31 Days of Purity

Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Here is day twenty-seven:

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:12 ESV).

“The psalm of all psalms” is how one writer described this song that David composed in those broken moments when the prophet’s accusation still echoed in his throne room: “You are the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). You are the man who received the crown of Israel but then stole the wife of your most loyal servant (12:8). You are the anointed protector of the sheep who has now slaughtered one of his own (12:9). You are the man whose sin will claim the life of your son (12:14)—not only the infant now nestled at Bathsheba’s breast but also a more distant Son who will die spiked on a blood-soaked beam. Because—and only because—of this more distant Son, “The LORD also has put away your sin” (12:13).

The heart of this “psalm of all psalms” is David’s plea for restoration (Psalm 51:7-12), and the climax of this plea is his yearning cry for “the joy of your salvation” (51:12). David hadn’t forfeited God’s gift of salvation, but he had lost the joy of what God in his grace had provided.

When, though, did David lose this joy of his salvation, and why? Was it after his sin? Or could it have been at some point before? I would suggest that David’s loss of joy was not the result of his sin but part of the cause. David’s sinful actions were the fruit of his failure to recall that the lasting joy of God’s salvation far outstripped the passing pleasure of Bathsheba’s flesh. David had already lost sight of the joy of God’s salvation before he saw the young woman bathing on the roof and chose to call her into his chambers. It was, at least in part, due to David’s misplaced joy that he sacrificed his integrity for a false and fleeting joy that could never satisfy his soul. Now, the penitent king begged God to restore his lost joy.

Purity flows from a heart that recognizes the joy of God’s salvation as a gift more satisfying than any competing pleasure the world can provide. This joy is accompanied by inward transformation (“a willing spirit,” 51:12) and results in outward proclamation (51:13).

My Father and my God,
The day has barely begun
and already I hear the serpent’s soft-pedaled whisper
telling me that there are pleasures greater
than anything you can offer.

Give me a willing spirit—
a spirit willing to trust
that there is no pleasure greater than the joy you have granted in Christ,
that there is no pleasure so great that it is worth trading for your holiness
and that there is no gift I need that you through your Spirit will not provide
In the name of Jesus Christ, my Brother and my Lord,
Amen.

What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men).

Today’s devotional was written by Timothy Paul Jones. Timothy Paul Jones serves as associate vice president and professor of leadership at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before coming to Louisville, Timothy led churches in Missouri and Oklahoma as a pastor and an associate pastor. He has authored or contributed to more than a dozen books, and he blogs at timothypauljones.com. Timothy and his wife Rayann have three daughters; the Jones family serves in the SojournKids children’s ministry at Sojourn Community Church.

31 Days of Purity

Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Day eleven comes courtesy of a guest writer: David Murray.

This day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:9).

Holiness and happiness are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other. Holiness produces true happiness, and true happiness strengthens holiness. The proof?

In Nehemiah 8, God’s people had rightly mourned over their sins. But there came a point when their weeping went on too long and too deep, and God said through Nehemiah, “This is a holy day. Therefore let it be a happy day.” The logic is inescapable. Happiness is not only compatible with holiness, it is an essential part of it. Without happiness, holiness is incomplete. Indeed, it is no longer holiness.

But what kind of happiness are we talking about? Nehemiah defines it as “the joy of the Lord.” It is a joy that comes from God and is centered in God. God gives it and God is it.

And as if we needed another reason to pursue, accept, and enjoy the happiness of holiness, Nehemiah adds the motive: “For the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Holy joy, Christ-centered joy, strengthens us. It produces defensive and offensive strength. It powerfully protects us from evil and it empowers us to fight for good. Holiness, happiness, and hardiness. A blessed trinity from the Blessed Trinity!

Ever blessed God, You are so holy and so happy. Help me to believe that my greatest happiness is found in holiness, and that happiness, true Christ-centered happiness, is my greatest help to holiness. Increase my joy in Jesus that I may increase my strength to resist sin and fight for purity. Amen.


What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men).

Today’s devotional comes from David Murray, a pastor, professor, author, and dear friend. He blogs at HeadHeartHand.

Parent-Child BondMonday morning. 5:40. Cup of coffee. My desk in a corner of the basement. Life is good. And this morning I find myself pondering the fact that my kids are getting older. It is inevitable, of course, but what once felt like a crawl to adulthood seems like it has become a sprint. Just this weekend my youngest turned eight years old—no longer a little kid. She’s become too big to pick up and toss around. Or maybe I’ve just become too weak to even try. She rarely comes over to me anymore to plant herself on my lap for no other purpose than that she needs a cuddle and the reassurance it brings. Maybe she doesn’t understand that I need the cuddles too.

