Truth for Life: 365 Daily Devotions by Alistair Begg. The Good Book Company. 367 pages. 2021
This is the first of two Truth for Life daily devotional books from respected pastor and author Alistair Begg. I used the first volume as a part of my daily devotional readings in 2022, and am using the second volume as a part of my daily devotional readings this year.
Each of the daily readings begins with a scripture passage. In the reading for that day, the author aims to explain the passage, to encourage the reader from them, and to reflect on how they inspire and equip us to enjoy living for Christ in every area of our lives. At the bottom of each reading, you will see three icons. These are a prompt to say to yourself: Now that I have read and considered these verses…How is God calling me to think differently? How is God reordering my heart’s affections—what I love? What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today? Also included is “Bible Through the Year” reading plan.
Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review and a review of Good News of Great Joy: 25 Devotional Readings for Advent by John Piper
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
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I enjoyed reading Truth for Life each day. Here are 30 of my favorite quotes from the book:
- Even in the difficulties of life and the depths of pain, the fatherly providence of God permits all things for our good and His glory. He has proved that He knows what He is doing. For that, we can still praise Him in the darkness.
- Don’t assume your best days lie behind you. God has a purpose for you and me. He completes what He begins (Philippians 1:6). Be refreshed by the reminder of God’s presence and press on in the work He has called you to.
- Biblical Christianity, with a Christ who will come again in glory, an inerrant Bible, and a triune Godhead, is an offense to a pluralistic world.
- As Christians, our great daily opportunity is to walk out into another day and be different—to be what we are: citizens of heaven, people who are not from round here.
- Following Jesus does not insulate us from life’s storms, but we can take comfort from knowing that God promises to hold us fast through them. He can calm our hearts, and He may even quiet the very storms themselves.
- God does not prevent storms from coming. But He is a God who is both present through them and sovereign over them.
- The Lord’s work is anything on which we might lay our hands or focus our minds that is pleasing to God, as we work for him rather than in order to impress others (Colossians 3:23). This can be within the body of Christ or in service to the world around us.
- God appoints every believer to particular responsibilities within Christian ministry and service, and those responsibilities include working for Him in whatever circumstances and opportunities come our way today; for they do not come by chance but by divine arrangement.
- There is nothing you can offer to God that isn’t already in His possession. So, give willingly and generously—money, time, talent—as God directs you, in response to His grace.
- God always empowers what He commands.
- Today, you may find yourself feeling horribly downtrodden, damaged by what others have done to you or injured by past mistakes. Perhaps you’ve been tempted to believe that you’re broken and useless. But there is glorious news for you: the Servant picks up bruised reeds, and He does so with care.
- You are now seated with Him in the heavens. Your greatest success today will not lift you higher than He has already lifted you; nor can your greatest struggle or failure pull you down from there.
- There’s no better place to serve God than the place in which He sets you.
- God is our Maker and our Redeemer, and He is therefore entitled to and worthy of our praise. No one and nothing deserves your praise more than Him.
- God has given you the great privilege of approaching Him in prayer and addressing Him as Father. He stands ready to listen and to help. Be sure to treat prayer as a holy habit and never as an optional extra.
- An unforgiving spirit is perhaps the greatest killer of genuine spiritual life.
- One day you will experience the fullness of your union with Christ and His people for eternity; but that can, and should, begin now. You have the privilege of fostering that unity today in the way you use your time and in the way you think of, pray for, and speak to your brothers and sisters in your church.
- Every day, you are shaping your reputation. And as a Christian, every day you are shaping Christ’s reputation too. What do our lives say about Christ as we walk around as His disciples?
- Your sin has been paid for and your sin has been removed. Your performance neither adds to nor detracts from your status before our holy God.
- You have been ransomed by God so that you might praise Him today and enjoy Him for all eternity. Whatever your day holds, be sure to walk through it with that as your greatest passion and highest purpose.
- Do not presume upon His provision or grumble about the route He leads you on, but instead be filled with gratitude for all He has provided materially and spiritually.
- In God’s kingdom, the way up is actually down. Honor is found in giving it, not in receiving it. Greatness is displayed in serving, not in being served.
- God is far more concerned with your Christlikeness than your comfort. Often, more spiritual progress is made through disappointment and failure than through success and laughter.
- Here is the source of your hope when you get up in the morning. Come rain or shine, come delight or disappointment, God will definitely accomplish His purposes in your life through the day.
