Hymns of Hope: A Balm In Gilead

Jeremiah 8:18-22Luke 7:1-101 Peter 2:24


Near the close of Cormac McCarthy’s book No Country for Old Men, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell talked with his elderly uncle about how the world was changing. During the conversation, his uncle said something that encapsulated the guilt many men struggle with. He said, “I always thought when I got older that God would sort of come into my life in some way. He didn’t. I don’t blame him. If I was him I’d have the same opinion about me that he does.” 

Few books of the Bible carry a darker backdrop than that of Jeremiah. God’s people will be defeated on their own land and carried off into exile. This will happen to them, not purely as a result of outside influence, but primarily because the people broke faith with the Lord and violated His covenant with them. 

Chapter 8 describes Jeremiah’s heartbroken lamentation at the sin of the people. He asks if there is no balm in Gilead. He metaphorically refers to a mountainous area east of the Jordan River known for a healing ointment made from the resin of a tree. The people have a deep wound and ample cleansing is available to them, but they will not avail themselves of it. They need to repent, but they refuse (Jeremiah 8:18-22).

We understand the pain of Jeremiah’s desperate cry. Every man knows the pain created by our own sins. Our sexual brokenness damages our souls and can leave destruction in its wake. Our penchant for selfishness breaks relationships with those closest to us. Our frustrated ambitions create bitterness and envy in our souls. Too often, we confess a belief in God’s grace while harboring doubts about whether it really applies to us. We wonder if God could still love us, keep us in His family, and hear our prayers. Every one of us knows what it is like to have a “sin-sick soul.”

While Jeremiah asked if there was balm in Gilead, the traditional spiritual reminds us that on this side of the cross, the question turns into a declaration. Because of Christ, we no longer have to wonder if we are loved, if we have hope, or if there is healing for our tired and weary souls. Jesus took our sins, our guilt, and our shame upon Himself. He died on that tree to heal our sin-sick souls and bring us back to God.


Written by Scott Slayton


There Is A Balm in Gilead
Traditional Spiritual

There is a balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole,
there is a balm in Gilead
to heal the sin-sick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged
and think my work’s in vain,
but then the Holy Spirit
revives my soul again.

There is a balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole,
there is a balm in Gilead
to heal the sin-sick soul.

If you cannot preach like Peter,
if you cannot pray like Paul,
you can tell the love of Jesus
and say, “He died for all.”

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the He Reads Truth website

What It Means To Bless The Lord

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! (Psalm 103:1)


The psalm begins and ends with the psalmist preaching to his soul to bless the Lord — “Bless the Lord, O my soul” — and preaching to the angels and the hosts of heaven and the works of God’s hands that they should do the same. 

Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
(Psalm 103:20–22

The psalm is overwhelmingly focused on blessing the Lord. What does it mean to bless the Lord? 

It means to speak well of his greatness and goodness — and really mean it from the depths of your soul. What David is doing in the first and last verses of this psalm, when he says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” is saying that authentic speaking about God’s goodness and greatness must come from the soul. 

Blessing God with the mouth without the soul would be hypocrisy. Jesus said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). David knows that danger, and he is preaching to himself. He is telling his soul not to let this happen. 

“Come, soul, look at the greatness and goodness of God. Join my mouth, and let us bless the Lord with our whole being. Soul, we are not going to be a hypocrite!”


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

Hymns of Hope: What a Savior!

Isaiah 53:1-6John 19:1-5John 19:28-30Romans 8:1-4Revelation 5:12


We have a Savior. We, the guilty, helpless, and lost ones who have rebelled against God, have a Savior. We, who have broken faith with His commands and sought to love ourselves more than we love Him, have a Savior.

Think about that for a moment. We begin this short reading plan focused on hope-filled hymns and Scriptures celebrating the fact that we have a Savior.

But what kind of Savior is He?

