Ok everyone — here is chapter 1 of my new book project. In full disclosure, I feel this chapter still needs a lot of work. Some of the ideas are good on their own, but I feel like they are disjointed. But it’s hard to know what I am being too critical of vs. the reality, so your feedback would be appreciated. I also know that some of you will not agree with some of the items mentioned here. I understand that. Note that I am not necessarily looking for a critique of the ideas (that has and will continue to happen in other places). I mostly need help with the structure and usefulness. Imagine you’ve just opened this book and made it through the introduction, and now we’re beginning to set the stage and build the argument for devotional productivity. Thank you!!!
Until a few years ago, I did not realize the true extent to which God uses others to accomplish his will in the world. Oh sure, I’ve been taught my whole life that it was man’s duty to do the will of God. Also, I knew about angels and how they often had a role to play in delivering messages for the Lord.
But a few years ago I was confronted with the Bible. Have you ever had that moment? Where you don’t fully grasp the significance of something you’ve read, but you just know things will never be the same?
That’s what happened when I became aware of what Dr. Michael Heiser has called “The Divine Council Worldview.” This is shorthand for, “God has a family of spiritual beings that carry out his will and even make decisions with him, just the same as he has a human family that carries out his will and makes decisions with him.”1
This is how God gets things done.
In many Christian circles it’s common practice to turn the will of God into something mystical. Something that only a select few have access to. Or something that you can somehow know in advance of making a big decision. That’s not really how it works. It’s more like a divine partnership. We make decisions based on the principles in God’s Word, the opportunities presented in life, and abiding in God’s Spirit, and he uses the decisions we make to accomplish his will in the lives of others and ourselves.
In his production system, there is work to do every day. You and me? We’re a part of that work. The spiritual beings God made even before he laid the foundation of the world? They are part of that work. God uses members of his human and divine family to get things done. That is incredible!
It’s not only incredible but sobering. It means there’s work to do. It means we’re always on the clock. And it means God has a say in everything we choose to do with our time and resources.
Where Most Productivity Advice Fails
Already, we’re confronted with arguably the biggest failure of popular teaching on productivity. It assumes that our time is ours. It assumes the goal is increased efficiency. It assumes that we’re the master of our fate and our failure to achieve peak effectiveness is due to a life hack we haven’t discovered or a book we haven’t read.
That’s not what the Bible says. Productivity must be in service of something. Otherwise, why not work ourselves into the ground? If we’re going there anyway, we might as well go there having got more done instead of less. There’s a nugget of truth there…but it’s not the whole picture. If we’re the captain of our own ship, we make the rules. We decide which course to take. We decide how long it takes us to get to our destination.
If God is the captain of our ship, that picture changes. Now, it’s important we don’t fall into the trap I mentioned above where we make God’s will into something mystical. The point is not that we have to know what God is doing to make decisions.
That’s not how it works.
Our job is simply to remember that God is doing something—and he’s doing it through you and me. What a thought! There are guideposts along the way. For example, we mustn’t do anything that contradicts the revealed Word of God. We mustn’t do anything the Holy Spirit doesn’t endorse or that our conscience won’t allow. Also, we should use wisdom and the instruction of other godly people to help guide us along.
Beyond those most basic of guidelines, we’re free to make decisions and move forward, confident that God can use us to get things done. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We’ll get to Eden soon enough, but did you know the story starts before that? According to the Book of Job, something was there with God sans creation.2 Who was it, why were they there, and what is their purpose? Let’s have a look.
The Singing Stars
There are some very clear doctrines in the Bible. God created the world, man has rebelled and is need of redemption, Jesus was sent to accomplish that redemption, and others. There are some doctrines that are secondary in nature and have been debated over the millennia. Is God sovereign over all? Yes. Does man have free will…yes. How does that work? Ask 20 theologians and you’ll get a little different answer.