It was with a twinge of remorse that I realized I can’t relate to her as a little kid any more. For so long our love language has been the language of absurdities: “Mommy says you don’t want birthday presents this year, so mommy and I are going to use the money to go out on a date.” We used to have such fun with these, teasing one another back and forth with increasingly absurd statements. Now all I get is rolled eyes and the one-word exasperated exclamation, “Daddy!” I guess it’s time to stop, time to find something new, time to learn a new language.

I also have a son who is choosing the high school he will go to next year, and a sixteen-year old girl (well, she’s actually eleven years old, but she may as well be sixteen). And at this phase of life, I am finding parenting so easy and so difficult all at once. I am finding parenting such a joy, but a joy that is mixed with new kinds of sorrow. I know now that there are some kinds of sorrow a parent can only experience as his children grow up and grow older. There’s the sorrow of missing what they used to be, and the sorrow of seeing them make the same mistakes I made once upon a time.

Parenting was grueling in the phase dominated by midnight bottles, night terrors, and endless dirty diapers. It was grueling but predictable. It was exhausting, but primarily on the physical level. We didn’t have to serve as counselors and psychiatrists. If we were up late into the night, it was to walk and bounce a baby to sleep, not to counsel a heartbroken little girl about cruel words blurted by her best friend. What kept us awake and sleepless were the cries of simple gas cramps or hunger pains, not the cries of emotional pain following a bad decision. When a toddler crosses boundaries it may require a brief and simple punishment; when a teenager crosses boundaries the result may be much longer-lasting, much more complicated, much more sorrowful.

Aileen and I pray as we crawl into bed at the end of the day. We try to, at least. This used to be our time to ask the Lord to keep our children healthy, to give us wisdom to know how to train them in obedience, to help keep us from growing exasperated with another late night and another two-in-the-morning diaper change. Simple stuff in retrospect. Raw and real, but simple.

Now when we pray we are asking the Lord to give our kids wisdom to negotiate the problems they have caused in their own lives because of their own immaturity and foolishness. We are asking the Lord to give us and wisdom as we consider issues that will have a life-long bearing: Christian high school or public high school? Computer science (the route with the great career possibilities) or history (the route that inspires both joy and passion)? We are asking the Lord to give our children patience and godly character as they learn to live in the presence of those who are spiteful and mean. We are asking the Lord to give our children godly character to go along with their profession of faith in Christ.

The Lord was so good and so kind to us through the little kid phase. It was difficult at times and there were days or even weeks at a time when we went through life with that dead-eyed look you see in so many new parents—parents whose children have kept them up too late every night for a month. But God was with us and he worked in us. We grew in faith and love not despite this time but through and because of this time. We have no doubt that he will do the same as we parent bigger kids and teenagers.

But I do miss playing with them. Not pushing toys around the living room floor. I’ve never been able to tolerate the kind of playing and am almost always able to intercept it with, “How about daddy reads you a story instead?” It’s the playful playing, the absurd playing, the nonsense playing. The kind of playing only little kids and their parents enjoy.

Life is good. Parenting is a joy (when it’s not agony). God is sovereign. And now it is time to wake them one-by-one, to rouse them for devotions, to get them their breakfast, to send them to school. Suddenly that most mundane of routines seems like it may be the most important thing I do today.

 

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 28, sermon number 1,653, “The resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

“The resurrection of our Lord, according to Scripture, was the acceptance of his sacrifice.” 

By the Lord Jesus Christ rising from the dead evidence was given that he had fully endured the penalty which was due to human guilt. “The soul that sinneth it shall die”—that is the determination of the God of heaven. Jesus stands in the sinner’s stead and dies: and when he has done that nothing more can be demanded of him, for he that is dead is free from the law.

You take a man who has been guilty of a capital offence: he is condemned to be hanged, he is hanged by the neck till he is dead—what more has the law to do with him? It has done with him, for it has executed its sentence upon him; if he can be brought hack to life again he is clear from the law; no writ that runs in Her Majesty’s dominions can touch him—he has suffered the penalty.

So when our Lord Jesus rose from the dead, after having died, he had fully paid the penalty that was due to justice for the sin of his people, and his new life was a life clear of penalty, free from liability. You and I are clear from the claims of the law because Jesus stood in our stead, and God will not exact payment both from us and from our Substitute: it were contrary to justice to sue both the Surety and those for whom he stood.

And now, joy upon joy! the burden of liability which once did lie upon the Substitute is removed from him also; seeing he has by the suffering of death vindicated justice and made satisfaction to the injured law. Now both the sinner and the Surety are free.

This is a great joy, a joy for which to make the golden harps ring out a loftier style of music. He who took our debt has now delivered himself from it by dying on the cross. His new life, now that he has risen from the dead, is a life free from legal claim, and it is the token to us that we whom he represented are free also.

Listen! “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again.” It is a knockdown blow to fear when the apostle says that we cannot be condemned because Christ has died in our stead, but he puts a double force into it when he cries, “Yea rather, that is risen again.”

