Tuesday, June 19, 2018


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.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Idolizing Man

Scripture: Isaiah 46.5
With whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?

Reflection: On Idolizing Man :: Throwback Thursday
By Richard Baxter (1615-1691)

This iniquity [idolizing man] consists not simply in the heart’s neglect of God, but in the preferring of some competitor, and prevalence of some object which stands up for an opposite interest. So obeying man before God and against him, and valuing the favor and approbation of man before or against the approbation of God, and fearing of man’s censure or displeasure more than God’s, is idolizing Man, or setting him up in the place of God.

It turns our chief observance, and care, and labor, and pleasure, and grief into this human, fleshly channel, and makes all that to be but human in our hearts and lives, which should be divine.

As all other creatures, so especially man, must be regarded and valued only in a due subordination and subserviency to God. If they be valued otherwise, they are made his enemies, and so are to be hated, and are made the principal engine of the ruin of such as overvalue them.

See what the scriptures say of this sin:
Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. — Jeremiah 17.5
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? — Psalm 118.6
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. — Psalm 118.8-9
Understand well what the nature of this sin consists of, that you may not run into the contrary extreme, but may know which way to bend your opposition—how far we may and must please men, and how far not.

*Abridged and language updated from Directions against Idolizing Man.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Thank You for My Faith

Desiring God | John Piper

Help My Unbelief

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12:3)
In the context of this verse, Paul is concerned that people were “thinking of themselves more highly than they ought to think.” His final remedy for this pride is to say that not only are spiritual gifts a work of God's free grace in our lives, but so also is the very faith with which we use those gifts.

This means that every possible ground of boasting is taken away. How can we boast if even the qualification for receiving gifts is also a gift?

This truth has a profound impact on how we pray. Jesus gives us the example in Luke 22:31-32. Before Peter denies him three times Jesus says to him, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus prays for Peter's faith to be sustained even through sin, because he knows that God is the one who sustains faith. So we should pray for ourselves and for others this way.

Thus the man with the epileptic boy cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). This is a good prayer. It acknowledges that without God we cannot believe as we ought to believe.

Let us pray daily: “O Lord, thank you for my faith. Sustain it. Strengthen it. Deepen it. Don't let it fail. Make it the power of my life, so that in everything I do you get the glory as the great Giver. Amen”

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What Sort of King?

Deut. 17; Psalm 104; Isaiah 44; Revelation 14 
MOSES ENVISAGES A TIME when the Israelite nation will choose a king (Deut. 17:14-20). He could not know that centuries later, when the Israelites would first ask for a king, they would do so for all the wrong motives — primarily so that they could be like the pagan nations around them. The result was Saul. But that is another story.
If the people are to have a king, what sort of king should he be? (1) He must be the Lord’s own choice (Deut. 17:15). (2) He must be an Israelite, drawn “from among your own brothers” (Deut. 17:15), not some foreigner. (3) He must not acquire for himself great numbers of horses, i.e., amass great personal wealth and military might, and especially not if it means some sort of alliance with a power such as Egypt (Deut. 17:16). (4) He must not take many wives (Deut. 17:17). The issue was not simply polygamy. In the ancient Near East, the more powerful the king the more wives he had. This prohibition is therefore simultaneously a limit on the king’s power, and a warning that many wives will likely lead his heart astray (Deut. 17:17). This is not because wives are intrinsically evil; rather, a king on the hunt for many wives is likely to marry princesses and nobility from surrounding countries, and they will bring their paganism with them. Within that framework, the king’s heart will be led astray. That is exactly what happened to Solomon. (5) Upon accession to the throne, the first thing the king must do is write out for himself, in Hebrew, a copy of “this law” — whether the book of Deuteronomy or the entire Pentateuch. Then he is to read it every day for the rest of his life (Deut. 17:18-20). The multiple purposes of this task are explicit: that he may revere the Lord his God, carefully follow all his words, and in consequence not consider himself better than his fellow citizens, and not turn aside from the law. The result will be a long-lasting dynasty.
It is not difficult to imagine how the entire history of Israel would have been radically different if these five criteria had been adopted by each king who came to the throne of David. It would be almost a millennium and a half before there would arise in Israel a king who would be the Lord’s chosen servant, someone “made like his brothers in every way” (Heb. 2:17), a mere craftsman without wealth or power, a man not seduced by beauty or power or paganism (despite the devil’s most virulent assaults), a man steeped in the Scriptures from his youth and who carefully followed all the words of God. How we need that king!

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Evil and Redeemed

Desiring God

Prayer Is for Sinners

“Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1)
God answers the prayers of sinners, not perfect people. And you can become perfectly paralyzed in your praying if you do not focus on the cross and realize this.
I could show it from numerous Old Testament texts where God hears the cry of his sinful people, whose very sins had gotten them into the trouble from which they are crying for deliverance (for example, Psalm 38:41540:12–13107:11–13). But let me show it from Luke 11 — in two ways:
In this version of the Lord's Prayer (verses 2–4) Jesus says, “When you pray say” . . . and then in verse 4 he includes this petition, “and forgive us our sins.” So, if you connect the beginning of the prayer with the middle, what he says is, “Whenever you pray say . . . forgive us our sins.”
I take this to mean that this should be as much a part of all our praying as “Hallowed be thy name.” Which means that Jesus assumes that we need to seek forgiveness virtually every time we pray.
In other words, we are always sinners. Nothing we do is perfect. As Martin Luther said, on his deathbed, “We are beggars, this is true.” It doesn't matter how obedient we have been before we pray. We always come to the Lord as sinners — all of us. And God does not turn away the prayers of sinners when they pray like this.
The second place I see this taught here is in verse 13: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
Jesus calls his disciples “evil.” Pretty strong language. And he did not mean that they were out of fellowship with him. He did not mean that their prayers could not be answered.
He meant that as long as this fallen age lasts, even his own disciples will have an evil bent that pollutes everything they do, but doesn’t keep them from doing much good.
We are simultaneously evil and redeemed. We are gradually overcoming our evil by the power of the Holy Spirit. But our native corruption is not obliterated by conversion.
We are sinners and we are beggars. And if we recognize this sin, fight it, and cling to the cross of Christ as our hope, then God will hear us and answer our prayers.