Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper

In Coronavirus and Christ, John Piper invites readers around the world to stand on the solid Rock, who is Jesus Christ, in whom our souls can be sustained by the sovereign God who ordains, governs, and reigns over all things to accomplish his wise and good purposes for those who trust in him. Piper offers six biblical answers to the question, What is God doing through the coronavirus?—reminding us that God is at work in this moment in history.

Note: The audiobook is available under “download” as an MP3.

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Truthful Lips

NIGHT LIKE FOR PARENTS

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. Proverbs 12:19

I never fully comprehended the significance of lying when I was growing up. I knew that being untruthful was wrong, but I never came to terms with the moral implications. I can recall many instances when boys asked me for dates and I lied to them because I didn’t want to go. I often lied to my mother when I was about to be caught for something I had done. The implications of this sin did not come home to me until several years after I was married.

I went into the kitchen one day to fix Jim a tuna sandwich. Though he hated mayonnaise, I snuck a small amount into the tuna to hold it together and make it (from my perspective!) better. Jim’s first question when I served the sandwich was, “Did you put mayonnaise in the tuna?” Caught red-handed, I lied. I said, “I know you don’t like mayonnaise. Of course I didn’t put it in your sandwich.” Jim ate his lunch without noticing a thing, but the incident bothered my conscience for days. Finally, I confessed.

Not surprisingly, Jim was very disappointed. He told me, “Marriage must be built on mutual trust. If a husband and wife are honest with each other about the little things, they will not deceive each other about the big things.” We had a long talk about our relationship and committed to each other that lying would not be part of it. I have attempted to live by a higher standard from that moment.

Of the seven things we’re told are detestable to the Lord in Proverbs 6:16–19, two relate to untruthfulness—“a lying tongue” and “a false witness who pours out lies.” Clearly, this is a serious matter in His eyes. Unless a child is too young to understand the difference between fantasy and truth, parents should teach their children with great emphasis that truth be told in all situations.

Of course, honesty will come to your kids most easily if you practice it yourself, especially in your interactions at home. It took me a while to figure that out, but I’m so glad I did. You will be, too.

– Shirley M Dobson

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

Looking Out For the Single Mom

 

NIGHT LIKE FOR COUPLES

“Look after orphans and widows in their distress.” James 1:27

Many years ago I was working around the house when a knock came at the door. When I opened it, there stood Sally, a young woman in her late teens. “I’m selling brushes,” she said, “and I wonder if you’d like to buy any.” I told her politely that I wasn’t interested in buying anything that day, and Sally said, “I know. No one else is, either.” With that, she began to cry. I invited Sally to come in for a cup of coffee and asked her to share her story. It turned out that she was an unmarried mother who was struggling mightily to support her two‐year‐old son.

That night, we went to her shabby little apartment above a garage to see how we could help her and her toddler. When we opened the cupboards, there was nothing there for them to eat—I mean nothing. That night they both dined on a can of Spaghetti‐Os. We took Sally to the market and did what we could to help her get on her feet. There are millions of single mothers out there who are desperately trying to survive in a hostile world.

All of them could use a little kindness—from babysitting to providing a meal to repairing the washing machine to just showing a little thoughtfulness. Have you opened your eyes to them lately?

Raising kids all alone is the toughest job in the universe. Look around your neighborhood through “God’s eyes.” Is a single mom going down for the third time? How about giving a helping hand? Not only will she be encouraged, but her children will bless you as well.

– Shirley M Dobson

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

The Wonder We Once Had

Unearthing the World God Made

Article by

Staff writer, desiringGod.org

When was the last time something God made stopped you with a deep, undeniable sense that he must be real?

Few of us pause nearly enough. Some have constructed whole lives that avoid the endless sermon God is preaching through creation. We walk through God’s world of miracles, literally or figuratively, with headphones in. We can’t be bothered with the natural any longer. We’ve moved on to cars, and smartphones, and podcasts, and YouTube. We’ve grown out of fascination and wonder, and then stored them as hand-me-downs for our children or grandchildren. As G.K. Chesterton writes,

Grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our father is younger than we. The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be theatrical encore. (Orthodoxy, 58)

We know that the infinite, eternal God deeply enjoys what he has made (Genesis 1:31). But have we adults become bored, or distracted, or simply too busy?