And then there are…other things. Statements made in passing that sound odd to the Sunday Morning Western Evangelical. One of them is in Job 38:4-7:
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
In this passage, God is questioning Job about the creation of the world, illustrating the vast difference between God’s wisdom and power and Job’s limited human understanding. But notice something strange going on in verse 7. God describes the joy and celebration of the heavenly beings during the creation process.
Heavenly beings? Where does that come from?
In the ancient Near East, stars were often associated with divine beings or deities. This connection between stars and heavenly beings was deeply rooted in the religious and cosmological beliefs of the cultures in the region. Various texts, mythologies, and iconography from ancient Mesopotamia, Canaan, and Egypt reflect this belief.
In ancient Israel, the connection between stars and heavenly beings was less pronounced than in the surrounding cultures of the ancient Near East. However, the Israelites were certainly influenced by these neighboring beliefs, and there are some instances in the Hebrew Bible where stars are associated with divine or heavenly beings. Job 38:7 is one such instance.
Another example is in the book of Judges, where the prophetess Deborah sings about the stars in their courses fighting against Sisera, the Canaanite commander (Judges 5:20). This passage could be seen as an echo of the broader ancient Near Eastern belief in stars as representing divine or heavenly powers.3
We don’t often think about God’s dwelling in heaven sans creation—after all, that’s not exactly the kind of thing likely to show up in most Sunday morning messages or Bible study programs. Yet, it’s part of the larger story God is telling so must be considered. This may prompt you to wonder what we’re doing talking about God’s so-called Divine Council instead of how to get more done next Tuesday.
We’re getting there, I promise. First, it’s important to recognize God’s sovereignty and appreciate the intricate and organized nature of his kingdom. When we realize that God has a well-structured system in place, it inspires us to submit to his authority and align our priorities with his purposes. As we’ll soon find out, we’re a huge part of that system, so we must understand the whole if we’re to understand our role.
And while I admit this might sound a bit esoteric, in my view, it’s vital. God doesn’t do anything by accident. So, what do these heavenly beings actually do? Why were they created in the first place?
“Why” questions are the hardest to answer. In fact, one of the only “why” questions we get answered in the Bible is why God created anything at all. And I have to be honest, the answer isn’t very satisfying to my rationalistic mind. Revelation 4:11 gives the answer:
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Everything—including all spiritual reality—was created for God’s glory. There’s a second implied answer, and it’s equally unsatisfying: He just wanted to. Yep, turns out when you’re the Creator of the universe, you don’t have to have reasons or give them. It’s kinda your prerogative. So, God created divine beings to live in his realm with him. In fact, the Bible calls all beings who live in the “unseen realm” elohim.
This is a word we often associate with only the God of the Bible, but that is a misuse of the term. Note the different use cases found throughout Scripture:
- God (Yahweh): In most instances, “elohim” refers to the God of Israel, Yahweh. It is used this way in passages like Genesis 1:1 and Psalm 100:3.
- Pagan gods: “Elohim” can also refer to the gods of other nations or false gods, as seen in passages like Exodus 12:12 and 1 Kings 11:33.
- Angels or heavenly beings: In some cases, “elohim” refers to angels or other divine beings, such as in Psalm 8:5 (which is quoted as referring to angels in Hebrews 2:7) and Psalm 82:1, where God is described as presiding over an assembly of elohim.
- The deceased Samuel: In 1 Samuel 28:13, when the witch of Endor conjures up the spirit of the prophet Samuel, she describes the apparition as “elohim” coming up out of the ground.
Strange, right? But true. There is a host of characters that live in the same location as God, but are not God. They’re not the “Most High.” They assist God, but he’s in charge. Just how does God work alongside this host of characters to accomplish his will?
One obvious answer is found in the work of angels. The Hebrew word for angel is malak which is used in the same ways as the Greek term angelos. In both cases, the idea of a “messenger” is in view. And, as we often witness throughout the biblical text, God sends divine beings (angels) to deliver messages to humans. But there are more obscure ways God works alongside these other elohim, too.
