The first five disciples

‘The two disciples … followed Jesus; … One of the two … was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He … first findeth his own brother Simon; … And he brought him to Jesus; … The day following Jesus … findeth Philip; … Philip findeth Nathanael.’ John 1:37,40–43,45

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16–23

In the work of grace, there is ever the same kind of operation, and yet ever a difference in the manner of operation. There is always the same worker in the conversion of the soul, and yet different methods for breaking the heart and binding it up again are continually employed. Every sinner must be quickened by the same life, made obedient to the same gospel, washed in the same blood, clothed in the same righteousness, filled with the same divine energy, and eventually taken up to the same heaven, and yet in the conversion of no two sinners will you find matters precisely the same; but from the first dawn of the divine life to the day when it is consummated in the noontide of perfect sanctification in heaven, you shall find that God works this way in that one, and that way in the other, and by another method in the third; for God still will be the God of variety. Let his order stand fast as it may, still will he ever be manifesting the variety, the many-sidedness of his own thoughts and mind. If then you look at this narrative (John 1:37–51)—somewhat long, but I think very full of instruction—you may notice four different methods of conversion; and these occur in the conversion of the first five who formed the nucleus of the college of apostles—the first five who came to Christ, and were numbered among his disciples. It is very remarkable that there should be among five individuals four different ways of conversion. Pick out five Christians indiscriminately and begin to question how they were brought to know the Lord, and you would find methods other than those you have here.

For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ is the one and only way to God (John 14:6), but there are no end of ways of being led to faith in him. God may vary his methods, but he never changes his principles (1 Corinthians 12:4–6).

Sermon no. 570
15 May (1864)

365 Days with C.H. Spurgeon, Vol. 2: A Unique Collection of 365 Daily Readings from Sermons Preached by Charles Haddon Spurgeon from His Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (365 Days With Series); edited by Terence Peter Crosby; (c) Day One Publications, 2002.

Believe the Best


“If one falls down, his friend can help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:10

T he floor at Art and Naomi Hunt’s house was scattered with wrenches, screwdrivers, and a host of oddly shaped pieces of wood and metal. The task at hand? To construct a new gas barbecue. Art knew that Naomi was the more mechanically gifted partner in their marriage, but he was determined to put together this latest addition to their arsenal of modern cooking appliances. As Art struggled, his wife watched. Finally, progress stopped altogether, and Art reluctantly asked for Naomi’s advice. But instead of just giving her opinion, Naomi took the wrench from Art’s hand and began finishing the job herself.

Not surprisingly, Art felt rather emasculated, incompetent, and foolish. Now he faced a choice. He could believe either the best or the worst about Naomi’s actions. If he believed the worst, he would think, Man, she’s taking control. She doesn’t have any confidence in my abilities. Or, believing the best, he could tell himself, She’s going further than I asked her to, but she’s just trying to help me. That’s okay. Art chose the latter.

In a lifelong relationship, we regularly arrive at these emotional crossroads. We could go either way: give our partner the benefit of the doubt, or give ourselves the right to take offense. When we choose to see our spouse’s good intentions and base our reactions on them, we’re taking the road toward intimacy and away from unnecessary conflict. As Art Hunt understood, the real task at hand was building his relationship with Naomi, not putting together a new gadget.

Just between us…

  • How do we usually react when one of us steps in to help the other?
  • Do we see the best in each other’s motives? If not, why?
  • Do either of us give the other reason to question our motives?

Dear God, my spouse is Your gift to me, and I’m grateful. Help me to always believe, see, and act on the best. Grant me grace to mature in this area. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Father’s Day Gift


When you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

It was the day before Father’s Day. Hank, a ten-year-old, and his dad were in a store together, but in different aisles. Hank was penniless and still hadn’t figured out what to give his father the next day. His eyes found a display of golf balls—his father’s favorite brand. Hank knew his father would love those balls! Quickly, he hid a box of three balls under his shirt. Almost immediately, though, Hank was uncomfortable. He realized he’d done wrong. Reluctantly, he returned the box to the shelf and walked away.

Years later, Hank admitted to his dad that he still felt awful about the Father’s Day he didn’t give a card or gift. His father replied, “Son, I remember that year. I watched you take those balls off the shelf that day in the store. I suspected you were about to steal them for me, and I felt so sad. But then you put them back. You probably thought I was hurt that you didn’t give me a present, but watching you return those balls was the best Father’s Day present I ever received.”

This tale of Hank and his father, inspired by an anonymous story in God’s Little Devotional Book for Dads, serves as an important reminder of God’s promise to always provide a “way out” of temptation. Tomorrow, why don’t you share 1 Corinthians 10:13—along with the story of Hank and the golf balls—with your kids?

