Today’s Daily Light
Why God Sanctifies Us Slowly (An article by John Piper)
Notice the implications of this word renewed. We are being “renewed” every day (2 Corinthians 4:16). If you are being renewed every day, what does that imply? It implies: hope fades, encouragement wanes, your bucket leaks. I find it unbelievably encouraging that the apostle Paul says, “I’ve got a secret, and it isn’t a secret of how never to need renewal. You can have an experience, and you don’t need renewal anymore.” That’s not the message. In fact, the message is unbelievably realistic.
“I’ll never sin again after Jesus comes back. So why am I sinning now?”
Day by day, renewed, which means every day you leak, every day you fade, every day you get depleted. That’s what it says. You wouldn’t need to be renewed day by day, if you could run your car on yesterday’s gas, if your metabolism could function on yesterday’s meal, or if the pain in your head can be relieved on yesterday’s dosage. You can’t run today’s life on yesterday’s newness. This is just huge.
Those of you who have been Christians for a while, you just know this. But if you’re a new believer, this is one of the most important things you can learn in your life because it’s so easy to think, with the highs that come with Jesus moving into your life, “I’ve found it. I’ve risen. I’m flying on eagles’ wings.” But soon enough you won’t be. And so you have to find ways to put the air under your wings every day.
And Paul says, “I know how to do that.” That’s the secret I’m after here. I don’t want to lose heart — not a day. I want the secret of being renewed every day — not a week, not a month. Every day I want to figure this out so that I can walk like this. I know life is going to be a battle. That’s the application of “renewed.” So Paul, I really, really want what you say you have. And you say it takes renewing.
This is what Jesus meant when he said in Matthew 6:34 that each day has enough trouble of its own. “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Have you ever thought about that phrase, “its own trouble”? Like, what is today? Friday. Okay, there’s Friday trouble. Guess what? There’s Saturday trouble.
That’s what Jesus said. That’s not like me being a prophet. Each day has its trouble. It’s appointed. There’s going to be Sunday trouble. I’m getting on a plane tomorrow. Maybe the front wheel will fall off. I don’t know.
But you know what else? Lamentations 3:22–23 says the mercies of the Lord “are new every morning.” I don’t know how many years I’ve been using these texts for my soul. On the one hand, every day has its own trouble. But on the other, every day has its own mercies. This is Lamentations 3:22–23, and this is Matthew 6:34. God has matched them. That’s part of the secret. Tomorrow will have its Saturday troubles, and tomorrow will have its Saturday mercies. And those Saturday mercies must be tapped into by the secret here of renewing because I had some mercies this morning, and they’re not designed for tomorrow. They were designed for today, and I’m feeling them right now.
“The mercies of the Lord are new every morning.”
Tomorrow there are going to be new mercies, and the secret that Paul’s got here is: How do you get under those? How do you get in those? How do you experience those? I paused right here in my preparation. Since this conference is under the banner “Soli Deo Gloria,” to God alone be the glory, I asked God, “Is there something in this text that would just give me a clue for why you set it up this way: that I have to be renewed every day? I mean, you could have just bumped me up to maximum sanctification and kept me there.” You know how I know he could? Because he’s going to do it when Jesus comes back. I’ll never sin again after Jesus comes back. So why am I sinning now? “I mean, Lord, just do that. You’re going to do it then; just do it now.” And he says, “Not the plan.”
“We have this treasure in jars of clay” for a reason — clay that needs to be renewed every day, clay that can’t stand on its own longer than 24 hours or on yesterday’s grace for 24 hours — all so that the surpassing power will belong to God (2 Corinthians 4:7). You can get in God’s face about this and say, “I don’t like the plan. I don’t like the plan that you leave me unsanctified and battling every day with depletion, having to be renewed on grace every day. I don’t like the plan. I’d just like to be done with the battle.”
And God would say, “Well, that’s the plan. And the reason it’s the plan is I’m going to get some glory in your life. If I didn’t do it this way, you’d get uppity about it. You’d think you had it made. You’d think your strength was coming from you.
