Blog Posts on Devotional Life

Advent Begins Today

David Mathis
Advent Begins Today

Advent is for adoring Jesus.

It’s an annual season of patient waiting, hopeful expectation, soul-searching, and calendar-watching marked by many churches, Christian families, and individual followers of Jesus. There’s no biblical mandate to observe Advent. It’s an optional thing — a tradition that developed over the course of the church’s history as a time of preparation for Christmas Day. Many of us find observing Advent to be personally enjoyable and spiritually profitable.

Why Advent

... Continue Reading

Don’t Undersell Your Commute

Jonathan Parnell
Don’t Undersell Your Commute

Packer had me at “horseback.”

In his new introduction to John Flavel's Keeping the Heart, J. I. Packer tells a story from Flavel’s devotional life. Now I remembered hearing of a spiritual experience Edwards had on horseback, and of another from Moody. Then there it was again in Flavel:

It is recorded of him that he spent much time in meditation, self-examination, and prayer, and on one occasion at least he had an extraordinary experience of God. Meditating on horseback, “his... Continue Reading

Fight the Poverty of Attention

Jon Bloom

Oh, that my people would listen to me. (Psalm 81:13)

“Attention is focused mental engagement on a particular item of information.”1 I’ll bet you’re finding that difficult to do, aren’t you — paying attention? As you read this are other flies of information buzzing around your head?

Ever since sin clouded the human mind with disparate impulses and voices, paying attention, particularly to the right things, has been hard. But it’s never been harder than it is now.

Humans “create... Continue Reading

Contemplating the Bible in Communion

Jonathan Parnell
Contemplating the Bible in Communion

Nature is saying something.

Psalm 19:1 explains: "The heavens declare the glory of God." The most basic point of this verse is that the world around us is making God known. "Wherever you cast your eyes," Calvin writes, "there is no spot in the universe wherein you cannot discern at least some sparks of [God's] glory" (Institutes, I.V.1). The theological name for this is "general revelation."

We can learn things about God from what we observe around us, from human... Continue Reading

Communion with God: What, Why, How?

Jonathan Parnell
Communion with God: What, Why, How?

"Communion" is a good word. What do you think when you hear it? Maybe an ordinance of the church? Perhaps an archaic way saying relationship? Or even some mystical ambiguity connected to transcendence?

Communion is one of the few words in the English language that has a general meaning but maintains a sanctified use. "To speak a little of it in general," John Owen writes, "Communion relates to things and persons. A joint participation in any thing whatever, good or evil, duty... Continue Reading

Whom Are You Really Serving?

Jon Bloom

When Martha welcomed Jesus and his contingent into her home in Bethany (Luke 10:38–42) there could have been a hundred or more people. The seventy-two had just rejoined Jesus after their itinerant ministry tours. And considering his fame at this point, no doubt his visit attracted a number of locals.

And when the group had packed inside, Jesus taught them. But Martha wasn’t one of “them” because she was too busy to listen. Luke describes her as “distracted with much serving”... Continue Reading

Specifically, Who Were the Puritans? What Were Their Names?

John Piper
Specifically, Who Were the Puritans? What Were Their Names?

You may have heard people vilify or extol the Puritans. J. I. Packer is among those who extol. Indeed, he thinks that this century of pastors was the greatest the church has ever known.

Some of us have found our souls richly fed by these 350-year old pastors. When we have needed spiritual food, we have found ourselves grazing in the Bible-saturated, heart-searching seventeenth century Puritans.

If you have ever wondered just who they were, here is... Continue Reading

Planning for Spiritual Necessities in 2012

Josh Etter
Planning for Spiritual Necessities in 2012

Pastor John:

All of us know this and practice it in relation to the basic physical necessities of life. We take steps to see that we have enough to eat and clothes to keep us warm. But do we take our spiritual needs that seriously? Do we apply the same earnestness in planning to maximize our ministry as we do in planning to make a living?

What I would like to do here is to try to persuade you to set aside time each week in the coming year to plan—and specifically to... Continue Reading

Not by Bread Alone: Let’s Live on God’s Word in 2012

John Piper
Not by Bread Alone: Let’s Live on God’s Word in 2012

At Bethlehem we close prayer week with a focus on the value of reading and memorizing Scripture in the new year. I preach on the value of God’s word and the importance of reading and memorizing the Scripture every day.

Justin Taylor has pulled together a list of possible ways to read the Bible in this new year.

I encourage everyone to take the closing days of the year to plan how you are going to read the Bible in the new year. Don’t leave it to chance.... Continue Reading

Rob Not Your Heart of the Deep Sea Joys

John Piper
Rob Not Your Heart of the Deep Sea Joys

In the history of the Christian Church there have been few people more eloquent than Charles Spurgeon. That makes his words about silence all the more striking.

Priceless as the gift of utterance may be, the practice of silence in some aspects far excels it. Do not think me a Quaker. Well, be it so. Herein I follow George Fox most lovingly; for I am persuaded that most of us think too much of speech, which after all is but the shell of thought.Quiet contemplation,... Continue Reading