Isaiah 53 tells us Jesus is the servant of the Lord who was, in every way, ordinary in appearance. His birth was like a root out of dry ground—unnoticed by almost everyone. He had no beauty that would draw people to Him. He would not walk an easy road. His life would be filled with sorrow. He would be despised (vv.1–3).

But Jesus came to be our “Man of Sorrows,” taking our grief upon Himself and carrying our sadness. Yes, people caused Him great suffering in His last days, but they were not the ones to crush Him. God was the One who did that. Jesus was wounded for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. And the punishment that would bring us peace was laid upon Him (vv. 4–6).

Guilty, helpless, lost were we;
blameless Lamb of God was He,
sacrificed to set us free:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Jesus willingly submitted to His Father’s plan. As the full weight of God’s wrath toward the sins of His people was placed upon our Savior, Jesus received it. When He could have defended Himself, He stayed silent, like a lamb led to slaughter. He was struck dead as a sacrifice for the sins of God’s people, even though He had done no violence. 

God laid upon His servant the iniquity of His people. Jesus took God’s wrath toward our sins upon Himself. He stood in for us as our substitute in death, and God looked upon this substitution and was satisfied. 

God did not perform a magic trick to secure our salvation. It was a life for a life. The Suffering Servant—God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ—came incarnate as a living, breathing man in order to die a real death in our place. But since death held no claim on Him, He rose from the grave, securing our victory over death forever. 

This is our Savior. What other response should our hearts have but to sing, “Hallelujah! What a Savior!”


Written by Russ Ramsey


Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Text and Tune: Philip P. Bliss, 1875

Man of sorrows what a name
for the Son of God, who came
ruined sinners to reclaim:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
in my place condemned He stood,
sealed my pardon with His blood:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Guilty, helpless, lost were we;
blameless Lamb of God was He,
sacrificed to set us free:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

He was lifted up to die;
“It is finished” was His cry;
now in heaven exalted high:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
then anew this song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the He Reads Truth website

What We Were Made For

Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18)


The greatest good of the good news — the gospel — is the enjoyment of fellowship with God himself. This is made explicit here in 1 Peter 3:18 in the phrase “that he might bring us to God.” That’s why Jesus died.

All the other gifts of the gospel exist to make this one possible. 

  • We are forgiven so that our guilt does not keep us away from God. 
  • We are justified so that our condemnation does not keep us away from God. 
  • God is propitiated so that his wrath doesn’t stand between us and God as our Father.
  • We are given eternal life now, with new bodies in the resurrection, so that we have the capacities for being with God forever and enjoying God to the fullest. 

Test your heart. Why do you want forgiveness? Why do you want to be justified? Why do you want the wrath of God to be propitiated? Why do you want eternal life? Is the decisive answer, “Because I want to enjoy God now and forever”?

The gospel-love that God gives is ultimately the gift of himself. This is what we were made for. This is what we lost because of our sin. This is what Christ came to restore. 

“In your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

Have Mercy On Me O God

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. (Psalm 51:1)


Three times: “Have mercy,” “according to your steadfast love,” and “according to your abundant mercy.” 

This is what God had promised in Exodus 34:6–7:

“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.”

David knew that there were guilty who would not be forgiven. And there were guilty who by some mysterious work of redemption would not be counted as guilty, but would be forgiven. Psalm 51 is his way of laying hold on that mystery of mercy.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.” We know more of the mystery of this redemption than David did. We know Christ. But we lay hold of the mercy in the same way he did. 

The decisive thing he does is turn, helpless, to the mercy and love of God. Today that means turning, helpless, to Christ, whose blood secures all the mercy we need.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

The End of The Gospel

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:9–11)


What do we need to be saved from? Verse 9 states it clearly: the wrath of God. “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” But is that the highest, best, fullest, most satisfying prize of the gospel?

No. Verse 10 says “much more . . . shall we be saved by his life.” Then verse 11 takes it all the way up to the ultimate end and goal of the gospel: “more than that, we also rejoice in God.” 

