Read Your Bible More

“Read your Bible more and more every year. Read it whether you feel like reading it or not. And pray without ceasing that the joy return and pleasures increase.

“Three reasons this is not legalism:

  1. You are confessing your lack of desire as sin, and pleading as a helpless child for the desire you long to have. Legalists don’t cry like that. They strut.
  2. You are reading out of desperation for the effects of this heavenly medicine. Bible-reading is not a cure for a bad conscience; it’s chemo for your cancer. Legalists feel better because the box is checked. Saints feel better when their blindness lifts, and they see Jesus in the Word. Let’s get real. We are desperately sick with worldliness, and only the Holy Spirit, by the Word of God, can cure this terminal disease.
  3. It is not legalism because only justified people can see the preciousness and power of the Word of God. Legalists trudge with their Bibles on the path toward justification. Saints sit down in the shade of the Cross and plead for the blood-bought pleasures.

“So let’s give heed to Mr. Ryle and never grow weary of the slow, steady, growth that comes from the daily, disciplined, increasing, love affair with reading the Bible. 

‘Do not think you are getting no good from the Bible, merely because you do not see that good day by day. The greatest effects are by no means those which make the most noise, and are most easily observed. The greatest effects are often silent, quiet, and hard to detect at the time they are being produced. Think of the influence of the moon upon the earth, and of the air upon the human lungs. Remember how silently the dew falls, and how imperceptibly the grass grows. There may be far more doing than you think in your soul by your Bible-reading’ (J.C. Ryle, in Practical Religion).” —John Piper 

Stop Letting Fear Limit Your Life

It’s inescapably true: We let fears limit us when we listen to them. 

John Piper wrote, “I call you today to stop defining and limiting your future in terms of your past and start defining it in terms of your God.”

When we have a spirit of fear instead of the confidence that comes from a right relationship with God through Jesus, the smallest of things sends us ducking for cover! “As for those of you who may be left, I will also bring weakness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. And the sound of a driven leaf will chase them, and even when no one is pursuing they will flee as though from the sword, and they will fall.” (Leviticus 26:36 NASB) 

God says, “Fear not—there is nothing to fear—for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My victorious right hand of rightness and justice.” (Isaiah 41:10 AMPC)

“When God calls you to be free from fear (to overcome this natural emotion and have peace), He does not leave the command hanging in the air. He puts pillars under it. Five of them in Isaiah 41:10. That’s the nature of all biblical commands. They come with divine support.

  1. Fear not . . . God is with you.
  2. Fear not . . . God is your God
  3. Fear not . . . God will strengthen you.
  4. Fear not . . . God will help you.
  5. Fear not . . . God will uphold you.” —John Piper

When we grasp that God is with us, that God is helping us, that God is bigger than the things we wrongly fear, there is nothing we cannot do! 

As Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, and let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For there is nothing to prevent the Lord from saving by many or by few.” (1 Samuel 14:6 AMPC)

O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by Your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for You! (Jeremiah 32:17 NLT)

“Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.” (Matthew 17:20 MSG)

When Fear Must Go

I love the balancing thought of being humbly confident in God’s presence (or if you like: being confidently humble).

Humble to know I have nothing in myself that gives me access to God’s presence and love and power, but confident to know that God through Christ’s work on the Cross desires to have me with Him. 

C.S. Lewis wisely noted: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Fear comes in when I’m thinking about me—how unworthy I am, how I messed up, how I wish I would have…. Fear leaves when I set my thoughts on Christ—how absolutely worthy He is, how He has accomplished everything for me, how He is working all things together for good…. 

There is no fear in love—dread does not exist—but full-grown, complete, perfect love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and so he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love—is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection. (1 John 4:18)

It is humbly confident (and confidently humble) to keep my mind off me and take all my thoughts to His perfect love. That’s when fear must go!

