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John Piper

Desiring God

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Covenant of the rainbow

2 Chronicles 16:8–9

The Eyes of the Lord

September 23, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Chronicles 16:8–9
Topic: The Love of God

Principle for Bible Reading

Look for promises in Scripture that rest in the never-changing character of God, and therefore are true for his people throughout all of history, even for us today. God gives us a broader, general principle about himself and his ways using a specific event in biblical history.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:42)

Observations (00:42–07:15)

1.      Asa king of Judah relied on the king of Syria, and not on God (2 Chronicles 16:7).
2.      Therefore, Judah lost the battle with Syria (2 Chronicles 16:7).
3.      And because of their lack of faith, from now on, Judah will suffer wars (2 Chronicles 16:9).
4.      We should rely on God, and not man, because God is searching for opportunities to help those whose hearts are wholly trusting in him (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Application (07:15–08:54)

What kind of God is our God?

1.      Our God is not needy; He is strong.
2.      Our God is not passive or hesitant; He’s aggressively pursuing us with goodness and mercy.
3.      Our God is not limited; He’s everywhere, and he’s eager and ready to help anyone wholly trusting in him.

Study Questions

1.      Based on these verses, why did Syria escape Judah?

2.      What specific things do you learn about God from 2 Chronicles 16:8–9?

3.      Based on these verses, why does the promise of 2 Chronicles 16:9 apply to all of us?

Related Resources

•      When God Works for You (four-minute video)
•      When Should I Stop Praying for Something? (interview)
•      Regeneration, Faith, Love: In That Order (sermon on 2 Chronicles 16)

Psalm 50:8–15

God Does Not Need You

May 14, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Psalm 116:12–14 and Psalm 50:8–15
Topic: The Sovereignty of God
Series: The Uniqueness of God

Principle for Bible Reading

Why did God make human beings? Was it because he needed something that he didn’t already have? This series of labs asks what sets our God apart from all others. In this lab, John Piper asks how we can ever repay God for all he’s done for us.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:18)

Selfish Sacrifices of Praise (01:18–03:31)

1.      Virtually all gods required sacrifices, including the God of the Old Testament.
2.      God commanded burnt offerings, and Israel was offering them (Psalm 50:8), but God was not pleased with their sacrifices. (Psalm 50:9)
3.      Israel was offering their sacrifices in a way that suggested God needed their sacrifices, as if God depended on them. (Psalm 50:12–13)

Our Giving Is Always Getting (03:31–06:45)

1.      We are fundamentally receivers. In our relationship with God, we are always the recipients, even when we make an offering to him. We’re not meeting any need of God’s. (Psalm 50:14)
2.      Therefore, relate to God, even in your offerings to God, as recipients. Do not give in a way that says God needs your gifts. (Psalm 50:14)
3.      We do this by calling upon God, and allowing him to deliver us, and by allowing him to get all the glory. (Psalm 50:15)

Lift Up the Cup Again (Psalm 116:12–14) (06:45–09:35)

1.      The question is how we will repay God for everything he has done for us. (Psalm 116:12)
2.      As we lift our cup, we are not just toasting God, but asking him for more. (Psalm 116:13)
3.      Of course we serve the Lord (Psalm 116:14, but even in our serving, we are crying out for more of him and his help. (Psalm 116:13)

Study Questions

1.      Read Psalm 50:8–15. What problem does God have with Israel’s worship?

2.      Explain the difference between the kind of sacrifice described in Psalm 50:8–13 and the kind described in Psalm 50:13–14.

3.      Now, look at Psalm 116:12–14. What do we render back to God for all that he’s given us? What does it mean to lift the cup up again?

Related Resources

•      Praise: The Consummation of Joy (article)
•      Is God a Needy Vacuum Trying To Suck Praise Out of Us? (interview)
•      Call upon Me in the Day of Trouble and I Will Deliver You (sermon on Psalm 50:1–15)

Psalm 141:1–4, Part 1

Pray for God to Meet You

August 18, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Psalm 141:1–4
Topic: Prayer

Principle for Bible Reading

We learn to pray by reading the prayers in the Bible. This short series will look at David’s prayer in Psalm 141. In the first lab, John Piper asks why we pray for God to come. God is everywhere all the time, so what would it even mean for him to come to you today?