Routines Without Wonder

Consider for a moment just how much of your day is hemmed in by what man has made.

From the bed you sleep on, in the house you live in, to the shower, to the breakfast table, to the car, to the desk and the office, to the phone, the computer, and the television. Apart from a brief walk to and from our cars (and that window down the hall), we can almost totally avoid the vast and breathtaking world we live in. We might begin assuming most of what we encounter in any given day, at least in urban contexts, could have been made without God.

But that tree in my front yard defies all human ingenuity and expertise. Who could make a tree like that? There’s absolutely nothing unusual or spectacular about our tree. Driving down our street, you would never notice it among many larger, more beautiful trees. And yet if you stop to look at it, really look at it, it is stunning, unexplainable, God-soaked. If we stop.

Missing the Forest and the Trees

God is revealed clearly everywhere in what he has made. The apostle Paul says, “His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20). He is speaking about the ungodly and unrighteous, who are without excuse because they suppress what God is saying in night skies and stunning sunrises, in roaring seas and peaceful pastures, in mountain lions and anthills. So do we have an excuse?

Those of us who love the Bible, and we do love the Bible, can be prone to miss the other book God has written for us. Creation is not Scripture, and we should see everything in creation through the window of the infallible, inerrant, sufficient, glorious word of God.

But if we love the voice we hear in Scripture, we can learn to hear that same voice in trees, and turtles, and thunderstorms, and the two ducks that walked through the front yard this morning. If we love the God we read about in Exodus, Isaiah, Matthew, and Romans, we can come to see him in oceans, smell him in flowers, taste him in honey, feel him in the warmth of sunshine or under that first snowfall. If God is really speaking in the Bible, then he is speaking every bit as much and as loudly in creation, even if the language lacks the degree of precision we’ve learned to lean on.

The Key to Really Seeing

God dispatches us, through Romans 1, far and wide and deep into creation, with hearts sensitive to the vast and subtle messages in everything we see, smell, hear, taste, and touch. But Romans 1 also sounds a severe warning about all the beauty we discover. If we do not walk by faith through the world (Romans 1:17), then we may fall, to our destruction, in love for this world.

Human history tells the story of sinners who suppressed the truth and “exchanged the glory of the immortal God” — the glory that we see in all that he has made, including man and birds and animals and creeping things — “for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:23). And because they chose the beauty of the birds over the God who made the birds, they missed the true beauty, and song, of the birds. The glory they thought they saw was just an awful, God-belittling mirage of reality.

And misreading reality, they dove headlong into sin and wrath (Romans 1:24–25). But in Christ, we have been given new eyes for creation. “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). And as his light shines in us, through his word, that same light soon rises, like the sun, on all that he has made. “For the full and final purposes of creation to come to light, the things God has made must be considered through the eyes of faith in Jesus Christ” (T.M. Moore, Consider the Lilies, 89).

When We Look

“Until we see the beauty of Christ,” writes Steve DeWitt, “we will never see the true beauty in anything else” (Eyes Wide Open, 116). That means if we really want to hear what God is saying in the blues of bluebirds and waddle of penguins, in the raging of rivers and stillness of lakes, in the opening of lilies and landslides along cliffs, we first and forever fix our eyes on Jesus. We will never appreciate creation by looking away from him, but by looking through the one through whom the world was made (Hebrews 1:2). His beauty unleashes every other beauty, if we are willing to look.

As we look out, like I did last night, on another “normal” Tuesday’s night sky, King David’s awe and worship could increasingly become second nature.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3–4)

This kind of awe may require some intentionality and discipline at the outset, especially for those of us who have learned to avoid and ignore creation, but it requires less and less over time. Make no mistake, it will always take time — “When I look at your heavens” — but if we want to honor God, thank God, and enjoy God through creation, we won’t have to look hard to find him. He is, after all, displaying an eternal power, not a pedestrian power; a divine nature, not an above-average one.

