Monday, December 29, 2008

Mon., 12/29/08 Devotion (2 Chron. 34:3)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 34:3, which says this:

"For in the eighth year of [Josiah's] reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images."

Josiah, one of the all-time greatest kings of Judah, was only 16 years-old when he began doing great things for the church of God. His grandfather Manasseh had wasted most of his life, and all of his youth, in idolatrous blasphemy. Josiah's father Amon had not been promising at all. Humanly-speaking, it is astounding that Josiah, from such an early age, would be so very great.

Josiah reminds us that the church's children and youth need not wait to grow old, in order to be effective in the kingdom of God. May they be zealous for the Lord, and his house, from their earliest days.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Word written is a repository in which God has laid up sovereign oils and balsams to recover sick souls; and the word preached is the pouring out of these oils, and applying them to the sick patient." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon entitled, "The Soul's Malady and Cure"]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wed., 12/24/08 Devotion (Jn. 14:22)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Today's encouragement comes from John 14:22, where we read these words:

"Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him [Jesus], 'Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?' "

This is the only time in the Gospel accounts (I know of) where Judas (not Iscariot) is quoted. His question is a good one. Jesus Christ *is* "manifest[ed] to the whole world" in a gospel proclamative sense. We especially see this happen at Christmas--as the angels declare that Christ's good news is for "all people," (Lk. 2:10).

And yet Judas' query *is* legitimate, and Jesus does not correct him. Christ manifests Himself to His church in a covenantal way that is completely foreign to all those who are outside of her (the church). In light of this, let us all be found in Christ, which is the same thing as being in the church (properly-covenanted).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ may be called 'the Word' because He is the great Revealer of the secrets of heaven." --John Colquhoun, in his sermon, "The Incarnation of Christ"]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tues., 12/23/08 Devotion (Jn. 13:1b)

Today's encouragement comes from John 13:1b, where we read these words:

" . . . Having loved His own who were in the world, He [Christ] loved them to the end."

This is a beautiful phrase. The Lord Jesus loves His churchmen who are yet "in the world," viz. down here, where it's tough, and where sin and the fall still assault us. This is because the church is "His own." He possesses them, by virtue of His redemption of their souls. And Christ loves us "to the end." He doesn't give up on us, just because we stumble around, and fail a lot of times.

Isn't this a grand and glorious Savior? Even as He was anticipating His most grievous suffering (on the cross), He was thinking of us, and serving us. Let all His church love Christ in sincerity; and may we find our peace only in Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "And in the dispensing of the gospel, especially in the preaching and unfolding of the Word, the riches of God in Christ are unfolded . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mon., 12/22/08 Devotion (2 Chron. 26:15b-16a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 26:15b & 16a, which says this:

"So [Uzziah's] fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped [by God] till he became strong. But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction . . . "

God's true churchmen *are* to become "strong." That is a significant goal of the Christian life, (see Eph. 6:10). But strength is *never* to lead to independence (from God). True, Spirit-wrought strength makes the believer *more*, not less, aware of his or her reliance upon the Lord. To be strong in Christ is to become more humble, more faithful, and more obedient.

King Uzziah of Judah abused his strength, to his own hurt. May we not follow in his steps.

[Puritan quote of the day: "My services are weak, yet I am a child; my graces are feeble, yet I am a child; my desires are faint, my wants many, my enemies strong, yet I have God for my Father. This answers
all." --Robert Harris, in "The Way to True Happiness"]

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/19-21/08 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday, the Lord's Day, the day of resurrection, one of God's 52 holy days a year! Shifting gears today, here are the words of my second favorite Puritan of all time: the great Richard Sibbes. This snippet comes from a treatise of his, entitled, "Denial of the Best for the Church's Benefit":

"A second thing that I observe hence is this, holy and gracious men, that are led by the Spirit of God, can deny themselves and their own best good for the church's benefit. They know that God has appointed them as instruments to convey good to others; and knowing this, they labor to come to Paul's spirit, to desire to live, to have life in patience, and death in desire in regard of themselves. For it would be much better for a good man to be in heaven, out of misery, and out of this conflicting condition with the devil and devilish-minded men.

"The reason is, because a good man, as soon as he is a good man, has the spirit of love in him, and 'love seeks not its own,' (1 Cor. 13:6), but the good of another; and as the love of Christ and the love of God possesses and seizes upon the soul, so self-love decays. What is gracious love but a decay of self love? The more self-love decays, the more we deny ourselves."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thurs., 12/18/08 Devotion (Jn. 8:24b)

Today's encouragement comes from John 8:24b, where we find our Lord Jesus saying this:

" . . . For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

Jesus is speaking to very religious people here. It is interesting that He does *not* say, "If you don't straighten-up your acts you will
die . . . "; or, "If you don't do enough good deeds you will die . . . "; or, "If you aren't more religious you will die . . . " Instead, Christ demands one thing (only): believing that He (Jesus) is the Son of
God--or else we will die in our sins.

Why is this so hard for us sinners to grasp? The gospel is so simple that self-righteous people find it highly offensive. Jesus' blood atonement virtually *excludes* anything that we could add to it, via works or self-sacrifice, etc. This gospel brings God glory, and us good, (but we get no credit for our salvation).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Zeal makes the blood rise when God's honor is impeached. . . . He who zealously loves his friend cannot bear to hear him spoken against and be silent." --Thomas Watson, in "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wed., 12/17/08 Devotion (Jn. 7:12a, 43)

Today's encouragement comes from John 7:12a & 43, where we read these words:

"And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him [Jesus]. . . . So there was a division among the people because of Him."

Our Lord Jesus Christ is *the* most controversial Person to ever exist. To this day, He divides people from one another--when He wrenches His children away from their sin, their idols, and whatever else ails them. Christ is also the Great Unifier: but the *only* people He positively brings together are His churchmen.

The Redeemer has no interest in satisfying anyone but His Father, and, through the Spirit, His church. Because of this, those who wish to deal with Him on any terms other than saving faith find themselves flabbergasted, confused, and in disarray. May we be "one" with Christ, as we find ourselves "in" Him, by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A child of God makes his estate [viz. all that he owns] a golden clasp to bind his heart faster to God, a footstool to raise him up higher towards heaven." --Thomas Watson, in "The Beatitudes"]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tues., 12/16/08 Devotion (Jn. 6:35)

Today's encouragement comes from the great words of John 6:35, which say this:

"And Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.' "

This is a pretty outrageous claim by the Lord Jesus Christ; and it would be a horrible one, if He could not keep it. But, of course, He *does* fulfill it perfectly, in all His redeemed churchmen. But if this is so, why is it that so many professing Christians--even we ourselves at times--do not "feel" like we are always full and satisfied?

The answer: we sometimes seek both the power for and the evidence of our true spiritual life in the wrong places. The evidence is to be found in faithful churchmanship. The power comes from the proper use of the means of grace: preaching, the two sacraments, prayer, and the fellowship of the saints.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Grace is not glorious if we add the least thing of our own to it." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mon., 12/15/08 Devotion (Jn. 5:6b)

Today's encouragement comes from John 5:6b, where we find our Lord Jesus ask this question of the lame man:

" . . . 'Do you want to be made well?' "

At first glance, Christ's question of a man who had been infirm for 38 years seems almost ludicrous. But the simple fact is that it cannot be assumed that people *really* *want* to be made well. There is a certain perverse "security" in infirmity that sinners rest in. Health implies fuller and greater responsibilities. Most people are quite content being dead in sin, and bound for hell.

But this is not an option for the redeemed churchmen of God. We are to desire life; and to be willing to live it to the full. Only in Jesus is this possible; but, so long as we abide in Him, it is also inevitable.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Fulfill your course with joy; for we take nothing to the grave with us, but a good or evil conscience." --Samuel Rutherford, from "Letters of Samuel Rutherford"]

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/12-14/08 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is *almost* here! In order to help us all get ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book entitled, "The Beatitudes":

"To do God's will is for our benefit. It promotes our own self-interest. As if a king commands a subject to dig in a mine of gold, and gives him all the gold he had dug out. God bids us do His will, and that is for our good. 'And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to keep the commandments of the Lord, which I command you this day for your good?,' (Deut. 10:13). It is God's will that we should repent, and this is for our good; for repentance ushers in remission. 'Repent, that your sins may be blotted out,' (Acts 3:19). It is God's will that we should believe; and why is it, but that we should be crowned with salvation? 'He that believes, shall be saved,' (Mark 16:16). What God wills, is not so much our duty, as our privilege; He bids us obey His voice, and it is greatly for our good. 'Obey my voice, and I will be your God,' (Jer. 7:23). I will not only give you My angels to be your guard, but Myself to be your portion; My spirit shall be yours to sanctify you; My love shall be yours to comfort you; My mercy shall be yours to save you; 'I will be your God.' "

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thurs., 12/11/08 Devotion (Jn. 1:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from John 1:14a, where we read these amazing words:

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . "

This word "Flesh" is very strong. It connotes a sense of the Son of God fully entering into our fallenness and its resulting misery, etc.--yet, of course, with no sin of His own (either original or actual). But the fact of the incarnation has *perpetual* power. Just because the flesh-bound Messiah today is in heaven, this does not mean that He is not *just as* active in His church today (as He was in the days of His bodily earthly sojourn).

