Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wed., 4/30/08 Devotion (Heb. 5:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 5:8, which says this:

"Though He [Christ] was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered."

Our Lord Jesus Christ has been where we are--yet without sin. Still, His sufferings on our behalf were much more severe and difficult, than anything God asks us to endure. We also, like our Savior, "learn obedience by the things which [we] suffer."

Therefore, it is wisest to look to the lovely end result, rather than the present unpleasantries, when we go through hardships and trials. The goal of Christlikeness is certainly worth whatever it requires. Christ made it all the way to the end of His ministry. By grace, all His children will, as well.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God set His love from eternity upon this and that person, as particularly as if there were no other chosen than he." --Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Knowing Christ"]

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tues., 4/29/08 Devotion (Num. 6:23b-26)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 6:23b-26, where we read these words:

"Say to them: 'The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.' "

This famous benediction today only applies to those who sincerely love the Lord Jesus Christ, as they are gathered as His church. And what a wonderful pronouncement it is: we are given the assurance of God's favor, His protection, and His provision.

If you are a faithful churchman, then look less upon your own failings, and your sense of unworthiness; and look more upon Christ, who is determined to bless you (despite yourself). Recognize that the Lord does not bless perfect people; He only blesses redeemed sinners.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ gives to those who come to Him such comfort and pleasure as are enough to make them forget all their former labor and travail." --Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Knowing Christ"]

Monday, April 28, 2008

Mon., 4/28/08 Devotion (Ps. 39:7-8a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 39:7 & 8a, where we read these words:

"And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions . . . "

David here seems to be in a musing state of mind. He is wondering: "What am I intent on? What is important to me?" And his answer, interestingly, is along these lines: "Let me experience the glorious liberty of the forgiveness of my sins."

We all ought to ask ourselves today: "Why am I doing what I am doing? Why am I here? What do I want most in life?" If our answer is, "My desire is to better know Christ, and live for Him"--then we are on the right track; and our lives make a difference, as they move toward a legitimate and good goal.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In the covenant of grace God requires the truth of grace, and not any certain measure." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 4/26-27/08 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is *almost* here again! Here is TW, from "A Divine

"The nature of love to God. Love is an expansion of soul, or the inflaming of the affections, by which a Christian breathes after God as the supreme and sovereign good. Love is to the soul as the weights to the clock, it sets the soul a going towards God, as the wings by which we fly to heaven. By love we cleave to God, as the needle to the loadstone.

"The ground of love to God; that is, knowledge. We cannot love that which we do not know. That our love may be drawn forth to God, we must know these three things in Him:

"(i.) A fullness (Col. 1:19). He has a fullness of grace to cleanse us, and of glory to crown us; a fullness not only of sufficiency, but of redundancy. He is a sea of goodness without bottom and banks.

"(ii.) A freeness. God has an innate propensity to dispense mercy and grace; He drops as the honeycomb. 'Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely,' (Rev. 22:17). God does not require that we should bring money with us, only appetite.

"(iii.) A propriety, or property. We must know that this fullness in God is ours. 'This God is our God,' (Psa. 48:14). Here is the ground of love
--His Deity, and the interest we have in Him."

Fri., 4/25/08 Devotion (Ps. 36:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 36:7, where we read these words:

"How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings."

The Lord wins the hearts of His church, not through severity, but through tenderness. Those who know God to be the very essence of love itself, come to relish Him, trust Him, and fully desire to be near Him. The devil's great trick is to try to convince men that God is mean and harsh--and that (therefore) other gods must be sought, and worshipped.

Have you come to see how incredibly loving God is? If not, consider the cross, where His beloved Son died for unworthy sinners. Never was greater love shown, than there.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The glorious angels disdain not attendance on little ones." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thurs., 4/24/08 Devotion (Ps. 35:26)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 35:26, where we read these words:

"Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion who rejoice at my hurt; let them be clothed with shame and dishonor who exalt themselves against me."

Regenerate churchmen may offer this prayer, though it is highly politically-incorrect, and it might (wrongly) be construed as self-serving. Those who are "on the Lord's side" are not perfect--but that is not the issue. The situation David faced (above), and which we face even today, is this: we are attacked by those who seek to destroy the gospel and the church, (even by those who might claim the name of Christ).