Heaven Will Be an Earth

However, even if we struggle to see and enjoy God through his world here on earth, we will not in the new world to come. Heaven will unleash this kind of theology and experience. The created world will have been set free from its bondage to corruption, and we will be set free from all our blindness to God in creation.

When those endless days come, we will know something of what God felt when he “saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Any nervousness we once had about the idea of general revelation (some for good reason) will give way to centuries of discovery, of uncovering glimpses of God in everything, many of which were right before our eyes all along.

Until then, we practice hearing him in what he has made, as broken as it (and we!) may be. As Joe Rigney says, “God’s love for God led him to create the world from nothing. Therefore, our love for God, if it is to be an accurate reflection of God’s love, must also lead us to a deep and profound and fitting love for creation. God’s love for God pushes him into creation. So should ours” (The Things of Earth, 62). God made this world to give us more of what he loves the most: himself. Will we pause to enjoy him?

We are not here to “defend” faith. We are here to serve.

DALLAS WILLARD

[W]e can begin to work, with our reason and with God, to help people deal with their pain, suffering, and doubts. Am I going to attack people if they don’t agree with me about that? No. But I do worry about them a little bit. For instance, students often have interesting notions about apologetics. Here’s a statement from one of them: “Apologetics is a study in the practice of defending the Christian faith against the array of challenges, critical attacks, and scrutinizing questions leveled contrary to it by unbelievers.” And another: “Apologetics is the vindication of the Christian philosophy of life against the various forms of non-Christian philosophies of life.” No—that is not the New Testament conception of apologetics.

I’m not here to defend the Christian faith; the Christian faith defends me. I’m here to help people wherever I am. And sometimes that requires that I make some pretty strong statements, so I will indeed make those statements. I certainly am not talking about being a soft little person who goes along looking sweet and smiley. There’s a time to be very strong in your affirmation, but there is no need for defensiveness. There is no need to set out to vindicate yourself, for Christ has already vindicated. Don’t worry about it. Help people who are having real trouble in accepting and believing.

From The Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus. Copyright © 2015 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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A Prayer for True Love – Your Daily Prayer – May 19

  • 2020May 19
  • COMMENTS7

A Prayer for True Love
By Marjorie Jackson

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” – 1 John 4:8 (NASB)

God’s love for you and me is passionate, pure and beyond anything we’ve ever experienced, accepting us as we are. Our good, our sins, our past and our flaws are all bare before His eyes, yet being the perfect Gentleman and Father He is, He washes, changes, teaches and grows us tenderly. He reminds us of our worth and beauty as His daughters. He wants to forgive, bless and take care of us. He loves us with unconditional agape love.

Good news: His love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8) We can love like that, too — not in our own strength or willpower, but by the Holy Spirit perfecting God’s love in our hearts. (1 John 4:12) The deeper we know God and His arduous, purposeful love for us and for others, the easier we can love others as an act of loving obedience to God.

1 John 4:20 tells it like it is: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (NASB)

Of course. How can we defy God’s command to love the people He has placed in our lives and still claim to love Him? Our obedience to God’s Word comes from our love and reverence for Him who gave His all so we could keep on giving and loving like He has done for us.

It is only when we love God first and foremost that we can reach our full potential in loving others as friends, sisters, daughters, wives and mothers. As we grow in our love for God and in our knowledge of His love, we begin to change. We begin to see and love others differently.

In reality, true love happens when the stars don’t align, sparks dim and butterflies fly away. Love happens when we sacrifice, knowing we’ll get nothing in return. We are patient, kind, never envious or boastful, modeling 1 Corinthians 13 in our hearts and with our behavior without expecting payback or accolade. We lay down our lives in love.

Today’s key verse, 1 John 4:8 says, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” I hope you find true love. I hope you and I grow so close to God that we naturally begin to “love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5b, NASB). May you and I so overflow with God’s love that it runs up and over onto everyone we meet. His love will never fail, because God Himself is true love, and God never fails.

Heavenly Father, Thank You for loving me long before I ever loved You. Affirm Your love to me so I may know it well and pour it out on those around me. You are good, and Your love is perfect. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Editor’s Note: Content taken from the Encouragement for Today devotional, “True Love Does Exist,” written by Marjorie Jackson. You can read that piece in full here. All rights reserved.