O Lord, Hear My Prayer

1.      “Call” appears twice in Psalm 141:1, forming two parallel statements.
2.      The first call asks God to come to him, and the second asks God to hear him. (Psalm 141:1)
3.      The psalmist hopes that God will overcome some distance between them (come to and hear him).

How Does God Come?

1.      God is omnipresent, so what does it mean for him to come to us? (Psalm 141:1)
2.      “Hasten to me” means coming with influence, or intimacy, or power, or help. (Psalm 141:1)
3.      This prayer is a prayer for the manifest presence of God, an experience of his nearness and power. (Psalm 141:1)

A Prayer of Sacrifice

1.      Psalm 141:2 offers a second pair of parallel phrases.
2.      Psalm 141:2 seems to intensify the nature of the prayer by involving the body.
3.      Incense and sacrifice were elements of temple worship in the Old Testament. The psalmist wants his prayer to be pleasing to God like those rituals were. (Psalm 141:2)

Same Prayer, Second Verse

1.      Psalm 141:2 seems to be saying something similar to Psalm 141:1. Both verses are striving through prayer to overcome the distance between God and David.
2.      In verse 1, David asks God to bring his presence to him.
3.      In verse 2, David has come into God’s presence.

Study Questions

1.      David repeats the phrase “I call” in Psalm 141:1. What might he be trying to communicate to God and to us through these parallel statements?

2.      What does it mean for God to come to David (or to us)? Can you think of other texts in the Bible that use the same language?

3.      How does David’s prayer change or progress in Psalm 141:2? What’s new in the second verse?

Related Resources

•      What God Can Do in Five Seconds (article)
•      Prepared Prayers, Impromptu Prayers, Sloppy Prayers (interview)
•      Ask Your Father in Heaven (sermon on Matthew 7:7–12)

Psalm 141:1–4, Part 2

Pray for God to Guard You

August 20, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Psalm 141:1–4
Topic: Prayer

Principle for Bible Reading

Prayer is vital for the fight to be more like Jesus. In this lab, John Piper looks at prayer in the Bible that models the pursuit of purity. All of our effort in the pursuit of purity and holiness rests on the power and favor of God to guard us from evil.


Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–02:56)

Guard My Mouth (02:56–05:24)

1.      What is God guarding David’s mouth from? (Psalm 141:3)
2.      God is not guarding David’s mouth from something coming into it, but from something coming out of it, especially in prayer. (Psalm 141:2)
3.      David does not want to offend God by saying anything envious of the wicked or resentful toward God. (Psalm 141:3)

Guard My Heart (05:24–08:50)

1.      David’s prayer for God to guard him goes deeper down into his heart. (Psalm 141:1)
2.      God governs the inclinations of his heart. (Psalm 141:1)
3.      Prayers ought to be pure in the words we use, but even more importantly in the heart from which it comes. (Psalm 141:4)
4.      All of our deeds are motivated by desires. We want to do the good or bad that we do.
5.      Don’t let the delicacies of the world appear more desirable to me than you are. (Psalm 141:4)

Summary of the Prayer (08:50–10:41)

Study Questions

1.      What would God be guarding David’s heart from in Psalm 141:3?

2.      Based on Psalm 141:4 (and any other passages you can think of in the Psalms), how does David understand the relationship between his heart and his deeds?

3.      David prays that God not allow him to enjoy the delicacies of the wicked. Why would he pray that way in this prayer?

Related Resources

•      Seven Ways to Pray for Your Heart (article)
•      A Prayer to Hold Your Life Together (interview)
•      Prayer and the Victory of God (sermon on Isaiah 37)

Psalm 141:1–4, Part 3

Pray for God to Satisfy You

August 25, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Psalm 141:1–4
Topic: Prayer

Principle for Bible Reading

When we ask God to incline our hearts, can he do it? In this third lab, John Piper asks a couple of hard questions about what we pray when we pray. Are we hypocrites to pray for our mouths and behavior even when our hearts fail? We need God to meet us at every level of our lives.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:08)

A Clarification: The Temple (01:08–02:47)

When John used “temple” in the previous labs in this series, he was referring to the place where God’s presence dwelt before the temple existed (“tent” or “tabernacle” are better terms in this case). The Temple was built by Solomon, David’s son, later on in Israel’s history.

