Friday, February 29, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 3/1-2/08 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! In order to prepare for church, here is TW, from, "All Things for Good":

"The Lord does not tie Himself to a particular way, or use the same order with all. He comes sometimes in a still small voice. Such as have had godly parents, and have sat under the warm sunshine of religious education, often do not know how or when they were called. The Lord did secretly and gradually instil grace into their hearts, as the dew falls unnoticed in drops. They know by the heavenly effects that they are called, but the time or manner they know not. The hand moves on the clock, but they do not perceive when it moves.

"Thus God deals with some. Others are more stubborn and knotty sinners, and God comes to them in a rough wind. He uses more wedges of the law to break their hearts; He deeply humbles them, and shows them they are damned without Christ. Then having ploughed up the fallow ground of their hearts by humiliation, He sows the seed of consolation. He presents Christ and mercy to them, and draws their wills, not only to accept Christ, but passionately to desire, and faithfully to rest upon Him. Thus He wrought upon Paul, and called him from a persecutor to a preacher. This call, though it is more visible than the other, yet is not more real. God's method in calling sinners may vary, but the effect is still the same."

Fri., 2/29/08 Devotion (Ex. 12:41)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 12:41, where we read these words:

"And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years--on that very same day--it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt."

God's covenant people were in Egypt for a long time. Sometimes, we have to languish in far-less-than-ideal conditions for a good while, too. But in God's perfect time--to the very day, to be exact--He delivers His church from whatever it is that afflicts her.

Let us be thankful that we live in the day in which we do. At the same time, let's be diligent to pray: asking God to revive His church, in His good time--for the glory of His Name, and the extension of His kingdom.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The purpose of the Scripture is to help believers to obtain assurance." --Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thurs., 2/28/08 Devotion (Ex. 12:13b)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 12:13b, where we read these words:

" . . . And when I see the blood, I will pass over you . . . "

The angel of death still stalks all those who are out of covenant with Christ (and His church). But those redeemed souls whose hearts are sprinkled by the blood of Jesus are safe--God passes over them, while He executes judgment on others.

It is not your "righteousness," your religiosity, your civility, nor your morality that causes God to pass over you, and spare you from judgment, hell, and damnation. Instead, it is only the blood righteousness of the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," (Jn. 1:29b). This righteousness is imputed to the hearts of sinners, by grace through faith in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Make it your main business, your chief study, your greatest care, to 'make your calling and election sure,' says the apostle." --Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wed., 2/27/08 Devotions (1 Cor. 14:33)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 14:33, where we read these words:

"For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints."

Very sadly, there is a lot of confusion in a lot of churches today, (as there always has been, to one degree or another). But none of this confusion is from God. The Lord has laid-out enough content doctrine, theology, knowledge, and understanding in the Scriptures for faithful pastors and elders to quite sufficiently lead the flocks into fields of plenty and peace.

But the problem is not with God--it is with sinful men who craft their own gospels, and who spurn the only true one. Let us, by grace, sincerely cling to Jesus, and enjoy by faith the benefits of life in covenant (church).

[Puritan quote of the day: "To have grace, and to be sure that we have grace, is glory upon the throne, it is heaven on this side [of] heaven." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tues., 2/26/08 Devotion (1 Cor. 13:8a)

Today's encouragement comes from the few, but powerful words of 1 Corinthians 13:8a, where we read this:

"Love never fails. . . . "

Why does love never fail?  Because love is the best barometer of the heart.  It always exposes the truth; and everyone--without exception--is subject to its scrutiny.  This is one of the reasons God insists that we love Him.  Without sincere love for God, none of our other "services" rendered to Him mean anything--(in fact, they become abominable to Him).

The real important question for us today is, "Who (or what) do we love the *most*?"  If Christ is not at the top, then we should face the fact that we are idolaters.  The Lord would have us love other people, and even some things--but these must be subordinate to love for Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that frets will be willing to do evil; fretting Jonah was sinning Jonah, (Jon. 4:9)."   --Thomas Watson, in "All Things for Good"]

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mon., 2/25/08 Devotion (Job 25:4a)

Today's encouragement comes from Job 25:4a, where we read these words:

"How then can man be righteous before God? . . . "

This is a really good question, asked by Bildad the Shuhite. Man cannot do enough good works, to be made righteous before God. (We would have to do *every* good work possible, without exception, and without imperfection.) Fake gods and false religions cannot make us righteous before God. Being "better than average," or, "better than the other guy" certainly will not work--since God demands perfection, and absolute holiness.

