Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Tuesday Teaching| When I Don't Desire God (1)

Over the next three Tuesdays I am going to post a series of talks from John Piper looking at how we battle for joy in God.

You can listen to part 1 by clicking here.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Tuesday Teaching| Brothers, we must not mind a little suffering

Charles Simeon was, for many years, the minister of Holy Trinity church in Cambridge. Throughout his time there he endured faithfully under much suffering and opposition.

John Piper has given a helpful biographical sketch of Simeon, where he examines what it was that kept him persevering in the midst of his trials, and draws out lessons to be learnt today.

You can listen to the talk by clicking here.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Good Habits or Legalism

Some challenging words from John Piper on one lie about prayer that we're prone to believe:
But the hard truth is that most Christians don’t pray very much. They pray at meals—unless they’re still stuck in the adolescent stage of calling good habits legalism. They whisper prayers before tough meetings. They say something brief as they crawl into bed. But very few set aside set times to pray alone—and fewer still think it is worth it to meet with others to pray. And we wonder why our faith is weak. And our hope is feeble. And our passion for Christ is small.
The Duty of Prayer
And meanwhile the devil is whispering all over this room: “The pastor is getting legalistic now. He’s starting to use guilt now. He’s getting out the law now.” To which I say, “To hell with the devil and all of his destructive lies. Be free!” Is it true that intentional, regular, disciplined, earnest, Christ-dependent, God-glorifying, joyful prayer is a duty? Do I go to pray with many of you on Tuesday at 6:30 a.m., and Wednesday at 5:45 p.m., and Friday at 6:30 a.m., and Saturday at 4:45 p.m., and Sunday at 8:15 a.m. out of duty? Is it a discipline?
You can call it that. It’s a duty the way it’s the duty of a scuba diver to put on his air tank before he goes underwater. It’s a duty the way pilots listen to air traffic controllers. It’s a duty the way soldiers in combat clean their rifles and load their guns. It’s a duty the way hungry people eat food. It’s a duty the way thirsty people drink water. It’s a duty the way a deaf man puts in his hearing aid. It’s a duty the way a diabetic takes his insulin. It’s a duty the way Pooh Bear looks for honey. It’s a duty the way pirates look for gold.
Means of Grace: Gift of God
I hate the devil, and the way he is killing some of you by persuading you it is legalistic to be as regular in your prayers as you are in your eating and sleeping and Internet use. Do you not see what a sucker he his making out of you? He is laughing up his sleeve at how easy it is to deceive Christians about the importance of prayer.
God has given us means of grace. If we do not use them to their fullest advantage, our complaints against him will not stick. If we don’t eat, we starve. If we don’t drink, we get dehydrated. If we don’t exercise a muscle, it atrophies. If we don’t breathe, we suffocate. And just as there are physical means of life, there are spiritual means of grace.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

"...my studies are just beginning."

Augustine, was one of the greatest theologians in church history. One writer describes him as having "...by far the greatest influence on the beliefs, practices and spirituality of Western Christianity." Even with all the learning and understanding that God graciously gave Him, Augustine never got bored of the Bible. In fact,it was quite the opposite. The more he studied and understood the more of an appetite he had for Scripture. In a letter he says this about the Bible:
There is such depth in the Christian Scriptures that, even if I studied them, and nothing else, from early childhood to worn-out old age, with ample time and unflagging zeal, and with greater intellectual ability than I posess, I would still each day find new treasures within them. The basic truths necessary for salvation are easily found within the Scriptures. But even when a person has accepted these truths, and is both God-fearing and righteous in his actions, there remain so many things which lie under a great veil of mystery. Through reading the Scriptures, we can pierce this veil, and find the deepest wisdom in the words which express these mysteries, and in the mysteries themselves. The oldest, the ablest, and the most eager student of Scripture, will say at the end of each day: "I have studied hard, but my studies are just beginning."
This stands as a challenge to us when we're tempted to think that we've 'mastered' the Bible. Or when we begin to think that we, pretty much, know what it all says. Let us be those who are ever saying, "My studies are just beginning."