Praying from the Heart (02:47–07:49)

1.      Why does David pray for his mouth if he is praying for his heart? Would not the work God does on his heart make his work on the mouth unnecessary? (Psalm 141:3–4)
2.      David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is modeling what should happen in our prayers. How he prays is how things are because he’s been inspired by God when he writes.
3.      We should pray for our mouths and our hearts, so that thoughts are stopped at our mouths even if they’ve proceeded from a bad heart. (Psalm 141:3)
4.      The battle should be fought mainly at the level of the heart, but that does not mean we do not make war at the mouth level, as well.
5.      We can fight the battle at both levels (heart and mouth) without being a hypocrite, even when we lose in what we feel and win in what we say.

Do You Incline Your Heart? (07:49–13:00)

1.      Am I in charge of the inclinations of my heart, or is God? (Psalm 141:4)
2.      Based on David’s prayer, we know that God governs our hearts (Psalm 141:4). Otherwise, David would not pray this way.
3.      This does not lessen David’s ability to please or displease God. Even though God governs his heart, he can still please (“incense”) or offend God in what he prays and in how he lives. (Psalm 141:2)
4.      David wants God to govern his heart in the deepest, most intimate way. He invites to do so. (Psalm 141:4)
5.      Prayer is not worthless because God governs all things, but instead it is wise, because it is God who can do all things.

In Jesus’s Name (13:00–14:02)

Study Questions

1.      Why does David pray for his heart and for his mouth? Wouldn’t a changed heart effect the necessary change in his mouth? Why might he still pray for his mouth?

2.      Based on Psalm 141:1–4, who does David believe inclines his heart? What does that mean for our prayers?

3.      Summarize the takeaways for your prayer life from studying David’s prayer in Psalm 141:1–4.

Related Resources

•      How Prayer Glorifies God (article)
•      A Theology of Prayer in Three Minutes (interview)
•      Always Pray and Do Not Lose Heart (sermon on Luke 18:1–8)

Psalm 147:10–11

What Will Please God?

August 13, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Psalm 147:10–11 and Isaiah 8:12–14
Topic: The Pleasures of God

Principle for Bible Reading

What kind of heart and faith pleases God? In this lab, John Piper looks at several texts to try and understand what it means for us to fear God. How can we be terrified of God and still find hope in him at the same time?


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:02)

The Good Benefits of Fearing God (01:02–05:22)

1.      The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him and hope in him. (Psalm 147:11)
2.      But fear and hope do not ordinarily go together in our experience. How can this tension be resolved for the Christian?
3.      God befriends those who fear him, so fear and friendship go together with God. (Psalm 25:14)
4.      God delivers those who fear him, so fear and safety go together with God. (Psalm 34:7)
5.      God loves those who fear him, so fear and love go together with God. (Psalm 103:11)

A Terrifying Sanctuary (05:22–08:23)

1.      God must be our “dread.” (Isaiah 8:12–13)
2.      But if God is your dread, he becomes a sanctuary for you. (Isaiah 8:14)
3.      Dreading God means dreading running away from God. It means fearing the consequences of leaving him.

Follow the Fear of God (08:23–10:54)

1.      God takes great pleasure in those who fear him and hope in him. (Psalm 147:11)
2.      If they start looking away to other things, to other gods, they should fear God and run back to him. (Psalm 147:10)
3.      Fear of God will drive us to trust in God’s steadfast love and not ourselves. (Psalm 147:10)

Study Questions

1.      Based on Psalm 147:10–11, explain what pleases God in your own words.

2.      Read Psalm 25:14, 34:7, and 103:11. What do you learn about the fear of the Lord?

3.      Now read Isaiah 8:12–14. Now how would you describe the relationship between the fear of the Lord and hope in the Lord?

Related Resources

•      Your Joy Rests on Jesus’s Righteousness (article)
•      Can My Good Works Outweigh My Bad? (interview)
•      The Gentiles Have Obtained Righteousness by Faith (sermon on Romans 9:30–33)

Proverb 22:17–19, Part 1

Enjoy, Apply, and Share

January 28, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: Proverbs 22:17–19
Topic: Life of the Mind

Proverbs is one of the most ruthlessly practical books in the whole Bible. In this lab, John Piper breaks down several lines, asking what they mean and how they relate to each other. Before getting into one specific example, he makes some observations about the nature and purpose of the Proverbs.

