Monday, January 28, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
"For the illustration of this doctrine, I shall propound these questions.
"Q. 1. Whether a Christian may not be sensible of [or, not exactly happy with] his condition, and yet be contented?
"Yes; or else he is not a saint, but a stoic. Rachel did well to weep for her children, there was nature; but her fault was, she refused to be comforted, there was discontent. Christ Himself was sensible, when He sweat great drops of blood, and said, 'Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me'; yet He was contented, and sweetly submitted [His Father's] will: 'nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.' The apostle bids us humble ourselves 'under the mighty hand of God,' (1 Pet. 5:6), which we cannot do unless we are sensible of it."
"And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them."
The faithful church is to be constantly "re-digging" the old gospel wells, left to us by our spiritual forbearers. The "Philistines," (or, the people of the world), are always seeking to "stop them up" with the gospel and things of the "earth."
Our task is not to create anything new; but to re-claim what is already ours in Christ. Once we do this, we are to "call them by the names" which our fathers called them.
[Puritan quote of the day: "He that loves God is full of fear lest it should go ill with the church." --Thomas Watson, in "All Things for Good"]
Thursday, January 24, 2008
" . . . Thus Esau despised his birthright."
People who are baptized into the church, and who yet are not faithful to Christ "despise their birthright." They are given unique and blessed privileges in the covenant; but, instead of taking advantage of them, and being good stewards of them, they treat them with contempt.
God will have more patience with those who never had such blessed opportunities (of hearing and living the gospel), than those who did, but who squandered them. Are you a churchman? If so, then you are either faithful, hypocritical, or apostate. Be counted among the faithful, by grace.
[Puritan quote of the day: "Confused brains cause unsettled hearts."
--Obadiah Sedgwick, in "Christ's Counsel to His Languishing Church"]
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
"And I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth . . . "
I like this phrase: "The God of heaven and the God of the earth." I want to focus on the "earth" part. Are you ever tempted to think that God runs heaven; but that the devil, or maybe sinners own the earth? If you are, you're not alone. But the full truth is that God is the supreme governor of the earth, (as well as heaven).
The Lord put earth under man's feet; and we are His vice-regents, to rule and tend it. But, in the greatest sense, the Lord is "God of the earth." Let us be thankful for this; and commit ourselves to serving Him well.
[Puritan quote of the day: "Whoever is set up on earth, they are set up by our Lord. 'By Me,' says He, 'kings reign, and princes decree jus-
tice.' " --John Bunyan, in "All Loves Excelling"]
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
"Jesus answered and said to them, 'You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.' "
The sure way to error is through ignorance. There are two particular areas of which we cannot afford to be ignorant: the Scriptures, and the power of God. When we do not know the Bible, we are easy prey to the world's and the devil's false gospels. When we do not know the power of God, we think we have something to do with our salvation.
God has given us the means of grace. In and through them, let us learn, know, and live the gospel of Christ.
[Puritan quote of the day: "Believing in Christ is the great thing that God presses upon sinners throughout the Scripture, as all know that know anything of Scripture." --Thomas Brooks, in "Precious Remedies against Satan's Devices"]
Monday, January 21, 2008
"Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abra-
ham . . . "
Are you a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? If so, then you are a child of Abraham, Biblically-speaking. This also means that, even as Abraham's faith was tested, yours (and mine) will be, too. The "trying" of faith is to show forth the sincerity, the reality, and the value of it.
Are God's tests sometimes difficult? Yes. God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his beloved son of the promise. Abraham is willing to do this, not because he wanted to, but because he trusted God and believed that He (the Lord) knew what was best. May this be our attitude as well.
[Puritan quote of the day: "Grace shall never be idle where the love of God is strong." --Obadiah Sedgwick, in "Christ's Counsel to His Languishing Church"]
Friday, January 18, 2008
"The main proposition I shall insist upon, is this, THAT A GRACIOUS SPIRIT IS A CONTENTED SPIRIT. The doctrine of contentment is very superlative, and till we have learned this, we have not learned to be Christians.
"1. It is a hard lesson. The angels in heaven had not learned it; they were not contented. Though their estate was very glorious, yet they were still soaring aloft, and aimed at something higher: 'the angels which kept not their first estate.' They kept not their estate, because they were not contented with their estate. Our first parents, clothed with the white robe of innocency in paradise, had not learned to be content; they had aspiring hearts, and thinking their human nature too low and home-spun, would be crowned with the Deity, and 'be as gods.' Though they had the choice of all the trees of the garden, yet none would content them but the tree of knowledge which they supposed would have been as eye-salve to have made them omniscient. O then, if this lesson was so hard to learn in innocency, how hard shall we find it, who are clogged with corruption!"
" . . . And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized."
What a beautiful phrase this is (above). People in Corinth were notoriously immoral and corrupt, (much like our own culture today). And yet God saved "many" of them. Note the lovely progression: they "heard" the gospel of grace in the Lord Jesus Christ; they "believed" it; and then they were "baptized" into God's church.