Therefore, in this joyous season, let all God's churchmen remember that the One who "became flesh" for us is *still* with us. He has made His church "bone of His bone," etc., (cf. Eph. 5:30).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The happiness of man consists in commun-
ion with God and conformity to Him." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wed., 12/10/08 Devotion (Lk. 24:5b)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 24:5b, where we read these words, spoken by the angels at Jesus' empty tomb:

" . . . 'Why do you seek the living among the dead?' "

This is still a germane question for us, today. How often do we seek "Christ" among dead things: bad theology, superstition, and putrid forms of false religion? The Living One, Jesus, is *just* that: the *Living* One. He has conquered death--even the death of every faithful churchman. Therefore, let us find Him where He *is*, and not where He is not.

Jesus lives in the highest heaven, in His risen and glorified body; but He also lives in the humblest hearts of His churchmen, through His residing Spirit. Therefore, let us seek Him there--in both places. He will be found by us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God has reserved us to these glorious times, better than our forefathers ever saw." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tues., 12/9/08 Devotion (Lk. 23:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 23:12, where we read these words:

"That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other."

Have you ever considered that the devil does quite well at holding his forces together? (God's people could learn a lesson from this fact. We ought to be infinitely *more* united around Jesus, and His church's doctrine, than Satan and his followers are, around their hatred for Christ.)

What made Herod and Pilate like each other? Not their affinity for Jerusalem's restaurants. Instead, they stood arm-in-arm in opposition to the stated Kingship of Jesus. This is why even today we find Christian hypocrites "in bed" with Muslims, atheists, and all other
unbelievers. They are united in their resistance to our unconquerable Sovereign, Christ the Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The work and business of ministers of the gospel is, as it were, that of servants: to wash and cleanse the souls of men; for this is done by the preaching of the Word, which is their main business." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "Christ the Example of Ministers"]

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mon., 12/8/08 Devotion (Lk. 22:43)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 22:43, where we read these words:

"Then an angel appeared to Him [Jesus] from heaven, strengthening Him."

All God's churchmen need strength. Even the very Captain of our souls, the Head of the church Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, did. A lot of times the children of God find themselves in trouble, or need. Naturally, we call out to God for deliverance and freedom (from what troubles us). But what oftentimes the Lord chooses to do, is *not* to immediately extricate us from our problem--but to use it as a great opportunity to make us stronger.

After all: this happened with our Savior Himself. He is in the Garden of Gethsemane, He is in agony and anguish; and His Father chooses to give Him strength to endure the looming cross, (rather than a way around it). Just something to think about today. . . .

[Puritan quote of the day: "The nature of God is lovely in Christ, and our nature in Christ is lovely to Him." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/5-7/08 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Ten Commandments" book:

"As the unregenerate cannot keep the moral law perfectly, so neither can the regenerate. 'There is not a just man upon earth, that does good and sins not'; nay, that 'sins not in doing good,' (Eccl. 7:20). There is that in the best actions of a righteous man that is damnable, if God should weigh him in the balance of justice. Alas! how are his duties fly-blown! He cannot pray without wandering, nor believe without doubting. 'To will is present with me, but how to perform I find not.' In the Greek it is, 'How to do it thoroughly I find not,' (Rom. 7:18). Paul, though a saint of the first magnitude, was better at willing than at performing. . . . Aaron was to make atonement for the altar, to show that the most holy offering has defilement in it, and needs atonement to be made for it, (Ex. 29:37)."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thurs., 12/4/08 Devotion (Lk. 18:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 18:1, where we read these words:

"Then He [Jesus] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart . . . "

What is it about prayer, that God so earnestly enjoins it on us? Mostly, prayer is designed to keep us in *contact* with God. If all was well with us all the time, we would grow remiss in prayer, and very independent of the Lord. It may well be that God delays answering some of our prayers solely because He wants us still coming back to Him.

If we weary in prayer, and give up on it--it is the same thing (practically-speaking) on giving up on one's belief in Christ. That is a serious matter. May we keep praying to God, all the while leaving our requests in His capable, sovereign, and holy hands.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A man full of grace has Christ in his heart, and the world under his feet; grace humbles, yet elevates." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon entitled, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wed., 12/3/08 Devotion (Lk. 17:20-21)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 17:20 & 21, which says this:

"Now when [Jesus] was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, 'The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, "See here!" or "See there!" For indeed, the kingdom of God is within [or among] you.' "

In brief, the kingdom of God is wherever Jesus Christ is, covenantally-expressed. This is more than simply His omnipresence, by the Spirit. It is also more than His locative position in heaven, where His glorified body and blood is. It is also much more than a supposed future "kingdom" on earth. The kingdom of God is now--wherever Jesus Christ is glorified in His church: in the individual expression of particular saints; and in the corporate worship of the body of Christ.

Be thankful that the King of the kingdom makes all the difference. The kingdom of God is "within" you, or "among" you--if Jesus is truly yours.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Keep conscience clear and clean from secret sins. With what face can we go to a friend to whom we have given any secret affront? And will you be so bold as to come before the God of heaven when He knows you maintain some secret sin in your hearts?" --Samuel Lee, in "Secret Prayer Successfully Managed"]

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tues., 12/2/08 Devotion (Lk. 16:31)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 16:31, where we see these words, spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ:

"But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "

No one was ever converted on the basis of beholding miracles--even the great one of Jesus' bodily resurrection. Instead, all those who are converted are so on the basis of the great miracle of regeneration (or new birth). No one believes the Bible, either, until or unless the Holy Spirit gives them Christ's righteousness (and the subsequent new nature in Him).

Therefore, let us not be surprised at the recalcitrant blindness and rebellion of many, who simply *will* not believe. The truth is they *cannot* believe, until God sovereignly calls them. Let us ask the Lord to do this for all our lost friends.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now Christ and the church are all one. They make but one mystical body. The church is the queen, and Christ is the King." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mon. 12/1/08 Devotion (Lk. 15:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 15:1 & 2, where we read these words:

"Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to [Jesus] to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, 'This Man receives sinners and eats with them.' "

I love these verses. Since *when* are not some good old "garden-variety" sinners interested in Christ, the gospel, and the church? The truth is, they *are*, even today. People found Jesus Christ, His person, His message, and His community *so* compelling, that they could *not* resist Him. The same thing happens even in 2008, when the church presents the Redeemer as the One He truly is: lovely, and fascinating.

But of course the pharisees hate all this. Christ upsets their world view's "apple-cart"; and He does not fit their mold (of a staid, stale, lifeless, and boring Messiah). Jesus came for sinners; not good people, (cf. Lk. 5:32).

[Puritan quote of the day: "A hypocrite will read, come to church, gives alms, build hospitals, but cannot forgive wrongs; he will rather want forgiveness from God than he will forgive his enemies."
--Thomas Watson, in "The Lord's Prayer"]

Friday, November 28, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/28-30/08 Devotion

Wahoo--it's *almost* Sunday--it's just two days away! In order to help get you ready for church, here is the great TW, from his "Doctrine of Repentance" book:

"Compare sin with hell, and you shall see that sin is worse. Torment has its emphasis in hell, yet nothing there is as bad as sin. Hell is of God's making, but sin is none of His making. Sin is the devil's creature. The torments of hell are a burden only to the sinner, but sin is a burden to God: 'I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves,' (Amos. 2:13). In the torments of hell there is something that is good, namely, the execution of divine justice. There is justice to be found in hell, but sin is a piece of the highest injustice. It would rob God of His glory, Christ of His purchase, the soul of its happiness. Judge then if sin be not a most hateful thing, which is worse than affliction or hell."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thurs., 11/27/08 Devotion (Lk. 11:37)

Happy Thanksgiving Day, (that great American, and Puritan holiday)!

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 11:37, fittingly, on this day. There, we read these words:

"And as [Jesus] spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat."

Our Lord Jesus had some pretty sumptuous meals during His bodily ministry on earth. The pharisees--though short on humility--were typically long on show (and abundance). What do we learn from Christ's willingness to eat, even with a pharisee? That the gospel is to go to *all* sorts of people--particularly those in the very *worst* spiritual conditions (as was the case with the pharisees).

The dinner conversation turned a bit gnarly, as we see in vv. 39 ff., but even there our Redeemer was doing his guest a favor, by exposing his sin, and directing him to Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "So let us seriously and fruitfully consider what excellent times the Lord has set us in, and respond thankfully and obediently." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wed., 11/26/08 Devotion (Lk. 10:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 10:20, where we read these words of our Savior:

"Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

Churchmen are to rejoice (always), but we need to be a bit careful concerning those things about which we delight. The disciples (above) were thrilled that the devil cowered before them. Christ, on the other hand, would have them direct their excitement to the fact that they were sealed in heaven, by the blood of the Lamb.

