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A Godward Life

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A Godward Life


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How Shall We Live? Every moment we live before the face of God. And before His face there are no forgotten deeds, no disregarded words, no inconsequential choices. In 120 thoughtful meditations, John Piper helps you discover how to live fully, passionately, and relentlessly for God's sake. Daily readings encompass many topics—from intensely personal concerns to vital public and cultural issues—yet all are deeply rooted in Scripture. Each will help you place God at the center of all that you are and all that you do. Live Passionately.

NOTE: This devotional contains 120 readings instead of the usual 365/366.

...This book is the overflow of my calling as a teacher in the church. For more than seventeen years, I have preached to the flock at Bethlehem Baptist Church. But there is so much more to say than a preacher can say on Sundays and Wednesdays. The Bible is an inexhaustible spring of insight into God and his ways. So for those same seventeen years, I have written a letter to my people about once a week in what we affectionately call the Star. What you have in your hands is a collection of some of those meditations.

They are, by design, almost entirely meditations on Scripture. Some focus on personal or social applications. Others focus on biblical explanation. In both cases the aim is to be implicitly and explicitly biblical. That is their only claim to abiding usefulness in life...

—John Piper from Introduction to A Godward Life

Sample Text

One of the most important discoveries I have ever made is this truth: God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him. This is the motor that drives my ministry as a pastor.

Whether I eat or drink or preach or counsel or whatever I do, my aim is to glorify God by the way I do it (1 Corinthians 10:31). This means my aim is to do it in a way that shows how the glory of God has satisfied the longings of my heart. If my preaching betrayed that God had not even met my own needs, it would be fraudulent. If Christ were not the satisfaction of my heart, would people really believe me when I herald his words, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst" (John 6:35, RSV)?

The glory of bread is that it satisfies. The glory of living water is that it quenches thirst. We do not honor the refreshing, self-replenishing, pure water of a mountain spring by lugging buckets of water up the path to make our contributions from the ponds below. We honor the spring by feeling thirsty, getting down on our knees, and drinking with joy. Then we say, "Ahhh!" (that's worship!), and we go on our journey in the strength of the fountain (that's service). The mountain spring is glorified most when we are most satisfied with its water.

Tragically, most of us have been taught that duty, not delight, is the way to glorify God. We have not been taught that delight in God is our duty! Being satisfied in God is not an optional add-on to the real stuff of Christian duty. It is the most basic demand of all. "Delight yourself in the LORD" (Psalm 37:4) is not a suggestion, but a command. So are "Serve the LORD with gladness" (Psalm 100:2), and, "Rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4).

The burden of my ministry is to make plain to others that the "steadfast love [of the Lord] is better than life" (Psalm 63:3, RSV). If it is better than life, it is better than all that life in this world offers. This means that what satisfies are not the gifts of God, but the glory of God—the glory of his love, the glory of his power, the glory of his wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

This is why the psalmist Asaph cried out, "Whom have I in heaven but you? Besides you I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever" (Psalm 73:25-26). Nothing on earth—none of God's good gifts of creation—could satisfy Asaph's heart. Only God could. This is what David meant when he said to the Lord, "You are my Lord; I have no good besides you" (Psalm 16:2).

David and Asaph teach us by their own God-centered longings that God's gifts of health, wealth, and prosperity do not satisfy. Only God does. It would be presumptuous not to thank him for his gifts ("Forget not all his benefits" [Psalm 103:2, RSV]), but it would be idolatry to call the gladness we get from them, love for God. When David said to the Lord, "In your presence is fullness of joy, in your right hand there are pleasures forever" (Psalm 16:11), he meant that nearness to God himself is the only all-satisfying experience of the universe.

It is not for God's gifts that David yearns like a heartsick lover. "As a deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (Psalm 42:1-2). What David wants to experience is a revelation of the power and the glory of God: "O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirst for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory" (Psalm 63:1-2, NRSV). Only God will satisfy a heart like David's, and David was a man after God's own heart. That's the way we were created to be.

This is the essence of what it means to love God—to be satisfied in him. In him! Loving God may include obeying all his commands; it may include believing all his Word, it may include thanking him for all his gifts; but the essence of loving God is enjoying all he is. It is the enjoyment of God that glorifies his worth most fully, especially when all around our soul gives way.

We all know this intuitively as well as from the Scripture. Do we feel most honored by the love of those who serve us from the constraints of duty or from the delights of fellowship? My wife is honored most when I say, "It makes me happy to spend time with you." My happiness is the echo of her excellence. So it is with God. He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

None of us has arrived at perfect satisfaction in God. I grieve often over the murmuring of my heart at the loss of worldly comforts, but I have tasted that the Lord is good. By God's grace I now know the fountain of everlasting joy, and so I love to spend my days luring people into joy until they say with me, "One thing I have asked of the LORD, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple" (Psalm 27:4, RSV).

About the Author(s)

John Piper, pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota since 1980, is a widely respected theologian and bestselling author.

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Piper attended Wheaton College where he majored in literature and minored in philosophy. It was during that time that he met the woman he would go on to marry, Noel Henry. He completed his Bachelor of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary, where he studied under one of the most influential teachers of his life, Dr. Daniel Fuller.

Piper received his Doctorate in Theology from the University of Munich and taught biblical studies for six years at Bethel College before sensing an irresistible call to preach. He became the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church where he has been ministering ever since. His preaching and teaching is featured daily on the radio program, Desiring God.

A bestselling author in his own right, more than two million volumes of Piperís works have sold, including The Passion of Jesus Christ, Desiring God, The Pleasures of God, Life as a Vapor, and the Gold Medallion Award-winning Pierced by the Word.

John Piper and his wife, Noel, have four sons, a daughter, and four grandchildren, and make their home in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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