The “Angel of the Lord” is a frequent character in Old Testament narratives. He’s a special case, too, since he is often portrayed as being both distinct and one with Yahweh. One well-known story featuring the Angel of the Lord working alongside God is the account of the Passover in Exodus 12. In this event, the Angel of the Lord is also referred to as the “destroyer.” God sends this heavenly being to strike down the firstborn of Egypt as the final plague against Pharaoh, leading to the Israelites’ release from bondage. The Israelites are instructed to mark their doors with the blood of a sacrificial lamb, and the Angel of the Lord “passes over” the marked houses, sparing the firstborn inside. In this case, the Angel of the Lord is an instrument of God’s judgment, executing his will and fulfilling his plan to liberate the Israelites.
Another example of God working alongside an elohim to accomplish his purposes is found in the story of the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 22. In this passage, King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah are considering going to war against Ramoth-gilead. They consult with their prophets, who all claim that the Lord will give them victory.
However, King Jehoshaphat isn’t fully convinced and asks to hear from a prophet of the Lord. Ahab brings forth the prophet Micaiah, who initially agrees with the other prophets but later reveals a vision of the heavenly council. In the vision, Micaiah sees the Lord on his throne with the host of heaven (divine beings) around him. The Lord asks who will entice Ahab to go to war and fall at Ramoth-gilead.
A spirit (an elohim or divine being) comes forward and offers to be a lying spirit in the mouths of Ahab’s prophets, essentially luring Ahab into battle where he will be defeated. God allows this spirit to go forth and fulfill this plan. This narrative demonstrates God working alongside a divine being to accomplish his purpose in the world, ultimately leading to Ahab’s downfall.
So you see, God is often doing more than meets the eye. The question is not, “Can God use me?” The answer to that is an obvious yes. The real question is, “What does God want me to do today?” And that question is not answered with an appeal to mysticism. It’s answered with open eyes, a willing heart, and a longing to see God’s will transform your life and the lives of others you’ve been called to influence.
But Steve—all this is starting to sound a lot like work.
I’m glad you noticed!
The Gardener of Eden
Eden, a paradise of pleasure ruined by pride and poison. This is more familiar territory. Where our story really begins. That’s true enough. But even still, there’s more going on here that we’re used to thinking about, and it will have dramatic implications for our study going forward.
Before the fall, Adam had two primary roles in the Garden of Eden. These responsibilities were assigned by God and served as the foundation for humanity’s purpose on earth:
Tending and keeping the Garden. Adam was given the task of cultivating and maintaining the Garden of Eden. This meant that he had to care for the plants, trees, and the overall environment. Genesis 2:15 states, “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”
Naming the animals. God brought all the animals to Adam, and he was responsible for naming them. This task not only allowed Adam to exercise his creativity and authority but also established his dominion over the creatures. Genesis 2:19-20 says, “And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field.”
These roles highlight the harmonious relationship between Adam, creation, and God before the fall. They also serve as a reminder of humanity’s original purpose on earth, which was to steward and care for the environment and to live in close relationship with God.
Of course this also means that “work” isn’t a four-letter word. It was not bad. It was part of what God deemed, “very good.” The fall did bring a curse to the earth, but the curse was not work. The curse was not doing. God had us here to do from the very beginning of creation. And that, ladies and gentlemen, means pursuit of productivity is a worthwhile endeavor. It not only means that it’s worthwhile to be more effective while on this earth, but since Eden is often compared to the New Earth in Scripture (Isaiah 65:17, Isaiah 66:22, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1, Revelation 22:1-5), it suggests that we’ll be doing something for eternity.
It’s probably a good idea, then, to find out what God thinks about the way we do things.