Are you a believer in Jesus? Then, take up your sword and shield. Be hard on your own sins; but don't let this cause you to be too easy on God's enemies.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Nothing is so certain as that which is certain after doubts." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wed., 4/23/08 Devotion (Ps. 34:18)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 34:18, where we read these words:

"The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit."

There is a time and place for everything; and it is always suitable to have a humbled soul. Even in the greatest joys and loftiest experiences of God's grace in the Lord Jesus Christ--it is lovely when the children of God have a modicum of grief (over sin). This is what our Savior meant when He said "blessed are those who mourn," (in Matt. 5:4a).

Why is it blessed to mourn? Because divine comfort follows it, (Matt. 5:4b). There is no sweeter sense, than that of the knowledge that one's sins are forgiven (in the blood atonement of Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Even in the worst time the prophets mingled sweet comfort for the hidden remnant of faithful people."
--Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tues., 4/22/08 Devotion (Lev. 26:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 26:8, where we read these words:

"Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you."

Among the many blessings that come to those who keep the covenant is this one: that a few of God's churchmen would chase a whole bunch of His enemies. This is kind of neat. After all, only a very small percentage of humankind has any real impact on the most important aspects of what happens in the world.

By grace, be among the few, who, because of their link to Christ, make all the difference. God never sought to overwhelm the world purely with numbers. He delights to take it through His choice instruments.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is a Being infinitely lovely, because He has infinite excellency and beauty." --Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Knowing Christ"]

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mon., 4/21/08 Devotion (Lev. 25:23)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 25:23, where we read these interesting words:

"The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me."

What struck me about this verse is this phrase that says that we are "sojourners with [God]." Isn't that a neat thought? As we traverse this sod down here, the Lord Himself is with us. This is the "Immanuel" principle, that we celebrate relative to Christ's incarnation (on our behalf).

God owns the world, and He has purchased His church from within it. We are "strangers and sojourners" here--but we have already been given a permanent home (in Christ). Let us take comfort and encouragement from the fact that our Savior is with us through thick and thin.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You will certainly be accepted of the Father if your soul lays hold of Jesus Christ." --Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Knowing Christ"]

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 4/19-20/08 Devotion

Yippee--another Sunday is *almost* here! Wahoo. In order to help you get ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "A Godly Man's Picture":

"Faith and fear go hand in hand. When the soul looks at God's holiness, he fears. When he looks at God's promises, he believes. A godly man trembles, yet trusts. Fear preserves reverence, faith preserves cheerfulness. Fear keeps the soul from lightness, faith keeps it from overmuch sadness. By this we may know whether we walk with God, if we walk 'in the fear of God.'

"We are fearful of infringing His laws, and forfeiting His love. It is a brand set upon sinners: 'There is no fear of God before their eyes,' (Rom. 3:18). The godly fear and do not offend, (Psa. 4:4). The wicked offend and do not fear, (Jer. 5:23, 24). Careless and dissolute walking will soon estrange God from us and make Him weary of our company: 'what communion has light with darkness?,' (2 Cor. 6:14)."

Fri., 4/18/08 Devotion (Ps. 28:9)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 28:9, where we read these words:

"Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance; shepherd them also, and bear them up forever."

This is a neat Davidic prayer, that pretty well covers all the bases.  We should ask God to save, bless, shepherd, and support His church and every individual member therein.  Without salvation, there will be no blessing; but with the forgiveness of sins comes every other good thing.

If you are in Christ today, then recognize that you have great privileges, and also big responsibilities.  You, like David, have the ear of God--and He wants to hear you ask for the sweet redemptive blessings we read of above, (in Ps. 28:9).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Souls that have seen, and heard, and tasted of the goodness of the Lord in ordinances, dearly love them, and highly prize them."   --Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thurs., 4/17/08 Devotion (Ps. 27:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 27:1, where we read these words:

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"

This is a logical deduction of every faithful churchman. If Christ is our light and salvation--how can anything hurt us? Therefore, why should it be feared? If the Lord is our life's strength, then what enemy can possibly stand up to Him? Therefore, why should the foe be feared?

Believers are the only ones with enough sense to know that there are dangers in the world. But ironically, they are also the only ones who have no cause to fear them. Let us trust God for all things; and worry about nothing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The wounds of secure sinners will not be healed with sweet words." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wed., 4/16/08 Devotion (Ps. 25:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 25:10, where we read these words:

"All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies."

