Expositional Devotions

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One of the most common experiential complaints about expository preaching is the tedious work of walking through a Bible book over an extended period of time. It can be difficult to stay energized, excited, or awake(?) throughout a 75 week sermon series through Romans.

At the same time, the struggle of every expositor is to not only faithfully preach the text, but to do so in a way that best suits his people. Expository preaching expresses itself uniquely in different settings. What’s best for one congregation may not be what’s best for another. However, whether you’re walking through a Bible book over the course of one month or one year, a crucial question remains: How can I best drive the message, themes, and content of this book into the minds and hearts of my people?

Other than commentaries, few of which are suited for lay people, there aren’t many resources designed to help churches walk through Bible books together. One way I help shepherd as a pastor at my church is to write devotions based on the passages we are preaching. As we walk through Bible books, our people are given five devotions every week to help them study the text throughout the week. The devotions function as gospel-centered commentaries on Bible books that speak directly to both the head and heart. The goal in writing these devotions is multi-faceted.

The goal is for readers to know and experience the text better.

The goal is to teach readers how to better study the Bible

The goal is to help readers better see glimpses of Jesus on every page of Scripture.

The goal is for God’s people to know, love, and enjoy him more. 

I’m going to start sharing these devotions on the blog in the future as we continue walking through Bible books. I pray the devotions published here will be helpful for all believers, but especially for those walking through Bible books in expository preaching.


Mathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.

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Back to Blogging With a New Perspective

glenn-carstens-peters-203007After a much-needed five-month hiatus, I’ve decided to re-enter the fray of the blogosphere. When my wife gave birth to our second son in mid-September of 2016, it didn’t take me long to learn my limitations as a minister, husband, father, and man. In order to fulfill my roles as husband and father, something needed to take a backseat. So, in late October, I abruptly walked away from my blog. Waking up at 6 AM or staying up until 2 AM to write blog posts was no way to help my wife in those early months with our newborn son. I realized that writing blog posts wasn’t the best expenditure of my time and energy.

To be honest, blogging took the place of the few moments of alone time with my wife. Blogging took the place of rocking a crying baby or changing a dirty diaper. When Erica and I were finally able to sit down together after a rough night getting our boys to bed, my eyes became fixated on a screen rather than on her. Blogging simply got in the way.

After only a couple conversations with my wife about the role blogging was playing in my life, I knew what had to be done. I had to quit. And by God’s grace, I wanted to quit. Not because I lost a desire to write or share helpful content with my readers, but because I had a greater desire to be with my wife.

Blogging, for me, had turned from a personally sanctifying tool and means of ministering to a wider base of people into a time-sucking machine that was a product of the selfishness in my heart. Blogging turned from a sanctifying partner to a relentless slavedriver. Pastors, like everyone else, very much dislike admitting their own struggles. Maybe that’s why so many of us burn out or fall into habitual sin. I know I don’t enjoy sharing that blogging, for me, had become more sinful than sanctifying just before my break.

By God’s grace, I clearly saw my sin for what it was and snuffed it out. Blogging was causing more pain than pleasure, and more sin than sanctification, so I quit. No final post. No specific timeline. I knew I would return to blogging at some point, but I didn’t want it to be on my mind at all during the break. Honestly, the break has been refreshing. However, I feel I am now at a good place to return to blogging. And I’m excited. I’m excited to return to the blogosphere because of the two things I’ve learned about blogging over the past five months despite not hitting “publish” once.

1. Blogging is a personally sanctifying tool when put in its place.

Writing is more than therapeutic for me. It helps me wrestle with ideas. It helps me pray. it helps me fight sin in my own life. It helps me meditate deeper on a theological or biblical truth. In short, writing gives me wings that propel me closer to God.

I ran into problems with blogging when I allowed blogging to take a place in my heart and life that it has no business taking. With proper accountability from friends and healthy communication with my wife, blogging will remain in its place. Instead of intellectually holding to the idea that my wife and children take priority in my life, I’ve been putting it into practice. And by God’s grace, I will continue.

2. Blogging is an edifying tool when used properly.

Pastor Bobby Griffith of City Presbyterian in Oklahoma City tweeted yesterday, “Maybe people don’t have to blog about every issue, especially when it’s not in their wheelhouse.” I’ve been thinking through this idea over the past few years, but increasingly over the past few weeks. No matter how small, every blog is a platform and every blog has an audience. But that doesn’t mean every blogger should blog about every issue.

This is especially true in the Reformed Christian blogosphere where hot takes on the latest “heretical” sermon clip or theological issue have become as common as plaid shirts and pipes. My goal in writing for this blog in the future is to never foolishly presume mastery over any topic, but especially one I haven’t studied. And while some issues deserve a response, I pray blog posts are never designed merely for the sake of site traffic or just to have said something.

All in all, as good as the break from blogging has been, I’m glad to be back.


17498999_1870940272931412_6999370580315029592_nMathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.

Morning Mashup 04/03

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Praying the Bible | Donald Whitney | $3.19 (Kindle)

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Prayer | Timothy Keller | $7.58

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A Praying Life | Paul Miller | $10.19

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Praying with Paul | D.A. Carson | $13.25

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ARTICLES

Are We Victims of Sin? | Head Heart Hand

David Murray: One of the keys to the Christian life is getting the right balance between confessing personal sin and lamenting the universal consequences of sin.

4 Surprises in Bible Publishing | TGC

Trevin Wax describes the biggest surprises he encountered in his role in helping publish the Christian Standard Bible.

You Cannot Raise Snowflakes in Jesus’ Name | Prince on Preaching

Excellent article for parents as they consider raising their children in a world where we can’t protect them from pain.

FAQ on the Collected Works of John Piper | TGC

Justin TaylorOur basic criterion for selection has been to include everything that John Piper has written for publication in printed books, magazines, and journals. The result is forty-five books, sixty articles and reviews, twenty-three forewords, and forty-two chapters—totaling around three million words.

How Calvinists Miss the Key to Happiness | Desiring God

Tony Reinke:  The joy of Calvinism is a joy purchased by Christ and emerges from the ever-present Spirit within us.

Graceless Dads, Overly Spiritual Pastors, and Sticky Notes | Gospel Centered Family

Jared KennedyWhen I am disciplining one of my girls, I may even go beyond misbehavior and shepherd her heart motivations. But like an older brother in Christ, am I willing to confess my own sin and repent before my daughters as well? If not, I’m in danger of being a graceless dad.

VIDEOS

How to Depict the Beauty of Complementarity? | TGC

Paul George vs. LeBron James in OT