- Resolve today to use your words for the good of those with whom you interact, honoring Christ in your heart and letting His sweet aroma fill your speech.
- When we face a time of testing, which God allows, we should remember that His purpose is not our failure but our benefit. The devil longs for us to fail, but God longs for us to succeed. He is for us, and He is working all things, even trials and temptations, for our good.
- Here is the truth that we each need to rehearse: “God gave to me exactly what I require, I am composed exactly as He planned, and all that He has, and has not, given me is for my good and His glory.”
- Gracious gratitude enables us to face all things with the awareness that God is profoundly involved in our lives and circumstances, for He has made us special objects of His love.
- Today, do not live as though this is all there is. Lean forwards, for your best days are still to come. You are not there yet—but most assuredly you one day will be.
- Scripture finds its focus and fulfillment in Christ. The real test of how deeply God’s word is dwelling within us is not our ability to articulate a story line but to see Jesus in all the Scriptures.
Good News of Great Joy: 25 Devotional Readings for Advent by John Piper. Crossway. 108 pages. 2021
Good News of Great Joy is the Advent devotional my wife Tammy and I read for 2022. John Piper tells us Advent is for adoring Jesus. He writes that what Jesus wants for Christmas is for us to experience what we were really made for—seeing and savoring his glory. Piper’s prayer is that this little devotional might help the reader keep Jesus as the center and greatest treasure of your Advent season.
The hymn “O Come, Let Us Adore Him” is the theme of these readings. The meditations are all about adoring Christ, the Lord. The introduction is designed to be read before Advent begins and the conclusion can be read as an additional selection on Christmas Day. Each reading begins with a short scripture passage. The appendix on Old Testament shadows and the coming of Christ coordinates with the meditation for day 12.
We really enjoyed reading these short meditations as a preparation for the birth of our Savior. I would recommend it to you for your Advent devotional reading in 2023.
Here are a few quotes we wanted to share from the book:
- Hebrews 2:14–15, I think, is my favorite Advent text because I don’t know any other that expresses so clearly the connection between the beginning and the ending of Jesus’s earthly life—between the incarnation and the crucifixion.
- He was born to die. Good Friday is the purpose of Christmas. This is what most people today need to hear about the meaning of Christmas.
- The new covenant is purchased by the blood of Christ, effected by the Spirit of Christ, and appropriated by faith in Christ.
- Look to Jesus this Christmas. Receive the reconciliation that he purchased. Don’t put the gift on the shelf unopened. And when you open it, remember God himself is the gift of reconciliation with God.
- Christ not only came to destroy the works of the devil, our sinning; he also came to be an advocate for us because of experiences of failure in our fight.
- Philippians 2:6-8 is my favorite Christmas text. Look for Jesus’s humility: Though he was in the form of God, [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
- One of the main points of the book of Hebrews is that the old-covenant system of worship is a shadow replaced by Christ. So, Christmas is the replacement of shadows with reality.
- The Collected Best Books of 2022. Tim Challies has compiled the results of a number of “Best Books of 2022” lists.
- The Way Home Podcast: Collin Hansen on Timothy Keller’s Biography. On this episode of The Way Home podcast, Collin Hansen joins Dan Darling. Hansen is an influential Christian leader who just published a new biography about Timothy Keller who founded Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York. Today Collin and Dan discuss the people who impacted Keller’s spiritual and intellectual formation like R.C. Sproul, C.S. Lewis, and Jonathan Edwards.
- Keller’s Formation: Behind the Book. On this episode of the Gospelbound podcast, pastor Jim Davis from Orlando Grace Church invites Collin Hansen into the interview spotlight to go behind the scenes of writing Timothy Keller: His Spiritual and Intellectual Formation.
- Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold. My wife Tammy has 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.”
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 39: God’s Command-and-Warning Strategy. Here are a few helpful quotes from the chapter:
- The strategy of God’s providence in creating Christlike Christians who persevere to the end includes what I have called a command-and-warning strategy. That is, God brings us to glory by commanding us to engage all that we are in the wholehearted pursuit of holiness. And he infuses tremendous seriousness into this strategy with warnings that the failure to pursue holiness leads to eternal destruction.
- If you find the Christian life to be untroubled, without struggle, and without warfare against your own sin, you may not be living the Christian life.
- No truly justified person fails to persevere in faith and be glorified. Not one.
- The fact that God will not allow any of his children to make shipwreck of their faith, and that he will infallibly bring them all to glory, should make us confident and bold as we embrace him as our supreme treasure and walk in his ways.