There is only one way: the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, applied to souls who by grace exercise faith in Him, plus nothing. There you go, Bildad, that's how a man can be righteous before God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who sees Jesus Christ sees all the glory of paradise." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Saint's Desire to be with Christ"]

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 2/23-24/08 Devotion

Wahoo! Sunday is almost here. In order to get you more ready for church, here is TW, from his book, "The Ten Commandments":

"Why does God permit such an inability in man to keep the law?

"He does it: (1) To humble us. Man is a self-exalting creature; and if he has but anything of worth, he is ready to be puffed up; but when he comes to see his deficiencies and failings, and how far short he comes of the holiness and perfection which God's law requires, it pulls down the plumes of his pride, and lays them in the dust. He weeps over his inability; he blushes over his leprous spots; he says with Job, 'I abhor myself in dust and ashes.' (2) God lets this inability be upon us, that we may have recourse to Christ to obtain pardon for our defects, and to sprinkle our best duties with His blood. When a man sees that he owes perfect obedience to the law, but has nothing to pay, it makes him flee to Christ to be his friend, and answer for him all the demands of the law, and set him free in the court of justice."

Fri., 2/22/08 Devotion (Lk. 8:50a)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 8:50a, which says this:

"But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, 'Do not be afraid; only believe . . . ' "

That is a good policy to live by: "Do not be afraid; only believe." Fear, like a magnet, inevitably draws us to one of two poles: worry (which is idolatry); or Christ (which is God-pleasing). It is not unnatural to fear (while living in a fallen world); but it is unnatural to trust (in the midst of it). When we do exercise faith, it is a sure sign that God has done a marvelous (and miraculous) work in us.

What will you and I do with our fearful moments today? Will we default to worry, and only make it worse; or, will we go against the grain, and leave the concern(s) in the hands of God, who alone can handle the issue(s)?

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is Satan that makes us have good thoughts of ourselves, and hard thoughts of God." --Thomas Watson, in "All Things for Good"]

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thurs., 2/21/08 Devotion (Lk. 7:49b)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 7:49b, where we read these words:

" . . . 'Who is this who even forgives sins?' "

Of all the great things that Jesus Christ does, are any of them more wonderful than the fact that He forgives the sins of His redeemed? I think not. Are your sins forgiven? If so, then you are a supremely blessed person. It matters little whatever troubles or hardships you face--if the wrath of God is removed from you by the blood atonement of Christ, you have nothing significant to worry about.

Forgiveness is a splendid thing. By receiving it from God, we have an everlasting relationship with Him; and by giving it to each other, we resemble our loving Heavenly Father (who gives forgiveness to His children).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The presence of God in His ordinances is the beauty and strength of a nation." --Thomas Watson, in "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wed., 2/20/08 Devotion (Lk. 6:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 6:12, where we read these words:

"Now it came to pass in those days that He [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God."

How would you spend all night in prayer to God? Wouldn't you run out of things to pray about, after 20 minutes, or so? The Lord Jesus Christ spoke to His Father in prayer, much like we would with a friend, with whom we were having an extended conversation.

I can imagine that times like those mentioned in the verse above were of the utmost joy for Christ. With the press of people around the Messiah all the time, it must have been a lovely refreshment to get away from it all, and commune with His Heavenly Father. Let all of us recognize that if Jesus needed this time in prayer, we (much more so) need to speak with our Father, too.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The house of God is the palace of the great King; on the sabbath God shows Himself there through the lattice." --Thomas Watson, in "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tues., 2/19/08 Devotion (Ex. 2:24)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 2:24, where we read these words:

"So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob."

What a sweet couplet (above). God hears us groaning, and He remembers His covenant. Could it be that our heartfelt prayers stir God's compassion (as it were), as He refreshes in us the benefits of the covenant He has made with His church in Jesus' blood?

Go to the Lord today, even with your groaning--but don't forget to bring your faith, too. You could never *do* enough to move God to do anything for you--but your unfeigned (though imperfect) faith in the perfect Savior (Jesus) is more than pleasing to Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who does not love God is a beast with a man's head." --Thomas Watson, in "All Things for Good"]

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mon., 2/18/08 Devotion (Lk. 4:31)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 4:31, where we read these words:

"Then He [Jesus] went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths."

Isn't it weird when you read a verse, and don't recall ever really seeing it before? That is what happened with me today, with this verse: Lk. 4:31. Why would the Holy Spirit lead Luke to write that Jesus taught on the "Sabbaths"? What about all the other days of the week? Could it be, that God's provision of the Sabbath was meant to be especially highlighted?

At any rate, this much we know: God's people are to be preached to on the Sabbath Days, (which are now, in the New Covenant church era, Sundays, the day commemorating the Redeemer's resurrection from the dead).