The church's conquest of sin, sinners, Satan, and his demons is all a good thing. But we must always keep in mind the fact that God takes pleasure in positive salvation much more than He does the destruction of the wicked--and so should we.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do you wonder why the grace of God has found such enemies as it always has, especially in religions in which works are mingled with grace?" --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tues., 11/25/08 Devotion (Lk. 9:56a)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 9:56a, where we read these words from the lips of our Savior:

"For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them."

I was impressed, in reading Luke, ch. 9 today, at how Jesus would have His gospel preached, and His kingdom (church) established no matter how much opposition and rejection there might be to this happening. But the answer to resistance is not to call upon God's harsh judgment on sinners (as James and John had sought to do, in v. 54). Instead, it is simply to go to the next person, and/or town, and bring the message to others.

This is highly-helpful for us, since we tend to get discouraged by the general state of things today. Instead of getting down, let us get excited about telling people of the One who came, not to destroy them, but to save them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As the sun rises by degrees till it comes to shine in glory, so it was with the Sun of Righteousness [Christ]. He revealed Himself in the church little by little." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mon., 11/24/08 Devotion (Lk. 8:1a, 39b)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 8:1a & 39b, where we read these words:

"Now it came to pass, afterward, that [Jesus] went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. . . . And [the formerly demon-possessed man] went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him."

Here is a great pattern of how true Christianity works. Jesus' gospel is proclaimed from the church's pulpits, the cities of the world are filled with Christ's doctrine (cf. Acts 5:28b), and the individually-redeemed saints bring this good news to everyone they can.

Today, just like then, what Christ preaches through His clergy, the parishioners proclaim in their worlds and spheres of influence. In this way "every city" and "whole cit[ies]" are reached with the gospel of grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What would become of us if there were not grace above sin, and mercy above misery, and power in Christ Jesus above all the power in Satan and death?" --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/21-23/08 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! (Hey, that rhymes!) In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Beatitudes":

"Let us carry ourselves as the children of God in magnanimity and heroicalness [as heroes]. The saints are high-born. They are of the true bloodroyal, born of God. They must do nothing sneakingly or sordidly. They must not fear the faces of men. As said that brave-spirited Nehemiah, 'Shall such a man as I flee?' (Neh. 6:11). So, should a child of God say, 'Shall I be afraid to do my duty? Shall I unworthily comply and prostitute myself to the lusts and humours of men?'? The children of the Most High should do nothing to stain or dishonour their noble birth. A king's son scorns to do anything that is below him."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thurs., 11/20/08 Devotion (Lk. 4:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 4:20, where we read these words:

"Then He [Jesus] closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him."

In this world, the only time the people of God can collectively gaze upon Jesus intently is in church on Sunday. In today's text (above), the Lord Christ is keeping the old Sabbath. The citizens of Nazareth are, too. They have heard the Word of God read (by Christ), and now the Messiah is about to expound on it. As He does so, the congregants are locked-in on the Redeemer.

This is a good pattern for all who would be Christ's followers today. Let *us* "fix our eyes on Jesus," (as per Heb. 12:2a). Then, upon leaving church, let us love and follow the Savior, (rather than seek to throw Him off the cliff, as the Nazarenes had hoped to do).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is called grace. He is the grace of God clothed with man's nature." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wed., 11/19/08 Devotion (Lk. 3:19-20)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 3:19 & 20, where we read these words:

"But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by [John the Baptist] con-
cerning Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison."

This is a fascinating passage of Scripture. Herod was basically a typical bad guy. He was ruthless, cruel, immoral, vicious, and violent. And yet the very *worst* thing he ever did, according to the Bible itself, was to lock John the Baptist up in prison. Why was this more nefarious than Herod's public incest, for instance? Because by silencing John he was hindering the gospel proclamation of the church.

Keep that in mind as you evaluate various individuals, be they public officials, or people in the neighborhood. Someone may go to a deeper hell over unrepented-of disdain for the clergy's ministry, than they would over gross and brazen adultery.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For if it were not the Spirit that persuaded the soul when the minister speaks, alas! all ministerial persuasions are to no purpose." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tues., 11/18/08 Devotion (Lk. 2:10-11)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 2:10 & 11, where we read these great words:

"Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.' "

These familiar Advent season words are applicable to the church, and to the world all the time. When we are given to fear, let us remem-
ber that overwhelming joy has been given to us--and not only to us, but to "All people." But this heavenly comfort and consolation has a Name, Christ, who is "born to [us]" in time and space.

Therefore, it matters not so much what we face today, as much as it does the One we direct our faces to (in faith). If we would but look to Jesus today, and simply ask for His help--surely we will share in the joy of His incarnation and atonement (of sinners).

[Puritan quote of the day: "And by the Spirit we have the beginnings of these [liberties] in this world, too. For, what is peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost? Is it not the beginnings of heaven . . . ?"
--Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mon., 11/17/08 Devotion (Lk. 1:68)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 1:68, where we read these words:

"Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people . . . "

God does not relate to us, His church, from afar. Instead, He con-
descends to us, perfectly, in the incarnation of His Son Jesus. Then, having visited us, the Redeemer does the unthinkable, and dies for us. But that in itself would not be enough, if He did not also rise again from the dead (for us).

For all of these reasons, we, like Zacharias, whose words are found above, ought to "Bless the Lord God of Israel." There is every cause to do so, and no reason to fail to do so. No matter how dark your day may appear, nor how heavy your burden may seem--the Light is shining about you (in the Lord Jesus Christ); and His burden is light.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now when the Spirit of God sets the will at liberty, a man does what he does being fully advised by reason."
--Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/14-16/08 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get you ready for church, here is TW, from his incomparable book, "A Body of Divinity":

"See in this, as in a transparent glass, the love of Christ to the elect. He came to redeem them; and died intentionally for them. Were it not great love for a king's son to pay a great sum of money to redeem a captive? But that he should be content to be a prisoner in his stead, and die for his ransom; this were matter of wonder. Jesus Christ has done all this, He has written His love in characters of blood. It had been much for Christ to speak a good word to His Father for us, but He knew that was not enough to redeem us. Though a word speaking made a world, yet it would not redeem a sinner. 'Without shedding of blood there is no remission,' (Heb 9:22)."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thurs., 11/13/08 Devotion (Heb. 8:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 8:12, which says this:

" ' . . . For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.' "

Here, the writer of the book of Hebrews is quoting from the great New Covenant passage, from Jer., ch. 31. And what a citation! In Christ, God will "be merciful to [our] unrighteousness," and our "sins and lawless deeds [He] will remember no more." These are amazing and wonderful promises, but they only apply to those who trust in Jesus alone for their salvation.

Let all faithful churchmen marvel at the fact that God has forgiven the sins of His people. And let this liberty of heart, spirit, and conscience propel us into active lives of love for such a wonderful God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "This is the greatest slavery in the world, for a man to have no acquaintance with that which is contrary to his corrupt disposition." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wed., 11/12/08 Devotion (Ps. 144:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 144:1 & 2a, where we read these words:

"Blessed be the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle--my lovingkindness and my fortress . . . "

Life as a faithful churchman is a spiritually military existence. Christians are soldiers; and the church is an army. Our weapons are spiritual, and so, for the most part, are our enemies. Jesus, our Great Captain, has already won the war for us. Our mission is a "mopping-up" operation, designed to make us more like Christ (through the struggles of sanctification).

Note (above) that God Himself "trains" us, as to how to be good and effective warriors. And notice (as well) that warfare and love are not contraries (in this world full of the admixture of the fall of Adam and the redemption of Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The greatest men in the world are holy men. They are above all others, and without usurpation they pass censure on the state of other men, even the greatest of them."
--Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tues., 11/11/08 Devotion (Ps. 143:8a, c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 143:8a & c, where we read these words:

"Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning . . . Cause me to know the way in which I should walk . . . "

We need to "hear" from God every morning, so that we know how to live (throughout the rest of the day). How do we "hear" from God? We wake up, and greet Him in prayer. The Lord then, through His Spirit, communicates with our spirits. How? In several ways: among them, He may bring to our remembrance what we heard from the pulpit the previous Lord's Day, and/or He may communicate to us through His scripture (which we should try to read everyday).

And notice: we need to hear God's "lovingkindness" in the AM. Why? Because we desperately need His encouragement (especially at that critical time).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Spirit of God is a victorious Spirit, freeing the soul from base fears of any creature." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mon., 11/10/08 Devotion (2 Ki. 23:25)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 23:25. This is a description of the great king of Judah, Josiah:

"Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him."

Josiah was outstanding, because of his comprehensive zeal for the Lord and His word. Virtually everything Josiah could conceive of doing, in order to be in accordance with the law of God, which had been recently-found in his day, he did. The earlier verses of this chapter detail all the wonderful reforms Josiah effected, in Judah and Jerusalem.