Doing is Good
From the very beginning, God intended for humanity to engage in work and meaningful activities. In Genesis 2:15, it is recorded that God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to “dress it and to keep it.” This reveals that work is an essential part of God’s design for mankind. When people engage in productive activities, they are reflecting the nature of their Creator, who is a tireless worker, continually upholding and sustaining the universe.
Throughout the Bible, there are numerous examples of individuals who engaged in meaningful work and contributed positively to their communities. Joseph, for instance, worked diligently in every position he was placed in, whether as a servant, a prisoner, or a governor. His hard work and faithfulness were rewarded by God, and he ultimately played a crucial role in saving his family and the entire nation of Egypt from famine (Genesis 37-50).
Doing is Commanded
God’s commandments and teachings throughout the Bible encourage people to be diligent, hardworking, and productive. In Proverbs 6:6-11, the writer encourages readers to learn from the ant, which is known for its hard work, industriousness, and preparation for the future. The writer admonishes those who are lazy and idle, warning that their lack of productivity will lead to poverty and want.
In the New Testament, Paul, in his letters, also emphasizes the importance of working diligently. In 2 Thessalonians 3:10, he writes, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”
Doing is Practiced
We also find numerous examples of people who practiced diligence and productivity in their lives. In addition to the example of Joseph mentioned earlier, we can look at the lives of King David, Nehemiah, and the Apostle Paul. Each of these individuals was dedicated to accomplishing the tasks and responsibilities entrusted to them by God.
King David, for example, worked tirelessly to lead and protect the nation of Israel, both as a warrior and as a shepherd king (1 Samuel and 2 Samuel). Nehemiah, in the face of opposition and challenges, led the people of Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls (Nehemiah). The Apostle Paul, despite facing numerous hardships and persecution, was committed to spreading the gospel and establishing churches throughout the known world (Acts and Paul’s epistles).
Doing is Praised
Finally, the Bible is filled with verses that praise and encourage diligent work and productivity. In Proverbs 31, the famous passage about the virtuous woman, one of the key characteristics highlighted is her diligence in providing for her family and managing her household. Proverbs 31:31 states, “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”
In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus commends the servants who invested and multiplied the talents given to them by their master. Their productivity and faithfulness were rewarded, while the unproductive servant was rebuked for his lack of action.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion: the pursuit of productivity and diligent work is a biblical principle that is deeply rooted in God’s design for humanity. When believers engage in meaningful activities, follow God’s commandments, practice diligence, and strive to live a life worthy of praise, we honor God and contribute positively to the world around us.
God obviously has a plan for his people; we’d do well to quickly discover where we fit and get busy. Of course, it would be helpful if we had some context for what we should do. And wouldn’t ya know it, we have just that in a little passage we usually refer to as “The Great Commission.”
How God Works
As we’ve seen to this point, the Bible is very much an Eastern book. This is why some of the ideas we’ve discussed might sound strange or unfamiliar. They were not strange or unfamiliar to the ears that first heard or the eyes that first read them, as evidenced by a trip through church history.4 Now—as modern Westerners, the Bible is no less for us than it was for them. Make no mistake. That means its truths apply across time!
But unless we know how God’s truth applies to us, we cannot be effective. It’s important, then, to zoom way out and think about God’s practical purposes for his people. I think it could be summed up by two words: Mission and Available.
Mission: What God Wants Us to Do
Any effort to be more productive that does not start with the foundational aspect of mission is doomed to fail. At least for the Christian. Oh sure, you could use the apps, hacks, and quacks to be more effective at your job, squeeze more into your day, or even be a more effective contributor to your community. No denying that.
But is that the definition of success?