That is the final and highest good of the good news. There is not another “more than that” after that. There is only Paul’s saying how we got there, “through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

The end of the gospel is “we rejoice in God.” The highest, fullest, deepest, sweetest good of the gospel is God himself, enjoyed by his redeemed people. 

God in Christ became the price (Romans 5:6–8), and God in Christ became the prize (Romans 5:11).

The gospel is the good news that God bought for us the everlasting enjoyment of God.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

Ruler of Nature

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. (Proverbs 16:33)


In modern language we would say, “The dice are rolled on the table and every play is decided by God.” 

In other words, there are no events so small that he does not rule them for his purposes. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” Jesus said. “And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:29–30). 

Every role of the dice in Las Vegas, every tiny bird that falls dead in a thousand forests — all of this is God’s command. 

In the book of Jonah, God commands a fish to swallow a man (1:17), he commands a plant to grow for shade (4:6), and he commands a worm to kill it (4:7). 

And far above the life of fish and worms, the stars take their place and hold their place at God’s command. 

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power, not one is missing. (Isaiah 40:26)

How much more, then, the natural events of this world — from weather to disasters to disease to disability to death.

His law he enforces;
the stars in their courses
and sun in its orbit obediently shine;
the hills and the mountains,
the rivers and fountains,
the deeps of the ocean
proclaim him divine.
(“Let All Things Now Living,” Katherine Davis)

Let us therefore stand in awe and be at peace, knowing that no natural event is outside of God’s wise and good purposes, and perfect control.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

The Point of Creation

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

God made humans in his image so that the world would be filled with reflectors of God. Images of God. Seven billion statues of God. So that nobody would miss the point of creation. 

Nobody (unless they are stone blind) could miss the point of humanity, namely, God — knowing, loving, showing God. The angels cry in Isaiah 6:3, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” It is full of billions of human image-bearers. Glorious ruins. 

But not only humans. Also nature! Why such a breathtaking world for us to live in? Why such a vast universe?

I once read that there are more stars in the universe than there are words and sounds that all humans of all time have ever spoken. Why are there so many? So large? So bright? At such unimaginable distances? The Bible is crystal clear about this: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).

If someone asks, “If earth is the only inhabited planet and man the only rational inhabitant among the stars, why such a large and empty universe?” The answer is: It’s not about us. It’s about God. And it’s an understatement. He is more glorious. Greater in power. Greater in scope. Greater brightness. Than all the galaxies combined. One wise man said, the universe is like a peanut that God carries around in his pocket.

God created us to know him and love him and show him. And then he gave us a hint of what he is like: the universe.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

Jesus Bought Your Endurance

“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”(Luke 22:20)

What that means is that the new covenant, promised most explicitly in Jeremiah 31 and 32, was secured and sealed by the blood of Jesus. The new covenant comes true for God’s people who trust the Messiah, Jesus, because Jesus died to establish it.

And what does the new covenant secure for all who belong to Christ? Perseverance in faith to the end. 

Listen to Jeremiah 32:40

“I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” 

The everlasting covenant — the new covenant — includes the unbreakable promise, “I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” They may not. They will not. Christ sealed this covenant with his blood. He purchased your perseverance if you are in Jesus Christ through faith.

If you are persevering in faith today, you owe it to the blood of Jesus. The Holy Spirit, who is working in you to preserve your faith, is honoring the purchase of Jesus. God the Spirit works in us what God the Son obtained for us. The Father planned it. Jesus bought it. The Spirit applies it — all of them infallibly. 

God is totally committed to the perseverance and eternal security of his blood-bought children.

Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

10 Things Yahweh Means

God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” (Exodus 3:15)


God’s name is almost always translated LORD (all caps) in the English Bible. But the Hebrew would be pronounced something like “Yahweh,” and is built on the word for “I am.”

So every time we hear the word Yahweh, or every time you see LORD in the English Bible, you should think: this is a proper name (like Peter or John) built out of the word for “I am” and reminding us each time that God absolutely is.

There are at least 10 things the name Yahweh, “I AM,” says about God:

1. He never had a beginning. Every child asks, “Who made God?” And every wise parent says, “Nobody made God. God simply is. And always was. No beginning.”

