Life Purpose

Every Christian’s life-purpose must be to glorify God. This is the believer’s official calling. Everything we say and do, all our obedience to God’s commands, all our relationships with others, all the use we make of the gifts, talents, and opportunities that God gives us, all our enduring of adverse situations and human hostility, must be so managed as to give God honor and praise for His goodness to those on whom He sets His love (1 Cor. 10:31; cf. Matt. 5:16; Eph. 3:10; Col. 3:17). Equally important is the truth that every Christian’s full-time employment must be to please God. . . . Pleasing God in everything must be our goal (2 Cor. 5:9; Col. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4; 4:1).

J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs, 185

Divine Sustenance

Author of life divine,
Who has a table spread,
Furnished with mystic wine
And everlasting bread,
Preserve the life Thyself has given,
And feed and train us up for heaven.

Our needy souls sustain
With fresh supplies of love,
Till all Thy life we gain,
And all Thy fullness prove,
And, strengthened by Thy perfect grace,
Behold without a veil Thy face.

—Charles Wesley (Methodist Hymnbook #764)

Music: Good for the Body

The unity of the Body of Christ is not a bland, undifferentiated uniformity, but a rich and manifold concord. Music is uniquely equipped to provide an aural image of this kind of community, in which union is not unanimity, nor multiplicity a cacophony. With every resonant sonority, music testifies to the possibility of this sort of life.

Music provides a compelling sounding image of life together; but it is a shared life in which the distinctive voice of the individual is not negated by communion with the other. In music, we encounter identity which preserves particularity. As we sing together, different sounds—your voice, and mine—occupy the same time and the same space, without obstructing or negating one another.

—Stephen R. Guthrie, “Singing, in the Body and in the Spirit,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 46/4 (December 2003), 645, 643

True Greatness

“Greatness is equated [by the world, and by us too often] with doing something large, in a notable way, as fast as you can. That mindset is burning a lot of us out. But when we come to the gospel of Jesus, it’s almost like He is saying, ‘Follow Me, and learn to do small things, slowly, over a long period of time.'”

“We are taught to sprint . . . but most things that matter to us in life are marathons (marriage, relationships, vocation, skills).”

“We’re trying to approach sacred things that take a long cultivation—we’re trying to approach them with haste, speed—and it’s not working for us.”

“Words like ‘haste’ are associated with folly in Scripture; the words associated with wisdom are like ‘waiting, patience.'”

–Zack Eswine

A Prayer

Grant us, we beseech Thee, Almighty and most merciful God, fervently to desire, wisely to search out and perfectly to fulfil, all that is well-pleasing unto Thee this day. Order Thou our worldly condition to the glory of Thy Name; and, of all that Thou requires us to do, grant us the knowledge, the desire, and the ability, that we may so fulfil it as we ought; and may our path to Thee, we pray, be safe, straightforward, and perfect to the end.

Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know Thee, diligence to seek Thee, wisdom to find thee, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

–Thomas Aquinas

We Love Because He First Loved Us

Savior, teach me day by day
Love’s sweet lesson to obey,
With a child’s glad heart of love
At Thy bidding may I move,
Quick to serve and follow Thee,
Loving Him Who first loved me.

Teach me thus Thy steps to trace,
Strong to follow in Thy grace,
Love in loving finds employ
,
In obedience all her joy;
Learning how to love from Thee,
Loving Him Who first loved me.

Sweeter lesson cannot be,
Loving Him Who first loved me.
Thus may I rejoice to show
That I feel the love I owe;
Singing, till Thy face I see,
Of His love Who first loved me.

–adapted from Jane Leeson, 1842 (can be sung to the tune of “For the Beauty of the Earth”)

Only Thee

Blessèd Savior, Thee I love,
All my other joys above;
All my hopes in Thee abide,
Thou my Hope, and naught betide;
Ever let my glory be,
Only, only, only Thee.

Once again beside the cross,
All my gain I count but loss;
Earthly pleasures fade away,
Clouds they are that hide my day;
Hence, vain shadows! let me see
Jesus, crucified for me.

Blessèd Savior, Thine am I,
Thine to live, and Thine to die;
Height or depth, or creature power,
Ne’er shall hide my Savior more;
Ever shall my glory be,
Only, only, only Thee.

–George Duffield, 1851 (can be sung to the tune of “For the Beauty of the Earth”)

A Prayer

Thou God of all grace,

Thou hast given me a Saviour,
produce in me a faith to live by him,
to make him all my desire,
all my hope,
all my glory.

May I enter him as my refuge,
build on him as my foundation,
walk in him as my way,
follow him as my guide,
conform to him as my example,
receive his instructions as my prophet,
rely on his intercession as my high priest,
obey him as my king.

May thy dear Son preserve me from this present evil world,
so that its smiles never allure,
nor its frowns terrify,
nor its vices defile,
nor its errors delude me.

May I feel that I am a stranger and a pilgrim on earth,
declaring plainly that I seek a country,
my title to it becoming daily more clear,
my meetness for it more perfect,
my foretastes of it more abundant;
and whatsoever I do may it be done
in the Saviour’s name.

The Valley of Vision

The Bible in Worship

If we really believe, as we profess, that scripture is central to the Christian life, then it ought also to be central in our worship life. That Sunday bulletin is an important statement of faith. If the bulletin makes it clear that scripture is an important part of Christian worship, then we can be sure people will get the message that the Bible is crucial in shaping their lives as Christians. But, when the role of scripture in worship is negligible, when scripture is used only to launch a sermon, what is communicated is that the Bible is marginal in Christian life, too.

–James F. White, “Making Our Worship More Biblical,” Perkins Journal 34 (Fall 1980): 38

A Morning Prayer

O Lord God, I praise and magnify Thy name that thus Thou hast set Thy seal upon my inmost being, not leaving me to my own poor and petty selfhood or to the sole empire of animal passion and desire, but calling me to be an heir of Thine eternal Kingdom. I bless Thee for that knocking at my heart’s door that warns me of Thy waiting presence. I bless Thee for Thy hand upon my life, and for the sure knowledge that, however I may falter and fail, yet underneath are Thine everlasting arms.

O Thou who alone knowest what lies before me this day, grant that in every hour of it I may stay close to Thee. Let me be in the world, yet not of it. Let me use this world without abusing it. If I buy, let me be as though I possessed not. If I have nothing, let me be as possessing all things. Let me to-day embark on no undertaking that is not in line with Thy will for my life, nor shrink from any sacrifice which Thy will may demand. Suggest, direct, control every movement of my mind; for my Lord Christ’s sake. Amen.

—John Baillie (1886-1960), A Diary of Private Prayer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1949), 21

The Chief End of Man

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

Westminster Shorter Catechism

“The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”

–John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory, 80

“Live while you live,” the epicure would say,
“And seize the pleasures of the present day.”
“Live while you live,” the faithful preacher cries,
“And give to God each moment as it flies.”
Lord, in my view, let each united be:
I live in pleasure while I live for Thee.

–Philip Doddridge

Sanctified by Grace

“Do not be conformed by this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” Romans 12:2

“His actual grammar here is rather striking, isn’t it? Here is a statement, ‘be transformed by the renewal of your minds,’ in the present tense, in the imperative mood–it’s something to do– and yet it’s in the passive voice. And here he brings us to one of the marvels of grace that enables us rightly to worship God: that we are engaged and involved in the life of sanctification; and yet the life of sanctification is a process by which we are giving ourselves over to be sanctified.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, “True Spirituality, True Worship” message given at Covenant College 9/17/2004