Let Your “Is” Determine Your “Ought”

Let Your “Is” Determine Your “Ought”

June 24, 2019By Mark D. Roberts

In Ephesians 5:6-8, Christian ethics is not based on God’s commandments, but rather on our new identity in God. We are not to deceive or disobey. Why not? “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” There is an “ought” here: You ought not to deceive or disobey. Instead, you ought to live as a child of the light. This “ought” is based on the “is” of your new identity: Now you are light in the Lord. If we want to find out what we “ought” to do (and not do), we need to pay attention to the “is” of our identity in Christ.

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

June 23, 2019By Jennifer Woodruff

Jesus Christ knows our toil—the toil the Preacher complained about in Ecclesiastes—because he too has lived it. He too has experienced it. He too has suffered, and he has triumphed over that suffering. Consider that as you go about your work today.

Surprise!

Surprise!

June 22, 2019By Jennifer Woodruff

We find that our Preacher is actually not very happy about his life or his work. He finally in Ecclesiastes 3:22 comes to the conclusion that we might as well enjoy work—not because it matters to God, but because, although we know God exists and is in charge, we have no idea whether God actually intends anything better for us than our current toil. There is a chance—more than a chance, in fact—that your work and your leadership really do matter to God—matter on that deep level where we all hunger to know that we are loved, known, and guided.

Prayers for Workers: Serve the Lord of All

Prayers for Workers: Serve the Lord of All

June 21, 2019By Mark D. Roberts

By your grace, Lord, may I serve you with reverent fear in all that I do, whether I work for compensation or as a volunteer, whether I’m a CEO or a brand new intern, no matter my position or salary, my fame or obscurity.

Why Should I Be Good?

Why Should I Be Good?

June 20, 2019By Mark D. Roberts

Ephesians 5:6-8 offers another answer to this question, a stunning and expansive answer, a life-changing answer: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light” (5:8). We’ll unpack the amazing truth of this verse in future devotions. For now, I’d like you to notice its answer to the “Why be good?” question. It says: Be good because of who you are. Be good because you are no longer darkness. Be good because now you are light in the Lord. When you live as a child of light, you will be good. The rationale for being good in Ephesians 5:8 doesn’t point to some threat if you fall short. Nor does it promise a reward if you excel. Rather, this verse grounds your goodness in your very identity as light, as a child of the light.

Should We Cut Ourselves Off from “Worldly” People?

Should We Cut Ourselves Off from “Worldly” People?

June 19, 2019By Mark D. Roberts

The word translated here as “partners” (summetochos) appears twice in the New Testament, only in Ephesians. In Ephesians 3:6, it is used in the phrase “sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (emphasis added). In secular Greek, summetochos can mean being a joint owner of something with another person. So Paul does not say we should never have relationship with those who are disobedient. We are not to cut ourselves off from them. Rather, we are to refrain from joining with them as partners in their wrong behavior. With regard to the question of how we as God’s holy people are to live in an unholy world, Paul’s answer is clear: we are not to engage in immoral behavior. Yet at the same time we are not to withdraw completely from the world in order to make this easy. Rather, we are to remain engaged with those who are caught in darkness. God may very well use us to help them to be drawn to the light of Christ through us precisely because we are in relationship with them.

Ghostbusters and the Wrath of God

June 18, 2019By Mark D. Roberts

Many Christians have backed away from mentioning the wrath of God. We have emphasized God’s love and grace without mentioning that God is saving us, not just from our own hurts and messes, but also from what Scripture often calls God’s wrath. But what does this really mean? When we hear the word “wrath,” we might envision petty fits of rage. But in the biblical understanding God’s wrath is not like this at all. It is much closer to what we would call “righteous indignation.” Yes, it involves emotion. But it is emotion that stems from a deep sense of the wrongness of injustice, from hatred of the hurt that sin does to God’s creation and his beloved people. God’s wrath is really an expression of God’s holy justice and his love for his creation. It’s not a divine temper tantrum. Paul mentions God’s wrath in Ephesians 5:6 to remind us that God doesn’t benignly overlook immorality, impurity, or greed. God does not minimize the evil of sin. Rather, God detests it and judges it. But this is not the end of the story, thanks be to God.