2. God will never end. If he did not come into being he cannot go out of being, because he is being.

3. God is absolute reality. There is no reality before him. There is no reality outside of him unless he wills it and makes it. He is all that was eternally. No space, no universe, no emptiness. Only God.

4. God is utterly independent. He depends on nothing to bring him into being or support him or counsel him or make him what he is.

5. Everything that is not God depends totally on God. The entire universe is utterly secondary. It came into being by God and stays in being moment by moment on God’s decision to keep it in being.

6. All the universe is by comparison to God as nothing. Contingent, dependent reality is to absolute, independent reality as a shadow to substance. As an echo to a thunderclap. All that we are amazed by in the world and in the galaxies, is, compared to God, as nothing.

7. God is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He cannot be improved. He is not becoming anything. He is who he is.

8. God is the absolute standard of truth and goodness and beauty. There is no law-book to which he looks to know what is right. No almanac to establish facts. No guild to determine what is excellent or beautiful. He himself is the standard of what is right, what is true, what is beautiful.

9. God does whatever he pleases and it is always right and always beautiful and always in accord with truth. All reality that is outside of him he created and designed and governs as the absolute reality. So he is utterly free from any constraints that don’t originate from the counsel of his own will.

10. God is the most important and most valuable reality and person in the universe. He is more worthy of interest and attention and admiration and enjoyment than all other realities, including the entire universe.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

Why You Have a Body

For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:20)

God did not create the physical-material universe willy-nilly. He had a purpose, namely, to add to the ways his glory is externalized and made manifest. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

Our bodies fit into that same category of physical things that God created for this reason. He is not going to back out on his plan to glorify himself through human beings and human bodies. 

Why does God go to all the trouble to dirty his hands, as it were, with our decaying, sin-stained flesh, in order to reestablish it as a resurrection body and clothe it with glory and immortality? Answer: Because his Son paid the price of death so that the Father’s purpose for the material universe would be fulfilled, namely, that he would be glorified in it, including in our bodies, forever and ever. 

That’s what the text says: “You were bought with a price [namely, the death of his Son]. So glorify God in your body.” God will not disregard or dishonor the work of his Son. God will honor the work of his Son by raising our bodies from the dead, and we will use our bodies to glorify him forever and ever. 

That is why you have a body now. And that is why it will be raised to be like Christ’s glorious body.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

Our Weakness Reveals His Worth

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”(2 Corinthians 12:9)


God’s design for suffering is that it should magnify Christ’s worth and power. This is grace, because the greatest joy of Christians is to experience Christ magnified in our lives. 

When Paul was told by the Lord Jesus that his “thorn in the flesh” would not be taken away, he supported Paul’s faith by explaining why. The Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). God ordains that Paul be weak so that Christ might be seen as strong on Paul’s behalf. 

If we feel and look self-sufficient, we will get the glory, not Christ. So, Christ chooses the weak things of the world “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:29). And sometimes he makes seemingly strong people weaker, so that the divine power will be the more evident. 

We know that Paul experienced this as grace because he rejoiced in it: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). 

Living by faith in God’s grace means being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus. Therefore faith will not shrink back from what reveals and magnifies all that God is for us in Jesus. That is what our own weakness and suffering are meant to do.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

Suffering That Crushes Faith

“They have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.”(Mark 4:17)


The faith of some is broken instead of built by suffering. Jesus knew this and described it here in the parable of the four soils. Some people who hear the word receive it at first with gladness, but then suffering makes them fall away. 

So, affliction does not always make faith stronger. Sometimes it crushes faith. And then come true the paradoxical words of Jesus, “The one who has not, even what he has will be taken” (Mark 4:25). 

This is a call for us to endure suffering with firm faith in future grace, so that our faith might grow stronger and not be proved vain (1 Corinthians 15:2). “To the one who has, more will be given” (Mark 4:25). Knowing God’s design in suffering is one of the main means of growing through suffering.

