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New morning mercies

BOOKS | Guan Un

Sunday 28 June 2015

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.
— Lamentations 3:22-23

This book of devotionals from Paul Tripp takes its title from the famous verses above, verses which are a note of grace amidst a biblical book that is filled with sorrow, judgment and lament.

Fitting then, that New Morning Mercies also sounds a resounding note of grace, amidst the sometimes ordinary genre of biblical devotionals, where the worst in class can fail to be either biblical or devotional.

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 2.12.15 pmPaul Tripp is an author and frequent conference speaker (he’s been to Australia recently),  and professor at Redeemer Seminary. His byline says that he “works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.” With that ethos, he’s also written on family, parenting, and ministry life in Dangerous Calling.

Here, however he brings that focus to a year’s worth of short, easily digestible daily readings that will take you almost exactly the length of time it takes you to drink a morning cup of coffee. He draws from a long history of professional counselling, pastoral ministry and experience that lends his writing wisdom and a pastoral touch, but overall the focus is on the grace that comes through the gospel of Jesus Christ. This grace is applied in a number of ways throughout the readings: the idols of identity and control, the everyday sins that we can be so quick to overlook, the thought patterns that lead us away from the grace that we are called to.

See, here’s the thing. We wouldn’t need devotionals if we weren’t so daft. As people, we tend towards short-sightedness and forgetfulness. As enthralled as we can be with the power of the gospel on Sunday, if you’re anything like me, by Monday, you easily lose sight of what the Bible called us to do.

And this is where devotionals can do good: as a daily reading and reminder to focus again on what is good and true, gradually, you come to be reminded of the grace that you need. Every day.

The readings are broken up into summaries (short enough for Twitter), then Tripp’s short article, followed by a prompt to read a particular Bible passage. My only gripe here is that I wish Tripp brought us into the substance of the Bible verses a bit more than he does, either by having the verses printed, or by dealing with the text a bit more in his mini-articles. This is not to say that anything he writes is wrong; this is a minor complaint more about method than content.

Overall his style is casual and easy to read and I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to the carpenter in my congregation, as well as the lawyer. And like the best devotionals do, the continual prompts to look at the gospel of grace and see how it applies to each part of your everyday life has a way of seeping under your skin.

There is also a small question of audience. New Morning Mercies is an easy introduction for those who aren’t big readers. For those who want a devotional that will stretch you that little bit more, it may be worth checking Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, or Carson’s For the Love of God.

But for those who haven’t done a devotional before, or in a while, this is a good place to help you meditate on the Lord, he whose mercies are new every day.

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