“The mark of God’s people is not incapacitating fear, but rather contrite courageous confidence in God. … The good news of the Bible is not that we are not worms, but that God helps worms who trust Him.” —John Piper, commenting on Isaiah 41:14

Book Reviews From 2018

Sunbeams From God

For You are the fountain of life, the light by which we see. Psalm 36:9

“I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it. Then I moved so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.” —C.S. Lewis

“So we can say that when we ‘look along’ the heavens and not just ‘at’ the heavens, they succeed in their aim of ‘declaring the glory of God.’ That is, we see the glory of God, not just the glory of the heavens. We don’t just stand outside and analyze the natural world as a beam, but we let the beam fall on the eyes of our heart, so that we see the source of the beauty—the original Beauty, God Himself.  This is the essential key to unlocking the proper use of the physical world of sensation for spiritual purposes. All of God’s creation becomes a beam to be ‘looked along’ or a sound to be ‘heard along’ or a fragrance to be ‘smelled along’ or a flavor to be ‘tasted along’ or a touch to be ‘felt along.” —John Piper 

God Is The Sun

John Piper said, “We were made to live with God as the all-satisfying center of our lives, with everything else in good, godly, happy orbit. Instead, we have a solar system with competing gravitational centers, and nothing else flying in its right orbit.” 

In Psalm 16:11 David wrote, “In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Lasting joy and guilt-free pleasure are found in God’s presence. If He is the “sun” of our universe, everything else stays in its proper “orbit.” How do we make sure God is our sun? The first phrase in Psalm 16:11 is the key: “You make known to me the path of life.”

Did you catch that? Not only is God the sun-center of our universe, but He tells us when our sun-center has become (or is becoming) something other than Himself. That’s why David also prayed, “Search me, O God,” and why Paul told us to regularly examine ourselves.

The Holy Spirit will keep us properly centered and in the place of ultimate joy!

9 More Quotes From “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals”

Those in pastoral ministry are ministers; they are not professional, career-minded, corporate ladder-climbers. John Piper has written a book that I believe every pastor should read: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. Here are a few more quotes from this excellent book. 

“Is not our most painful failure in the pastorate the inability to weep over the unbelievers in our neighborhoods and the carnal members of our churches? …  

“I must feel the truth of hell—that it exists and is terrible and horrible beyond imaginings forever and ever. ‘These will go away into eternal punishment’ (Matthew 25:46). Even if I try to make the ‘lake of fire’ (Revelation 20:15) or the ‘fiery furnace’ (Matthew 13:42) a symbol, I am confronted with the terrifying thought that symbols are not overstatements but understatements of reality. …

“I say to you, on the authority of Scripture, remember, remember, remember the horrid condition of being separated from Christ, without hope and without God, on the brink of hell. ‘Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world’ (Ephesians 2:12). … 

“When the heart no longer feels the truth of hell, the gospel passes from good news to simply news.” 

“Warning has value in stirring us up to take the glories of holiness and heaven seriously so that we come to see them for what they are and delight in them. But it is the delight in them that causes the true grief when we fall short.” 

“Pastors, you will know your people’s souls best by knowing your own. So try to be ruthlessly honest with yourself.” 

“If the heart is without passion, it will produce lifeless, jargon-laden spontaneity. And if the heart is aflame, no form will quench it.” 

“We ought to experience the deepest emotions about the deepest things. And we ought to speak often, and publicly, about what means most to us, in a way that shows its value.” 

“Eating, exercising, and sleeping are more spiritually relevant in the ministry than we may think. … The point is that we be intentional about how our eating affects the ability of our body to be a helpful partner in seeing the glory of God.” 

“When we say that what we do on Sunday morning is to ‘go hard after God,’ what we mean is that we are going hard after satisfaction in God, and going hard after God as our prize, and going hard after God as our treasure, our soul-food, our heart-delight, our spirit’s pleasure. Or to put Christ in His rightful place—it means that we are going hard after all that God is for us in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.” 

“It will transform your pastoral leadership in worship if you teach your people that the basic attitude of worship on Sunday morning is not to come with your hands full to give to God but with your hands empty to receive from God.” 

“Brothers, we are leaders, and the burden of change lies most heavily on us.” 

You can read my full book review of Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by clicking here, and you can check out some other quotes from this book here. 

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