If you think your suffering is pointless, or that God is not in control, or that he is whimsical or cruel, then your suffering will drive you from God, instead of driving you from everything but God — as it should. So, it is crucial that faith in God’s grace includes the faith that he gives grace through suffering.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

Suffering That Strengthens Faith

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:2–3)


Strange as it may seem, one of the primary purposes of being shaken by suffering is to make our faith more unshakable. 

Faith is like muscle tissue: if you stress it to the limit, it gets stronger, not weaker. That’s what James means here. When your faith is threatened and tested and stretched to the breaking point, the result is greater capacity to endure. He calls it steadfastness.

God loves faith so much that he will test it to the breaking point so as to keep it pure and strong. For example, he did this to Paul according to 2 Corinthians 1:8–9,

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

The words “but that was to” show that there was a purpose in this extreme suffering: it was in order that — for the purpose that — Paul would not rely on himself and his resources, but on God — specifically the promised grace of God in raising the dead. 

God so values our wholehearted faith that he will, graciously, if necessary, take away everything else in the world that we might be tempted to rely on — even life itself. His aim is that we grow deeper and stronger in our confidence that he himself will be all we need. 

He wants us to be able to say with the psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25–26).


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

Why We Don't Lose Heart

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)


Paul can’t see the way he used to (and there were no glasses). He can’t hear the way he used to (and there were no hearing aids). He doesn’t recover from beatings the way he used to (and there were no antibiotics). His strength, walking from town to town, doesn’t hold up the way it used to. He sees the wrinkles in his face and neck. His memory is not as good. And he admits that this is a threat to his faith and joy and courage. 

But he does not lose heart. Why? 

He doesn’t lose heart because his inner man is being renewed. How? 

The renewing of his heart comes from something very strange: it comes from looking at what he can’t see. 

We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)

This is Paul’s way of not losing heart: looking at what he cannot see. What, then, did he see when he looked? 

A few verses later in 2 Corinthians 5:7, he says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” This doesn’t mean that he leaps into the dark without evidence of what’s there. It means that for now the most precious and important realities in the world are beyond our physical senses. 

We “look” at these unseen things through the gospel. We strengthen our hearts — we renew our courage — by fixing our gaze on the invisible, objective truth that we see in the testimony of those who saw Christ face to face.

“God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). “The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” We see this as it shines in our heart through the gospel. 

We became Christians when this happened — whether we understood this or not. And with Paul we need to go on seeing with the eyes of the heart, so that we not lose heart.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

Jesus Keeps His Sheep

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31–32)


Though Peter, in fact, failed miserably, by denying Jesus three times, the prayer of Jesus preserved him from utter ruin. He was brought to bitter weeping and restored to the joy and boldness that showed itself in Peter’s message at Pentecost. Jesus is interceding for us today in the same way that our faith might not fail. Paul says this in Romans 8:34

Jesus promised that his sheep would be preserved and never perish. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27–28). 

The reason for this is that God works to preserve the faith of the sheep. “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). 

We are not left to ourselves to fight the fight of faith. “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). 

You have the assurance of God’s word that, if you are his child, he will “equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:21). 

Our endurance in faith and joy is finally and decisively in the hands of God. Yes, we must fight. But this very fight is what God works in us. And he most certainly will do it, for, as it says in Romans 8:30, “Those whom he justified he also glorified.” The glorification of God’s justified children is as good as done.

He will lose none of those he has brought to faith and justified.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

How To Defy Sin

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.(Hebrews 11:24–26)

Or, boil it down to the essentials: “By faith Moses . . . [left] the fleeting pleasures of sin . . . for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24–26).

Faith is not content with “fleeting pleasures.” It is ravenous for joy. Joy that lasts. Forever. And the word of God says, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). So, faith will not be sidetracked into the deceitful pleasures of sin. It will not give up so easily in its quest for maximum joy. 

The role of God’s word is to feed faith’s appetite for God. And, in doing this, it weans my heart off of the deceptive taste of lust. 

