Posts tagged ‘Psalms’

July 1, 2015

Rulers: Gospel and Government

by Steven Dilla


*The Summer Reading Series is designed to equip our growing community with curated book recommendations that can shape faith and sharpen cultural insight.

Rulers: Gospel and Government | Summer Reading Series
Excerpt from Chapter 6: An Introduction to Christian Social Ethics by Dr. David Clyde Jones

The institutional separation of church and state, or more precisely, the separation of the government of faith communities from the government of civil society, is a separation devoutly to be wished. But that is not at all the same thing as the separation of religion and politics. 

The separation of church and state is highly desirable; the separation of religion and politics is simply impossible. Why is that? Because politics is the domain of public policy, and public policy proposals are inevitably the expression of some world-and-life view, some conception of the common good to be aimed at for human beings living in community. Public policy proposals are worldview dependent, and worldviews, theistic and non-theistic, are religious in nature as ultimate faith commitments.

This is especially important for the principle of sphere sovereignty sketched above. Not only are the governing authorities of church and state distinct, but also participation in the cultural spheres is religious activity on the part of believers just as much as their corporate worship and diaconal ministries in the visible church institute. 

That all of life is religious in this sense is important for understanding the full meaning of religious liberty. The idea of freedom of religious faith and practice was a long time in coming in political philosophy and remains a matter of controversy down to the present day.

Why [then] should we have such a work as Ministry to State? The rationale for special ministry to those in civil government is their special role in the government of civil society, a role that directly affects everyone and presents particular temptations for “selling out” one’s convictions in the pursuit of power and yielding to the temptation to the abuse of power once it is obtained. 

I think no one has captured this better than Martin Franzmann, [in his prayer] “For Charity Toward Men in Office” —

O God, remember in Your mercy
the men who bear the burden of this majesty,
men like us, easily bent by the pressure of temptation,
by the impact of expediency.
Remember them and strengthen them when they are moved
to shade the truth to their own ends,
to withhold what should be told,
to distort what must be told,
to disclose what does not serve our common weal.
Keep intact their honor and their credibility.

Summer Reading Series
Rulers: Gospel and Government
Charles M. Garriott
Riott Publishing, 2014

Steve Bostrom, a reader of The Park Forum, wrote the essay, “God, Give me the Humility of Jesus” that appears in Chapter 5 of this book.

Today’s Readings
Joshua 3 (Listen – 2:45)
Psalms 126-128 (Listen – 1:58)

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June 18, 2015

How Should We Pray for Faith?

by Steven Dilla


Psalm 112.6-7

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. 

How Should We Pray for Faith?  | by Vincent Alsop (c. 1630-1703)

1. Pray that God would so establish you in the truth, that you may not be blown away with every wind of doctrine.

It is our great interest to pray and strive that we may reach such a clear, distinct, coherent light into the doctrine of the gospel that every small piece of sophistry may not perplex and stagger our belief of it.

2. Pray that God would establish you in the truth of His promises, that your faith may not be shaken with every wind of providence. 

We are apt to have our hearts tossed by contrary dispensations. Pray that God would increase and strengthen our faith; that we may be so firmly built upon the unmovable Rock, that we may “not be afraid of evil tidings,” having our “hearts fixed, trusting in the Lord.” And this was the glory of Job’s faith — that though God should “slay” him, yet would he “trust in him.”

3. Let us pray and strive that God would so settle and establish us in love to himself, that no blast of afflictions from his hand may cool the fire of divine love in our hearts.

We want exceedingly the faith that God carries on a design of love under all his various, and sometimes seemingly contrary, dealings with us. He can love and correct; why then cannot we love a correcting God? Whether he wounds or heals his love is the same; and why not ours? Can we not love God upon the security of faith that he will do us good, as well as upon the experience that he has done us good?

4. Pray we and strive that God would so settle and establish us in our inward peace, that no wind of temptation may overthrow it.

It is a slender and ill-made peace which every assault of the tempter dissolves. The Psalmist stood upon a firmer bottom, when the terrifying onsets from without made him fly more confidently to his God: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in you.” And we have God’s own promise to answer our faith: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.”

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 23 (Listen – 3:10)
Psalms 112-113 (Listen – 1:49)

*Today’s devotional is abridged, and language updated from, “What is That Fulness Of God Every True Christian Ought To Pray and Strive to be Filled With?”

Questions of Faith
Part 4 of 5,



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June 17, 2015

How Must We in All Things Give Thanks?

by Steven Dilla


Psalm 111.9
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! 

How Must We in All Things Give Thanks? | by William Cooper

Stop and reflect upon every mercy coming to you in the stream of Christ’s blood, and through the covenant of grace. Because God’s mercy is in line with His covenant, every mercy is a token of the Lord’s favor to his favored: it is that which makes even common mercies become special mercies.

Carnal men, though they enjoy mercies, mind not which way they come — so long they have them. But a child of God knows that every thing that comes through Christ’s hands is the better for it, and tastes the sweeter by far.

A crust of brown bread, coming in mercy is better than a purse full of gold another way. As a king’s kiss to one friend was said to be better gold than a cup of gold which he gave another friend.