It doesn’t seem to be according to the Bible. You’d be hard-pressed to find a harder, wiser, and more effective worker than Solomon. He had the whole package! He was even effective at home, what with over 700 wives and concubines to manage. We all know how it ended up for him: “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
It takes no less than 12 chapters for Solomon to get his sobering point across: Anything done outside the pursuit of God’s mission is vanity and doomed to fail. And not only that, but it makes for a miserable existence. Jesus echoed Solomon in Matthew 6:33:
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Jesus asks, why are you so worried? Why are you so hurried? After all, each day has enough trouble of its own:
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (v.34)
Here’s what Jesus and Solomon are not saying: “Work is pointless—just become a monk, sing Kumbaya, and it’ll all work out.” If that were true, the entire last section wouldn’t make any sense. It’s not our work that is the problem; it’s our orientation. It’s our goal. It’s our mission. A life lived on mission is a successful, productive, effective life. Anything else is chasing the wind—literally, vanity—a puff of smoke. That’s what the Hebrew word for vanity, hevel, means.
How do we avoid that life? How do we eliminate hurry and hevel? I think it starts with a redefinition of success as mission. What’s the mission? Simple: to aid God in the restoration of Eden and bring about the accomplishment of his original plan. It’s the Great Commission! No mystery, here. It’s a life changing insight, but it’s not a new one. And it’s certainly not a result of reading this book.
That’s the problem, really.
Reading a book—except the Bible—isn’t going to teach you to orient your days around mission. What it can do—and, what I hope this one does—is help you understand that approaching each day with mission in mind is the ultimate path to success. It’s the only way to be truly effective and truly productive. At the heart of Devotional Productivity is mission. Devotion. To whom? Yahweh—your Creator, Jesus your Savior, and the Holy Spirit, your Sustainer. When you devote your days to his purposes and plans, everything changes.
It’s not a magic trick. And it doesn’t work like a pill. I still spend plenty of my days hurried, worried, frustrated, and frazzled. But it is when I look to Jesus to find his Rest, that I am again reminded of mission. Whenever I find myself overwhelmed, I find selfish motivations. I find I am looking inward instead of outward. I wrote this on Facebook last year:
A lesson I’m learning: Usually, when I think there is “lack” (clients, finances, stuff, experiences, etc) it is when I am thinking of what Ihave accomplished or what I have failed to accomplish. When I slow down and remember that everything is a product of the Lord’s grace, blessing, and sovereignty, it doesn’t feel like “lack” anymore, but abundance. Nothing changed except who gets the credit and where my gaze is focused.
Why is that the case? It’s because as a Christian, there is a predetermined plan for what my days are supposed to look like. And at no point am I supposed to be the object of my own attention or affection. It’s totally backward. The alternative? Looking at Jesus and then others. Literally, the two greatest commandments. It’s a simple fix. Easy? No. But simple—yes!
Available: What God Wants Us to Be
Recently I found myself in the middle of a squabble with my wife, Tiffany. I hesitate to call it an argument, but it wasn’t a fantastic moment. I crossed a line, pushed too hard, and should have stopped before I did. All in an attempt to prove how right I was. She fired the last missile (and it hit the target):
Why don’t you just go read a book about it?
Ouch, man. I do—I take pride in having become a reader and bettering myself through my relationships, work, etc. What was Tiffany saying? You could go read a book—or, you could just listen to me! I’m right here.
I think the Lord must feel the same way toward us. Thankfully, he’s incredibly gracious and gives us more chances than we deserve. (My wife does, too, praise the Lord.) There’s nothing wrong with reading books, of course—but you may be surprised to find just how much you can learn about God from simply being available to do what he said. To quote a modern Country song, Jesus demanded “a little less talk and a lot more action.”
Mission is not something reserved for special outings. Growing up, we always attended churches that had “visitation and soul winning” on Saturday mornings. They don’t believe or put it this way, but there’s a subtle side effect of this thinking that evangelism and mission is something we do as a church outing instead of something we do every day where we already are.
When we did talk about doing it every day, the context was always so strange. They would talk about witnessing to the grocery store clerk or leaving cheesy tracts with your tip at dinner. Look if this has worked for you, I’m all for it. “Whether in pretense or in truth” the Apostle Paul said. It seems to me, though, that being Jesus to your coworker would be loads more effective than asking a grocery store clerk where he’s going when he died. He’s thinking, “Don’t see you see me here? I’m already dead!”