Principle for Bible Reading

In the Bible, and especially in the book of Proverbs, you will get pairs of lines, or even pairs of couplets. Study the relationships between the lines and pairs of lines, looking for any structural observations that might help make sense of the whole.

Study Questions

1.      If Proverbs 22:21 is stating the purpose of the thirty sayings in Proverbs 22:17–24:20, restate that purpose in your own words.

2.      Now, read Proverbs 22:18. How does that verse change or fill out your answer to the first question?

3.      Proverb 22:17 and Proverbs 22:18 are a pair of couplets. Study the relationships between each of the four lines. Why might the author structure these ideas this way?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:29)

Getting Started (01:29–05:26)

•      “Words of the wise” is a title over the passage from Proverbs 22:17–24:20.
•      In this passage (Proverbs 22:17–24:22), the author gives us thirty sayings. (Proverbs 22:20)
•      There are more than thirty verses, but you can find thirty distinct sayings in all those verses.
•      There is a lot of overlap between these thirty sayings and Egyptian sayings. Is that a problem?
•      No, because the Proverbs send us into the world to learn (e.g. ants), assuming that the world testifies to the truth. And because the author of the Proverbs has chosen these sayings carefully in order that you would believe (choosing only what serves that purpose). (Proverbs 22:19)

Wisdom for You and Through You (05:26–06:45)

•      The stated aim in these thirty sayings is that you know what is right and give a right answer. (Proverbs 22:21)
•      The double purpose in these Proverbs, then, is to know things that are right and true with a view to being sent and giving those things to others.
•      We see in Proverbs 22:18 that the Proverbs are there for us to enjoy (“within you”) and to share with others (“on your lips”).

Inside Out (06:45–10:34)

•      Proverbs 22:17–18 give us two couplets of ideas.
•      The progression from 22:17a to 22:17b moves us from our ears to our hearts, and from words to knowledge (knowledge is based on words and is communicated through words, but it is more than words).
•      In 22:18a, the heart is delighting within us (“pleasant”) in the knowledge that has now sunk in (from 22:17b).
•      And 22:18b move outside of us again through our lips, beginning the process again (for those who will hear with their ears). (Proverbs 22:17)
•      22:17b–22:18a deals with the inside of us, and 22:17a and 22:18b sandwich that with the external pieces.

Related Resources

•      Back to School: A Biblical Perspective (article)
•      I Read the Bible and Feel Nothing—What Should I Do? (interview)
•      “The Lips of Knowledge Are a Precious Jewel” (message on Proverbs 20:15)

Proverb 22:17–19, Part 2

Fix Your Eyes and Heart on the Bible

February 2, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: Proverbs 22:17–19
Topic: The Bible

Our Bible reading is about much more than reading. Proverbs calls us to incline our ears and apply our hearts. In this lab, John Piper highlights these two major principles for getting the most out of your time in God’s word.

Principle for Bible Reading

Some phrases in the Bible have become so familiar, we’ve never really stopped to ask what they mean (e.g. “apply your heart to God’s word”). We have to slow down enough to really ask what these words and phrases mean, so that we can put them into practice in our lives, and in this case, in our Bible reading.

Study Questions

1.      What do you think it means to “incline your ear” in Proverbs 22:17? What might that look like in your daily life?

2.      What do you think it means to “apply your heart” in Proverbs 22:17–18? What might that look like in someone’s daily life?

3.      Now, how do those two exercises relate to each other in our personal (or corporate) Bible reading?

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–03:32)

Incline Your Ear (03:32–05:45)

•      Do you incline your ear (or eye) to the Bible when you read it? (Proverbs 22:17)
•      Inclining your ear means paying close attention and observing carefully.
•      We have to slow down to do this.
•      Remove distractions, and be willing to read something over and over again until you understand it.
•      We have to give rigorous attention to each line and even to each word.

