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‚ÄúThe Most Unproductive Thing You Can Do‚ÄĚ

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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Our Modus Operandi

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...

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Your Eternal Reward

The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. (1 Corinthians 3:8)

Over the past few days, we’ve explored four ways your work matters to God. We saw how our work glorifies God by revealing his character to others. We saw that our work is a primary means by which God works in the world. We saw how our work is a means of living out the Great Commission. And yesterday, we saw how our work is a means of advancing the Kingdom of God.

Those four truths ought to give us plenty of purpose and motivation for our work. But God in his great graciousness gives us something else—an explicit incentive to do our work well and in line with his principles. As today’s passage makes clear, there are varying eternal rewards tied to how we work today.

Now, to be clear, our work has zero impact on our status as adopted children of God. Our salvation “is the gift of...

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Agents of Redemption

But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.” In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. (Hebrews 2:6-8)

Yesterday, we saw that “the kingdom of God” was at the forefront of Jesus’s preaching. At his resurrection, Jesus proved that he is the prophesied king of that kingdom, thus inaugurating his redeemed creation. 

But as we saw a few days ago, Jesus didn’t bring the fullness of his kingdom in one fell swoop. He certainly could have, but he didn’t.

This shouldn’t surprise us. Before his crucifixion, Jesus made clear that his kingdom would come gradually—slowly—like a mustard seed growing into a tree...

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Misreading the Great Commission

Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19)

This might be the most widely known and misunderstood verse in Scripture.

For years, I read this verse and felt guilty that I was working as a tech entrepreneur in suburban America, rather than moving away from home to “go and make disciples” elsewhere.

My mindset transformed when pastor Kennon Vaughan showed me that the Greek word we translate “Go” literally means “having gone.” Dr. Vaughan explains, “‘Go’ is not a command. [Jesus] is not commanding them to go. He is saying, ‘Having gone…turn men into disciples.’ The going is assumed. Jesus didn’t go more than 200 miles away from his hometown, and yet he is the greatest disciple-maker in history. It wasn’t about how far he went. It was about what he did while he was going. The same is true for you and me.”

You don’t need to change your...

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How God Feeds the World

The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan. (Joshua 5:11-12)

There was once a man who lived by the river. One day, the man heard a radio broadcast urging him and all residents to evacuate the town as a huge storm was coming and flooding was inevitable. But the man refused to leave claiming that God would protect him. When the flooding started, two neighbors—one in a kayak and another in a rescue helicopter—came and tried to save the man, but he refused their help, assuring them that God would save him. You can probably guess what happened to the man: He drowned.

Is God capable of protecting, feeding, and healing us through miracles? Of course he is. But more often than not, he chooses to do these things through...

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What Does ‚ÄúGlorify‚ÄĚ Even Mean?

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

1 Corinthians 15 is one of the longest expositions on heaven in Scripture. Given the topic, you might expect Paul to conclude this chapter by saying something like, “Now, wait around faithfully until the Lord’s return.” But that’s not what he says. Instead, Paul says, “Therefore…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). 

In light of our eternal hope, we are to lean into our work today, knowing that it will somehow not be for naught. Somehow our work matters to God. How? We’re going to explore five answers to that question. 

Today, we start with the most fundamental: As Jesus’s words in today’s passage make clear, our work matters because it is a means...

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