My Devotionals


Breaking down your First Commission this first day of 2024

the unabridged gospel Jan 01, 2024

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. Rule…” (Genesis 1:26, 28)

The pervasive “abridged gospel” starts in Genesis 3 and ends at Easter. But as theologian Dr. Sandra Richter explains, “I am unable to share the gospel without speaking of Eden. Because when we ask the salvation question, what we are really asking is, what did [Adam] lose? And…what did [Jesus] buy back?”

That's why, we’re spending the next 5 weeks unpacking The Unabridged Gospel from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 and what it means for our work.

Our journey begins in Act 1 of Creation where God spent six days working with his words (see Genesis 1) and his hands (see Genesis 2:7–21). Then, God created his children to share in his love, creation, and vocation! Genesis 1 and 2 make clear that God never...

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Did Jesus bring “joy to the world”? The Abridged Gospel says no.

the unabridged gospel Dec 25, 2023

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. (John 3:16)

You and I are staking our lives on the gospel of Jesus Christ. But what is the gospel of Jesus Christ exactly? 

One mega Christian influencer defines the gospel as “the good news that Jesus came to earth to make it possible for all of us to live forever with Him in heaven.” In one of the bestselling books of all time, one pastor declares that “[God] wants all his lost children found! That’s the whole reason Jesus came to earth” on Christmas Day.

These statements are examples of what I call The Abridged Gospel, which can be summarized like this: 

The Abridged Gospel: Jesus came to save people from their sins.

While every word of that statement is gloriously true, there are three major problems with defining the gospel in this way.

First, The Abridged Gospel is incomplete. It distills the good news of God’s Word into a two-act drama—humans sinned; Christ...

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What kind of work is “not in vain”?

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

I’ve said this multiple times throughout this series, but allow me to say it once more: The Great Commission to “make disciples” is indeed great! But it’s far from the only thing Christ has called us to do. And there are serious problems with treating it as such. We’ve seen three of those problems thus far in this series:

  1. Jesus never did
  2. It neglects the other aspects of God’s kingdom
  3. Ironically, it makes us less effective at the Great Commission

Here’s the fourth problem with treating the Great Commission as the only commission: It blocks you and me from seeing how our work matters for eternity—how, in the words of the Apostle Paul, our “labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

If the Great Commission is the only...

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I’ve shared the gospel more in 2 years than in 10 prior. Here’s why.

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

The Great Commission is indeed great. But as we’ve been exploring in this series, there is great danger in treating the Great Commission as the only one Jesus left us. 

One of those dangers is that it ironically makes us less effective at the Great Commission. Why? Because it makes Christians feel guilty for working in the very places most likely to make disciples!

Dr. Michael Green, an expert on the explosion of Christianity in the first few centuries, says that the historical evidence “makes it abundantly clear that in contrast to the present day, when Christianity is . . . dispensed by a professional clergy . . . in the early days the faith was spontaneously spread by informal evangelists,” who shared the gospel “in homes and wine shops, on walks, and around market stalls.” 

That was true in the early church, and likely to be true for the...

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Why we neglect these “non-soul” aspects of God’s kingdom

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.…And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward. (Matthew 10:7-8, 42)

When Jesus called his disciples to “proclaim” that his kingdom had come, he instructed them to “heal,” “cleanse,” and “give.” Not just evangelize and “save souls.”

Because of that, I’m confident that Scott Harrison and his team at charity: water are doing “kingdom work” by giving clean water to millions of the world’s poorest image-bearers. 

But some Christians disagree. For example, a wealthy Christian we’ll call Bill once told Scott: We're not going to give to charity: water because you're not...

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Problem #1 with treating the Great Commission as the only mission Jesus left us

After his suffering, [Jesus] presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)

Last week, we saw that for the very first time in Church history, many Christians today have interpreted the “Great Commission” to “make disciples” as the singular mission of the Christian life.

If that’s true, then most of your work is meaningless. The product you’re building, the beauty you’re creating, the car you’re repairing—none of it matters unless you can leverage those things to the instrumental end of “sharing the gospel.”

Believer, this is an egregious lie. And a crazy dangerous one for reasons we’ll explore over the next four weeks. Here’s the first problem with treating the Great Commission as the only commission Jesus left us: Jesus himself never did!

Today’s passage tells us that Jesus...

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The term “Great Commission” is only 200 years old. Here’s why that matters.

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 28:19–20) 

One of the deepest and most dangerous lies in the Church today is that this passage—often labeled the “Great Commission”—is the singular mission of the Christian life.

This, of course, has tremendous implications for our work. Because if the Great Commission to “save souls” and “make disciples” is the only thing that matters for eternity, then most of us are wasting most of our time.

This is what many of us are being told explicitly by church leaders! In the words of one influential pastor, “The consequences of your mission [and here he’s talking exclusively about the Great Commission] will last forever; the consequences of your job will not.”


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2 reasons to trust that God is working everything for good

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)

Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery which led him to Egypt and his unjust incarceration. But God orchestrated these events to eventually put Joseph in a position of power second only to Pharaoh. 

When his brothers needed Joseph to save their lives, they understandably feared that Joseph would choose to retaliate. But Joseph did the unexpected. He forgave them and claimed that “God intended” all his hardship “for good.” 

Of course, it’s unlikely that Joseph ever described his circumstances as a slave and prisoner as “good.” But looking back over the course of many years, he could see how God used his suffering for a greater redemptive purpose. 

One day, you and I will be able to do the same, if not on this side of eternity, then the other. That truth doesn’t make the pain we feel...

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God is using your “mundane” work to do the miraculous—just like Joseph

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me….I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you….But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. (Genesis 45:4-5, 7)

After Joseph was released from prison, he was appointed by Pharaoh to lead Egypt through a seven-year famine. Now, Joseph is one of the highest ranking government officials in Egypt, and through God’s power, an exceptionally good one. 

For seven years, Joseph organized efforts to store up Egypt’s agricultural abundance. And when the famine hit, Egypt was so well prepared that “all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere” (Genesis 41:57). As today’s passage reveals, “all the world”...

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How deflecting glory leads to bigger swings

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” (Genesis 41:15-16)

Joseph was in prison unjustly. So when the guards told him that the Pharaoh needed his skills, Joseph must have sensed some hope that maybe, just maybe, his talents as a dream interpreter could earn him a literal get out of jail free card.

With that context, we almost expect Joseph to trumpet his own abilities to Pharaoh. But when Pharaoh gives him that opportunity, Joseph deflects the glory that could have so easily been his.

What remarkable humility! Even though he was in the fight of his life where the temptation to glorify himself through his work must have been strong, Joseph recognized that it is God, not us, who produces results through our work. And thus, he alone deserves the...

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