The fact that you’ve run out of gas every day puts you in the station — and the station is me.”
So God has his reasons for why he saves us in stages, sanctifies us slowly, and makes us fill up every day at his pump, lest we forget where the gas comes from. (end of Piper’s article 😊)
(Friends….and so I pray for me/us right now in this new day of God’s mercies being new in our life: Precious and glorious Father…I don’t have the words to express my need of Your Grace in my life every day. But I know that simply as I pour my heart out to you in the most sincere way I can…as I long and ache for Your Grace…as to sincerely demonstrate my need of You…my need for Your daily supply of help and Grace…I have confidence, based on the fact that I am Yours…I belong to You, fully loved, fully accepted, because of what Jesus did for me/us…and it all too precious…too sweet…as I absorb this truth down into my eternal spirit man….and I am overwhelmed in this moment with You…by You…how wonderful and perfect You are. You alone are ‘enough’ to satisfy me/us …You alone… Amen)
Today’s Daily Light
Con’t …Part 2… An article by John Piper on ‘Does God Want Me To Be Happy Or Holy?”
Here’s an important point. When Megan says, “In these seasons of darkness and hardship, it seems my happiness is not as significant as God’s intent to grow my holiness,” this shows a serious confusion about what holiness is.
She is treating holiness as one thing and her happiness as another thing. She’s treating holiness as one thing, which God pursues through dark seasons — and that’s exactly right — and she is treating happiness as a separate thing, which God seems to be neglecting in those seasons of darkness. That’s not the way the Bible sees holiness and happiness. This is the most important sentence: Holiness is the condition of heart in which God is our greatest happiness. That’s holiness.
The unholy heart is the heart that finds God boring or offensive or finds faults in him. The holy heart sees God as its supreme treasure and is supremely satisfied in God. When we’re perfectly holy, we will have perfect satisfaction. That will come someday in heaven.
Hebrews 12 describes the discipline of God toward his children like Megan conceives it. She’s right. The aim is to make us holy. It says God disciplines us. God disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. This is Hebrews 12:11: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Now, notice a couple things. The holiness he is pursuing through this discipline is a peaceful fruit. That means a sweet, restful, pleasant fruit. That’s the goal. When he says the discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, he’s not suggesting that the discipline doesn’t hurt. It wouldn’t be discipline if the spanking didn’t hurt. He’s pointing to the fact that the outcome really is pleasant and not painful.
“Sanctification is precisely the divine work by which we are weaned off the pleasures of the world onto the pleasures of God.”
That’s the goal. The goal of holiness is supreme pleasure in God that breaks all the fleeting pleasures of sin. It severs the root of all those other pleasures so they lose their power and they don’t control us anymore. Then we walk in sweet obedience to Jesus because he has come to satisfy our hearts.
This is why James says, “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). Paul says, “We rejoice in our sufferings” — why? — “knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3–4). Hope, of course, is a joyful emotion.
No Other Pleasure Will Do
My answer to Megan’s final question: “How would you describe the pain of trials in light of Christian Hedonism and God’s desire for my joy?” is that the pain of all the trials in the life of God’s children is indeed aimed at their holiness.
That’s true because holiness consists precisely in the heart forsaking the fleeting pleasures of sin and growing in the enjoyment of the permanent pleasures of God. That’s what sanctification is. That’s what God is doing in the hard seasons.
The reason God put such a high premium on the pleasures that we have in him, even at the cost of great pain to us in the dark seasons of our life, is that no other pleasures can satisfy us eternally, and no other pleasures can glorify God forever.
Today’s Daily Light
Does God Want Me To Be Happy or Holy? (Part I..from an article by John Piper)
Does God want me to be happy? Or does God want me to be holy? Which is the priority? Such a question is really vital. This time it comes in the form of an email from a listener named Megan.