It doesn’t do any good to be an angel when you’re door-knocking but a jerk at work. I’m not saying that’s commonplace…but I’ve definitely experienced it. To me, mission looks like availability. Being an unexpected friend. Helping with a project you weren’t responsible for. Noticing something and providing some insight. Listening—truly listening to a person in need.
If you see a woman struggling with five kids in the parking lot at the grocery store, which do you think is more effective: Asking where she’d go if she died today while handing her a tract, or helping her load the car?
Hopefully I don’t have to answer that for you.
So we have seen that God basically wants a human and divine family to help him create Eden in the world. Work isn’t a bad thing; it’s a commanded thing. And God uses our work to accomplish his purposes. Part of our purpose is mission, and we miss the mark when we fail to place our work in the context of his mission for us.
Where we often go wrong is thinking that the work we do is in service of building our own kingdom. It isn’t. Fortunately, the ancient world had a role that perfectly describes how God sees our stuff in relation to his stuff. Let’s talk about that now.
The “Steward” Mindset
There’s a “Christianese” word—stewardship—that often makes the rounds during certain times of the year. We tend to tie the word to financial campaigns designed to raise money for the needs of the local church. This is fine, however the word itself has greater meaning than simply “a season of sacrificial giving.” The word describes an entire disposition toward the care of resources entrusted to us by God.
Dave Ramsey defines the word this way: “Managing God’s blessings, God’s ways, for God’s glory.” I believe this is an appropriate modern application of the ancient idea.
Stewardship, both in biblical and ancient contexts, refers to the responsible management and care of resources, talents, and opportunities that have been entrusted to someone by a higher authority. It involves using these gifts wisely, efficiently, and in alignment with the values and purposes of the one who has entrusted them. Stewardship is essentially an acknowledgment that the resources we have are not our own—rather, they belong to someone else, and we are accountable for how we use and manage them.
In the ancient world, stewards were appointed to manage the affairs and resources of a king or noble. They were responsible for overseeing the household, land, or possessions of their master and ensuring that everything was well-maintained and functioning smoothly. Stewards were expected to act in the best interests of their master and to use the resources entrusted to them for the greater good.
This concept of stewardship is also deeply rooted in the biblical narrative. The idea that we are entrusted with resources and responsibilities by God and are accountable to him for how we use them is a recurring theme throughout Scripture. For instance, in Genesis 1:26-28, God creates humanity in His image and gives them the responsibility to “have dominion over” and care for His creation. In this way, Adam and Eve are given the role of stewards, responsible for the well-being and flourishing of the world God has entrusted to them.
Another example of stewardship in the Bible is the story of Joseph. As a trusted servant of Potipar, Joseph was given responsibility for managing his master’s household and resources (Genesis 39:1-6). Later, Joseph was promoted to the position of governor in Egypt, where he was entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the nation’s resources, implementing a plan to store grain during years of plenty, and distributing it during the years of famine (Genesis 41:37-57). In both instances, Joseph demonstrated wise stewardship, using the resources and authority entrusted to him to serve the greater good and fulfill God’s purposes.
The concept of stewardship is not limited to the management of material resources. It also extends to the stewardship of our time, talents, and spiritual gifts. In 1 Peter 4:10, the apostle Peter writes, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Here, Peter emphasizes that as believers, we are to use our spiritual gifts and abilities to serve others and build up the body of Christ.
To be productive in the ways God wants us to, we’ll need to shed the weight of ownership. Ownership is a burden, not a blessing. Fortunately, God alone shoulders the true burden of ownership. He simply allows us to take part in the management o those resources and elects to provide us with blessings as a result of our careful management.