Are you faithful to your church covenant (baptismal) vows? If so, then God is also faithful to you--and will lead you in paths of "mercy and truth." Your faithfulness is not a result of your own goodness; instead, it is the fruit of the gift of genuine and real faith in Christ.

If you are in Christ (and therefore in covenant with God) take comfort from the fact that your Father will only direct you into what is ultimately good for you, and also what is truly best for you. Persevere to the end--you will not regret doing so.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The best men are severe to themselves, [but] tender over others." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tues., 4/15/08 Devotion (1 Tim. 4:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 4:4 & 5, where we read these words:

"For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."

For those in the church, nothing God made can be bad. For those outside the church, everything God made might be construed to be bad. God would have His children enjoy everything He has created, so long as we do not make idols of them.

Hyper-religion, and human religion seek to "out-God" God, by commanding things of people that the Lord Himself does not prohibit. Let us be concerned to live in grace, and to obey God's real commandments; without being disturbed by the hypocrisy of false religion.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Love knows that the least evils are contrary to the greatest good." --Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mon., 4/14/08 Devotion (1 Tim. 3:15)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 3:15, where we read these words:

"But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

By knowing how to live in "the house of God," we then know how to live everywhere else: in our own houses, in culture, etc. But how will we know how to live in the church, without the word of God itself, which instructs us to do so?

The church, as "the pillar and ground of the truth," holds out the word to us, so that we may hear it (and read it). It is only in the context of the family of God, that we may know how to live as the children of grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You cannot know the love of Christ, before you know the badness of your nature." --John Bunyan, in "All Loves Excelling"]

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 4/12-13/08 Devotion

Yippee! Sunday is *almost* here! In order to help you get ready for church, here is TW, from his, "Picture of a Godly Man" book:

"The church of God is exposed in this life to many injuries, but she has a Husband in heaven who is mindful of her and will 'turn water into wine' for her. Now it is a time of mourning with the spouse because the Bridegroom is absent (Matt. 9:15). But shortly she shall put off her mourning. Christ will wipe the tears of blood off the cheeks of His spouse: 'He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,' (Isa. 25:8). Christ will comfort His spouse for as much time as she has been afflicted. He will solace her with His love; He will take away the cup of trembling and give her the cup of consolation. And now she shall forget all her sorrows, being called into the banqueting house of heaven and having the banner of Christ's love displayed over her."

Fri., 4/11/08 Devotion (Ps. 18:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 18:1 & 2, where we read these words:

"I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

When God does something overtly good for us--then, all of a sudden we are awakened from our spiritual slumber, and we give Him heartfelt praise and thanks. We then feel a bit ashamed, that we failed to praise God in the same way when the "sun wasn't shining," so to speak.

But such is life. We are so overrun by our feelings and emotions, that it is hard for us to be rational in our faith walk. As we grow in grace, let us always thank God for all things--because, in Jesus, the church is *always* supremely blessed.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Are your greatest sufferings comparable to the least spark of grace or beam of glory revealed in you or to you?"
--Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thurs., 4/10/08 Devotion (2 Thess. 2:16-17)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 2:16 & 17, where we read these words:

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work."

In order for any of us to be effective churchmen, we need to have a base of comfort (or security). Without this, we will never endeavor to act on our faith (through God-honoring actions and words). This is why the Apostle Paul encourages the believers to know that they are loved by Him; and that they have received hope and grace in Christ.

If you are in Christ today, you are in a blessed position--whether you feel like you are, or not. May God make His face shine on you today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A holy despair in ourselves is the ground of true hope." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wed., 4/9/08 Devotion (Ps. 16:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 16:6, where we read these words:

"The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance."

If we believing churchmen could see the whole picture (as God does), we would be totally amazed at how incredibly good we have it (in Christ). Because of sin, the fall, and the clogs and corruptions of our flesh--we fail to recognize this a lot of the time.

Every once in a while we get a blessed glimpse of just how wonderfully blessed we truly are. But it is faith that says, "I know I have it all, in Christ. Therefore, I will be thankful, and give God praise (despite how I might feel)."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Faith is the key that unlocks paradise, and lets in a flood of joy into the soul." --Thomas Brooks, in
"Heaven on Earth"]

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tues., 4/8/08 Devotion (Ps. 13:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 13:1 & 2, where we read these words:

"How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?"

Lots of "How long?" questions here. David is just being honest. He is miserable, and he's willing to admit it. There is no virtue in falsehood--so we should not pretend all is well with our states, when it is not the case.