Was Josiah perfect? No. But his heart was whole, toward God. The Lord accepts desire for deed, for those who are in Christ Jesus. Let us take comfort from this truth; and may we seek everyday, by grace, to be more and more faithful to our Redeemer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A good and clear conscience keeps holiday every day of his life, though he has hardly anything else to feed upon." --Christopher Love, in "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/7-9/08 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! So as to help you get ready for the Lord's Day's church worship, here is TW, from his work, "The Spiritual Watch":

"At one time a Christian is like David, when he danced before the ark with all his might, (2 Sam. 6:14); at another time he is like Samson when his hair was shaved and his strength left him, (Judg. 16:19). When the gold has been made pure in the fire, it remains pure; but it is not so with the heart. When the heart has been purified in an ordinance, it does not remain pure, but gathers new soil and dross. The heart is humble one day and proud the next; it is meek one day and passionate the next; it is quick in its motions towards heaven one day and the next the clock is set back. It is with the heart as with a sick man's pulse, which alters almost every quarter of an hour. Since the heart is so full of variation and inconstancy, it is needful to keep the heart with all keeping. Like a violin, the heart will soon be out of order; therefore we must often screw up the strings and keep the instrument in tune so that we may make melody in our heart to the Lord, (Eph. 5:19)."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thurs., 11/6/08 Devotion (Ps. 135:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 135:6, where we read these words:

"Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places."

The truth of this verse (above) cuts both ways, from our experiential point of view. At once, we are glad that our God is strong, and that He is sovereign. But, on the other hand, some of the things He allows to happen do not always please us, (and they even go counter to our explicit and fervent prayers).

But, in the end, we realize that we are better off trusting the Lord in all situations; and that leaving the governance of the church and the world in *His* holy hands is the only way to go. God knows all things--and that, with perfection. He knows what will most benefit Christ's church. Let us love and praise our King, the One who does *all* things well.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are two sorts of wicked persons in the world: one sort count it their heaven and happiness to domineer over others. . . . The other sort will sell their liberty, their reason, and everything for even a poor thing, so they may get anything that they value in the world." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wed., 11/5/08 Devotion (Philem. 6)

Today's encouragement comes from Philemon, v. 6, where we read these words:

" . . . That the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus."

Notice (from above) that the faithful churchman's effective evangelism is largely the result of simply recognizing that God has instilled in us a lot of wonderful and blessed graces. In other words, evangelism is more about *who* we are, than it is about *what* we do (or even what we say). Of course, our nature dictates our actions.

But Paul's corrective here is important. Too often, Christians have tried to succeed by policy or program; when God would have us do well naturally, by character and grace. Do not be discouraged today, if you belong to Christ--instead, hold your head up, and recognize that the Lord has invested many marvelous blessings in you.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The liberty of the church, of the Word and sacraments, along with order in the church, brings in spiritual liberty and preserves it." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tues., 11/4/08 Devotion (Titus 3:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Titus 3:1 & 2, where we read these (most pertinent) words:

"Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men."

Now everybody take a deep breath. On this election day (in the USA), many of God's people have undoubtedly experienced some sleeplessness (last night). Look at this verse (above), which was providentially the first words I read today. Don't these verses give the church some perspective, even in the darkest (political) hours?

Does this mean God would not have us condemn the positions of those who oppose the truth--as it is most manifest in the Christian religion? No; we must, and should do that. But, on the other hand, let us be the leaders in gentleness and respect. After all: Christ is on the throne; no mere man is. Go out and vote; and follow it up with abiding faith in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Men are brought into the church by the liberty of the gospel and preserved by government." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mon., 11/3/08 Devotion (Ps. 126:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 126:3, where we read these words:

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad."

If you are a regenerated churchman, then one thing is absolutely true of you: the Lord has done great things for you. To be given Jesus Christ, His righteousness, and His Spirit; to be placed into His church, and to be the recipient of His many tender mercies and gentle benevolences--is to be blessed, indeed.

Flowing from these (most important) spiritual blessings are numerous temporal benefits, as well: family, country, health, sustenance, material goods, and even recreational enjoyments. All God's people have much *more* to be thankful for than any of us could ever adequately enumerate. Let us recognize this--especially in our dark times--and give God proper gratitude.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A heartless, drooping, and discouraging life and walk is very unbecoming the gospel of Christ." --James Durham, in "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ"]

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/31-11/2/08 Devotion

Happy Reformation Day!

Yippee--Sunday is almost here! Wahoo! In order to get ready for church--our highest and holiest calling--let us hear from TW, from his work entitled, "The Art of Divine Contentment":

"Divine Motives to Contentment

"1. Consider the excellency of it. Contentment is a flower that does not grow in every garden; it teaches a man how in the midst of want to abound. You would think it were excellent if I could prescribe a receipt or antidote against poverty: but behold here is that which is more excellent, for a man to want, and yet have enough, this alone contentment of spirit does bring. Contentation is a remedy against all our trouble, an alleviation to all our burdens, it is the cure of care. Contentation, though it be not properly a grace (it is rather a disposition of mind), yet in it there is a happy temperature and mixture of all the graces: it is a most precious compound, which is made up of faith, patience, meekness, humility, etc. which are the ingredients put into it."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thurs., 10/30/08 Devotion (2 Tim. 2:1)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 2:1, where we read these words:

"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

This is a precious verse. What are we to be "strong" in? The "grace that is in Christ Jesus." What is this grace? It is sufficient grace--that is more than able to meet our specific, everyday, and eternal needs. How are we "strong" in this grace? By faith. When we believe God, that He will answer our prayers, and help us in our needs--it greatly honors Him.

The thing to avoid, is the idea that we need to "get our acts together" *before* we can be strong in Christ's grace. The truth is that this simple faith, whereby we appropriate to our hearts the help we need from God *causes* us to "get our acts together." Are you confused today? Put your faith in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For from our neglect of prayer comes that deadness of spirit, that worldly-mindedness and unaptness to pray, to hear the Word, and to keep the Sabbath." --John Preston, in his sermon entitled, "The Saint's Daily Exercise"]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wed., 10/29/08 Devotion (2 Tim. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, where Paul wrote these words:

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

To fear from time to time in a fallen world is natural and to be expected. But God does not give us a "*spirit* of fear." Instead, His Spirit working in us effects energy, grace, and sanity. None of this is to deny that even the best of churchmen fail to live up to our potential and our resources (in Christ); but the point is that we should be more and more *governed* by the Spirit that is from God.

Practically-speaking, this will mean that instead of cowering before fearful specters of the future, we begin to face them head-on, in advance--believing that our God is going before us, to give us the victory (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "If God thought it fit that Adam in innocence should not be alone, but should have a helper, much more now in a state of defection since the fall do we need others' help as well as our own." --Christopher Love, in "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tues., 10/28/08 Devotion (Ps. 119:86c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:86c, where we read these few words:

" . . . Help me!"

Sometimes the best prayers are the simplest ones. God is not concerned about flowery oratory in prayer. He would rather hear a few syllables of gut-wrenching honesty, than a whole bunch of religious nonsense (or proud utterances).

Do you need help today? Ask Christ for it. Be as specific as you can be, for your own soul's well-being; but don't for a moment think that the Lord can't figure out what you're trying to say, if you're having a hard time getting the words out. Prayer is important--but it is not a magical genie coming out of a bottle, and God does not hold us to any particular formulas.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is no such thing as any inordinate-
ness in holy affections; there is no such thing as excess in longings after the discoveries of the beauty of Christ Jesus . . . Men may be as covetous as they please (if I may so speak) after spiritual riches . . . " --Jonathan Edwards, in one of his sermons]

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mon., 10/27/08 Devotion (Ps. 119:52)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:52, where we read these words:

"I remembered Your judgments of old, O LORD, and have comforted myself."

The best way to get a good perspective on the present and the future, is to heartily believe in the God who has decreed all things in eternity past. It is also helpful to remember how gracious the Lord has been to you in days gone by. All this has the effect of giving us confidence and peace in the current situation (be it "good" or "bad").

Only the faithful churchman can do this, however. For the wicked and unbelieving, their musings on God are *not* comforting. After all, His "judgments" are just that, for them--unless they come by grace to faith and repentance. For the believer, on the other hand, God's judgment has already been poured out on Jesus (on the cross) for them. They can and should rejoice in the forgiveness of their sins.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God intermixes mercy with affliction. He steeps His sword of justice in the oil of mercy. There was no night so dark but Israel had a pillar of fire in it." --Thomas Watson, in "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/24-26/08 Devotion

Can you believe it?!--Sunday is almost here! In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "A Body of Divinity":

"But, some may say, 'If God has a hand in ordering all things that fall out, He has a hand in the sins of men.'