The biblical precedent seems to be one of merit-based reward. In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus teaches about the importance of using the gifts and resources God has given us to further His kingdom. The servants who invested and multiplied the talents given to them were commended and rewarded, while the servant who hid his talent and did not put it to good use was rebuked. Clearly, God expects us to be responsible stewards of the resources he has entrusted to us.
Hear me—I did not say merit-based blessing or salvation. The rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45) and salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9). Clearly, though, the degree to which we responsibly manage the resources God entrusts us with determines how many more resources he entrusts us with.
In God’s production system, then, we play an important role. We are the hands and feet of Jesus in the present world. We work, alongside God, to in a sense “co-create” reality. He is kind and gracious to use us for his kingdom and glory, but we must never forget our place. God does not give us stuff to do so that we may take ownership of it for our own purposes, but rather so that our talents and resources could be devoted to his purposes.
So you may wonder… what does that look like? How does that change what you do next Tuesday?
Simply, if you grasp this, it changes everything!
Let me ask you a simple—but serious—question. When you go to work each day, whether you own a business or punch a clock, do you do so with an “others” orientation or a “self” orientation? And by “others,” I don’t mean “well I do it to support my family, of course!” I get that. You had better get that much right; if not, the Bible says you are worse off than an infidel.
I mean, do you think about your work as a way to bring glory to God through doing his work in the world to the benefit of others, or are you stuck in the selfish prison of building your own kingdom?
I’ve been in the latter camp for most of my life. And even today, I drift into those rocky shores. If you’re like me, you want to walk on the water with Jesus, but often you find yourself sinking with Peter. That’s okay. The Apostle Paul did too (Romans 7). The Christian life is one of constant redemption to the plans and purposes of God. But it all starts with a heavy dose of self-examination.
With our hearts and minds in the right place, we can begin to fully embrace our role in God’s production system. His mission for us is of the utmost importance, but we can only do our part if we place our own selfish desires to the side and embrace what Jesus wants to do, through you, to bring the Kingdom of God to earth.
In the next chapter, we’re going to dive headfirst into the subject of work. After all, this is a productivity book. And productivity discussions almost always happen in the context of your work life. We’ll explore the blessing of work more deeply, the limitations of both time and fulfillment that work can bring, and round off by taking a surprising trek through the new heavens and the new earth.
To tip my hand a bit, if “heaven” has meant something like “NO MORE WORK, FINALLY” to you… you just might have another thing coming. Best to prepare for it now.
Truth is, I could nerd out of the details of the “DCW” for a long time, and I don’t want to bore people looking for practical help with Devotional Productivity in this book. So anytime I feel compelled to go on a major nerd spasm, I’ll try to do inside a footnote like this. So, three paragraphs into this book and some of you might be thinking, “What the heck is he talking about? Making decisions with God?” Don’t let this hang you up. I’m simply referring to the fact that God grants us the free will to make decisions, yet he is sovereignly in control of all that happens and uses our decisions to accomplish his purposes. How does that shake out? I have some thoughts, but that’s a nerd spasm for another day 🙂
I use the word “sans” here, meaning “without” because it doesn’t make sense to think of something existing “before” or “prior” to the creation of the physical world. Why? Because God literally created a new plane of existence. The physical world. Even if a spiritual dimension existed beyond this. That may sound nit picky, and I’ll admit, it is a little. But part of my job is to introduce you along the way to deeper nuggets of truth that would be useful. So maybe next time you think about or say something to the effect of “before creation,” you’ll remember this little footnote
However, it is essential to note that the worship of stars and other celestial bodies was explicitly condemned in the Hebrew Bible. The Israelites were repeatedly warned against idolatry and the worship of the “host of heaven” (Deuteronomy 4:19, 17:3). The prophetic tradition in the Hebrew Bible consistently emphasized monotheism and the worship of Yahweh alone, in contrast to the polytheistic beliefs of their neighbors.
I recommend reading Chaffey, Tim. 2019. Fallen: The Sons of God and the Nephilim. Risen Books. to further study this issue.