Peace, Love, & Joy | What He Willed to do | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 6 of 27 | December 5, 2019

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” – 2 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV)

YHWH moved the government to situate Joseph and Mary, so that Christ could be born in Bethlehem. We always celebrate such divine power, and Sovereign rule of God in that narration of Christmas. But ironically, we also learn that Joseph and Mary failed to find an inn. The skeptic in us is quick to question: if God is so sovereign how come He failed to arrange an inn? Or perhaps, why choose a poor couple? Why wasn’t Christ born in a more influential family? These questions are quite similar to the ones we raise for own sake as well. God if you are so powerful why do you let bad things happen to me? John Piper answers: “the question is not (about) ‘what God could do, but what he willed to do’”. (pg. 9) Of course, there is nothing that God cannot do. But if indeed, He did everything – no purpose, no prophesy of His, would have been fulfilled. We won’t have received salvation, and God wouldn’t been glorified. But it is for our sake, that the KING and LORD of all Creation willed to be born among the lowest of low, and suffered everything a human being could suffer. And in all of these, He showed His divinity in demonstrating blameless obedience to the Father. Why? So that His righteous life could be a substitute for our sinful life – so that salvation could be secured for us.

Similarly, the sufferings we endure in our lives, aren’t just something God allowed, but is something that He has ordained it. “Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.” (Ps 66:8-10, ESV) God allows our suffering for our sanctification – so that we could be conformed to His image. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Php 3:8-11, ESV)

But this suffering is a peculiar kind of suffering. It is not the suffering of breaking up with your lover, or that your children are disobedient, or that your business has failed, or that you’re not popular, et cetera… and so on and so forth. This suffering is not the one born of personal folly over personal worries. This suffering that the scriptures are talking about is a suffering that comes from godly sorrow. This is a suffering of the saints – it is the pain of pursuing Christlikeness amidst a Christless world. (2 Cor 7:10)

Summing up. It is true that there is a fair share of suffering allotted to us in our godly sojourn. But the good news is – Christ, who is called Emmanuel – is with us. (Mat 1:23) He not only overseas our sufferings, He also pleads for us for the times we fail (Heb 7:25). And not only that, He also strengthens us so that (2 Cor 12:9) we could endure till the end. So, the next time when the skeptic in us questions God’s sovereignty in our sufferings: let us remind ourselves – it is not about what God can do, but what God wills to do. It is in His will that He chooses to sanctifies us, and conform us, to His image – so that we could be saved.  


Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God (iv) December 3: The Confidence of Redeeming Hope (v) December 4: A Big God for Little People

Peace, Love, & Joy | The Confidence of Redeeming Hope | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 4 of 27 | December 3, 2019

For the mind of faith, a promised act of God is as good as done.” – John Piper (pg. 5)

The confidence of redeeming hope, is a beautiful wellspring of eternal courage. This is a unique brand of courage that only the faithful possess, after drinking from the fountain of life (Jn 4:14). Zechariah much like everyone else showed evidence of a disbelieving heart, upon the visitation of the angel Gabriel. (Lk 1:20) But only when he had witnessed the full proof divine work in his life, words of thanksgiving and prophesy flowed from his mouth. (Lk 1:68-71)

There is an interesting thing about Zechariah’s speech that Piper has pointed out. He notes, “filled with the Holy Spirit, he is so confident of God’s redeeming work in the coming of the Messiah that he puts it in the past tense.” (pg. 5)

This is the nature of divine hope – that the believer believes that it has already been granted, even before it has been done. And how apt it is, that the Apostle Paul further clarifies this: “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’ And through Christ, our ‘Amen’ (which means ‘Yes’) ascends to God for his glory.” (2 Cor 1:20, NLT) This is a hope that is not peculiar to Zachariah alone. This is a hope that is evident in everyone, whose lives God has touched. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1, ESV)

The birth of Christ, our Messiah, was a confidence building – hope securing visitation for the Patriarchs of our faith. If we profess to believe, yet are unable to live the reality of this hope in the past tense, how unfortunate that would be. Perhaps, it is unfortunate. Let us pray, and seek this divine visitation personally in our lives. For Christ has open the door for us to plead for such mercy. Let us not weary another day. Let us seek and ask, to receive this life affirming hope in us. “Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mk 11:24, ESV)


Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God

Peace, Love, & Joy | Prepare the Way | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 2 of 27 | December 1, 2019

What John the Baptist did for Israel. Advent can do for us. Don’t let Christmas find you unprepared.” – John Piper

It is hard to associate advent to John the Baptist. The former invokes festivity, and the later, somber piety. But both, ideally ought to hold the same meaning. John was tasked ‘to make ready for the Lord a people prepared’ (Lk 1:16-17, ESV). Advent, essentially means arrival of the awaited. And the way the Bible treats it, is by the word of repentance to prepare us for the Lord. (Mk 1:5) Why? The Apostle Luke notes, ‘to turn … the disobedient to the wisdom of the just’. (Lk 1:17, ESV)[1]

The following are four important points to ponder upon, as a way of observing advent:

  1. First, we need to accept our need of a Saviour. Because otherwise, Christmas has no meaning. “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, they that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mk 2:17, KJV) Piper puts this point promptly, “Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight”. (pg. 1)
  2. Second, engage in somber self-examination. We can never repent, until the grace of God enlightens us of our sins. So, we seek earnestly, the heart of repentance in prayer (more so, especially in this season when we are together with our close ones). We should employ the heart of festivity in encouraging one another in growing closer to God, by making repentance a communal effort. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps 139:23-24, ESV)
  3. Third, build godly anticipation. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13, ESV) We ought to learn to build godly anticipation in the advent season; based on biblical hope of new birth – of fruitful Christian lives. “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (Js 1:18, ESV). The anticipation of celebrating Christmas shouldn’t be clouded by the prospects of exceeding worldly merriment.
  4. Fourth, be scripture-saturated. All the above three points we have discussed cannot become a reality in our lives until and unless we are fed well by the word of God. Piper advices, be much in the scripture, for the word of God is a great fire (Jr 23:29) that not only lights up our lives, but keeps us warm through the darkest of nights. (pg. 2)

As we enter the month of December, let us prepare our hearts in accordance to the Word and Will of the LORD, who comes to birth us anew. Let it not be in us, that He finds no room. Let the manger be in our hearts this year. (Lk 2:7)


Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy“.


[1] To understand the context of why the scripture is referring to people as “disobedient” see the sub-section “peace” in the Introduction.  


Read the previous entry in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas

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