"I answer, 'No, by no means.' God has no hand in any man's sin. God cannot go contrary to His own nature, He cannot do any unholy action, any more than the sun can be said to be darkened. Here you must take heed of two things; as you must take heed of making God ignorant of men's sins, so you must take heed of making God to have a hand in men's sins. Is it likely that God is the author of sin, and the avenger of it? Is it a likely thing that God should make a law against sin, and then have a hand in breaking His own law? God in His providence permits men's sins. 'He allowed all nations to walk in their own ways,' (Acts 14:16). God permitted their sin, which He never would, if He could not bring good out of it. Had not sin been permitted, God's justice in punishing sin, and His mercy in pardoning sin, had not been so well known. The Lord is pleased to permit it, but He has no hand in sin."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thurs., 10/23/08 Devotion (Ps. 116:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 116:1, where we read these words:

"I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications."

Among many others, here is a good reason to love God: He hears the prayers of His faithful churchmen (saints). What prayers does God
"hear," in the covenantal sense? (After all, He knows the things religionists all over the world are babbling out all the time.) God hears prayers that are made through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But even these prayers should be sincere and earnest. God hears prayers that come from the heart. He answers those people who *really* want to be heard. God does not hear prayers offered from self-, law-, or works-righteousness; but He does hear those that are "soaked," as it were, in the blood righteousness of Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Although to true religion there must indeed be something else besides affection, yet true religion consists so much in the affections that there can be no true religion without them." --Jonathan Edwards, in "A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections"]

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wed., 10/22/08 Devotion (Ps. 115:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 115:3, which says this:

"But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases."

This is a great verse on the sovereignty of God--the doctrine that the Lord does what He wants to, and that He is not beholden to anyone. But it dawned on me today that, if we were totally honest, we would have to admit that we do not always like the things the sovereign God allows to happen. After all, there are a lot of "negatives" out there.

What is the sincere churchman to do about this? Good question. We are to trust that the Maker of all things, and the Redeemer of His elect understands and directs *all* things according to a great plan of His, (that He alone can and does comprehend). We are to believe that He has His church's best interests in mind always--and that what He does ultimately forwards our good and His glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have heaven while you are on earth when you have a contented spirit; yea, in some regards it is better than heaven." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment"]

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tues., 10/21/08 Devotion (Ps. 112:6b-7)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 112:6b & 7, where we read these words:

" . . . The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD."

Whereas the memory of the wicked "rots," (Prov. 10:7)--God's redeemed churchmen leave a blessed and enduring legacy and heritage. On top of this, those who are in Jesus, and who enjoy His righteousness are not "afraid of evil tidings." Instead, their hearts are "steadfast, trusting in the Lord."

Why is this important? Because circumstances of life--be they on a personal, or an international scale--are not to determine how happy, nor how settled we are. Let us fight a good fight, let us run a good race, let us keep the faith; but at the end of the day let us leave it all in the good and sovereign hands of our faithful God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have the favor of God, this doctrine [of encouragement] teaches you that you need not be afraid of enemies; for whoever is your enemy, God looks upon as His enemy."
--Jonathan Edwards, in one of his great sermons]

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mon., 10/20/08 Devotion (Ps. 110:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 110:1, where we read these words:

"The LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.' "

Are you in a worried state, as you consider the political climate of these times? If so, you are not alone. But, if you are a sincere churchman, then you have a huge advantage. You have the privilege of believing the truth of the word of God, which teaches (unequivocally) that Christ will (and does) put all His enemies under His feet.

If this is so--and clearly it is--then we can take comfort. We are still commanded to pray, to be good citizens, and to be submissive and loyal--but we can also rest in the fact that God rectifies all wrongs, and that the Son of God conquers all His foes. Let us bless God for these amazing truths.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To read the word [of God] is a duty, but Satan sometimes puts men upon it when it is unseasonable. To read it at home when God's word is being preached, or the sacrament administered, is unseasonable, yea, sinful . . . " --Thomas Watson, in "The Lord's Prayer"]

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/17-19/08 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his elucidation of the second petition ("Thy Kingdom Come") of The Lord's Prayer (which is also the title of his book):

"Here is comfort to those who are the subjects of the King of heaven. God will put forth all the royal power for their help and comfort. (1) The King of heaven will plead their cause. 'I will plead your cause, and take vengeance for you,' (Jer 51:36). (2) He will protect His people. He sets an invisible guard about them. 'I will be unto her a wall of fire round about,' (Zech 2:5). A wall, that is defensive; a wall of fire, that is offensive. (3) When it may be for the good of His people, he will raise up deliverance to them. 'The Lord saved them by a great deliverance,' (1 Chron 11:14). God reigning as a king, can save any way; even by contemptible means, as the blowing of the trumpets, and blazing of lamps, (Judges 7:20). By contrary means; as when He made the sea a wall to Israel, and the waters were a means to keep them from drowning. The fish's belly was a ship in which Jonah sailed safe to shore. God will never want ways of saving His people; rather than fail, their very enemies shall do His work, (2 Chron 20:23). He sets Ammon and Mount Seir one against another. As God will deliver His people from temporal danger, so from spiritual danger, as from sin, and from hell. 'Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come,' (1 Thess 1:10)."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thurs., 10/16/08 Devotion (1 Thess. 2:4)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 2:4, where we read these words:

"But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts."

The ministers of the church who are truly called by God are sent to speak to all people everywhere the gospel of Christ's grace. But they are to do so with a mind on God first. What is it that *He* wants spoken? This is what must be said. The faithful clergy do not poll the people, to determine what they want to hear. Instead, they "poll" the Lord, in order to know what He would have them proclaim.

This principle is then passed down to the entire church, wherein the people of God begin to think this way too. They begin to ask, "What is it that Christ would have me do, and say?" This is the real way to lasting peace of conscience. Then, when God "tests our hearts," we pass with flying colors.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is in the ship of His church; do not fear sinking. The church's anchor is cast in heaven. Do we not think that God loves His church, and takes as much care of it as we can?"
--Thomas Watson, in "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tues., 10/14/08 Devotion (Ezek. 47:8-9a)

Today's encouragement comes from the very interesting, and inspiring 47th chapter of Ezekiel. The prophet starts out showing how Jesus, the water of life, flows from His church to all the world; and then how the Gospel brings healing wherever it goes. Here are the words of vv. 8 & 9a:

"Then he said to me: 'This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live.' "

This prophecy was initially fulfilled at Pentecost, (Acts, ch. 2), when the Gospel exploded onto the whole world--and the church would no longer be headquartered in one place (Jerusalem). But, there is a continuation of Pentecost's glories, everyday, as the Good News of Jesus spreads across the globe--even in our day. Everywhere it goes, it brings healing: salvation to the elect; and temporal good to all. The reason for this is because Christ is life; and wherever He goes, He sets up His church.

Bless God that you have something to live for, if you belong to the Lord God. Your life has meaning and purpose. You are ambassadors of grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Pride of spirit unsubdued will bring men to lie at the feet of others forever (Isa. 66:24). But humiliation of spirit will bring them undoubtedly out from under their feet (Mal. 4:2-3)."
--Thomas Boston, in "The Crook in the Lot"]

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/10-12/08 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. In order to encourage you in your faith walk, here is TW, from his book, "A Divine Cordial":

"God's purpose is the ground of assurance.

"Here is a sovereign elixir of unspeakable comfort to those who are the called of God. Their salvation rests upon God's purpose. 'The foundation of God stands sure, having this seal. The Lord knows those that are His. And, let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity,' (2 Tim. 2:19). Our graces are imperfect, our comforts ebb and flow, but God's foundation stands sure. They who are built upon this rock of God's eternal purpose, need not fear falling away; neither the power of man, nor the violence of temptation, shall ever be able to overturn them."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thurs., 10/9/08 Devotion (Ps. 93:12-13)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 93:12 & 13, where we read these words:

"Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O LORD, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked."

This is a comforting text, especially in the tumultuous political climate of these days, wherein those who are so adamantly opposed to Christ, His church, and His gospel are flaunting their wares with impudence and shamelessness. These things tend to make the people of God be afraid, and to begin to wring their hands in anxiety.

But this psalm (above) teaches us that the faithful churchman is really safe in Christ, even as the storm of adversity churns over their heads (as it does everyone else's, as well). So long as we do not cast off our faith in Jesus, we will come through the crisis on the other end, safe and sound.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have the favor of God, this doctrine [of encouragement] teaches you that you need not be afraid of enemies; for whoever is your enemy, God looks upon as His enemy."
--Jonathan Edwards, in one of his great sermons]

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wed., 10/8/08 Devotion (Ps. 92:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 92:13 & 14, where we read these great words:

"Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing . . . "

Where are you "planted" most in this world? Are you *most* invested in your business, your civic concerns, and/or your family and home? If so, then you will be eventually uprooted by the storms of life on a fallen planet. Only those who are firmly ingrafted into Christ and His church are able to withstand the forces set against them. On top of this, they are also able to remain "fruitful" all the way to their last breath.