Apply Your Heart (05:45–09:41)

•      “Apply your heart to knowledge.” (Proverbs 22:17)
•      The heart is an organ that takes pleasure (or displeasure) in something. It enjoys or values things. (Proverbs 22:17–18)
•      The heart is moving through mere knowing to feelings, to treasuring something.
•      Do you fix your heart on a truth to try and feel something?
•      Pursue the pleasure that is in the object of observation, the words and truths in front of you. Apply your heart to knowledge.
•      The effort to discern meaning with feeling cannot be done without prayer.

Summary (09:41–10:24)

Related Resources

•      How to Read the Bible for Yourself (article)
•      6 Tips If You Find the Bible Hard to Read (interview)
•      “Scripture: The Kindling of Christian Hedonism” (message on Bible reading)

Proverb 22:17–19, Part 3

God’s Bigger Purpose for Proverbs

February 4, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: Proverbs 22:17–19
Topic: Life of the Mind

You probably know the book of Proverbs as a collection of practical advice for God’s people. Proverbs itself, though, defines its purpose in a deeper, more significant way. In this lab, John Piper looks at the purpose and lays it onto several proverbs to see how the book works in the life of the believer.

Principle for Bible Reading

We take some things for granted about the Bible, for instance, that Proverbs is essentially a book about to-do’s. The author of Proverbs, though, explicitly offers a different and deeper purpose for these sayings. Watch for the biblical authors to give purpose statements for their writing, either for a paragraph or for a whole book. It will be an important lens through which to read everything else.

Study Questions

1.      Read Proverbs 22:17–19, and identify the primary or highest purpose of this group of proverbs (Proverbs 22:17–24:20).

2.      Now, read the proverbs in Proverbs 22:22–25. How would you explain how these proverbs carry out the primary purpose given in 22:17–19?

3.      What might the “trust” in Proverbs 22:19 mean for the “knowledge” in 22:17 and the “pleasure” in 22:18? How does the author’s statement about our trust in God help us understand the other two ideas?


The Purpose of Proverbs

•      The unmistakable purpose in Proverbs 22:17–19 is “that your trust may be in the LORD” (Proverbs 22:19).
•      The LORD here is Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel.
•      Most of the Proverbs are instructions for what to do in life.
•      For instance, “Do not rob the poor” (Proverbs 22:22).
•      Or another example, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger” (Proverbs 22:24).
•      Proverbs 22:19 says that all of the proverbs are meant to cause us to trust in God. God strengthens our trust by showing us what the fruit of trust looks like.
•      The commands in Proverbs (and elsewhere in the Bible) is what saving faith does.

The Joy of Knowing God

•      The purpose statement in Proverbs 22:19 should not be disconnected from what we saw in Proverbs 22:17–18.
•      Trust as the ultimate purpose in Proverbs 22:19 suggests that the knowledge in 22:17 is a collection of reasons to trust God.
•      And therefore, the pleasure in Proverbs 22:18 is a knowledge of God, his word, and his works that cause us to trust in him.

Related Resources

•      The Distance Between Head and Heart (article)
•      “Piper Is Too Intellectual” (interview)
•      “The Life of the Mind and the Love of God” (message)

Isaiah 48:9–11

For My Name’s Sake

September 30, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Isaiah 48:9–11
Topic: The Glory of God

Principle for Bible Reading

We should be constantly comparing lists of characteristics about God to determine if qualities are the same, different, or overlapping. This is especially important when statements seem contrary to each other. In this lab, John Piper models this and uncovers God’s love for us and his commitment to his own glory.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:35)

Observations (00:35–06:24)

1.      God refers to his radical commitment to his own praise six times in three verses.
2.      The progression of God’s passion for his glory: being ⇒ name ⇒ glory ⇒ praise.
3.      God also expresses his patience with and love for us six times.
4.      The foundation of his love for us is his commitment to himself.

Conclusions (06:24–10:35)

1.      Love for people is not the most foundational thing in God’s being. Underneath his love for us is his commitment to himself.
2.      God is angry. Why is he angry? They still need to be refined, because they continue to profane his name. The restraining of his anger is not the resolution of God’s anger. Isaiah 53:4–5 and Romans 3:25 are the resolution of God’s anger.

Study Questions

1.      What does it mean for God to say that he acts, “for my name’s sake,” or, “for the sake of my praise,” or, “for my own sake”?

