Resource Review: “New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional” by Paul David Tripp

Tripp, Paul David, New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2014. 160 pp. $18.99. Hardback. ISBN 0-310-40951-9

Available From:

Crossway (the publisher of this book)

Amazon.com

Christian Book Distributors

LifeWay

The Sword and Trowel Bookstore

Books-a-Million

Biographical Sketch of the Author

Dr. Paul David Tripp is a seasoned pastor, professor, and award-winning author. He has served as pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a lecturer of Biblical Counseling at Westminster Theological Seminary, a visiting professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a faculty member at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.[1] He is the author of numerous Christian books, devotionals, and biblical counseling resources, including New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church, Marriage: 6 Gospel Commitments Every Couple Needs to Make, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change, and Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, among many others.[2]

Dr. Tripp is a graduate of Columbia Bible College (now Columbia International University) of Columbia, South Carolina, with an undergraduate degree in Bible and Christian Education. He then received the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from the Reformed Episcopal Seminary of West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Following completion of his M.Div. Tripp graduated with the degree of Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) in Biblical Counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary of Glenside, Pennsylvania.[3]

Summary of the Contents

New Morning Mercies is a unique daily devotional in several respects. A number of the book’s features are typical for daily devotionals, including organization according to date (beginning on January 1 and continuing through December 31, matching a calendar year progression), an opening point, devotional discussion following the opening point, and references for additional study in the Scriptures. However, features that set the book apart include the use of opening Gospel-focused thoughts rather than opening passages of Scripture, the recommendation of specific passages of Scripture for study in parallel with or as follow up to the devotional itself at the conclusion of each daily devotion, and the author’s application of Gospel life principles to contemporary (including modern technological) contexts and mediums. In summary, this iconic devotional is Gospel-centered, theologically rich, and practically applied, making this work a valuable and beneficial resource for a Christian’s daily devotional life.

Critical Evaluation

Physically, my particular copy of New Morning Mercies (the Gift Edition purchased from a local Books-a-Million bookstore in Corbin, Kentucky) is a handsomely crafted book. The particular version pictured involves a hardback, cloth-over-board binding that is comfortable to hold, durable in quality, and aesthetically pleasing in appearance. The paper is of good quality and sufficiently thick so that the pages are sturdy and not transparent, making the book physically easy to read. The relatively thick paper used for the book also lends itself well to making notes in the margins of the devotionals. The book also incorporates another of my favorite features: a durable, good quality, sewn binding, as opposed to the more economical but lower quality glue-only bindings often used in many printings of books today. New Morning Mercies also includes several note pages in the back for keeping additional notes and writing down additional thoughts in reflection on the daily devotionals. This feature is beneficial for those who are regular travelers (who may not have easy or regular access to a separate journal or tablet for jotting down notes and thoughts) or those who simply prefer to take their notes in the same volume where their daily devotions are printed. Well-crafted and well-bound devotionals of this caliber have become a relative rarity in recent years, making this particular edition both a durable and valuable format. Please note that while the version of this book the author has reviewed is the aforementioned Gift Edition, there are multiple editions and formats of this book available (including more economical hardback editions, a true-tone (leather-like binding) edition, an e-book edition, and even a specialized note-taking edition). These additional versions are also available for purchase at the links provided above.

The basic format of the book is that of a typical devotional in many respects. The book is organized with a one-page devotion for each day of the year. Individual devotions are titled according to calendar day (i.e., “January 1,” “January 2,” “January 3,” etc.). Notably, the book lacks a table of contents indexed according to month. While not a “deal breaker” for most people, this is a feature that I personally prefer and find helpful in daily devotionals. However, this feature is likely connected to another unique attribute of the devotional: the fact the book lacks individual page numbers. Most devotionals are indexed according to both day of the year (in some form) and the page number, which makes the layout and organization of New Morning Mercies a unique approach. In order to find the devotional for a specific day, the reader will need to flip through the pages in their entirety to arrive at the specific daily heading (such as today’s devotional, June 13, naturally located toward the middle of the book) rather than find that day’s devotional or the monthly section by page number. However, this issue is largely alleviated for the regular, daily user of this devotional. The gift edition includes a well-incorporated ribbon marker built into the book’s binding for marking progression on a day-by-day basis. Of course, users of other editions of New Morning Mercies lacking the ribbon marker can use a bookmark; however, I find the incorporation of a ribbon marker a helpful and much-valued feature.

In his introduction, Dr. Tripp explains some of the unique features of New Morning Mercies by elaborating on his own daily habits, which have shaped his approach to the book. Dr. Tripp stated,

“Each morning, I ‘tweet’ three gospel thoughts. That is, I post three brief thoughts about the Christian faith on the social media site Twitter. My goal is to confront and comfort people with the life-rattling truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want people to see that the grace of the gospel is not so much about changing the religious aspect of their lives, but about everything in life that defines, identifies, and motivates them. I am calling people to see the gospel as a window through which they are to look at everything in life”[4]

This explains Dr. Tripp’s approach of beginning each day’s devotional in the book with a brief gospel thought that opens the devotional content and directs the reader toward a core truth of Christian faith and life. The social networking site Twitter limits each “tweet” to only 280 characters (for those note familiar with Twitter’s functionality, note that the limit is characters and not words; historically, Twitter’s limit was 140 characters and increased to 280 characters only in recent years). That character limit is an irritation to some (including myself) when using Twitter as a social media platform. However, it has the advantage of forcing the author to think more carefully about their expressed thought and requires that the user state that thought within the brief character allotment permitted. As President Jefferson once quipped, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”[5]

Dr. Tripp continued to elaborate on his approach in the introduction to the book, further noting:

“By the Lord’s grace, these tweets have been well received, and numerous people have encouraged me to use them as the basis for a devotional book, with 365 meditations on the gospel truths expressed in the tweets. The book you are holding in your hands is my response to those requests. Each day’s reading opens with one of my gospel tweets, lightly edited, and then a meditation that expands on it.”[6]

Dr. Tripp’s opening Gospel thought headlining each devotion is emblematic of this “brief, but powerful” philosophy. In just a couple of lines, Tripp opens each day with a clear, concise, practical, and theologically empowered Gospel truth for focus. The devotional content further elaborates on the day’s central point expressed in the opening line. In fact, it is in the body of the devotional content where the author’s rich experience as a seasoned pastor and biblical counselor arguably shines brightest. As I have reviewed the devotionals in this book over the course of the past year, I have found Dr. Tripp’s Gospel insights and applications to be profoundly wise and theologically deep – yet intensely pragmatic. The author concludes each devotion with a reference for further study and encouragement from God’s Word, providing a specific Scriptural passage for additional reflection and meditation concerning that day’s Gospel truth in view.

I have to admit that when I first began exploring this devotional, I was initially put off by the lack of daily verses from Scripture to headline each devotional. While I conceded the value of including the author’s Gospel insights in the form of his edited tweets, I am accustomed to using devotionals that include a daily verse of Scripture as part of the printed devotional book’s text. However, after exploring this devotional in detail and using this devotional book myself over the course of the year, I believe that I have identified an important pastoral insight of the author built into the design of the book.

By not including printed Scriptural texts as the headline for each page and instead providing the Gospel tweet-thought as the opening headline, the author focuses the reader’s attention first on the Gospel principle in view and then presents the devotional reflection. Then, by encouraging the author to consult a specific passage of Scripture in the concluding line on the page, the author provides the added benefit of directing and encouraging the reader to go directly to their actual Bible (rather than taking the easier approach of reading a pre-printed Bible verse on the devotional’s page).

As a pastor, this approach thrills my heart. Any time a resource encourages Christians to get into their Bibles more and more on a daily basis, I rejoice and find that to be the most valuable of contributions. My initial fear with the author’s approach was that Christians using this devotional might be tempted to take the “easy way out” by simply reading the devotional and failing to go to their Bibles to follow up by reading the author’s recommended further study and encouragement reading in the Scripture. However, I found that Dr. Tripp brilliantly encourages Christians to continue their study by stimulating the reader’s interest, thoughts, and passion through the devotional content itself. This approach routinely left me, as a reader, “wanting more” and thus motivated to go directly to my Bible for additional study.

For example, in a recent devotion in New Morning Mercies reflecting on both the importance and power of prayer, I was stirred by the author’s powerful and moving insights on the power of prayer in the content of the devotional itself. As a matter of fact, I was so stirred and moved by Dr. Tripp’s profound insights that, at the conclusion of the devotional, I found myself wanting to read and study further. However, where was I to go for additional insight on this truth in the remaining moments of my devotional study and time with the Lord that particular morning? Psalm 63. Printed right at the bottom of the page: “For further study and encouragement: Psalm 63.”[7] To provide additional insight, Psalm 63 is a beautiful and powerful recounting of King David’s experience when he was in the Desert of Judah that reads as follows:

“O God, you are my God;

earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you;

my flesh faints for you,

as in a dry and weary land

where there is no water.

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,

beholding your power and glory.

Because your steadfast love is better than life,

my lips will praise you.

So I will bless you as long as I live;

in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,

and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,

When I remember you upon my bed,

and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

For you have been my help,

and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

My soul clings to you;

your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek to destroy my life

shall go down into the depths of the earth;

They shall be given over to the power of the sword;

they shall be a portion for jackals.

But the king shall rejoice in God;

all who swear by him shall exult,

for the mouths of liars will be stopped.” (ESV)

I concluded my devotional time that morning with my soul refreshed, my heart strengthened, and my mind energized and refocused on the power, importance, and gift of prayer as the most valuable of all times and seasons in the Christian’s life: time spent communing with the Lord.

Conclusion

In my judgment, Dr. Tripp’s New Morning Mercies is a unique gift to the Lord’s church. While several the book’s features are typical for daily devotionals, there are a number of features which set the book apart as a unique contribution to the realm of Christian daily devotionals. The use of opening, concise, Gospel-focused thoughts, recommended specific passages of Scripture for study in parallel with or as a follow up to the devotional itself, and the author’s fruitful and insightful application of Gospel life principles to everyday life contexts make this book a true pleasure to explore in the context of the Christian’s daily devotional life. In summary, this iconic devotional is Gospel-centered, theologically deep, and practically applied and constructed, making this work a valuable and beneficial resource for followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are considering a new devotional for yourself or as a gift for a loved one, I strongly encourage you to give New Morning Mercies a look.


Endnotes:

[1] PaulTripp.com, “About Paul Tripp,” PaulTripp.com. Accessed June 13, 2021. https://www.paultripp.com/about

[2] Amazon.com, “Titles by Paul David Tripp,” Paul David Tripp Author Page, Amazon.com. Accessed June 13, 2021. https://www.amazon.com/Paul-David-Tripp/e/B001JOXMMY%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

[3] PaulTripp.com, “About Paul Tripp,” PaulTripp.com. Accessed June 13, 2021. https://www.paultripp.com/about

[4] Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2014), “Introduction,” para 1.

[5] Thomas Jefferson, “Historical Quotes,” Quotes, Resources, PlainLanguage.gov. Accessed June 13, 2021. https://www.plainlanguage.gov/resources/quotes/historical-quotes/

[6] Tripp, New Morning Mercies, “Introduction,” para 2.

[7] Tripp, New Morning Mercies, “June 12,” para 10.

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