Sunday, July 22, 2018

Preaching Truth to Ourselves


Preach to Yourself


Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.(Psalm 42:11)
We must learn to fight despondency — the downcast spirit. The fight is a fight of faith in future grace. It is fought by preaching truth to ourselves about God and his promised future.
This is what the psalmist does in Psalm 42. The psalmist preaches to his troubled soul. He scolds himself and argues with himself. And his main argument is future grace: “Hope in God! Trust in what God will be for you in the future. A day of praise is coming. The presence of the Lord will be all the help you need. And he has promised to be with us forever.”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones believes this issue of preaching truth to ourselves about God’s future grace is all-important in overcoming spiritual depression. In his helpful book, Spiritual Depression, he writes,
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. . . . Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.” (20–21)
The battle against despondency is a battle to believe the promises of God. And that belief in God’s future grace comes by hearing the word. And so preaching to ourselves the word of God is at the heart of the battle.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Grace

John Piper

Grace for Every Need

Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant. (Psalm 86:16)
Future grace is the constant plea of the praying psalmists. They pray for it again and again to meet every need. They leave every saint a model of daily dependence on future grace for every exigency.
  • They cry out for grace when they need help: “Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me; O Lord, be my helper!” (Psalm 30:10).
  • When they are weak: “Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant” (Psalm 86:16).
  • When they need healing: “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord” (Psalm 6:2).
  • When they are afflicted by enemies: “Be gracious to me, O Lord! See my affliction from those who hate me” (Psalm 9:13).
  • When they are lonely: “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16).
  • When they are grieving: “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief” (Psalm 31:9).
  • When they have sinned: “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!” (Psalm 41:4).
  • When they long for God’s name to be exalted among the nations: “God be gracious to us and bless us . . . that your way may be known on earth” (Psalm 67:1–2).
Unmistakably, prayer is the great link of faith between the soul of the saint and the promise of future grace. If ministry was meant by God to be sustained by prayer, then ministry was meant to be sustained by faith in future grace.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Love of God




Battle Against Despondency


Six Ways Jesus Fought Depression 
By John Piper 

And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. (Matthew 26:37)
The Bible gives us an amazing glimpse into the soul of Jesus the night before he was crucified. Watch and learn from the way Jesus fought his strategic battle against despondency or depression.
  1. He chose some close friends to be with him. “Taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee” (Matthew 26:37).
  2. He opened his soul to them. He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26:38).
  3. He asked for their intercession and partnership in the battle. “Remain here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38).
  4. He poured out his heart to his Father in prayer. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39).
  5. He rested his soul in the sovereign wisdom of God. “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
  6. He fixed his eye on the glorious future grace that awaited him on the other side of the cross. “For the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
When something drops into your life that seems to threaten your future, remember this: The first shock waves of the bomb in your heart, like the ones Jesus felt in Gethsemane, are not sin. The real danger is yielding to them. Giving in. Putting up no spiritual fight. And the root of that sinful surrender is unbelief — a failure to fight for faith in future grace. A failure to cherish all that God promises to be for us in Jesus.
In Gethsemane Jesus shows us another way. Not painless, and not passive. Follow him. Find your trusted spiritual friends. Open your soul to them. Ask them to watch with you and pray. Pour out your soul to the Father. Rest in the sovereign wisdom of God. And fix your eyes on the joy set before you in the precious and magnificent promises of God.

Forgiveness

John Piper

Saving Faith Loves Forgiveness

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Saving faith is not merely believing that you are forgiven. Saving faith looks at the horror of sin, and then looks at the holiness of God, and apprehends spiritually that God’s forgiveness is unspeakably glorious.

Faith in God’s forgiveness does not merely mean a persuasion that I am off the hook. It means savoring the truth that a forgiving God is the most precious reality in the universe. Saving faith cherishes being forgiven by God, and from there rises to cherishing the God who forgives — and all that he is for us in Jesus.

The great act of forgiveness is past — the cross of Christ. By this backward look, we learn of the grace in which we will ever stand (Romans 5:2). We learn that we are now, and always will be, loved and accepted. We learn that the living God is a forgiving God.

But the great experience of being forgiven is all future. Fellowship with the great God who forgives is all future. Freedom for forgiveness flowing from this all-satisfying fellowship with the forgiving God is all future.

I have learned that it is possible to go on holding a grudge if your faith simply means you have looked back to the cross and concluded that you are off the hook. I have been forced to go deeper into what true faith is. It is being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus. It looks back not merely to discover that it is off the hook, but to see and savor the kind of God who offers us a future of endless reconciled tomorrows in fellowship with him.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Unbelievers

John Piper

How to Plead for Unbelievers

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1)
Paul prays that God would convert Israel. He prays for her salvation! He does not pray for ineffectual influences, but for effectual influences. And that is how we should pray too.
We should take the new covenant promises of God and plead with God to bring them to pass in our children and our neighbors and on all the mission fields of the world.
God, take out of their flesh the heart of stone and give them a new heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Circumcise their heart so that they love you (Deuteronomy 30:6)! Father, put your Spirit within them and cause them to walk in your statutes (Ezekiel 36:27). Grant them repentance and a knowledge of the truth that they may escape from the snare of the devil (2 Timothy 2:25–26). Open their hearts so that they believe the gospel (Acts 16:14)!
When we believe in the sovereignty of God — in the right and power of God to elect and then bring hardened sinners to faith and salvation — then we will be able to pray with no inconsistency, and with great biblical promises for the conversion of the lost.
Thus God has pleasure in this kind of praying because it ascribes to him the right and honor to be the free and sovereign God that he is in election and salvation.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Drink to Heart's Satisfaction

Bible Gateway | John Piper

Serve God with Your Thirst

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.(2 Corinthians 5:9)
What if you discovered (like the Pharisees did), that you had devoted your whole life to trying to please God, but all the while had been doing things that in God’s sight were abominations (Luke 16:14–15)?

Someone may say, “I don’t think that’s possible; God wouldn’t reject a person who has been trying to please him.” But do you see what this questioner has done? He has based his conviction about what would please God on his idea of what God is like. That is precisely why we must begin with the character of God.

God is a mountain spring, not a watering trough. A mountain spring is self-replenishing. It constantly overflows and supplies others. But a watering trough needs to be filled with a pump or bucket brigade.

If you want to glorify the worth of a watering trough you work hard to keep it full and useful. But if you want to glorify the worth of a spring you do it by getting down on your hands and knees and drinking to your heart’s satisfaction, until you have the refreshment and strength to go back down in the valley and tell people what you’ve found.

My hope as a desperate sinner hangs on this biblical truth: that God is the kind of God who will be pleased with the one thing I have to offer — my thirst. That is why the sovereign freedom and self-sufficiency of God are so precious to me: they are the foundation of my hope that God is delighted not by the resourcefulness of bucket brigades, but by the bending down of broken sinners to drink at the fountain of grace.