Blog Posts by John Piper
How Do You “Give” God Strength?
The following meditation comes from my devotional lingering over Psalm 96:7. All the modern versions translate it, “Ascribe to the Lord...strength” (ESV, NIV, NASB). Only the KJV renders it with the literal, “Give unto the Lord...strength.”
There’s nothing unusual about this Hebrew word “give” (yahab). It’s used over sixty times in the Old Testament in all the ordinary ways the word give is used.
The word ascribe…Continue Reading
6 Ways to React to the Cyclone
As the carnage from Cyclone Nargis moves toward 50,000 dead and beyond, there is a way to pray and act:
1. Be softened to the pain nearby.
The Good Samaritan knew nothing of the calamities in first century Burma, but was commended by the Lord for mercies at hand (Luke 10:25-37).
2. Pray for the followers of Christ in Myanmar:
- That they would be still and know that God…
Don't Miss How God Motivates
God motivates us to feel and to do what we should by calling to our minds his past performances of love and his future promises of love—some near, some far.
Be sure that you are connected to the way God means to motivate you with the backward look and the distant forward look and the near forward look. For example:
Motivation by the backward look:
Forgive one another, as…
What the Pharisees Got Right
To lay a trap for an animal there has to be some truth to attract him. It must at least look like a meal even if the iron clamps lie just beneath. Mark says the Pharisees came “to trap" Jesus. So they put some truth over the trap. They said,
“Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by…
Acclaim for Christ vs. Craving Praise
I have suggested that we should dream of ways to make much of Christ in the way we use our economic stimulus checks that will be arriving soon. That raises the question how we do that if our generosity should be done in secret. “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6.3). Here’s what I think the Bible says about that.
Jesus warns…Continue Reading
Remembering Elder D. J. Ward
Elder D. J. Ward, pastor of Lexington's Main Street Baptist Church for the past 19 years, died of complications from lung cancer Friday at Hospice Care Center at St. Joseph Hospital. What the Lexington Herald-Leader did not say about this amazing African-American is that he was a powerful spokesman for the glorious God worshiped through the wall-to-wall window called Calvinism.
I thank God for the one conference we had together.…Continue Reading
Economic Stimulus Payment & Christ
For a moment, forget the political puzzle of getting money back when the country is nine trillion dollars in debt. The more immediate question is: How will you make much of Christ with your "economic stimulus payment"? The president says it will be in the mail in time for Cinco de Mayo.
Clue: Nobody in the world will see you spend your money on yourself and conclude that Christ is…Continue Reading
Children Understand the Universe Before They Know There Is One
I am on writing leave. I hope you will pray for me. The first book I'm working on is one on marriage. This includes chapters on raising children. Here is a section I was working on yesterday:
The most fundamental task of a mother and father is to show God to the children. Children know their parents before they know God. This is a huge responsibility and should cause every…
The Rebellion of Nudity and the Meaning of Clothing
The first consequence of Adam’s and Eve’s sin mentioned in Genesis 3:7 is that “the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
Suddenly they are self-conscious about their bodies. Before their rebellion against God, there was no shame. “The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). Now there is…Continue Reading
Never Be Wise In Your Own Sight
If a twelve-year-old makes A’s in school and generally makes wise choices, how would you help her apply this verse to herself?
Never be wise in your own sight. (Romans 12:16)
You might say:
- It means that you gladly admit that all true wisdom is from God. It is his, and not finally ours.
- It means that you recognize that any sense of superiority comes from comparing yourself only with…
When God Will Not Use Bigness
There are saving works that God will only do through small churches and ordinary people, not through large churches and more sophisticated people.
The Lord said to Gideon, "The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me.’” (Judges 7:2)
Beware of missing your appointed fruit by envying bigger trees.Continue Reading
The Heavens Declare God's Infinity
Sometimes I'm asked how I explain the disproportion between the size of the universe and the smallness of man created as the crown of God’s creation. The tension is felt in Psalm 8:3-5.
