One of our dear small group members recently sent all of us this hymn by John Newton. It was refreshing to my soul. Thank you, God, for John Newton—and for my friend!
If you’ve been praying for greater faith and love and freedom from selfishness and more of God, you probably need to read this and take heart. Our Father “disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10).
Prayer Answered by Crosses
By John Newton
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace,
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly his face.
‘Twas he who taught me thus to pray;
And he, I trust, has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a w…
In Luke 19, Zacchaeus the tax collector was converted. He vowed to give back fourfold to anyone he had defrauded. Imagine a conversation he might have had when returning the money.
* * *
"Dad, there's a man at the door. He said his name is Zacchaeus."
"Zacchaeus!" Judah's face flushed with sudden anger. "What does he want?" Under his breath he muttered, "The little vermin." His young daughter didn't need to hear that.
"I don't know."
Judah moved brusquely past his daughter, clenching his jaw. If the little weasel even hints at more money, I swear… a thunderstorm of violent thoughts broke in his mind.
When he saw Zacchaeus he exploded, "WHAT?" Zacchaeus reeled s…
I have been so helped by John Piper’s recommendation in his book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals:
I [do not] want to give the impression that I think there is virtue in reading many books. In fact one of my greatest complaints in seminary was that professors trained students in bad habits of superficial reading because they assigned too many books. I agree with Spurgeon: “A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books which he has merely skimmed, lapping at them.” God save us from the allurement of “keeping up with Pastor Jones” by superficial skimming. Forget about “keeping up.” It only feeds pride and breeds spi…
Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42-42)
Jesus’ gracious rebuke to Martha haunts me.
"Martha was distracted with much serving" (Luke 10:40). But Mary "sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching" (Luke 10:39). Distraction is the enemy of listening. For Martha, at that moment, serving was a distraction. Serving became the enemy of the real good.
But that's not how it felt to Martha at the time. She thought she was doing the right thing. That's why she appealed to Jesus to exhort Mary to get off her rear and get busy serving. Martha was tir…
. . . Or What Jesus Meant When He Said, “Whoever Feeds on My Flesh and Drinks My Blood Has Eternal Life”
The previous day Jesus had fed 5,000 people with a few loaves and fish. Then that night he walked miles across the Sea of Galilee before catching up with his disciples in their boat.
The crowd he had fed followed him to Capernaum. And they knew something amazing must have happened. Last evening they had seen Jesus send his disciples away in the only boat available. Now here he was! Only a miracle could have gotten him there that fast. Another reason he should be king!
But just as the momentum was building, Jesus squashed it. To his adoring fans he said,
Truly, truly, I say to you,…
For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33).
As I explained in my previous post, hope is what energizes the soul, and promises are what we feed our soul in order to get hope—just like we energize our bodies by eating food.
Human beings are specifically designed to eat a particular kind of soul food: God’s Word. That’s why in both the Old and New Testaments, God emphasized that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4).
When God speaks, it is much different than when you and I speak. When we speak, we describe or defend our perceptions of reality. When God spea…
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4)
When our bodies need energy, we know that we need to eat. So we eat a variety of foods, some better and some worse sources of energy (and bodily health, but more on that in my next post). Our body then digests these foods and converts them into energy and we can keep going. No food, no energy. No energy, no going on.
This physical phenomenon mirrors a spiritual reality. Our souls also run on a kind of energy, and so require a sort of food that they convert into that energy.
So what do our souls eat?
Before we answer that question, let’s first ask this: what is the e…
The only thing that qualifies us to be followers of Jesus is that we are sinners who need grace. Sinners are the only kind of people Jesus calls, as the Apostle Levi (Matthew) discovered.1
* * *
Levi looked around the campfire circle at Jesus and the other eleven disciples. Strange rabbinical school, he thought. Not exactly the cream of the scholarly crop. Led by a rabbi with no formal theological training, his disciples tended to be a bit heavy on fishermen.
But he saw himself as the oddest of the oddballs.
Levi had been a tax collector. That meant he had essentially worked for Rome. And that meant he had been considered a traitor by most of his neighbors. “Tax col…
The Supper that Jesus instituted on the night he was betrayed was a new Passover meal. Or we might say that the Passover was the Old Testament Lord’s Supper.
The reason the Lord instituted the Passover was so that people of Israel would always remember and proclaim their redemption from Egypt:
This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. (Exodus 12:14)
And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice o…