Tag Archives: john piper

December 6: peace to those with whom he’s pleased

“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2.12-14

Peace for whom? There is a somber note sounded in the angels’ praise. Peace among men on whom his favor rests. Peace among men with whom he is pleased. Without faith it is impossible to please God. So Christmas does not bring peace to all.

“This is the judgment,” Jesus said, “that the light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil” (John 3.19). Or as the aged Simeon said when he saw the child Jesus, “Behold this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that is spoken against…that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2.34-35). O, how many there are who look out on a bleak and chilly Christmas day and see no more than that.

“He came to his own and his own received him not, but to as many as received him to them gave he power to become the sons of God, to as many as believed on his name.” It was only to his discipled that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

The people who enjoy the peace of God that surpasses all understanding are those who in everything by prayer and supplication let their requests be made known to God.

The key that unlocks the treasure chest of God’s peace is faith in the promises of God. So Paul prays, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15.13). And when we do trust the promises of God and have joy and peace and love, then God is glorified.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men with whom he is pleases – men who would believe.

© Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

December 5: no detour from calvary

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in in the inn. Luke 2.6-7

Now you would that if God so rules the world as to use an empire-wide census to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, he surely could have seen to it that a room was available in the inn.

Yes, he could have. And Jesus could have been born into a wealthy family. He could have turned stone into bread in the wilderness. He could have called 10,000 angels to his aid in Gethsemane. He could have come down from the cross and saved himself. The question is not what God could do, but what he willed to do.

God’s will was that though Christ was rich, yet for you r sake he became poor. The “No Vacancy” signs over all the motels in Bethlehem were for your sake. “For your sake he became poor” (2 Corinthians 8.9).

God rules all things – even motel capacities – for the sake of his children. The Calvary road begins with a “No Vacancy” sign in Bethlehem and ends with the spitting and scoffing of the cross in Jerusalem.

And we must not forget that he said, “He would come after me must deny himself and take up his cross” (Matthew 16.24).

We join him on the Calvary road and hear him say, “Remember the world that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (John 15.20).

To the one who calls out enthusiastically, “I will follow you wherever you go!” (Matthew 8.19), Jesus responds, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8.20).

Yes, God could have seen to it that Jesus have a room at his birth. But that would have been a detour off the Calvary road.

© Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

December 4: for God’s little people

In those days a decree went out for Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. Luke 2.1-5

Have you ever though what an amazing thing it is that God ordained beforehand that the Messiah be born in Bethlehem (as the prophecy in Micah 5 shows); and that he so ordained things that when the time came, the Messiah’s mother and legal father were living in Nazareth; and that in order to fulfill his word and bring two little people to Bethlehem that first Christmas, God put it in the heart of Caesar Augustus that all the Roman world should be enrolled each in his own town?

Have you ever felt, like me, little and insignificant in a world of seven billion people, where all the news is of big political and economic and social movements and of outstanding people with lots of power and prestige?

If you have, don’t let that make you disheartened or unhappy. For it is implicit in Scripture that all the mammoth political forces and all the giant industrial complexes, without their even knowing it, are being guided by God, not for their own sake but for the sake of God’s little people – the little Mary and the little Joseph who have to be got from Nazareth to Bethlehem. God wields an empire to bless his children.

Do not think, because you experience adversity, that the hand of the Lord is shortened. It is not our prosperity but our holiness that he seeks with all his heart. And to that end, he rules the whole world. As Proverbs 21.1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”

He is a big God for little people, and we have great cause to rejoice in that, unbeknownst to them, all the kings and presidents and premiers and chancellors of the world follow the sovereign decrees of our Father in heaven, that we, the children, might be conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ.

© Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

December 2: Mary’s magnificent God

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has show strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” Luke 1.46-55

Mary sees clearly a most remarkable thing about God: he is about to change the course of all human history. The most important three decades in all of time are about to begin. And where is God? Occupying himself with two obscure, humble women – one old and barren (Elizabeth), on young and virginal (Mary). And Mary is so moved by the vision of God, the lover of the lowly, that she breaks out in song – a song that has come to be known as “the Magnificat.”

Mary and Elizabeth are wonderful heroines in Luke’s account. He loves the faith of these women. The thing that impresses him most, it appears, and the thing he wants to impress on Theophilus, his noble reader, is the lowliness and cheerful humility of Elizabeth and Mary.

Elizabeth says, “Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord would come to me?” (Luke 1.43) and Mary says, “He has looked on the humble estate of his servant” (Luke 1.48).

The only people whose soul can truly magnify the Lord are people like Elizabeth and Mary – people who acknowledge their lowly estate and are overwhelmed by condescension of the magnificent God.

© Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

December 3: the long-awaited visitation

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us… Luke 1.68-71

Notice two remarkable things from these words of Zechariah in Luke 1.

First, nine months earlier, Zechariah could not believe his wife would have a child. Now, filled with the Holy Spirit, he is so confident of God’s redeeming work in the coming Messiah that he puts it in the past tense. For the mind of faith, a promised act of God is as good as done. Zechariah has learned to take God at his word and so has a remarkable assurance: “God has visited and redeemed!”

Second, the coming of Jesus the Messiah is a visitation of God to our world: “The God of Israel has visited and redeemed.” For centuries, the Jewish people had languished under the conviction that God had withdrawn: the spirit of prophecy had ceased, Israel had fallen into the hands of Rom. And all the godly in Israel were awaiting the visitation of God. Luke tells us in 2.25 that the devout Simon was “looking for the consolation for Israel.” And in Luke 2.38 the prayerful Anna was “looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

These were days of great expectation. Now the long-awaited visitation of God was about to happen – indeed, he was about to come in a way no one expected.

© Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org