At first, lust begins to trick me into feeling that I would really miss out on some great satisfaction if I followed the path of purity. But then I take up the sword of the Spirit and begin to fight. 

  • I read that it is better to gouge out my eye than to lust (Matthew 5:29). 
  • I read that if I think about things that are pure and lovely and excellent, the peace of God will be with me (Philippians 4:8–9). 
  • I read that setting the mind on the flesh brings death, but setting the mind on the Spirit brings life and peace (Romans 8:6). 
  • I read that lust wages war against my soul (1 Peter 2:11), and that the pleasures of this life choke out the life of the Spirit (Luke 8:14). 
  • But best of all, I read that God withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11), and that the pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8). 

As I pray for my faith to be satisfied with God’s life and peace, the sword of the Spirit carves the sugar coating off the poison of lust. I see it for what it is. And by the grace of God, its alluring power is broken.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

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.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

God's Timing is Perfect

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may find grace for a well-timed help. (Hebrews 4:16, my literal translation)


I know this precious verse is usually translated, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” But that is a paraphrase — a true one — to show that God shows up just when we need him. But the literal focus is on how timely the help is.

All ministry is in the future — a moment away, or a month away, or a year, or a decade. We have ample time to fret about our inadequacy. When this happens, we must turn to prayer.

Prayer is the form of faith that connects us today with the grace that will make us adequate for tomorrow’s ministry. Timing really matters. 

What if grace comes too early or comes too late? The traditional translation of Hebrews 4:16 does not make clear a very precious promise in this regard. We need a more literal rendering to see it. The promise is not merely that we find grace “to help in time of need,” but that the grace is well-timed by God.

The point is that prayer is the way to find future grace for a well-timed help. This grace of God always arrives from the “throne of grace” on time. The phrase “throne of grace” means that future grace comes from the King of the universe who sets the times by his own authority (Acts 1:7). 

His timing is perfect, but it is rarely ours: “For a thousand years in [his] sight are but as yesterday when it is past” (Psalm 90:4). At the global level, he sets the times for nations to rise and fall (Acts 17:26). And at the personal level, “My times are in [his] hand” (Psalm 31:15). 

When we wonder about the timing of future grace, we must think on the “throne of grace.” Nothing can hinder God’s plan to send grace when it will be best for us. Future grace is always well-timed.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website

Energy For Today

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12–13)


God is the decisive worker here. Work out your own salvation . . . for it is God who works in you, the willing and the working. God wills and he works for his good pleasure. But believing this does not make Christians passive. It makes them hopeful and energetic and courageous.

Each day there is a work to be done in our special ministry. Paul commands us to work at doing it. But he tells us how to do it in the power that God supplies: believe him! Believe the promise that in this day God will be at work in you to will and work for his good pleasure. 

It is God himself, graciously at work each moment, that brings the promise of future grace into our present experience. It is not the gratitude for past grace that Paul focuses on when explaining how we work out our salvation. I mention this simply because so many Christians, when asked what the motive is for obedience, will say gratitude. But that is not what Paul emphasizes when he talks about motive and power for our working. He focuses on faith in what God is yet to do, not just what he has done. Work out your salvation! Why? How? For there is fresh grace for every moment from God. He is at work in your willing and doing every time you will and do. Believe that for the challenges of the next hour and the next thousand years.

The power of future grace is the power of the living Christ — always there to work for us at every future moment that we enter. So when Paul describes the effect of the grace of God that was with him, he says, “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience — by word and deed” (Romans 15:18). 

Therefore, since he would not dare to speak of anything but what Christ accomplished through his ministry, and yet he did, in fact, speak of what grace accomplished through his ministry (1 Corinthians 15:10), this must mean that the power of grace is the power of Christ. 

Which means that the power we need for the next five minutes and the next five decades of ministry is the future grace of the omnipotent Christ, who will always be there for us — ready to will and ready to work for his good pleasure.


Written by John Piper

Blessings.

*This devotional was taken from the Desiring God website