Let us love who and what God Himself loves: Christ and His church. As we do so, we are invincible--no matter what the world, the flesh, or the devil shoot at us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "No matter what storms I meet with, I know where to put in for harbor. He who has God to be his God is so well contented with his condition that he does not much care whether he has anything else." --Thomas Watson, in "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tues., 10/7/08 Devotion (Ps. 91:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from the marvelous words of Psalm 91. This is a psalm of protection and comfort. Here is what we read, in vv. 1 & 2:

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.' "

Where is "the secret place of the Most High"? It is the place of godly humility. Only those who will, as 1 Pet. 5:6 says, "Humble [themselves] under the mighty hand of God," ever find themselves under the Almighty's "shadow," or "wing," (v. 4).

Note from this psalm that danger, sin, pestilence, and warfare are all *very* near the godly soul, even right at hand; but that the quieted, calm, trusting heart rests assured, free of fretting, even *closer* to God. Because of the Lord's presence, he is immune from terror.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If there is a blessed life before we come to heaven, it is the contented life. . . . Man, of all creatures, has the least cause to be discontented. Can you deserve anything from God? Does He owe you anything?" --Thomas Watson, in "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/26-28/08 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday, the New Covenant Sabbath, the day we commemor-
ate Christ's resurrection, is just around the corner! In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book entitled, "The Godly Man's Picture":

"The test of a pilot is seen in a storm; so the test of a Christian is seen in affliction. That man has the right art of navigation who, when the boisterous winds blow from heaven, steers the ship of his soul wisely, and does not dash upon the rock of impatience. A Christian should always maintain decorum, not behaving himself in an unseemly manner or disguising himself with intemperate passion when the hand of God lies upon him.

"Patience adorns suffering. Affliction in Scripture is compared to a net: 'You brought us into the net,' (Psa. 66:11). Some have escaped the devil's net, yet the Lord allows them to be taken in the net of affliction. But they must not be 'as a wild bull in a net,' (Isa. 51:20), kicking and flinging against their Maker, but lie patiently till God breaks the net and makes a way for their escape."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thurs., 9/25/08 Devotion (Ps. 77:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 77:3a, where we read these words:

"I remembered God, and was troubled . . . "

This is unusual phraseology (above); but it is not irreverent, nor God-dishonoring. Remember: the Holy Spirit inspired the psalmist to write this. How is it possible for a faith-filled churchman to "Remember God, and [be] troubled"?

In the case of this author, he called to mind both the hard times *and* the deliverances that the Lord brought to him (in his past). Still, in the end, his faith held up, and he found comfort in the faithful and gentle shepherding God demonstrated toward His church (see v. 20). Let us have this outlook too--no matter where the Lord leads us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do you fear the Lord? He will open His secret to you, even that which He has hidden and kept secret from all the world, namely the secret of His covenant and your concern therein." --John Bunyan, in "The Fear of God"]

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wed., 9/24/08 Devotion (2 Cor. 13:11c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 13:11c, where we read these words:

" . . . And the God of love and peace will be with you."

Do any of you remember the 1960's "hippies"? They were supposedly all into "love and peace." Though they made a mockery of these graces through their hypocrisy, the true God actually *is* the "God of love and peace." And, because of this, we, His churchmen, may enjoy true love and real peace.

How? By being complete in Jesus alone (see the earlier part of 2 Cor. 13:11). As we take our comfort in Christ, and live in unity and sweetness (in Him)--the "God of love and peace" is with us. If this God is with us, we have nothing to fear. We may live confidently and serviceably in His presence.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Even if sin did not bear such bitter fruit, if death did not grow on this tree, a gracious soul would forsake it out of love to God." --Thomas Watson, in "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tues., 9/23/08 Devotion (Ps. 74:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 74:12, where we read these words:

"For God is my King from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth."

This verse is sweet for several reasons. 1) There is a personal dimension to it: the Lord is the churchman's own "King." Then, there is a cosmic aspect: God is "working salvation in the midst of the earth." The same God who has secured the eternal salvation of those already in His justifying care is also at work to bring others to Himself.

Let us never despair of how "bad" things are, or seem on the earth. The flesh, the devil, and the world system set up against the Lord and His Christ have *already* been defeated in Jesus' resurrection. They are simply in their hysterical and frantic "last gasps" of seeking to (vainly and futilely) overcome the God of heaven.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[For] you who do love Christ, and have the manifestations of His love to your souls. . . . Of all persons in the world, you have most reason to rejoice. You are the happiest men and women alive." --Thomas Vincent, in "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mon., 9/22/08 Devotion (Ps. 73:28a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 73:28a, where we read these words:

"But it is good for me to draw near to God . . . "

It is very good for all God's churchmen to draw near to Him. Are you ever reticent about doing this, since you imagine yourself to be too unworthy, dirty, imperfect, or unacceptable? If so, that is *all* the *more* reason to "draw near to God." There is only one way the Lord will allow Himself to be approached, however, and that is by virtue of the merits of Jesus' blood atonement (the benefits of which we apprehend by grace through faith alone).

The devil seeks to discourage God's people from drawing near to Him. With faith, let us come boldly to our Father in heaven--recognizing that we are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For from our neglect of prayer comes that deadness of spirit, that worldly-mindedness and unaptness to pray, to hear the Word, and to keep the Sabbath." --John Preston, in his sermon entitled, "The Saint's Daily Exercise"]

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/19-21/08 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday. Here's TW, to help get you ready for church, (from his "Beatitudes" book):

"Let us carry ourselves as the children of God in CHEERFULNESS. It was the speech of Jonadab to Amnon, 'Why are you, being the king's son, sad?' (2 Sam. 13:4). Why do the children of God walk so pensively? Are they not 'heirs of heaven'? Perhaps they may meet with hard usage in the world, but let them remember they are the seed-royal, and are of the family of God. Suppose a man were in a strange land, and should meet there with unkind usage, yet he rejoices that he is son and heir, and has a great estate in his own country; so should the children of God comfort themselves with this, though they are now in a strange country, yet they have a title to the Jerusalem above . . . "

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thurs., 9/18/08 Devotion (2 Cor. 7:4c, 5c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 7:4c & 5c, where we read these words:

" . . . I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. . . . Outside were conflicts, inside were fears."

I found it helpful this morning, to read of the Apostle Paul's experiences. You can see (above) that even he, the stalwart of faith and strength, was "fearful" at times. But even more than this, he could find a way (in Christ) to be "joyful" in "tribulation."

Every true believer is capable of enduring a whole lot more than he or she could ever imagine that he or she could. There is valor within that will never come to the fore unless it is put through the fire (of afflictions). Still, none of us look forward to these conflicts. The only thing we like is the Christlike character that develops in us (which brings us much peace, stability, and happiness).

[Puritan quote of the day: "People [become] distracted from coming to God by their own self-imposed spiritual disciplines." --John Owen, in "Sin and Temptation"]

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wed., 9/17/08 Devotion (Ps. 66:12b, c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 66:12b & c, where we read these words:

" . . . We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment."

If you are a sincere believing churchman, saved by grace through faith in Christ (alone), then this much is certain: you will go through some very difficult times in this life. But this much is also a sure thing: you will be brought through them, to even higher levels of faith, character-development, joy, and fulfillment.

But no one gets the "good stuff" without first traversing some pretty dark valleys. Therefore, learn now, in advance, that God is good, and that Jesus is worth possessing no matter what. Then, staring into hard circumstances will not be so bad, since you *know* you will benefit on the other end.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If the thing we desire is good for us, we shall have it. If it is not good, then not having it is good for us. Resting satisfied with this promise gives contentment." --Thomas Watson, in "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tues., 9/16/08 Devotion (2 Sam. 12:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 12:1a, where we read these words:

"Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. . . . "

When David's friend Nathan knocked on his door, David was probably thinking, "Come on in, let's chat a while." Instead, Nathan had a pastoral message that exposed David's sins (of murder and adultery). But notice (above), that "the LORD sent Nathan to David." God did this--not because He hated David--but because He loved him.

When the ministry comes knocking on your door, recognize that, if you are a faithful churchman, the message is ultimately for your good, and for your cleansing. Nathan did not leave David until he (the prophet) had assured David that his sin had been forgiven by God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A godly man loves that word which most alarms his conscience, and he loves that man who shall awaken a secure conscience." --Christopher Love, in "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mon., 9/15/08 Devotion (Ps. 62:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 62:1, where we read these words:

"Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation."

A "silent" soul is often a good thing. It has nothing to say, or do, but to "wait" for God. There is no question in David's mind (above), but that the Lord would save him. The only thing to do was to wait

Take a few deep (spiritual) "breaths" today, and seek to stop the clamor going on in your heart and soul. Recognize what (and more importantly, Who) is truly important. Trust God that He will meet all your needs, in Christ--and then approach life with more confidence, all based in faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Suffer we must. Before we were born, God decreed it; and it is easier to complain of His decree than to change it." --Samuel Rutherford, in "Letters of Samuel Rutherford"]

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/12-14/08 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! So as to help you prepare for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his great book, "The Doctrine of Repentance":

"Godly sorrow is ingenuous.

