Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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The Dawn of Redeeming Grace: Daily Devotions for Advent by Sinclair Ferguson. The Good Book Company. 160 pages. 2021


Sinclair Ferguson follows up his 2018 Advent devotional Love Came Down at Christmas with The Dawn of Redeeming Grace, based on the first two chapters of Matthew’s Gospel. Ferguson tells us that Advent is all about the new beginning God has made possible by sending his Son for us and that Matthew’s opening words are good news for anyone who needs a new beginning.
Each of the twenty-four devotions ends with the lyrics of a hymn and a prayer. I enjoyed reading and discussing this book with my wife Tammy and also with a group of friends this past Christmas. I would recommend it to you for your devotional reading during the next Advent season.
As Christmas approaches, the author invites us to join him in exploring what Matthew says about those days that marked the dawn of redeeming grace and about how Christ’s light breaks into our lives today.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEW ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper

Below are my favorite quotes from the book:

  • Written into his genealogy is this message: God keeps his promises; he knows what he is doing; he knows exactly where he is going; and he is able to rescue us even from past sin and shame.
  • God guides our lives by teaching us to live according to his will revealed in Scripture. We are to apply its principles and precepts to the circumstances and situations in which we find ourselves.
  • What we see in Joseph’s life is a striking illustration of a permanent principle: the Christ we receive by faith is also the Christ who shapes our life of faith.
  • Lord, reassure us today that we have nothing to fear if we live in your presence and do your will. You have promised never to leave us and never to forsake us. Give us all the help we will need today to be obedient to your word. Amen.
  • I was taught as a child that joy is spelt Jesus first, Others next, and Yourself last. If you want to experience true joy this Christmas, then that’s the place to start.
  • So today, in light of the journey of the wise men, take a moment to trace your own journey, and to give thanks for the people and events that combined to bring you to worship Christ.
  • It is possible to know the Bible well and yet to be tone deaf to its message.
  • In this Christmas season—as we sing the same carols and listen to the same Bible passages, and hear sermons on the same familiar themes, and follow the same traditions as we have for many years—we are perhaps in more danger than at any other time of year of saying the right things with our lips without really engaging our hearts.
  • The important thing is not how spectacular God’s work is but how effective it has been. All that matters is that we have come to Christ, and have found in him what we were looking for, even if we did not at first know what that really was. And that is a reason to be profoundly thankful.
  • When we see Christ, and when we recognize him as King, we too will fall down and worship him, and offer to him the richest treasures of our life—we lay at his feet the brightest and best of the things we hold dear.
  • There was something unique about the wise men’s experience. But we can also trace a pattern. An awakening takes place, and then a drawing, and then a discovering, and then a worshipping.
  • Christmas has a way of bringing our grief into focus. We know families for whom this year’s festivities will be touched with sadness.
  • It is a wonderful thing at Christmas time to want to give your children a home where Jesus is welcomed and an example of a life devoted to him.
  • Jesus was the King born in Bethlehem who would become the Savior crucified at Calvary. The cross was the destiny of the newborn infant. It is the watermark on every page of the gospel story.
  • The Christmas story was heading to the Cross from the very beginning.

  • Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold. My wife Tammy recently published a book about HOW to study the Bible. The book is available on Amazon in both a Kindle and paperback edition. She writes “Maybe you’ve read the Bible but want to dig deeper and know God and know yourself better. Throughout the book I use the analogy of making a quilt to show how the Bible is telling one big story about what God is doing in the world through Christ. Quilting takes much patience and precision, just like studying the Bible, but the end result is well worth it.”
  • 20 Quotes from Dane Ortlund on How God Changes Us. Matt Smethurst shares these quotes from Dane Ortlund’s book How Does God Change Us? (a condensed version of his book Deeper).

BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?

Providence by John Piper

The providence of God is his purposeful sovereignty by which he will be completely successful in the achievement of his ultimate goal for the universe. God’s providence carries his plans into action, guides all things toward his ultimate goal, and leads to the final consummation.
John Piper draws on a lifetime of theological reflection, biblical study, and practical ministry to lead readers on a stunning tour of the sightings of God’s providence—from Genesis to Revelation—to discover the all-encompassing reality of God’s purposeful sovereignty over all of creation and all of history.
Exploring the goal, nature, and extent of God’s purposes for the world, Piper offers an invitation to know the God who holds all things in his hands yet remains intimately involved in the lives of his people.
You can download the PDF of the book free from Desiring God.
Watch this six-minute video as John Piper talks about the book, and this interview with Dr. Joe Rigney of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
This week we look at Chapter 24 The Lord Has Taken Away; Blessed Be the Name of the Lord. Here are a few takeaways from the chapter:

  • The creation of man in the image of God makes the taking of human life so serious that one who takes it will lose it.
  • A just application of capital punishment reflects not the minimizing of life but the massive value of human life in the image of God.
  • Since life belongs to God, and we have it only as a stewardship to be used while he pleases for his glory, God may take it at any time and in any way he pleases, as he acts in the fullness of his wisdom and goodness and justice.
  • It is astonishing to me how many people who claim to be Bible-believing Christians react angrily to the statement, no matter how carefully timed or caringly spoken, that deadly catastrophes are part of God’s providence—that they are finally in the control of his wise and just and good and purposeful sovereignty.
  • Since the fall, death is not a surprise, and it is not merely an aspect of nature. It is God’s judgment.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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