Megan writes, “Hello, Pastor John! I’m with you when you say that Christian Hedonism says my happiness is not at odds with God’s will for me. But what about the dark season of trials? In these seasons it seems my happiness is not as significant as God’s intent to grow my holiness. How would you describe the pain of trials in light of Christian Hedonism and God’s desire for my joy?”
If human life apart from Christ and salvation had zero happiness, and God’s goal was to bring us from the condition of zero happiness to great happiness in God, I suspect God would not need to introduce any hardship or discipline into our lives in order to bring us to the experience of supreme happiness in him. But that’s not the real world.
“Holiness is the newness of the human heart that no longer finds sin and self more desirable than God and goodness.”
Human life apart from Christ and salvation does not consist in zero happiness. It consists in a thousand experiences of godless happiness. When Peter describes the pre-Christian life among the Gentiles in his day, he says it consists in “living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” (1 Peter 4:3). In other words, the world outside Christ abounds with what Hebrews 11:25 calls “the fleeting pleasures of sin.”
When God saves us, brings us into relationship with Christ, declares us righteous, justifies us in union with him through faith, he’s not working with people who have zero happiness and need to be given some. He’s working with people who have a thousand experiences of pleasure and happiness that are not rooted in God.
These pleasures do not flow from a sight of God’s glory. These people are not abounding with thanksgiving to God for his goodness. They do not reflect the character of God and his holiness.
I never thought of it quite this way before. This is amazing. Through conversion, God now has in his family, in his house, children who are deeply contaminated. All of us are deeply contaminated with the world from which he is saving us, because we still find so much pleasure outside God and his ways and his will.
Ephesians 4:22 says, “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires.” In other words, the process of sanctification, the process of becoming holy, is the process of ceasing to have sinful desires and growing in our enjoyment of holy desires.
To put it another way, holiness is the newness of the human heart that no longer finds sin and self more desirable than God and goodness. To become holy, to be sanctified, is not something different than becoming happy in God. Sanctification is precisely the divine work by which we are weaned off the pleasures of the world onto the pleasures of God. (😊 Part II con’t tomorrow)
Today’s Daily Light
5 Truths That Can Help Us When We Are Anxious (Taken from a sermon by John Piper..enjoy)
It seems to me that in my most desperate moments, when turmoil of soul is owing to some family issue, or marriage issue, or health issue, or church or job issue — at those moments — the remedy is trust him. Not only is it going to work out in the end, and you’re going to be with him forever in the most intimate fellowship, but right now he hasn’t left you. He gave you a helper.
Notice — I love this — he didn’t give you an observer, like, “I’m watching. I’m right here next to you and I’m watching.” That’s not what I need. Everybody’s already watching me! I don’t need another person to watch me. I need a helper, an advocate, a comforter, a paraclete — one who stands by me, in me, on me, under me, around me, and is working through me, because I can’t figure anything out by myself, nor can I make it through.
Whatever the problems are that cause an unholy turmoil to rise up, let not your heart be troubled.
- Trust him because he has a place for you in your Father’s house.
- Let not your heart be troubled because Jesus prepared a place for you by opening the way there and removing every single obstacle, especially your sin.
- Let not your heart be troubled because Jesus himself is your dwelling place, and he has promised to come and take you to himself. It’s not like he’s taking you to some room out there. Who wants a room? I don’t want a room; I want a person. A room just means you’re in the house, and Jesus is your room.
- Let not your heart be troubled because the Father and Jesus are one, so that if you have Jesus, you have the Father.
- And lastly, you have Jesus now because he sent his Spirit to you, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of truth. And he is not an observer. He is an omnipotent helper for tonight’s issue that you’re facing, and tomorrow’s, and death and resurrection.
Friends…I know few, if any, believers, who possess such depth of maturity and are in such possession of working faith..that when adversity or calamity strikes…that they do not experience anxiety. We are wired as deep emotional creatures and we feel pain and hurt and anxiety. Those ‘feelings’ ignite our response mechanisms and serve to kick-in our reactionary systems.