"It is sorrow for the offence rather than for the punishment. God's law has been infringed, His love abused. This melts the soul in tears. A man may be sorry, yet not repent, as a thief is sorry when he is caught, not because he stole, but because he has to pay the penalty. Hypocrites grieve only for the bitter consequence of sin. I have read of a fountain that only sends forth streams on the evening before a famine. Likewise their eyes never pour out tears except when God's judgments are approaching. Pharaoh was more troubled for the frogs and river of blood than for his sin. Godly sorrow, however, is chiefly for the trespass against God, so that even if there were no conscience to smite, no devil to accuse, no hell to punish, yet the soul would still be grieved because of the prejudice done to God. 'My sin is ever before me,' (Ps. 51:3). David does not say, 'The sword threatened is ever before me,' but 'my sin.' 'O that I should offend so good a God, that I should grieve my Comforter! This breaks my heart!'

"Godly sorrow shows itself to be ingenuous because when a Christian knows that he is out of the gun-shot of hell and shall never be damned, yet still he grieves for sinning against that free grace which has pardoned him."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thurs., 9/11/08 Devotion (1 Cor. 16:2)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 16:2, which says this:

"On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come."

Sunday is not only the day of worship and rest--it is also the day when we offer our resources to God (during the worship service). More good is done by the "widow's mite" placed in the faithful church's offering plate on the Lord's Day, than is done by billions of dollars being given away by unbelievers throughout the rest of the week.

It is an privilege to give to Christ's church. God does not need anything from us; but He honors us by giving us the opportunity to "co-labor" with Him in the furtherance of the gospel of grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Take heed that you do not rest in external purity, but seek purity of heart in the ways of God's appointment. Seek it in a constant and diligent attendance on all God's ordinances [means of Grace]." --Jonathan Edwards in "Altogether Lovely"]

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wed., 9/10/08 Devotion (Ps. 53:5a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 53:5a, where we read these words:

"There they are in great fear where no fear was . . . "

David is (here above) musing on the ways of wicked men; but I wonder if this principle of misdirected fear does not often apply even to the true saints. Why should sincere believing churchmen fear for the state of their souls, if they truly and really trust in Jesus alone for their salvation and the forgiveness of their sins?

We should fear God at all times; but this only leads to our loving Him all the more. But this is possible if one condition is met, (and it is impossible if this condition is not met). And that condition is a good doctrinal and theological understanding of the gospel, and of how justification is realized. When people mix works with their faith, it is no wonder they are in "great fear." They ought to be.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Even if sin did not bear such bitter fruit, if death did not grow on this tree, a gracious soul would forsake it out of love to God." --Thomas Watson, in "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tues., 9/9/08 Devotion (2 Sam. 3:39a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 3:39a, where we find these words:

"And I am weak today, though anointed king . . . "

The words (above) were spoken by King David, as he was mourning the death of Abner, a man he had respected. The point I wish to make is this: it is certainly possible for God's dear and beloved churchmen, who are His royalty on earth, to sometimes feel very weak and (even discouraged).

The experiences of our lives down here are not uniform. Sometimes they are "positive"; sometimes they are "negative." But this one thing *is* constant: if we are in Christ, and are trusting Him alone for our eternal salvation and the forgiveness of our sins, then we are *always* God's princes and princesses--whether we feel strong, or weak.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Our happiness here and hereafter depends on our friendly [communication] with heaven. If we do not have that, nothing can make up our loss (Ps. 30:5). If we have that, nothing can make us miserable." --Thomas Boston, in "The Crook In the Lot"]

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mon., 9/8/08 Devotion (1 Cor. 13:13)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 13:13, which says this:

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Love is greater than faith and hope, because love, like Christ, salvation, and the church lasts forever. As great as faith is--and it is *very* great because it is the grace by which we apprehend Christ and His righteousness--nonetheless, in glory (heaven) it will not be necessary. The same can be said about hope, (which is also a marvelous mercy of God to us).

But love is special, because it will be perfected (and continued forever) in heaven; and it is to be our creed here on earth. True faith and true hope always lead to inevitable (and invincible) love. Let us live in Christ's love today, and in so doing, bring Him lots of glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a sinful modesty in Christians that they are not more free with their ministers and other spiritual friends in unburdening themselves and opening the sores and troubles of their souls to them." --Thomas Watson, in "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/5-7/08 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! To help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "All Things for Good" book:

"Another heart quieting consideration is, that afflictions work for good. . . . 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted,' (Psalm
119:71). This text, like Moses' tree cast into the bitter waters of affliction, may make them sweet and wholesome to drink. Afflictions to the godly are medicinal. Out of the most poisonous drugs God extracts our salvation. Afflictions are as needful as ordinances (1 Peter 1:6). No vessel can be made of gold without fire; so it is impossible that we should be made vessels of honour, unless we are melted and refined in the furnace of affliction. 'All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth,' (Psalm 25:10). As the painter intermixes bright colours with dark shadows; so the wise God mixes mercy with judgment. Those afflictive providences which seem to be prejudicial, are beneficial. . . . "

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thurs., 9/4/08 Devotion (Ezek. 7:27c)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 7:27c, where we read these words:

" . . . And according to what they deserve I will judge them; then they shall know that I am the LORD!"

God always has the prerogative to judge "according to what [people] deserve," if He desires to do so. And sometimes God *does* judge in this way. All who will abide in hell will receive precisely what they deserve--nothing more, nothing less. But thankfully, the Lord does not *always* judge in this way.

The truth is, that *every* human being (excepting Jesus Christ) who will be in heaven *also* "deserves" God's righteous punishment (of hell fire and damnation). Instead, however, the Lord has shown mercy to them. God's judgment *was* fully poured out for their sins--but Jesus bore it for them, and they were spared. If this is not cause for praise of the merciful God, then nothing is.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is doing a great work in the world, but God's ends are to make His people sweeter, like preserves, and preserve them for a longer time, and make them be more lasting in the world." --Christopher Love, in "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wed., 9/3/08 Devotion (Ps. 44:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 44:4, where we read these words:

"You are my King, O God; command victories for Jacob."

This is an interesting verse (above); and one we can learn from. The psalmist first pledges allegiance to God, as his personal "King"; and then he immediately has the holy "audacity" to ask Him (God) to "command victories for Jacob."

The point is this: God is a Sovereign King that listens to His children. He does not sit in heaven, "protecting" Himself from the intrusions of His churchmen on earth. Instead, He welcomes our prayers; *wants* us to ask Him for things; and almost "entices" us to be as bold as we want to be with Him. All of this is because of God's incredible love for His redeemed people, (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing that would render the true religion more lovely, or make more proselytes [converts] to it, than to see the professors of it tied together with the heart-strings of love." --Thomas Watson, in "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tues., 9/2/08 Devotion (1 Cor. 7:17b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 7:17b, where we read these words:

" . . . And so I ordain in all the churches."

This little phrase (above), written by Paul, stood out to me this morning. The Apostle did not teach one thing in one church, and another thing in another church. There was uniformity and order to his instruction. The various churches had different needs, challenges, and even giftedness--but they all received consistent doctrinal and practical teaching.

So it is to be, even today. Though there is room for variation in the churches, with regard to non-essentials--there is no room for deviation from the cardinal truths of the gospel. Regrettably, of course, this uniform commitment to core values is not being practiced today, (as it was not totally the case in Paul's day, either). But still, the most faithful churches must, and will, take the lead.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Men are by nature utterly careless of the glory of God. They have no degree of concern for it. A natural man never does any one thing out of true concern for the glory of God."
--Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "It is Well for us that God is Not as we are"]

Monday, September 1, 2008

Mon., 9/1/08 Devotion (1 Sam. 25:29b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 25:29b, where we read these words:

" . . . But the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the LORD your God . . . "

Abigail, then the wife of Nabal, is speaking these words (above) to David. "The bundle of the living" is a neat way to conceive of the redeemed church. David, and all the saints are "bundled" together with Jesus. He is the One who gives us life; and, through our intimate and spiritually "organic" contact with Him, we also live and even thrive.

But there is no life where there is no Christ. No angel, no saint, no offering, no mediator will suffice, to replace the Prince of Life, Jesus Christ our Lord. Do we wish to live today? Then we must do so by grace through faith in Christ alone.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We should judge of things as to whether they help or hinder our main purpose . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/29-31/08 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! To get you going, here is TW, from his book, "A Body of Divinity":

"As God's mercy makes the saints happy, so it should make them humble. Mercy is not the fruit of our goodness, but the fruit of God's goodness. Mercy is an alms that God bestows. They have no cause to be proud that live upon the alms of God's mercy. 'If I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head,' (Job 10:15). All my righteousness is the effect of God's mercy, therefore I will be humble and will not lift up my head.

"Mercy stays the speedy execution of God's justice. Sinners continually provoke God, and make 'the fury come up in His face,' (Ezek 38:18). Whence is it God does not presently arrest and condemn them? It is not that God cannot do it, for He is armed with omnipotence, but it is from His mercy. Mercy gets a reprieve for the sinner, and stops the speedy process of justice. God would, by His goodness, lead sinners to repentance."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thurs., 8/28/08 Devotion (Ps. 36:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 36:8, where we read these words:

"They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures."

