Category Archives: Devotional Thoughts
Good thoughts from Carson on my Bible reading today:
“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (21:3). The prophets say something similar (e.g., Hosea 6:6), and so does the LORD Jesus (Matt. 9:13; 12:7). Every generation must remember that integrity and righteousness are more important than religious ritual. It should come as no surprise that religious people may sometimes cheat on their income tax, abuse their children, covet their neighbor’s car, and love nothing so much as personal pleasure. Their religion may actually serve as a cloak to cover their sin with a veneer of respectability. This chapter includes another relevant proverb: “The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable—how much more so when brought with evil intent!” (21:27). The religious observance of wicked people is simply detestable in God’s sight; it is unimaginably revolting to him when the wicked person is less a wicked dupe than a self-conscious charlatan using his religion to deceive people. Implicitly, of course, this means that the religion of the Bible is more about character than choirs, more about real transformation than religious tradition, more about God and the Gospel than about leadership and glitz.
Carson, D. A. (1998). For the love of God: a daily companion for discovering the riches of God’s Word. (Vol. 2, p. 25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
The psalms typically follow this pattern: telling the story of God’s triumphs despite his people’s unfaithfulness, leading to praise for God’s character and finally to the response of grateful obedience. I have often noticed that in settings where praise choruses are even taken from the psalms, it is a snippet and almost always excerpted from the second or third section without the first. Instead of starting with the Good News of God’s mighty acts, we start with our response: “I will praise you,” “I love you, Lord,” “I will serve you,” “I bow down and worship you,” etc. But this means that we are encouraging faith in faith, confidence in our own experience and praise, rather than faith in Christ as the amen to God’s promises. In other words, the part of the psalm that such examples illustrate is the reasonable service without the in view of God’s mercies. Rehearsing God’s deeds takes a back seat to expressing our zeal and commitment. This is to have the law without the gospel, lifting the reasonable service out of its native habitat of the story of redemption. For Paul, however, the service is now reasonable because it is the sensible response to the news we have heard.
If you are subjected week after week to a diet of “do more,” “be more authentic,” “live more transparently,” and “feel more,” you will eventually become like a prisoner who is forced into hard labor without adequate food. If you are regularly treated to the feast of God’s works and the zeal that consumed our Savior in the service of our redemption, the exhortations will no longer be an unreasonable burden but a guide to expressions of thanksgiving in which our gracious God delights.
Horton, M. (2008). Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (pp. 155–156). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
“The unsoundness of a vessel is not seen when it is empty, but when it is filled with water, then we shall see whether it will leak or no. It is in our prosperity that we are tested. Men are not fully discovered to themselves till they are tried by fullness of success. Praise finds the crack of pride, wealth reveals the flaw of selfishness, and learning discovers the leak of unbelief. David’s besetting sin was little seen in the cracks of the wild goats, but it became conspicuous upon the terrace of his palace. Success is the crucible of character. Hence the prosperity which some welcome as an unmixed favor may far more rightly be regarded as an intense test. O Lord, preserve us when we are full as much as when we are empty.” C. H. Spurgeon
Restless Christianity is a critical problem in our day as it has been throughout human history. The following message presents God as our absolute sufficiency. Certainly God is more than enough. Consider listening to the following message:
The following message on developing in our spiritual discernment was a blessing to me, and I hope that it will be for you as well.
James Shirley (1596–1666)
The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armor against fate;
Death lays his icy hand on kings:
Scepter and crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
Some men with swords may reap the ﬁeld,
And plant fresh laurels where they kill;
But their strong nerves at last must yield;
They tame but one another still:
Early or late,
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath,
When they, pale captives, creep to death.
The garlands wither on your brow,
Then boast no more your mighty deeds;
Upon Death’s purple altar now,
See where the victor-victim bleeds:
Your heads must come
To the cold tomb;
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.
My question in retrospect is: so what do we value most and why?