2.      Based on these verses, how does his commitment to his own glory relate to his love for his people?

3.      God lovingly defers his anger in verse 9, but the restraining of his anger is not the resolution of his anger. Can you think of other verses in Isaiah that tell us how the problem of God’s righteous anger is resolved for the believer?

Related Resources

•      God’s Glory and the Deepest Joy of Human Souls Are One Thing: Fifteen Implications (article)
•      What Is God’s Glory? (interview)
•      God Is a Very Important Person (sermon on Isaiah 48:9–11)

Isaiah 55:6–9

God Will Abundantly Pardon

May 12, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Isaiah 30:15–22, Isaiah 57:15, and Isaiah 55:6–9
Topic: The Grace of God
Series: The Uniqueness of God

Principle for Bible Reading

The God of the Bible is not like any god of any other religion. This series of labs asks what sets our God apart from all the alternatives. In this lab, John Piper looks at the beauty of an infinitely high and holy God stooping to forgive and receive sinners like us.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:50)

Seek the Lord (00:50–04:02)

1.      God wants us to seek him, depend on him, wait on him. (Isaiah 55:6)
2.      The essence of wickedness is to fail to seek the Lord, and to look to other things for what only God can provide. (Isaiah 55:6–7)
3.      If you are wicked, you are away from the Lord. Your sin separates you from God. (Isaiah 55:7)
4.      If you return from your wickedness to God, God will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:8)
5.      This willingness to pardon sinners who will return to him is the height of his uniqueness among all beings. (Isaiah 55:8)

High and Lifted Up (Isaiah 57:15) (04:02–05:34)

1.      God is high and lifted up. He is holy, set apart from humanity in every way. (Isaiah 57:15)
2.      God manifests his holiness by dwelling in the high and holy place and by descending to live and work among humble, lowly people. (Isaiah 57:15)
3.      When God works for the lowly, the height of his holiness is glorified. The height of God’s holiness is not compromised by his going to the lowly and giving them life. It is magnified and exalted. (Isaiah 57:15)

Isaiah 30:15–18 (05:34–09:00)

1.      The strength of God’s people is found in their waiting for God, in their trust in him. (Isaiah 30:15)
2.      But God’s people rebelled against God by putting their trust in their strength and in their horses. (Isaiah 30:16)
3.      Therefore, God gives them and their self-reliance over to defeat. (Isaiah 30:17)
4.      But God also waits to show grace and patience to those who wait on him, who rely on him. (Isaiah 30:18)
5.      God exalts himself—and not you—in showing you mercy. God will not reward us for our self-reliance or self-help. He works for those who will receive his help, and allow him to get all the glory.

Isaiah 30:19–22 (09:00–10:42)

1.      At just the sound of your cry for help, God will answer and show you lavish grace. (Isaiah 30:19)
2.      And when you turn, you will deny and discard every false god, including the idol of your performance, self-reliance. (Isaiah 30:22)
3.      All the false gods of the world are not like our God. Our God exalts himself not in demanding our labor, but in demanding that we stop trying to prove ourselves and simply receive his grace and help.

Study Questions

1.      Read Isaiah 55:6–9. Explain the “for” at the beginning of verse 8. How does what comes before explain the uniqueness of God in verses 8 and 9?

2.      Looking now at Isaiah 57:15, how can God be high and holy, and yet mingle with the lowly? Explain how does God’s highness relates to his lowness.

3.      There are two kinds of people described in Isaiah 30:15–18. Who are they and what separates them? How does God treat the two groups differently?

Related Resources

•      Prayer: We Get the Help, He Gets the Glory (article)
•      What Is God’s Glory? (interview)
•      The Great Invitation: A High Way for Low Sinners (sermon on Isaiah 55:6–9)

Isaiah 64:1–4; 46:1–4

God Works for Those Who Wait

May 7, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Isaiah 46:1–4 and Isaiah 64:1–4
Topic: The Glory of God
Series: The Uniqueness of God

Principle for Bible Reading

The Bible says several times that our God is utterly unique among all the gods in the world and in history. But what makes him so unique? In this lab, John Piper begins a series looking at key texts for understanding why there is no god like our God.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:15)

Observations (01:15–03:07)

