in the context of Paul’s words which precede it: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have...

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New Series: Out of Context (What 4 popular verses actually mean for our work)

out of context Feb 03, 2020

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

This may be one of the most quoted verses in the Church today, and for good reason. This verse contains a wonderful promise; but it’s not the promise we sometimes claim from this passage.

This verse is frequently taken out of context to provide hope amidst difficult circumstances. Have you lost your job? Did your business fail? Has your spouse filed for divorce? As your brother in Christ, I am terribly sorry for your difficult circumstances, but I beg of you not to use this verse to claim that God must have something better in store for you. That is not what this verse means.

When circumstances are not what we would choose for ourselves at work or at home, we must remember three things.

First, God is sovereign and in control, even when our circumstances might suggest otherwise. As Job said in...

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How We “Proclaim the Excellencies” of God at Work

master of one Jan 27, 2020

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)

The most visited attraction in Barcelona is not a theme park or a soccer stadium. It’s an unfinished church that has been under construction for more than 135 years.

If you visit la Sagrada Familia, you’ll instantly see why the church is so popular. For starters, it is truly awe-inspiring. But there’s a second reason why the church is such a draw. In an age that prioritizes speed over everything else, the pace at which la Sagrada Familia is being built commands our attention.

We are used to seeing restaurants built in weeks, houses in months, and skyscrapers in just a few years. The idea of spending more than thirteen decades building a church is simply incomprehensible to most. It is that commitment to slow, masterful work that draws millions of...

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The 3 Keys to Mastery

master of one Jan 20, 2020

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God….And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him….Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:3,17, 23-24)

In the past few weeks, I’ve made the case for why Christians should focus on pursuing mastery of one thing at a time vocationally and what we should be looking for in our “one thing.” Today, we’ll take a glimpse at how you can achieve mastery of your craft for the glory of God and the good of others.

In my team’s extensive research for my new book, Master of One, three keys to mastering any vocation came up time and time again.

Key #1: Apprenticeships

In James 4:6, we are told...

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Divine Multiplication in Our Work

master of one Jan 13, 2020

Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times. (Mark 4:3-8)

Between my research for Called to Create and Master of One, I have interviewed nearly 100 Christians who are world-class masters of their crafts. When I’ve asked these people to describe how they discerned their “calling” or their “one thing,” their responses are remarkably similar. Nearly all of these masters tended to ask three questions throughout this...

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Jesus: “Few things are needed–indeed only one”

master of one Jan 06, 2020

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

Last week, I argued that in order to best glorify God and love others through our work, we should pursue becoming a “master of one” rather than drifting into becoming a “master of none.” To do this, we must get clarity on the work God has created us to do and the courage to say “no” to...

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New Series: Master of One

master of one Dec 30, 2019

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

There’s an old saying that goes, “He’s a Jack of all trades, and a master of none,” used to describe someone who is good at many different things but not excellent at any one of them.

I don’t have a problem being a Jack of all trades, but I do think we Christians ought to have a big problem with being described as “masters of none.”

Why? Because the essence of the Christian life is to glorify God (or, in the words of John Piper, “reflect his greatness”) and love our neighbors as ourselves. How do we fulfill that call through our work? By doing our work masterfully well and being “imitators” of God’s character of excellence (see Ephesians 5:1).

The opposite of mastery is mediocrity, and mediocrity is nothing short of a failure of love and...

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The Final Advent

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you….Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip….Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord. All Kedar’s flocks will be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth will serve you; they will be accepted as offerings on my altar, and I will adorn my glorious temple. Who are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests? Surely the islands look to me; in the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your children from afar, with their silver and gold, to the honor of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor. Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you. Though in anger I struck you, in favor I will show you...

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