[Puritan quote of the day: "God, who is the chief of our happiness, must have the chief of our affections." --Thomas Watson, in "All Things for Good"]

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 2/16-17/08 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is *almost* here. We *get* to go to church! Here is Thomas Watson, from his fine book, entitled, "The Doctrine of Repentance":

"Confession must be sincere.

"Our hearts must go along with our confessions. The hypocrite confesses sin but loves it, like a thief who confesses to stolen goods, yet loves stealing. How many confess pride and covetousness with their lips but roll them as honey under their tongue. Augustine said that before his conversion he confessed sin and begged power against it, but his heart whispered within him, 'not yet, Lord.' He was afraid to leave his sin too soon. A good Christian is more honest. His heart keeps pace with his tongue. He is convinced of the sins he confesses, and abhors the sins he is convinced of."

Fri., 2/15/08 Devotion (Lk. 1:79)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 1:79, where we read these words:

" . . . To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

Does your soul ever feel like it is in darkness, and the shadow of death? Do you find yourself in turmoil, and struggle? If so, recognize that this is not abnormal. What *is* extraordinary is the "light" of Christ, and the "peace" He gives us--even while we are in anguish of soul.

Sometimes, life is just downright difficult. There is an answer, however--and it is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are saved by grace through faith in Christ, then comfort yourself with the knowledge that God does indeed love you, and His designs toward you are all for your good and betterment.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Make it your earnest request to God, that He will give you a heart to love Him." --Thomas Watson, in "All Things for Good"]

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thurs., 2/14/08 Devotion (1 Cor. 1:30)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 1:30, where Paul wrote these words:

"But of Him [God] you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemp-
tion-- . . . "

Jesus Christ is not only our sole source of justification before God--He is also the means by which we are sanctified more and more into His image. This is important because some people get tempted to believe that they enter the kingdom of God through Christ, but that the rest is up to them. Churchmen *do* personally participate in their sanctification, but not (and never) aside from their continued faith in Christ.

If you have anything good to present to God, it is only in and through the Redeemer. And all this is a work of God's sovereign grace in you. Live by faith today--it's the only life that pleases God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Souls that are big in hope, will not be long without sweet assurance." --Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wed., 2/13/08 Devotion (Rom. 16:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 16:1, where we read these words:

"I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea . . . "

What a neat thing to be said about a person. First, the great Apostle "commends" her. Second, she is a "sister," a part of a great covenantal family. Thirdly, she is a "servant of the church." Phoebe's life is valuable, and well-spent. Fourthly, she is a "servant" of a particular church--the one in "Cenchrea." Phoebe did not content herself with her association with the "invisible" church. Instead, she was committed to a local one.

Godly women are exalted in Christianity. Their roles are critical. The church cannot prosper or thrive without them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ does His church more good now that He is in heaven . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tues., 2/12/08 Devotion (Gen. 45:5b)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 45:5b, where we find Joseph saying these great words:

" . . . for God sent me before you to preserve life."

Joseph is seeking to comfort his brothers, who had sold him into slavery in Egypt. He also teaches them that it was God, and not them, who was (ultimately) behind his (Joseph's) going there. Here (above), Joseph utters words that are universally true, in the history of the church (and of the whole world)--and that is that the Lord *always* sends His messengers (ministers) *ahead* of others, in order to make the way for life, and to stem the tide of death.

Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself was (and is) the greatest example of this. Because He first experienced the cross, the tomb, and the resurrection, He has paved the way for His church to experience them as well.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What is the scope of all the Scriptures but Christ . . . ?" --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mon., 2/11/08 Devotion (Mk. 14:39)

[Dear devotioners: Thank-you for your patience, as for a while I was without my beloved Macintosh computer (which had all my addresses on it). Now, we're back in business!]

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 14:39, where we read these words:

"Again He [Jesus] went away and prayed, and spoke the same words."

It is encouraging to me that our Savior Himself--in a time of great need and anguish--prayed, and "spoke the same words." I don't know about you, but sometimes I don't know how to pray as I ought, (as per Rom. 8:26)--and I tend to say the same things over and over. I think the important thing is that we desire to pour our hearts out to God our Father in prayer. He knows how to "interpret" them through the atonement Jesus has provided for His churchmen.

Therefore, don't be discouraged if your prayer life isn't all that you want it to be. Groan out some heartfelt utterings--and God will be pleased with them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Love was the chain that fastened [Jesus] to the cross." --Thomas Watson, in "All Things for Good"]

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Mac is Back

Dear Devotioners:

The pastor's Mac is back. Therefore, on Monday, Lord-willing, you will again be receiving a daily devotion!

May the Lord's Holy Day of Sunday be a blessing to you.