Today’s Daily Light
Friends….This is from my pastor/friend David N…I thought it was a perfect continuation to the 2 part article from the past 2 days. Note that in his morning quiet time David uses the S.O.A.P. method (study, observe, apply, pray). 😊
Today’s Daily Light
Con’t..Part 2/final from article by David Mathis
Put Yourself In the Path of God’s Grace
Train Yourself for Godliness
Yes, it is grace, and yes, we expend effort. And so Paul says to his protégé, “Train yourself for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). Discipline yourself for growth. Take regular action to get more of God in your mind and your heart, and echo him in your life — this is “godliness.” It’s a gift, and we receive it as we become it.
Paul’s own reliance on God for ongoing grace is a powerful testimony to this means-of-grace dynamic. He says in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “by the grace of God I am what I am . . . . I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” God’s grace didn’t make Paul passive, but supplied the energy for discipline, and every ounce of energy expended was all of grace.
Or Romans 15:18, “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.” Jesus’s grace didn’t mean accomplishing this purpose despite Paul, or apart from him, but through him. Where does Paul get the power to labor and expend such spiritual effort? “I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29).
How to Receive the Gift of Effort
This dynamic is true not because Paul is an apostle, but because he is a Christian. So, he says to every believer, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” because of this great promise: “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12–13). And so, the author of Hebrews closes his magisterial epistle with a prayer for God’s “working in us that which is pleasing in his sight” (Hebrews 13:20–21).
The way to receive the gift of God’s empowering our actions is to do the actions. If he gives the gift of effort, we receive that gift by expending the effort. When he gives the grace of growing in holiness, we don’t receive that gift apart from becoming more holy. When he gives us the desire to get more of him in his word, or in prayer, or among his people, we don’t receive that gift without experiencing the desire and living the pursuits which flow from it.
Lay Yourself in the Way of Allurement
Zacchaeus may have been a wee little man, but he modeled this big reality by positioning himself along the path of grace. He couldn’t force Jesus’s hand, he couldn’t make grace flow, but he could put himself along the path where Grace was coming (Luke 19:1–10). The same was true of blind Bartimaeus (Luke 18:35–43). He couldn’t earn the restoration of his sight, but he could position himself along the route of grace where Jesus might give the gift as he passed that way.
“Typically, the grace that sends our roots deepest streams from ordinary and unspectacular paths.”
“Think of the Spiritual Disciplines,” says Don Whitney, “as ways we can place ourselves in the path of God’s grace and seek him as Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus placed themselves in Jesus’s path and sought him” (Spiritual Disciplines, 19). Or, as Jonathan Edwards puts it, we can “endeavor to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement.”
God’s regular channels of grace are his word, his ear, and his people. So often, he showers his people with unexpected favor. But typically the grace that sends our roots deepest, truly grows us up in Christ, and produces lasting spiritual maturity, streams from the ordinary and unspectacular paths of fellowship, prayer, and Bible intake in its many forms.
While these simple “means of grace” may seem as unimpressive as everyday switches and faucets, through them God regularly stands ready to give his true light and the water of life.
Today’s Daily Light
Executive Editor, desiringGod.org
Put Yourself In the Path of God’s Grace
I can flip a switch, but I don’t provide the electricity. I can turn on a faucet, but I can’t make the water flow. There will be no light and no liquid refreshment without someone else providing it.
And so it is, in a limited sense, for the Christian with the ongoing grace of God. His grace is essential for our spiritual lives, but we don’t control the supply. We can’t make the grace flow, but God has given us circuits to connect and pipes to open in case it’s there.
Our God is lavish in his grace, often liberally dispensing his favor without even the least bit of cooperation and preparation on our part. But he also has his regular channels. And we can routinely avail ourselves of these revealed paths of blessing, or neglect them to our detriment.
The Places Where the Grace Keeps Passing
“The essence of the Christian life,” says one seasoned saint, “is learning to fight for joy in a way that does not replace grace.” We cannot earn God’s grace or make it flow apart from his free gift. But we can position ourselves to go on getting should he keep giving. We can “fight to walk in the paths where he has promised his blessings” (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 43–44). We can ready ourselves for receiving along his regular route sometimes called “the spiritual disciplines.”