David determines to worship the God he truly loves; and this brings him out of his funk, (see vv. 5-6). This was wise on his part, because no amount of darkness can stand against the light of the saints' faith in Christ. Are you down today? If you are a believing churchman, recognize that God has been good to your soul.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We see, therefore, that the condition of those with whom [Christ] was to deal was that they were bruised reeds and smoking flax; not trees, but reeds; and not whole, but bruised reeds." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, April 7, 2008

Mon., 4/7/08 Devotion (Ps. 12:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 12:8, where we read these words:

"The wicked prowl on every side, when vileness is exalted among the sons of men."

When sin is not checked, sinners go completely bonkers. The church's primary role is to preach God's gospel of grace, and to provide people a community wherein they may find refuge in Christ. When this is not happening, "all hell breaks loose" (so to speak).

When sanity is restored through the ministry of God-honoring churches, we will no longer see vile persons marching in the streets, parading their sin with pride. Instead, we will observe a different phenomenon: God's people will be exalted; and His enemies will be in hiding.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church converts the whole world by blood and prayer." --Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 4/5-6/08 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is *almost* here! In order to prepare you for church, here is the great TW, from his work, entitled, "The Doctrine of Repentance":

"Our sins are worse than the sins of the devils. The lapsed angels never sinned against Christ's blood. Christ died not for them. The medicine of His merit was never intended to heal them. But we have affronted and disparaged His blood by unbelief.

"The devils never sinned against God's patience. As soon as they apostatised, they were damned. God never waited for the angels, but we have spent upon the stock of God's patience. He has pitied our weakness, borne with our forwardness. His Spirit has been repulsed, yet has still importuned us and will take no denial. Our conduct has been so provoking as to have tired not only the patience of a Moses but of all the angels. We have put God to it, and made Him weary of repenting (Jer. 15.6).

"The devils never sinned against example. They were the first that sinned and were made the first example. We have seen the angels, those morning stars, fall from their glorious orb; we have seen the old world drowned, Sodom burned, yet have ventured upon sin. How desperate is that thief who robs in the very place where his fellow hangs in chains. And surely, if we have out-sinned the devils, it may well put us to the blush."

Fri., 4/4/08 Devotion (Ps. 8:9)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 8:9, where David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote these words:

"O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!"

Earlier in this Psalm, David had marveled that God even paid any attention to, or respect to mankind. Now, David gives God--not man--the ultimate expression of praise. It is "The Lord" whose name is "excellent"--even in "*all* the earth!"

There is not a square inch of this planet, where God's name is not excellent. Mankind has corrupted the whole world through the Fall (of Adam); but the Lord has restored and given hope to it in the atonement and resurrection of the Last Adam (Christ). For this blessed fact, let us give thanks and praise to God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Hence we learn that we must not pass too harsh judgment upon ourselves or others when God exercises us with bruising upon bruising." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thurs., 4/3/08 Devotion (Col. 4:2)

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

"Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiv-
ing . . . "

Prayer is a strange phenomenon. God doesn't need it; but we do. But why? I think the answer is to be found in the fact that it simply keeps us *consciously* "connected" to the Lord. Without it, we grow complacent, self-sufficient, and dull. With it, we stay in vital relationship with our God.

These things we know about prayer: it is always to be made to God, through the name and sacrifice of Christ; it is to be an honest expression of our hearts; and it is to be a means of demonstrating gratitude to the Lord for all He has done for us. Don't ever give up praying. To do so is to give up on your faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The heroic deeds of those great [Biblical] worthies do not comfort the church so much as their falls and bruises do." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wed., 4/2/08 Devotion (Ps. 3:6)

Today's encouragement comes from David's words of Psalm 3:6, which say this:

"I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around."

What gives a believer this kind of confidence? Assurance. David, though a sinner, knew he was loved, blessed, and cherished by God. Therefore, it did not really matter that his son Absalom was chasing him all around the countryside. The result was a foregone conclusion: God would be with David, and he (David) knew it.

Unless we come to realize the blessed state of assurance of God's favor, we will always fear man (and everything else). And why not? We have no solid belief that we are in the Lord's grace. Are you a child of the King, as a member of Christ's church? If so, then seek to make your calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10).

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God] knows that divine manifestations of love will most awaken, quicken, and engage the soul to ways of piety and sanctity." --Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]