Friday, May 30, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 5/31-6/1/08 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is *almost* here. In order to help prepare you for church, here is TW, from "The Ten Commandments":

"The sacred observation of [The Lord's Day]. Rejoice at the approach of the day, as a day wherein we have a prize for our souls, and may enjoy much of God's presence. John 8:56: 'Abraham rejoiced to see My day.' So, when we see the light of a Sabbath shine, we should rejoice, and 'call the Sabbath a delight.' This is the queen of days, which God has crowned with a blessing, (Isa 58:13). As there was one day in the week on which God rained manna twice as much as upon any other day, so He rains down the manna of heavenly blessings twice as much on the Sabbath as on any other.

"This is the day wherein Christ carries the soul into the house of wine, and displays the banner of love over it; now the dew of the Spirit falls on the soul, whereby it is revived and comforted. How many may write the Lord's Day, the day of their new birth! This day of rest is a pledge and earnest of the eternal rest in heaven. Shall we not then rejoice at its approach? The day on which the Sun of Righteousness shines should be a day of gladness."

Fri., 5/30/08 Devotion (Isa. 31:4b)

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

" . . . So the LORD of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion and for its hill."

It is wonderful to keep in mind--even when horrible things are happening in the world--that God always "come[s] down" to "fight" for His church, His "Mt. Zion." And when the Lord goes to war for His people--their enemies have no hope of victory.

Are you part of "Mt. Zion"? In other words, are you a sincere believer who is covenantally-bound to a local church, that is properly and duly-constituted? Is the gospel preached there? Are the sacraments properly administered there? Is there discipline there? If so, then God is fighting for *you*.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The purpose of Christ's coming was to destroy the works of the devil, both for us and in us . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thurs., 5/29/08 Devotion (Isa. 30:11b)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 30:11b, where we read these words:

" . . . Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us."

Wicked people would love to have God be dead. Actually, all of us, in our fallen natures, would be very happy if there *was no* God, so that we could sin with impunity (and without conscience issues). But alas, for all God-haters, the Lord does indeed exist.

Not only does the Sovereign God exist--but He will also execute wrath and punishment on *all* sin. For the regenerate, this has already been done, as the Father unleashed His righteous judgment of our sins on His Own Son, Jesus Christ. For the unbelieving, however, they will have to suffer their own punishment forever, in hell.

[Puritan quote of the day: "David committed many sins, but especially those two of adultery and murder, and yet God pardoned Him. But Saul committed far less sins than those and yet God cast him off forever." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wed., 5/28/08 Devotion (Ps. 84:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 84:2, where we read these words:

"My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."

This (above) is a blessed state to be in. It is what we yearn for that most accurately describes who and what we are. To ache for the Lord, His house, and His worship is the highest and best of all aspirations. When this is the case, one may be assured that his or her desires will indeed be met.

Later in this same Psalm (at v. 11), we are told that no good thing will be withheld from those who so walk, and thirst. Let us do what we can to garner a hunger for Christ and His church--and know that in doing so every other good thing will follow, in its proper order.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sin has turned the world from a paradise into a thicket, and there is no getting through without being scratched." --Thomas Boston, in "The Crook in the Lot"]

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tues., 5/27/08 Devotion (2 Jn. 2)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 John, v. 2, where we read these words:

" . . . Because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever . . . "

Truth is on hard times these days. For anyone to claim to own it is thought ridiculous. But truth is unavoidable. Even when stupid people deny truth's existence, they are, in making that very claim, *assuming* its existence, (though the content of their statement is patently false).

Not only do true churchmen *presently* possess the truth--they will, according to the verse above, own it "forever." This is because the truth is found in Christ, who eternally always has been, and always will be the perfect Personification of it (Truth). (In this regard, see Jn. 14:6.)

[Puritan quote of the day: "To follow God fully is to follow Him as the highest good . . . " --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mon., 5/26/08 Devotion (1 Jn. 5:4b)

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

" . . . And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith."

Everybody tries to overcome the world--but very few succeed. Why? Because most people try doing it through their own efforts. They believe that their good deeds will overcome the world, or that their religious activities will do so.

But faith alone overcomes the world; and the reason for this is the *Object* of faith, which is brought to bear on the particular struggles being overcome. That Object is the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith alone "fetches" the Redeemer to the soul, and to the situation. This is a hard lesson to learn, but is one well worth our mastery.

[Puritan quote of the day: "They seek for heaven in hell that seek for spiritual love in an unchanged heart." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 5/24-25/08 Devotion

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

"The grand reason for changing the Jewish Sabbath to the Lord's Day is that it puts us in mind of the 'Mystery of our redemption by Christ.' The reason why God instituted the old Sabbath was to be a memorial of the creation; but He has now brought the first day of the week in its room in memory of a more glorious work than creation, which is redemption. Great was the work of creation, but greater was the work of redemption. As it was said, 'The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former,' (Hag. 2:9). So the glory of the redemption was greater than the glory of the creation.

"Great wisdom was seen in making us, but more miraculous wisdom in saving us. Great power was seen in bringing us out of nothing, but greater power in helping us when we were worse than nothing. It cost more to redeem than to create us. In creation it was but speaking a word (Psa. 148:5); in redeeming there was shedding of blood (1 Pet.
1:19). Creation was the work of God's fingers, (Psa. 8:3), redemption was the work of His arm, (Luke 1:51). In creation, God gave us ourselves; in the redemption, He gave us Himself. By creation, we have life in Adam; by redemption, we have life in Christ, (Col. 3:3). By creation, we had a right to an earthly paradise: by redemption, we have a title to a heavenly kingdom. Christ might well change the seventh day of the week into the first, as it puts us in mind of our redemption, which is a more glorious work than creation."