Is there hope for the nations today? Of course there is. But this exact pattern (as above) must be followed: proclamation, hearing, faith, baptism, and church membership and life.
[Puritan quote of the day: "Joy, courage, and zeal, being smiled upon by faith, are made invincible and unconquerable." --Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]
Thursday, January 17, 2008
"Is anything too hard for the LORD? . . . "
This question (above) is to be answered in the negative. This does not mean that God *will* do anything we ask Him to do; but it *does* mean He *can* do anything He is pleased to do (that would be consistent with His nature, and for our good). There *are* things even God cannot do (that we can), like sin. But this does not detract from His greatness, but rather enhances it.
Are you facing an impossible situation today? Lay it before God. He is able to deliver you. If you are a faithful churchman, the promises in the Word of God are yours to enjoy; they are "children's bread."
[Puritan quote of the day: "Before we can know this love of Christ . . . we must necessarily know the nature of sin." --John Bunyan, in "All Loves Excelling"]
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
"When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. . . . ' "
How is a man to be "blameless" before God? Does this mean that he will never sin again? No. Abram (later Abraham) was blameless in the Object of his faith (the Lord Jesus Christ). Blamelessness in the Bible implies sincerity and wholeheartedness--not sinless perfection (nor trying real hard in the flesh's efforts).
As Abraham "walked" with God, he gained more and more confidence all the time. The same is true for every sincere churchman today.
[Puritan quote of the day: "When do you expect that it will be more likely that you should be awakened and wrought upon than now?"
--Jonathan Edwards, from his sermon, "Pressing into the Kingdom of God"]
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
"Then she [Hagar] called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees . . . "
Sometimes people try to convince themselves that God does *not* see everything that happens. Whenever we sin, we are imagining that a Holy God somehow is not aware of it. But the fact is, that the Lord is cognizant--all at one time, and with total comprehension--of *everything* that occurs. This includes full knowledge of every single thought we have in our hearts and minds.
This truth should cause us to tremble. But then, we also remember that God sees our sincere faith in His Son; and, on the basis of Jesus' work, He forgives our sins. Let us be ever-grateful for this!
[Puritan quote of the day: "You cannot gratify Satan more, nor injure yourselves more, than by living without assurance [of God's favor in Christ]." --Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]
Monday, January 14, 2008
"And when they [Paul and Barnabas] had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch . . . "
The thing to note here (above) is that disciples are, like Instant Oatmeal, "ready-made." The simple preaching of the gospel "made" disciples (even as this verse teaches). These new believers were then placed into the church (two verses later, in v. 23); and they are built up in their faith, under the watchful eye of church elders.
What do we learn from this? That the gospel preached "makes" disciples; and that they cannot continue to persevere on their own--they need the ministry of the church.
[Puritan quote of the day: "There may be true faith where there is much doubting." --Thomas Brooks, in "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices"]
Friday, January 11, 2008
"Let us beg the Spirit of God to teach us; we must be 'divinely taught.' The eunuch could read, but he could not understand, till Philip joined himself to his chariot, (Acts 8:29). God's Spirit must join Himself to our chariot; He must teach, or we cannot learn. 'All your children shall be taught of the Lord,' (Isa. 54:13). A man may read the figure on the dial, but he cannot tell how the day goes, unless the sun shines upon the dial. We may read the Bible over, but we cannot learn the purpose, till the Spirit of God shines into our hearts, (2 Cor. 4:6). O implore this blessed Spirit! It is God's prerogative-royal to teach: 'I am the Lord thy God, who teaches you to profit,' (Isa. 48:17)."
"Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"
This question (above), posed to Christ, by John the Baptist, is very telling. If we believe that Jesus is "The Coming One," then indeed we do *not* look for "another." On the other hand, if we really do not believe that Jesus is the Coming One, then we will do nothing else (or less) than look for another.
Have you ever wondered why people waste their lives, searching and longing for something other than, and "better" than God? It is not because they are too stupid to know the truth; but because they refuse to believe it. But "gods" created in our own image can never satisfy us--only Jesus can do that.
[Puritan quote of the day: "Oh, God forbid that my heart should be affected or taken with anything in comparison [with] Christ."
--Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]
Thursday, January 10, 2008
" . . . But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean."
These words of Peter (above), are good for us to live by. With the dawn of the New Covenant church there is no longer any such thing as "ceremonial uncleanness." All people--be they Jews or Gentiles--are, by virtue of their being in Adam, sinful (and therefore, unclean). But no person is unclean as a result of ethnicity, race, or religious background.
The consequences of this truth are dramatic: people from *every* nation, ethnicity, etc., *will* be gathered into the one church, and they will be cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Let us view all people as potential recipients of the gospel--and let us do what we can to get it to them.