If Satan, therefore, shall come to any believer and say, “What about your sin?” tell him Jesus died for it, and your sin is put away. If he come a second time, and say to you, “What about your sin?” answer him, “Jesus lives, and his life is the assurance of our justification; for if our Surety had not paid the debt he would still be under the power of death.”

Inasmuch as Jesus has discharged all our liabilities, and left not one farthing due to God’s justice from one of his people, he lives and is clear, and we live in him, and are clear also by virtue of our union with him.

Is not this a glorious doctrine, this doctrine of the resurrection, in its bearing upon the justification of the saints? The Lord Jesus gave himself for our sins, but he rose again for our justification.


Your weekly dose of Spurgeon

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 32, sermon number 1,900, “Rejoice evermore.”

“Certain religious people are of a restless, excitable turn, and never feel good till they are half out of their minds.” 

You would not wonder if their hair should stand bolt upright, like the quills of the fretful porcupine. They are in such a state of mind that they cry “hallelujah” at anything or nothing, for they feel ready to cry, or shout, or jump, or dance.

I do not condemn their delirium, but I am anxious to know what goes with it. Come hither, friend; let us have a talk. What do you know? What? Is it possible that I offend you the moment I seek a reason for the hope that is in you? Is it so, that you do not know anything of the doctrines of grace? You were never taught anything; the object of the institution which enlisted you is not to teach you, but only to excite you.

It pours boiling water into you, but it does not feed you with milk. That is a miserable business. We like excitement of a proper kind, and we covet earnestly a high and holy joy, but if our rejoicing does not come out of a clear understanding of the things of God, and if there is no truth at the bottom of it, what does it profit us?

Those who rejoice without knowing why can be driven to despair without knowing why; and such persons are likely to be found in a lunatic asylum ere long. The religion of Jesus Christ acts upon truthful, reasonable, logical principles: it is sanctified common sense.

A Christian man should only exhibit a joy which he can justify, and of which he can say, “There is reason for it.” I pray you, take care that you have joy which you may expect to endure for ever, because there is a good solid reason at the back of it.

The excitement of animal enthusiasm will die out like the crackling of thorns under a pot; we desire to have a flame burning on the hearth of our souls which is fed with the fuel of eternal truth, and will therefore burn on for evermore.


This poem by John Piper has been put into a video to make it more memorable. It is moving in it’s depictions of a mind and heart gripped by grace. Some may be offended or put off by the title. I suppose that can’t be helped, but John Piper gets it. And those who love the gospel as understood and expressed in the historic, biblical categories that have been nicknamed, “Calvinism,” will also get it. If the voices sound familiar it’s because they most likely are, as the end credits make clear.

The Calvinist from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from Able to the Uttermost, Pilgrim Publications, pages 96-97.

“A father hath joy in his children, and God hath joy in His children.”

And, indeed, it lies in the very marrow of the metaphor now before us. A man hath joy in his portion; so hath the Lord joy in His people. And you know that memorable passage; I scarcely ever dare to quote it without deep emotion, so wonderful a passage is it: “He shall rest in His love”—as if God found rest in loving His people—“He will joy over thee with singing.”

It is a wonderful passage. Have we not before told you that when God created the world the angels sang for joy. God did not sing: He said, “It is very good.” He spoke, and expressed His approbation, but I hear of no song. But now, in the new creation, when He sees His dear ones chosen before all worlds, for whom the only-begotten poured out His life-blood—when the Spirit of God sees His workmanship, it is written, “He shall joy over thee with singing.”

God singing! Can you catch the thought? This is sweeter than the angels’ song or than the song of all the beatified that surround the crystal throne. It is Jehovah Himself that sings—like a husband rejoicing over his bride, or a mother singing over her child.

For God hath joy in His people; Christ findeth satisfaction in the fruit of  His agonies, and the Holy Spirit takes delight to view the soul that He Himself hath formed anew. This is unspeakably precious, but it is true; the Lord finds delight in His people and enjoys them, for “the Lord’s portion is His people.”

And I believe, brethren, that the fruit that God looks for from us is our love. You do not expect your children to do anything for you, but you do expect them to love you, and you expect their gratitude. When their eyes sparkle, and their little lips almost incoherently tell you how thankful they are to you for your kindness, you rejoice in that. And praise is pleasant to God. He delights in the love of His people and in their thanksgiving.

And, moreover, fellowship with God is sweet to Him. For it is said of Jesus, “His delights were with the sons of men,” and all through the Song of Solomon the spouse represents Himself as ravished with the love of His beloved. Christ always speaks there of His Church as being able to communicate joy to Him by the sight of her fair face, and the words of her lips.

He says, “Let Me see thy face! Let Me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy face, and thy countenance is comely”—sweet to Him and comely to Him. Oh, dear children of God, rob not God of His fruit that comes of His portion. Give Him your love; give Him your fellowship; walk with Him as Enoch did; for this is Christ’s joy—that you should have joy in Him.