Such practices are not fancy or highfalutin. They are the stuff of everyday, basic Christianity — unimpressively mundane, but spectacularly potent by the Spirit. While there’s no final and complete list of such spiritual disciplines, the long tally of helpful habits can be clustered into three big groups: hearing God’s voice, having God’s ear, and being with God’s people. Or simply: word, prayer, and fellowship.
These were called “the means of grace” by previous generations. “The doctrine of the disciplines,” says J.I. Packer, “is really a restatement and extension of classical Protestant teaching on the means of grace” (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 9). Whatever the term, the key is that God has revealed certain channels through which he regularly pours out his favor. And we’re foolish not to take his word on it.
What “Means of Grace” Means
To put means with grace might endanger the free nature of grace. But it need not do so — not if the means are coordinate with receiving and the exertions of effort are graciously supplied. Which is emphatically the case for the Christian. Here there is no ground for boasting.
“All our exertions toward the goal of Christlikeness are gifts of grace.”
The one on whom we lean is “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10). He not only elects the undeserving without condition, and works in them the miracle of new birth and the gift of faith, but he also freely declares them righteous by that faith, and begins supplying the flow of spiritual life and energy to experience the joy of increasing Christlikeness.
God’s immense flood of grace not only sees us as holy in Christ, but also progressively produces holy desires in us. It is grace to be forgiven of sinful acts, and grace to be supplied the heart for righteous ones. It is grace that we are increasingly “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29), and grace that he doesn’t leave us in the misery of our sin but pledges to bring to completion the good work he has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).
For the glory of God, the good of others, and the satisfaction of our souls, the goal of the Christian life is such Christlikeness, or godliness, or holiness rightly understood. And all our exertions of effort toward that goal are gifts of grace.
2nd/final part of article continued tomorrow 😊
Today’s Daily Light
Continuing…summary thoughts from our study in The Search For Significance…by R. McGee
Friends… McGee’s work has been very helpful for me to come to a deeper ‘experiential’ level of what Christ provided for us in His sacrificial death and His resurrection. The reality of what we have in our position ‘in Christ’…the understanding of what we have through the work of ‘justification’…’reconciliation’ ….’propitiation’….’regeneration’…. is truly soooo wonderful and if we can come to see and comprehend the depth of it…it provides for us a higher position of strength…where our faith grows in knowledge and strength..and we can grab hold of eternal and powerful truth ‘so that’ we will be able to use such ‘truth’ to work against and overcome the schemes of the dark side that seek to hold us back from being all we can be in our daily life. 😊
When you choose to believe God’s Word, your emotions may not follow immediately. Does that mean you aren’t trusting God? No. Faith is often exercised in the context of a struggle, in the midst of conflicting thoughts and emotions. A look at the people of God in the Scriptures shows that their faith was not in the absence of doubts and struggles but in the face of doubts and struggles. The idea that faith is only found apart from conflicting thoughts and emotions is one of Satan’s schemes to confuse and discourage us. When we trust in God, we will experience many obstacles to faith, but placing our trust in His Word – not feelings – will see us through. Guaranteed!!
Today’s Daily Light
Continuing with ‘summary’ thoughts from our study in The Search For Significance..by R. McGee
Yesterday…we talked about depending on God…and using our ‘will’ to choose to obey God and not to determine our course of actions based on ‘feelings’. ..and we now continue by looking at possible reasons our feelings may oppose the ways of God:
Our sinful nature may be prompting us to disobey God. Galatians 5:17 says, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another.’
We may be experiencing spiritual conflict. Satan, our enemy, is a thief who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). If he can get us to live by our feelings instead of by God’s Word then he will effectively steal our joy, kill our motivation to live for Christ, and destroy the consistency of our Christian testimony.
It may be that our negative emotions are simply the residual feelings of the fear of failure or the fear of rejection that we are in the process of overcoming by claiming God’s truth.