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that…
How God Readies Us to Read in Tune
If in your morning devotions you open God’s word to the book of Judges and find that the strings of your inner instrument are not in tune, it is not blasphemy to excuse yourself for a few moments from the King’s library and turn to a paragraph from one of his unflinchingly faithful, broken-hearted, happy servants. Should we find it surprising that the King should appoint some of his closest…Continue Reading
An Effect of Passion for Christ
One of the reasons pursuing a passion for Christ (or if you prefer the old word, “zeal” for Christ) is so important is the good effects it has on others.
This is not the decisive reason for wanting passion. Passion is not like that. It is not utilitarian. Passion for Christ exists because Christ is magnificent, not because passion is useful. If the only reason you try to have passion…Continue Reading
How to Be a Fountain of Life
Every Christian should want to be a “fountain of life” for others. How does that happen?
Here is a group of passages that answer this question. The answer is in the order.
Psalm 36:9, For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.… Continue Reading
Proverbs 16:22, Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it, But the discipline of fools is folly.
The Happy Paradoxes of Christian Freedom and Slavery
For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. (1Corinthians 7:22-24).
I would have expected Paul to switch the places of “Lord” and “Christ.” He correlates our liberation with Jesus being our Master (“a freedman of the Lord”). And he correlates our new slavery with Jesus being our Messiah (“a…Continue Reading
It's Good We Aren't All Like Jesus
Jesus never wrote anything. He hung out, and talked, and healed. But if his followers had only done that, we wouldn’t know even that about him. Both-And, not Either-Or. And some people more one than the other.Continue Reading
Preaching As Concept Creation, Not Just Contextualization
As we think seriously about contextualizing the message of the Bible, let’s remember that we must also labor to bring about, in the minds of our listeners, conceptual categories that may be missing from their mental framework. If we only use the thought structures they already have, some crucial biblical truths will remain unintelligible, no matter how much contextualizing we do. This work of concept creation is harder than contextualization,…Continue Reading
5 Tips for Clear Writing and Talking
C. S. Lewis’ advice to children on writing is good advice to pastors on preaching, or anybody on talking.
- Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn't mean anything else.
- Always prefer the clean direct word to the long, vague one. Don't implement promises, but keep them.
- Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If…
Falling Dew and Falling Hammers
Especially on Sundays, preaching is paramount in a pastor’s life. When we prepare to preach, we remember that our words should fall “as gentle rain upon the tender grass” and “like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.” Such speaking is not simple. Pray for us.
Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;… Continue Reading
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop as
“These Narrow and Ebb Souls”
There is a knowing of love that surpasses ordinary knowledge. All thoughtful and true lovers know this. Being loved isn't identical to knowing that one is being loved. This is not spooky. It is in fact gloriously ordinary. Just as a blue sky, a bright sun, a cool breeze, yellow-green leaves, and a new bird-song may hold you in unexpected, unselfconscious thrall for a season, so there are moments when…Continue Reading
When MLK First Met God
On this 40th anniversary of his death, I thank God for the life and cause of Martin Luther King, Jr. It was not the first day that he had met God. Twelve years earlier there was another meeting:
He put his head in his hands and bowed over the table. “Oh Lord,” he prayed aloud, “I’m down here trying to do what is right. But, Lord, I must confess that…
Preaching What You Don't Feel
Can a pastor preach on joy when he is feeling little of it?
Yes. He is preaching what the word says and will say it whether he feels it or not.
Yes. He will be praying that in the very preaching of it, the gift of joy might be given. It does happen.
Yes. He will be honest with his people and over time communicate to them that he has…
Outside the Bible I have never read anything more devastating to the impenetrable permutations of pride than the section in Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections titled, “Sign #6, Gracious affections are attended with evangelical humiliation.” It ends with one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Few paragraphs fill me with longing like this one:
All gracious affections that are a sweet odor to Christ, and that…
Overcome Contradictory Compassion
The inconsistencies of liberal and conservative compassion do not define the nature of good and evil.
That there are liberals who talk compassion for the weak and oppressed, but support the butchery of the weakest persons (the unborn even to the point of birth) does not make abortion less evil.
That there are conservatives who talk compassion for unborn persons, but feel little interest or compassion for their own neighbors,…Continue Reading