“What Jesus Demands From The World” – Daily Devotional (6/01/10): Introductory Thoughts

Today’s devotional is actually a review of the 1st three Introductory Chapters from “What Jesus Demands From The World” by John Piper (pages 15-36).  Needless to say, this devotional will likely be much larger and broader in scope than the others, where specific commands are addressed.  I hope you will all bear with me in this first step.  Demand #1 will be discussed tomorrow.

This will focus on the overall theme and purpose for Piper’s book, according to himself.  First off, Piper discusses the structure of the book.  Although it is his intent that each “demand” will build on one another and weave a full tapestry of understanding Jesus’ desire for us, each chapter can be understood on its own.  A person can easily “jump in” anywhere and benefit.  Piper began by compiling a list of demands, stated and implied (i.e., “Blessed are the merciful” = be merciful) by Jesus.  This list totaled over 500!  So, he sought to “distinguish commands that would have abiding significance for faith and life” (35).  For example, he excluded specific commands to individuals that aren’t intended to be carried forward by us (i.e., telling a paralytic to take his mat and go home).  Then Piper began grouping and categorizing the commands, as well as uniting commands that are stated multiple times or in multiple Gospel accounts.  He then broke some broader commands into smaller ones (so as to keep each chapter small and manageable to be used for devotional use).  An example of this is how the command “love your enemies” is broken into 4 chapters, each dealing with specific ways that Jesus commands us to express that love.  He ended up with a list of 50 demands in total.  For the sake of simplicity, Piper sticks to the Gospel commands of Jesus and does not draw from any other New Testament books.  The commands in this book are straight from the Lord, himself.

The first 19 commands are primarily geared to address the internal heart and mind of a believer.  This is done purposely, following Jesus’ repeated call to move from internal faith to external action.  These first commands are also to remind us of the precious promises that Jesus gives us and the relationship he invites us into.  Jesus commands us to Abide in him, Love him, and Repent (turn towards him).  All of these things are of inexpressible value for a believer, filling us with the joy and hope to follow the other “hard” commands of Christ.  Piper expresses the heart of Jesus in this way, “On the one hand he says, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’ (Matt. 28:18).  On the other hand he says, ‘Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matt. 28:20).  The one says, ‘I make demands because I have the right.  All authority in the universe is mine.’  The other says, ‘I make demands because I will help you.  I will be with you forever.” (20)

In terms of purpose, I will now share some assorted quotes from Piper:

“The aim of this book is God-glorifying obedience to Jesus.  To that end I am seeking to obey Jesus’ last command:  ‘Make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28: 19-20).  Jesus’ final command was to teach people to observe (which means follow, not just be able to recite) all his commandments……. Jesus also tells us that ‘with God, all things are possible’.  So the greatest challenge with writing this book has been to discern God’s way of making impossible obedience possible”.

As we move through this study together, ask yourself some important questions:

1.)  Does Jesus have the authority in your life to critically address your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors?

2.)  If during this study it is revealed to you by the Holy Spirit’s urging that some changes are needed in order for you to be obedient to Christ, will you make an honest attempt to make those changes?

3.)  What’s “off-limits” to God in your life?  For many, its things like money, possessions, social behaviors, entertainment choices, etc.  If there is something that has been off-limits to God, I pray that you would be willing to release that and follow wherever Christ may lead you during this study.

Lastly, read over this passage and let it speak to you whatever you need to hear from God……and I hope to see you tomorrow (It’ll be shorter, I promise).

Matthew 28: 18-20 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on May 31, 2010 at 11:01 PM  Leave a Comment  
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