1.      God seems distant in this passage. He is withholding his presence at this point. (Isaiah 64:1)
2.      God’s adversaries seem to have the upper hand right now, so Isaiah is praying that God would come reveal himself and vindicate his name. (Isaiah 64:1–2)
3.      Often when the saints in the Bible were praying for God to do a new thing, they called to mind an old thing God had done. (Isaiah 64:3)

What Makes God Unique? (03:07–05:25)

1.      There isn’t any God like this God. (Isaiah 64:4)
2.      God “works (or acts or performs deeds) for those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:4)
3.      What sets God apart from all other gods is that he works for people who are willing to look to him, trust him, and give him the credit for working, rather than presuming that God needs more workers like me. (Isaiah 64:4)
4.      All the other gods go around the world amassing slave labor. They all say prove yourself; come work for me, and then I will bless you.

Same Song, Different Verse (05:25–08:50)

1.      The Babylonian gods must be carried. They do not bear the burden, but put a burden on their worshippers. (Isaiah 46:1)
2.      The other gods say, “Carry me,” but God says, “I will carry you.” (Isaiah 46:4).
3.      Our God bears. Our God carries. Our God saves. (Isaiah 46:3–4)
4.      Other gods demand performance as a grounds for blessing. Our God offers performance for those who trust in him, and not themselves.

Study Questions

1.      Read Isaiah 64:1–4. Isaiah says in verse 4 that God is utterly unique. From this passage, describe what makes God so unique from other gods?

2.      What do you learn about Bel and Nebo in Isaiah 46:1–4? Do you see similarities with other popular gods or religions today?

3.      How does Isaiah 46:1–4 reinforce or support the uniqueness you were seeing in Isaiah 64:1–4? Are there any new dimensions in these verses?

Related Resources

•      11 Ways God Works for Us (article)
•      Personal Comfort in God’s Sovereignty Over Evil (interview)
•      God Works for Those Who Wait for Him (sermon on Isaiah 64:1–4)

Lamentations 3:31–33

He Will Not Cast Off Forever

September 23, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Lamentations 3:31–33
Topic: The Grace of God

Principle for Bible Reading

God is completely consistent in all he does, but he is also very complicated. You’ll never find a contradiction in his character, but you’ll often have to work hard to see how different aspects of who he is relate to one another. In this lab, Pastor John asks how God could cause his children grief and remain compassionate towards them.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:37)

A Word About Lamentations (00:37–03:30)

Lamentations might be the most painful book in the Bible, because it describes the horrors of God’s judgment against his people. It is also one of the most clearly structured books. How could such an emotional book be so neatly ordered? Perhaps, it is a way for God to say that our pain is bounded or channeled. It might be to say that it has a purpose.

Observations (03:30–08:17)

1.      This suffering is not God’s last word to his people (Lamentations 3:31). A New Covenant is coming (Jeremiah 31:31–34) when God will return with compassion.
2.      God really does cause grief (Lamentations 3:32)
3.      This grief, though, is not his last word. He will have compassion (Lamentations 3:32).
4.      God does not grieve or afflict us from his heart (Lamentations 3:33).
5.      Our pain is not God’s delight. Our pain is a means to the good in which God does delight.
6.      God’s compassion and steadfast love come from his heart.

Application (08:17–09:05)

1.      We bow down to God’s sovereignty. He does indeed cause grief.
2.      We trust that at the bottom of his heart is his love and compassion.
3.      There is good that is coming to the children of God through their pain.

Study Questions

1.      Why was Lamentations written? What is the context of these verses about God’s love and compassion?

2.      How could the writer of Lamentations say that God causes grief (Lamentations 3:32) and that he does not grieve (Lamentations 3:33)?

3.      What does the “for” at the beginning of verse 33 say about how God’s love and compassion relate to the grief he causes his people?

Related Resources

•      When It Feels Like God Is Punishing You (article)
•      How Do I Know If I’m Being Disciplined by God? (interview)
•      The Painful Discipline of Our Heavenly Father (sermon)

Piper, J. (2014–2015). Look at the Book Labs (2Chr 16,8–Klgl 3,33). Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God.


1 Kommentar»

  Business Motivational Mentoring wrote @

Consider the words of the prophet to the nation of Judah “…Before there comes upon you the burning anger of the Lord, before there comes upon you the day of anger of the Lord. Seek the Lord all you humble of the land, who do His just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility…” Zephaniah 2:2-3.

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