[Puritan quote of the day: "[Christ] would not have needed to stoop so low to save angels as humans." --John Bunyan, in "All Loves Excelling"]
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
"For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
It is intriguing that the Messiah came to earth to call and save sinners, and not "righteous" people. Our ordinary way of thinking--driven by our fallen flesh--is to imagine that God is interested in "good" people; and that, if we could just get "good enough" He might possibly cast a merciful eye on us.
But this is not the gospel. Instead, Jesus comes to save those who have and present *no* resources, as "payment" for their sin. Christ *only* helps those who know they cannot help themselves. Let us believe this blessed truth, and enjoy the benefits of Christ's redemption.
[Puritan quote of the day: "What is the glory of the times we live in, but God's face revealed in Christ?" --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
"And there was great joy in that city."
The only time any city, state, or nation ever possesses real and solid joy, is when the church brings the gospel of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to it. Here, Philip had brought the good news to Samaria, a largely-despised place, and it [Samaria] gets transformed.
The genuineness of revival will always be manifested in the culture. It starts in the church, but it is not possible for it to be contained there. Let us pray for the Lord to raise up His pastors and churches, that will bring the life of Jesus to this fallen planet.
[Puritan quote of the day: "Wherever there is truth there will be victory." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]
Monday, January 7, 2008
" . . . and the LORD shut him [Noah] in [the ark]."
This is a beautiful picture of God Himself sealing one of His own (Noah), in the ark, which represents the Lord Jesus Christ and His holy church. God did not send an angel to shut up the ark, neither did He employ an animal, the wind, or any other aspect of nature.
The Lord knows how to bless and protect His own, even as they sail through the stormy and wind-tossed seas of life in this fallen universe. Are you in Jesus, and His church? If so, bless God for this great privilege, and do all you can to bring glory to His Name.
[Puritan quote of the day: "Want of [or, lack of] love to God is the ground of apostasy." --Thomas Watson, in "All Things for Good"]
Friday, January 4, 2008
"To learn Christ, is to BELIEVE IN HIM--'My Lord, and my God,' (Jn. 20:28). When we do not only believe God--but in God--[it] is the actual application of Christ to ourselves, and as it were the spreading of the sacred medicine of His blood upon our souls. [If] you have heard much of Christ, and yet cannot with an humble adherence say, 'my Jesus'; be not offended if I tell you, the devil can say his creed as well as you.
"To learn Christ, is TO LOVE CHRIST. When we have Bible-conversations, our lives like rich diamonds cast a sparkling lustre in the church of God; and are, in some sense, parallel with the life of Christ, as the transcript with the original."
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
If Peter's words (above), inspired by the Holy Spirit, are true, (which all sincere believers would affirm)--then this verse has monumental consequences for the whole world. "No other name" is acceptable before God, because no other person could do what Jesus did, (namely, die for sinners, as a sinless sacrifice and substitute).
No buddah, no Mohammed, no angel, no saint, no false god can do for us what Christ did for His own. Call upon the *only* Name that can save you--put all your faith in Jesus.
[Puritan quote of the day: "Even the most upright heart has in it some hypocrisy . . . " --Obadiah Sedgwick, in "The Anatomy of Secret Sins"]
Thursday, January 3, 2008
"And all the people saw him walking and praising God."
The words (above) are a reference to the man who was lame from birth, whom God healed through the ministry of Peter and John. The point I want to make is this: his new life (of walking) was both seen by a lot of people, and it led to a gracious attitude of praise to God.
May the same be said of all of us, who have also received new life, and who are now no longer under sin, damnation, and the law. The liberated churchman's countenance ought to witness to the world that we have a very good and great Savior; and that others ought to get to know Him, too.
[Puritan quote of the day: "The man is to God what his inside is . . . " --Obadiah Sedgwick, in "The Anatomy of Secret Sins"]
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
"And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
These words above (spoken by Peter) are good news for us. Salvation is had by those who simply ask for it, and really want it. Redemption does not require labor, but it does require desire. Our problem--as fallen sons of Adam--is that we think we have to work for it, or add something to what Jesus has done. Such thoughts are high blasphemy.
Are you in trouble today? I encourage you to earnestly call upon the Lord. God is true to His promise--He will not (and cannot) fail to keep His word.
[Puritan quote of the day: "God does not bring His people into troubles, and leave them there." --Thomas Watson, in "All Things for
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 1:1, where we read these words:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Being is better than non-existence. Aren't you glad God made you, and that He created the whole world? The creative genius and wonder of God is good news for all of us. But the Lord's *re*-creative work, when He regenerates even one dead heart, is a greater marvel than the crafting of all the far-flung universe.
The very nature of reality profoundly changed forever, when God created the world. God now "shares" existence with all that is; and He has a special eye toward His church, His most amazing creation.
[Puritan quote of the day: "Morality shoots short of heaven. It is only nature refined. A moral man is but old Adam dressed in fine clothes." --Thomas Watson, in "The Doctrine of Repentance"]