Avoid Empty Words, Part 2

Avoid Empty Words, Part 2

June 17, 2019By Mark D. Roberts

The Apostle Paul was particularly concerned about “empty words” that might deceive us concerning the best ways to live when it comes to sexuality and money. Indeed, we should be wary of the flood of such empty words in our own day. But the phrase “empty words” suggests another application, one that Paul would not have considered. I’m thinking of the way that modern technology fosters “empty-wordiness.” Twenty-four-hour news shows require words to be spoken long after the meaningful ones have run out. Countless cable channels fill our televisions – and perhaps our living rooms and our minds – with silly and senseless words. Then there’s the Internet. This technological wonder fosters a flood of empty words unlike anything before in human history. Email invites quick rather than thoughtful responses. Texting accelerates our progress towards verbal emptiness. Twitter users post 6,000 tweets . . . per second. That’s 500 million tweets a day, or 200 billion per year.
Of course, our technology can also capture and distribute “non-empty words,” words that are full of truth and love.

A Tribute to The Father

A Tribute to The Father

June 16, 2019By Breon Wells

Perhaps this is what Jesus was doing when he stated “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on you do know him and have seen him”. The bond between God the Father and Jesus the Son was so strong that people could identify the characteristics of God by following and watching Jesus. Our Savior was showing us the best way to honor God the Father and all fathers.

Leadership Prayers: Psalm 141

Leadership Prayers: Psalm 141

June 15, 2019By Uli Chi

I have spent much of my working life trying to develop “covenantal” business relationships. The word “covenantal” implies a focus not merely on the economic transactions of the relationship, but on the well-being of the other person or institution. While there is considerable interest today in forming strategic business partnerships, those partnerships are usually dominated by, if not exclusively concerned with, matters of business self-interest. But what if self-interest were supplanted by—or at least augmented with—a real interest in the common good made possible by the relationship? One such relationship that I experienced started well. Our business counterparts shared many of the same strategic interests and cultural values as our company did. We built a mutual business relationship rooted in figuring out what made business sense not only for ourselves but for the other. But, over time, things changed. For a variety of reasons, our business partners began to treat the relationship like any other. From their end, the business relationship had devolved from a covenantal one to a transaction-oriented one. We were faced with the question: How should we respond?

Psalms for Workers: A Prayer for Fruitfulness

Psalms for Workers: A Prayer for Fruitfulness

June 14, 2019By Bethany Hager

A Note from Mark:
If you’ve been reading Life for Leaders for a while, you know that Friday devotions are usually drawn from the Psalms. In fact, last week I just completed one whole lap of the Psalms, drawing my inspiration from Psalm 150.
Today I want to start something a bit different. For a while, Friday devotions will still be based on the Psalms, but the format will be new. Rather than reflecting and then praying, I want to share a prayer right up front. This prayer will be explicitly connected to work, both paid and unpaid. My intention is that this approach to the Psalms will help you to pray in the context of your own work, whether you labor in a kiosk or a kitchen, a shop or a studio, a field or a factory, a boardroom or a bodega, a classroom or a church.
My hope is that this series of prayers based on the Psalms will help you go deeper in your workplace discipleship. May you discover God’s presence right where you work and find new freedom to offer all that you are to God in workplace worship.

Avoid Empty Words, Part 1

Avoid Empty Words, Part 1

June 13, 2019By Mark D. Roberts

Paul was concerned that the recipients of his letter might be enticed by purveyors of empty words to reject a Christ-shaped perspective on life, especially when it comes to sexuality and greed. We have no shortage of such empty words today. In multiple ways, the empty wordsmiths of our world convince us that life is best when filled with sexual exploits and lots of possessions. We can begin to be persuaded that Christian morality is outdated, irrelevant, and oppressive. Thus, Paul’s injunction to the Ephesians deserves a new hearing today: Let no one deceive you with empty words. Listen for the truth of words. Seek their substance. Pay attention to those who lives reflect the solidness of their words. Let the words you speak be full of meaning and love.