Such is the state (above) of all God's sincere churchmen--who rest all their hopes for redemption and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ (alone). They are given a lot: abundant satisfaction from God's fullness of His house (church). On top of this, they drink daily of the Water of Life (Christ). He is God's "River" of "pleasures."

Is the faithful life easy? No. Are there struggles that accrue to it, that even the unregenerate do not have to deal with? Yes. But, in the full scope of things, the true believer has a very wonderful life and inheritance (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us assure ourselves that God's grace, even in this imperfect state, is stronger than man's free will in the state of original perfection." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wed., 8/27/08 Devotion (1 Cor. 1:18)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 1:18, which says this:

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

Why do some people fail to respond to the amazing truth that a perfect God-Man died on a cross for wicked sinners? Partly, because they think the message is foolish, (see the verse above). And why do they think this? Because they cannot conceive of themselves as that bad; and they want salvation mixed with their own works (or alleged righteousness).

Why, on the other hand, do others receive the grace of the cross, and experience redemption? Because God regenerates them, and they recognize the truth: that their sins put the Beloved One on the cruel tree (cross); and that true atonement is powerful--strong enough to effect the forgiveness of their sins.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Where the aim and bent of the soul is towards God, there is grace, though opposed." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tues., 8/26/08 Devotion (Lam. 3:22-23)

Today's encouragement comes from Lamentations 3:22 & 23, where we read these lovely words:

"Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."

As I sat outside on this absolutely beautiful morning, I thought these words were so marvelously relevant. God is so good to His redeemed churchmen. Every day He renews His compassionate grace to them; and He never ever fails them.

Do we understand that, except for God's mercies, we would (and should) be condemned? Without this basic starting point, we cannot (and will not) enjoy nor value Christ's atonement of our souls. If your sins are forgiven today, it is not because you did anything to make that happen. God did it all, in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ . . . goes forth conquering, in the ministry, that He may overcome either to conversion or confusion."
--Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mon., 8/25/08 Devotion (1 Sam. 17:26b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 17:26b, where we find David saying this:

" . . . For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"

We have got to love David's spirit here (above). He had a simple faith in God, so he could not understand why anyone would be afraid of a giant (Goliath). "Compared to God, who is this Philistine?," would be David's way of thinking.

And so it is today. The church needs "Davids," who will not cower before the blustering, bloated "giants" of heresy and blasphemy--who are more full of hot air than they are of any substance. Let us, like David, take our stand on the gospel of Christ, and fight as the "armies of the living God."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Such is the goodness of our sweet Savior that He delights still to show His strength in our weakness." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/22-24/08 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We get to go to church! In order to help get you ready to worship God, here is Thomas Watson, waxing eloquently on Original Sin, in his book, entitled, "A Body of Divinity":

"In original sin there is something privative, and something positive.

"Something privative. We have lost that excellent quintessential frame of soul which once we had. Sin has cut the lock of original purity, where our strength lay.

"Something positive. Original sin has contaminated and defiled our virgin nature. It was death among the Romans to poison the springs. Original sin has poisoned the spring of our nature. It has turned beauty into leprosy; it has turned the azure brightness of our souls into midnight darkness.

"Original sin has become co-natural to us. A man by nature cannot but sin; though there were no devil to tempt, no bad examples to imitate, yet there is such an innate principle in him that he cannot forbear sinning. . . . In original sin there is:

"An aversion from good. Man has a desire to be happy, yet opposes that which should promote his happiness. He has a disgust of holiness, he hates to be reformed. Since we fell from God, we have no mind to return to Him."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thurs., 8/21/08 Devotion (Jer. 50:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 50:20, where we read these words:

" 'In those days and in that time,' says the LORD, 'The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found; for I will pardon those whom I preserve.' "

If you are a sincere churchman, and you want to warm your affection for Christ, do this: think on your sins that have been forgiven. Consider how awful it is to offend God. Remember back on how much of a burden it was, to be under a load of guilt and condemnation.

Then, marvel that your sins can no longer "be found," (to quote today's text). If your faith is in Jesus alone, for your right standing with God--then your sins are completely covered. Such is the blessedness of the true church. We will be praising God for eternity for such mercies.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Weakness with watchfulness will stand, when strength with too much confidence fails." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wed., 8/20/08 Devotion (Rom. 10:2-3)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 10:2 & 3, where Paul wrote these words:

"For I bear them [the Jews] witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God."

Do you know that a lot of religious fanatics go to hell? In today's text, the problem was not passion, but it was misplaced trust. The Jewish people that Paul is referring to (above) were all for justification (even with God), but they wanted it on their own terms: namely, through keeping the law.

What is "the righteousness of God" referred to above? It is that righteousness that is gained through faith in Christ (and not through works). Abraham had that kind of righteousness; and everyone else who ends up in heaven has it too.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A Christian conquers, even when he is conquered." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tues., 8/19/08 Devotion (Rom. 9:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 9:20, where we read these words:

"But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' "

Though God would have His own sincere churchmen be very gut-wrenchingly candid with Him, and tell Him everything in their hearts, and lay everything bare before Him--the Lord does *not* entertain complaints about *why* He has made people in one way or another.

Even when it comes to His sovereign election, (which is the immediate context of Rom. 9:20), we are not allowed to "reply against God." Of course, no one cares whether they please God, or not, until they are regenerated (born again). Therefore, it is especially ill-suited for God's redeemed people to quarrel with the Lord, as to why He elects some, and not others.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Without Christ's Spirit the soul is in confusion, without beauty and form . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mon., 8/18/08 Devotion (Ps. 24:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 24:1, which says this:

"The earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein."

The latest international religion to come along has been earth-worship. The hysteria over "environmentalism" is its creed, and Al Gore is its high priest. The idea is that the earth is of ultimate value, and that human beings are to be subservient to it, (and are to essentially worship it).

But according to Ps. 24:1, it is GOD who ultimately "owns" the earth, because He is the One who created it. The Lord has "given" it to the meek of His church (cf. Matt. 5:5)--but He did this, not so that we would serve it, but so that it would serve us. God would have us be
good stewards of His creation; but He would have us worship *Him*, and not what He made.

[Puritan quote of the day: "And so, as to the church in general, by Christ it will have its victory." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/15-17/08 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his incomparable work, entitled, "A Body of Divinity":

"A people in covenant with God are a willing people; though they cannot serve God perfectly, they serve Him willingly. They do not grudge God a little time spent in His worship; they do not hesitate or murmur at sufferings; they will go through a sea and a wilderness, if God call. 'Your people shall be a willing people,' (Ps. 110:3). This spontaneity and willingness is from the attractive power of God's Spirit: the Spirit does not force, but sweetly draws the will; and this willingness in religion makes all our services accepted. God does sometimes accept of willingness without the work, but never the work without willingness.

"God's covenant people are a consecrated people, they have holiness to the Lord written upon them. . . . God's covenant people are separated from the world, and sanctified by the Spirit. The priests under the law were not only to wash in the great laver, but were arrayed with glorious apparel, (Ex. 28:2). This was typical, to show God's people are not only washed from gross sins, but adorned with holiness of heart: they bear not only God's name, but image. Tamerlane refused a pot of gold, when he saw it had not his father's stamp upon it, but the Roman stamp. Holiness is God's stamp; if He does not see this stamp upon us, He will not own us for His covenant people."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thurs., 8/14/08 Devotion (Rom. 4:2-3)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 4:2 & 3, where we read these amazing words:

"For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' "

Religious people often like to boast (at least within themselves) about how good they are. But Abraham knew better. He understood that his faithful deeds--like being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac--were not the *cause* of his right standing with God, but were, rather, the *results* of his being justified by faith.

There is nothing more despicable in the world, or in the eyes of God, than a self-, or works-righteousness person. These people despise and disdain the work of Christ, and believe themselves good enough to satisfy an absolutely holy God. On the judgment day, *only* those clothed with Jesus' righteousness, apprehended by faith alone, will stand.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Every man is as his God is. If you would know whether a man is a godly man or not, you must inquire what his god is like." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "A truly Godly man prefers God before all others"]

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wed., 8/13/08 Devotion (Rom. 3:28)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 3:28, where Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote these words:

"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the
deeds of the law."

How much of your own righteousness do you have? If you answered by thinking that you have any at all, then you are definitely in trouble, and you have blasphemously denigrated the atonement of Christ. There is not one thing you can do to procure your right standing with God, outside of believing that Jesus Christ Himself has *fully* (and not partly) accomplished this for you.

The Fall has left us all with the accursed sense that we still somehow possess Adam's initial "righteousness." The fact is, it is completely gone. If we are going to be justified at all, it must be done in and through Christ alone, apprehended by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Heaven is ours already, only we strive till we have full possession." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]