Before you say good night…

What are the biggest temptations facing your family right now?

How can you help each other find the “way out” God promises?

Dear God, sometimes it is so hard to resist the allures that surround us. Thank You for the promise of a way out of every tempting situation. We humbly ask that You show our children the way out when they too are tempted. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Illustration adapted from God’s Little Devotional Book for Dads (Tulsa, Okla.: Honor Books, 1995).

Abundant Life: Finances

Written by Craig Denison

The question of what God thinks about finances is such a challenging issue for me. In the last 10 years I feel like I’ve swung all over the place on the theological pendulum. I’ve spent seasons where I spent as absolutely little as possible and gave away almost everything I had to friends and strangers. I’ve been to conferences and retreats where the prosperity gospel was preached and truly wondered whether or not having a lot of material possessions might be a way in which God demonstrates his abundant love. And along that pendulum I’ve found myself stuck in the middle wondering if all of my heart was truly God’s or if I was just dwelling in the land of mediocrity. In all my wonderings God faithfully reminds me of Matthew 6:21:

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

What I do with my material possessions is really more of a fruit of where my heart is than a root of my faithfulness or selfishness. So when I begin to ask the question of whether or not I should have a certain thing, should I give more or make more or should I drop everything and move to living in the dirt in some foreign mission field, God graciously guides my gaze back to his chief concern, whether my heart is truly his or not.

Now, let me make myself clear. God does care about our finances. He promises to provide everything that we need, and he cares about the way in which we steward the things he’s given us. But he cares about our finances to the level that they demonstrate where our hearts are. Are we sold out to a lifestyle more than sold out to him? Are we giving ourselves to the pursuit of status rather than the pursuit of wholehearted devotion to God? What are we hoping people will see and notice more: something we’ve just purchased or the love of God within us? Those are the questions God cares about.

At the end of this life everything will pass away apart from the measure to which we loved God. That’s it. How foolish will we feel having been so concerned with those things that last as long as a blink of an eye in the scope of eternity. May we not judge one another based on what we have or don’t have. But may we spur one another on to investing our treasure and therefore hearts in the faithful, worthy One. And may we rise above what this world offers us or takes away from us as our hearts find their dwelling place in the shelter of the Most High.


How Do I Break My Entertainment Addiction?

Interview with

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Audio Transcript

Welcome back to the podcast. We talked about entertainment on Friday, about how much entertainment is too much entertainment. Today we push the conversation forward. What if entertainment has become an addiction? How do we get unstuck? Here’s the email.

“Hello, Pastor John, my name is Cesar, and I’m writing from Peru. In the last three weeks, I have been disturbed by the following situation: I cannot break my addiction to entertainment. I am convinced that the short-lived emotions of entertainment do not compare to the pleasures found in a deep life of communion with God. But I can play a video game for three hours, and feel my emptiness and dissatisfaction, but the next day my desire for more entertainment is renewed, and this has turned into a horrible, vicious circle. I am very stressed with this situation. I want to grow spiritually. I do not want to waste my life in trifles.”

As I prayed for Cesar and about what I might say to him, what seemed good to do is to take three of his statements and show how they’re not accurate. Give me space and give me time, because I know at first this is going to sound a little blunt. But one of them points a way forward.

You Can Stop

First, he says, “I cannot break my addiction to entertainment.” No, Cesar, that’s not true.

“You can stop playing these games three hours a day. You can stop wasting your time.”

You can stop playing these games three hours a day. You can stop wasting your time. By labeling this habit an addiction, you might be giving yourself a partial pass. Whatever you think addiction means, it’s probably not what you think it is. When you waste three hours of your precious life playing a video game over and over, this is not something you can’t stop doing.

Let me illustrate. If a man walked up to you while you were playing a video game and lit a blowtorch, and said, “If you don’t stop playing this video game, I will burn your eyeballs out with this blowtorch,” you’d stop — done. Of course you would. It’s ludicrous to say you can’t stop. You can stop.

Let’s put it positively. If a man walked up to you with a million dollars in cash and convinced you that it was his to give to whomever he pleased, and he offered it to you, all of it, if you would just stop playing that game, it’s just ludicrous to say you wouldn’t stop. You’d stop; of course you would stop.

You’re not in bondage to that game. You can stop. You can walk away from it. I promise you. With a blowtorch in your face or a million dollars in your pocket, it would be easy. It would be easy to walk away. The fear of pain or the pleasure of money would have instantly replaced your desires for that game. That’s my first qualification of something you said.

Not Convinced

Second, Cesar, you say, “I am convinced that the short-lived emotions of entertainment do not compare to the pleasure that there is in a deep life of communion with God.” No, Cesar, you’re not convinced of this. You say you are, but these are just words.

Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). The essential thing he meant was that people say many things, feel many things, think many things, but a decisive test is fruit. “Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16). So three hours on a video game day after day, wasting your precious life, is not a fruit of being convinced that communion with Jesus is better. It’s not.


Third, you say, “I can play a video game for three hours, then I feel my emptiness and dissatisfaction, but the next day my desire for more entertainment is renewed.” Well actually Cesar, the word renewed is an understatement.

“Tearing out your eye surely has an application to your devices.”

It’s not renewed; it’s re-enthroned. It takes its place as the king of your will. It means that you then take your seat passively at its feet, and you do its bidding like a slave. That’s the way Paul describes it in Romans 6:12. He said, “Let not sin therefore reign [that is, be king] in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” You obey it like a slave.

Hard Words

Now you may ask, and I suppose other people are asking, “Why are you being so hard on Cesar? He wrote in for help for goodness’ sake. Don’t beat him up.”

I’m not beating up Cesar. I’m showing him that he is being beaten up by these two-bit pleasures called video games. Two-bit, no-count, low-grade, wasteful video games are beating him up, deceiving him, making him a lackey and a slave.

I’m trying to give voice to Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:28. Let me just paraphrase. You’ll recognize the words. “I say to you that everyone that is suckered in by the fluttering eyelashes of a video game commits adultery with the game in his heart. If your right eye causes you for a video game to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to be glued to a video game, cut it off and put a blowtorch to it. For it is better that you lose one of your members than your body be thrown into hell.”

That’s the way Jesus talks about blowtorches to the face.

Billion-Dollar Gift

Cesar, when you say (here’s the phrase I like), “I am very stressed with this situation. I want to grow spiritually. I do not want to waste my life in trifles,” I believe you. I believe you. There is a real battle going on in your soul, as in all of our souls. I rejoice that you feel stressed by this situation. That is a very good sign.

“People say many things, feel many things, think many things, but a decisive test is fruit.”

Here’s my counsel. Tear out your eye, and cut off your hand. That is, get rid of all the apps that suck you in and make a slave of you. Just tear them right off your phone. Tear them right off. I mean, tearing out your eye surely has an application to your devices. Say with Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:23, “My body is not my own. I’ve been bought with a price, the blood of Jesus. I will not be enslaved to anyone else. He is my master.”

Then turn away from the games and receive the million-dollar gift from Jesus. No, no, no, no — that was an understatement. Billions, billions, and billions of dollars worth of reward. Better than anything else.

When Your Mind Wanders in Prayer

The feeling is all too common. I’m sitting down in my favorite chair spending time with the Father, meditating on his goodness and experiencing his presence, then all of the sudden my mind takes off like a run away freight train. By the time I catch up with it I feel like I’ve lost my place–lost my sense of communion with God.

For years these unwelcome musings have been a source of great frustration for me. I have journal entry after journal entry voicing my frustration with myself for not being able to focus longer than what seems like a few fickle moments. On one such day this past week however God stepped into my frustrations and spoke something that’s been producing real fruit in my time with him this week.

Maybe these wanderings aren’t so random. Maybe my mind brings to the surface those things that trouble it. Maybe these musings could actually reveal something about myself that goes deeper than what I’m willing to admit—deep enough to unveil a picture of what I truly care about—of what my priorities might be.

Rather than scrambling behind my thoughts trying to clean them up, maybe I need to take some time to investigate them with the help of the Holy Spirit. And maybe I have a God who’s good enough to enter into my mess with love and grace, and help put the pieces of my thoughts together to form something beautiful.

As I’ve stopped getting frustrated at my wanderings and instead allowed them to serve as a window into my heart; I’ve seen amazing and scary things. I’ve seen that I care way, way too much about what people think. I’ve seen that I’m easily wounded by situations, words, glances or unfounded beliefs about those around me. I’ve seen that I seem to care a lot more about my reputation with others than I do the perspective of my heavenly Father towards me. And I’ve seen that I’m a lot more scared to disappoint my fellow man than my Creator.

No wonder I got so frustrated with my wanderings before. For the most part they sure aren’t pleasant to look at. But what is far more life-giving than trying to shove them all back in the junk-closet of my subconscious is bringing them into the light and being empowered by the Holy Spirit to throw most of them away once and for all.

Take some time this week to look at your wanderings. What are the things you’ve been shoving back for far too long? What are the fears, desires or misconceptions that are bubbling up to the surface? Spend some time journaling about them with God and see what you find. You might just discover that peace was as close as a few silent moments, a journal and pen, and a quiet conversation with an all-knowing, all-loving God.