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Hope in Times of Failure

responding to failure Jun 11, 2018

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 (NIV)

In the booming Chicago of the 1860s, there lived a young Christian family of six whose patriarch was a prominent lawyer and investor. All was going well for the young man and his family until the Great Chicago Fire destroyed much of his real estate. The loss was significant, but it paled in comparison to the tragedy the man would experience just two years later when his wife and daughters were in a shipwreck as they sailed from New York to England. All four daughters died in the crash. Upon arriving in England, the mother telegrammed her husband in Chicago. “Saved alone,” she said.

The husband left Chicago right away, sailing off to England to meet his grieving wife. We don’t know much about his journey across the Atlantic, but I have to imagine the man spent his days alone, grieving his loss and...

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New Series: Responding to Failure

responding to failure Jun 04, 2018

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

Contrary to what some “spiritual self-help gurus” preach, the God of the Bible does not promise us success. If anything, Scripture makes clear that Christians are all-but guaranteed adversity and failure. From Paul to Peter, from Joseph to Job, the Bible is filled with stories of men and women who experienced great failures both personally and professionally. Throughout these stories, Scripture reveals a God who isn’t concerned with our “success,” but is very much concerned with our sanctification and how our failures can be used to mold us into His image.

Today, more and more Christians are embracing the call to create, taking risks to bring about new businesses, ministries, art, books, music, and other forms of culture as a means of serving others. It’s never been easier to follow God’s call to create! But we...

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As You Are Going…Make Disciples

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.' Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

Over the past three weeks, we have been exploring the biblical truth that every Christian is a “full-time missionary” and unpacking what I’m calling the Three Myths of Missions which block us from really embracing our roles as disciple-makers. The third and final myth of missions that we will unpack this week is that in order to fulfill the Great Commission, you must “go” away from your current vocation and...

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The Laughable Myth of Missions

“Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon?” Mark 6:3 (NIV)

In order to embrace the idea that every Christian is a full-time missionary, there’s a second myth of missions that we need to look to Scripture to refute. Here it is: The calling of pastors and “full-time missionaries” is somehow “higher” than the call to other vocations.

As we saw in last week’s devotional. God called human beings to work, giving all work inherent meaning; thus, there should be no sense that one person’s vocational calling is higher, more meaningful, or more eternally significant than another.

But the fact is, there is an unspoken hierarchy of callings in the Church today that says that if you are really sold out for Jesus, you will abandon your current work and spiritually “level-up” to the role of a pastor or...

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The Call to Cultural Creation

God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Genesis 1:28 (NIV)

The idea that every Christian is a full-time missionary may sound new or at least like a fresh perspective. Why is that? As we will see throughout this devotional series, God’s Word makes crystal clear that each of us is called to make disciples of Jesus Christ no matter what job we have or where we live. So why does this concept sound new? I believe it’s because the Church has bought into three myths of missions which we will look to Scripture to refute over the next three weeks.

The first myth that the Church has subscribed to for some time now is that work is largely meaningless unless you work as a “full-time missionary.”

Have you ever felt like your work is less important or eternally meaningful than that of...

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New Series: Every Christian Is a “Full-Time Missionary”

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

I grew up dreading sermons on the topic of missions. It’s not because I don’t love missions; in fact, I can think of nothing more exhilarating than sharing the name of Jesus with a lost world. I love as 1 Peter 2:9 says to “declare the excellencies” of our God, telling others about the miraculous work Jesus has done on my behalf. But for years, any time I heard that a pastor would be preaching on missions or that we...

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“The Most Unproductive Thing You Can Do”

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

We’ve come a long way in 20 days.

In the first 10 days, we sketched out a biblical narrative of work; then we saw five ways in which our work matters in light of that narrative; and over the past few days, we examined four ways we should do our work in light of those previous truths.

Today, we see one final way we should work: To work productively towards God’s agenda in this world, we must stay rooted to “the vine” by regularly communing with our Lord. 

Jesus said that apart from him, “you can do nothing” of value to him and his kingdom-building purposes. In the words of author Matt Perman, “To live your life without God is the most unproductive thing you can do.”

If you want your work to be worship—a means of serving God rather than...

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Rest as a Sermon for the Ambitious

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:2-3)

God had no need to rest from his work. But he did. Why?

I don’t think it’s farfetched to conclude that because God created work as a form of worship, he knew we would be tempted to work nonstop. I think God rested because he knew we would forget to. So he graciously modeled a rhythm of work and rest that we were designed to mimic. 

Yesterday, we saw that the Word commands us to work in a way that embraces the tension between “trusting” and “hustling.” How can we know if we’re managing that tension well? By whether or not we are able to rest.

Can’t fall asleep because you’re working out a problem that faces you at work the next morning? Find yourself...

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Trusting AND Hustling

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

“Hustle” has to be one of the most popular mantras in work culture today. Entrepreneurs are told that they have to “hustle” to make their businesses succeed. Everyone seems to be working on a “side-hustle” outside of their 9-to-5 job. 

But what does God’s Word have to say about hustle? 

On the one hand, Scripture clearly celebrates hard work. In Colossians 1, Paul himself claims to “strenuously contend with all the energy” in his work. Then, a few verses later, he commands us to do the same saying, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart” (Colossians 3:23).

Given the many ways...

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The Ministry of Excellence

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)

We’ve seen that the most fundamental purpose of our work is to glorify God by “reflecting his greatness” and character.

What exactly are God’s characteristics? The Word describes God in many ways, but it is his character of excellence that is perhaps most visible to us today. You can’t visit the Grand Canyon or your local zoo without appreciating the masterful work of God’s hands.

As God’s children, we are called to be image-bearers of our Father. Theologian Andreas Köstenberger says, “As God’s redeemed children, we are to strive to be like God. This, it appears, includes striving for excellence.” John Piper put it this way: “God created [us] to live with a single…passion to glorify God...

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