Look on mercies as answers to you prayers, and bless the Lord for them on that account. All our mercies we get by prayer should be the more solemnly dedicated to the Lord by thanksgiving. Such a frame of a thankful heart is a spiritual frame; that God has inclined and directed your heart to beg such a mercy is a special act of the Spirit of adoption.

If the chief Shepherd seeks us together, and keeps us from straggling, and brings us under command, this is a mercy to Christ’s sheep. Mercies are drawing-cords, afflictions are whip-— bot drive us and by both we are brought nearer to God. It is a special mercy when any of God’s dealings draw or drive us nearer to Him. 

That storm that sinks and splits some ships, drives others faster into the haven: so do the troubles of this world make a true Christian’s voyage towards heaven the speedier. Thank him.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 22 (Listen – 4:13)
Psalms 110-111 (Listen – 1:57)

*Today’s devotional is abridged, and language updated from, “How Must We in All Things Give Thanks?” Part of Cooper’s argument was removed, as he believed answered prayer was “a sign that God ”accepts you.” This is clearly not the case in scripture or Christ’s experience Gethsemane would have gone radically different as he prayed, “remove this cup.”

Questions of Faith
Part 3 of 5,



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June 16, 2015

How Can We Find Spiritual Rest?

by Steven Dilla


Psalm 109.1, 4

Be not silent, O God of my praise! .. I give myself to prayer. 

How Can We Find Spiritual Rest? | by Samuel Annesley (c. 1620–1696)

How can we live with a conscience that is pacified by the blood of Christ? Christians, be persuaded to practice these:

1. Take heed of every sin, count no sin small.

2. Set upon the healing duty of repentance.

3. Compose thyself to live as under God. You cannot deceive him, for he is Infinite Wisdom; you cannot fly from him, for he is everywhere; you cannot bribe him, for he is Righteousness itself.

4. Be serious and frequent in the examination of your heart and life. This is so necessary to the getting and keeping of a right and peaceable conscience, that it is impossible to have either without it. 

5. Be much in prayer, in all manner of prayer, but especially in private prayer. 

6. Let your whole life be a preparation for heaven. Strip yourself of all encumbrances, that thou mayest attend unto piety. Pleasures may tickle you for a while; but they have an heart-aching farewell. You may call your riches good; but within a few days, what good will they do you? Men may flatter you for your greatness; but with God your account will be the greater. 

7. Live more upon Christ than upon inherent grace. Do not venture upon sin because Christ hath purchased a pardon; that is a most horrible and impious abuse of Christ. 

8. Be, every way, nothing in your own eyes. It is the humble soul that thrives exceedingly. “And, alas! what have we to be proud of?

9. Entertain good thoughts of God. We never arrive to any considerable holiness or peace till we lose ourselves in Deity;

10. Do all you do out of love to God. Spiritual love-sickness is the soul’s most healthy constitution. When love to God is the cause, means, motive, and end of all our activity then the soul takes flight towards rest.

O my soul, you are so little, why won’t you open all your little doors; why wont you extend your utmost capacity, that you mayest be wholly possessed, wholly satiated, wholly ravished with the sweetness of so great love? 

O, therefore, my most loving God, I beseech thee, tell me what may most effectually draw out my love to thee, considering what prevention of love, what privative, positive good things I receive from thee, infinite in greatness, infinite in multitude!

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 21 (Listen – 3:33)
Psalms 108-109 (Listen – 4:28)

*Today’s devotional is abridged from, “How May We Be Universally and Exactly Conscientious?”

Questions of Faith
Part 2 of 5,



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June 8, 2015

Why We Want Objective Good

by Bethany


Psalm 97.10
O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. 
Our post-modern culture may teach that there is no such thing as an objective good or an objective evil, but no one really wants to believe that this is true. For when there is no objective standard, then “might makes right” — and that is unacceptable.
When there is an objective standard, John Piper says, “the simplest peasant in Russia, the simplest Jew in Germany, the simplest slave in Georgia or the simplest Christian prisoner in Rome can say to the most powerful Stalin, the most powerful Hitler, the most powerful plantation owner or the most powerful Caesar, ‘Excuse me. No, sir, this is wrong. Your power does not make it right. There is a God above you and there is a right and a wrong outside of you and your might does not make it right.’”
God defines objective good and objective evil. Good is that which honors Him and helps others, and evil is that which dishonors Him and hurts others. And He calls us to conform our emotions to this reality.
Yet loving an objective good and hating an objective evil – although somewhat easy to talk about when it comes to international injustices – gets complicated when we start talking about our own hearts.
In the Gulag Archipelago Alexander Solzhenitsyn reflected, “Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts … even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.”
Lord, Jesus himself is the ultimate objective good. There is nothing better for us than him. In light of this reality, we beg you to give us your mercy for the miracle of new affections. Help us love good and hate evil, especially the evil in our hearts. Lift our eyes to Jesus, who died at the hands of evil to bring us the ultimate good. Let us not merely reject evil and choose good; let us hate evil and cling to good. Change our affections and, thereby, change our lives. Amen.
Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 12 (Listen – 5:11)
Psalms 97-98 (Listen – 2:11)
Life and Eternity
Part 1 of 5,



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