Fri., 5/23/08 Devotion (1 Jn. 2:8b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 2:8b, where we read these words:

" . . . Because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining."

Ever since Christ's first advent, with His glorious resurrection from the dead, His ascension into heaven, and His pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the New Covenant church, God's light has been advancing, and the world's and the devil's darkness have been on the retreat.

Does this always *appear* to us to be the case, from our limited (and emotion-bound) perspectives? No. But it is always better to trust the word of God itself, rather than our own feelings. Since God has clearly said that the "darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining," let us, His faithful churchmen, believe Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Pray as we are able, hear as we are able, strive as we are able, do as we are able, according to the measure of grace received." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thurs., 5/22/08 Devotion (1 Jn. 1:10)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 1:10, where we read these words:

"If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him [God] a liar, and His word is not in us."

Sin is an insidious thing. If we acknowledge it, we must confess it and repent of it. If we do not acknowledge it, we sin even worse (by pretending it does not exist). The best thing to do, in confessing sin, is to be as honest with God as we possibly can be. This requires God's assistance.

Confession of sin usually has these two temptations attached to it: 1) to say things to God that we do not really mean (just to ease our conscience); or, 2) to confess things to God which (in themselves) are really not sin at all. Again: the key is candor. May the Lord help us know our hearts well enough, in order to make good confession to Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The eyes of our souls cannot be towards Him [God] unless He has cast a gracious look upon us first." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wed., 5/21/08 Devotion (2 Pet. 3:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Peter 3:14a, where we read these words:

"Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace . . . "

The Lord is pleased to find us "in peace." This seems like a tall order today (or during an epoch). But we have a responsibility to be "in peace." If our hearts are fundamentally and basically "churned up" all the time--it is evidence that we are not "in peace."

True churchmen have the winds of trouble blow against their souls, (much like a tree sways in the breeze)--but his or her heart is anchored in Christ (much like how an oak tree has a huge root system). That "rootage" is the peace that is spoken of here, and in other places in the Scriptures. Be found to be in Christ, the "Prince of Peace."

[Puritan quote of the day: "A child of God thinks he has enough in that he has God with him . . . " --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tues., 5/20/08 Devotion (Ps. 73:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 73:17, where we read these words:

" . . . Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end."

Asaph, the writer of this Psalm, was flustered, because he couldn't understand why the wicked seemed to prosper. But, once he (Asaph) came "into the sanctuary of God" everything began to make sense. This is an important and universal principle that the Lord insists upon: until or unless we are His church, worshipping Him on His day, we can expect no illumination or understanding.

Sunday, church, and worship give form and function to our Christian lives. Let us enter God's sanctuary Lord's Day to Lord's Day, and enjoy the fulfillment that He pours out upon us there, in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Under this gracious [New] Covenant, sincerity is perfection." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mon., 5/19/08 Devotion (Isa. 19:24-25)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 19:24 & 25, where we read these words:

"In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria--a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, 'Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.' "

This is a remarkable section of Holy Scripture (above). In the New Covenant church of the Lord Jesus Christ, old enemies become brothers, as they share the same faith in the same Messiah (Jesus). Israel, representing the privileged Old Covenant, is joined with Egypt (her former oppressor), and Assyria (another typical world-foe).

Only God could do this. And, in fact, He *is* doing it, even as we write (or read). Christ is building His church, and nothing can stop Him, (see Matt. 16:18).

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is a free agent, to work where He will, and when He will, and to reveal His love how He will, and when He will, and to whom He will." --Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 5/17-18/08 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! In order to help you get ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "The Ten

"The Sabbath Day is for our interest; it promotes holiness in us. The business of week-days makes us forgetful of God and our souls. The Sabbath brings Him back to our remembrance. When the falling dust of the world has clogged the wheels of our affections, that they can scarce move towards God, the Sabbath comes, and oils the wheels of our affections, and they move swiftly on.

"God has appointed the Sabbath for this end. On this day the thoughts rise to heaven, the tongue speaks of God, and is as the pen of a ready writer, the eyes drop tears, and the soul burns in love. The heart, which all the week was frozen, on the Sabbath melts with the word. The Sabbath is a friend to religion; it files off the rust of our graces; it is a spiritual jubilee, wherein the soul is set to converse with its Maker."

Fri., 5/16/08 Devotion (1 Pet. 3:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 3:8, where we read these words:

"Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous . . . "

Sometimes, in the midst of all the struggle and spiritual warfare that is going on in us, and amongst us, we tend to forget some of the most basic tenets of Christianity. Peter is telling the church here to remember to love one another.

All of us--even the most mature amongst us--are weak in many ways, and are given to all kinds of sins, failings, and annoyances. God would have us be gracious and patient with one another. After all: the Lord has treated us with *ultimate* kindness, even though we deserve none of it. Let us show those in His church forbearance and gentleness.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us pray that God will preserve pure ordinances and powerful preaching among us. Idolatry came in at first by the want of good preaching." --Thomas Watson, in "The Ten Commandments"]

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thurs., 5/15/08 Devotion (Ps. 66:12b)

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

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

Only those who persevere through trials get the benefit of "rich fulfillment" at the end of them. This principle is true at both the micro and macro levels of life. Testings and temptations endured give way to rest and satisfaction later. After the devil left Jesus, angels came and ministered to Him (in Matt. 4:11).

The spoils of Christ's victory for His church do *not* go to "prima donna" spirits. Instead, they are the possession of those brave hearts that are willing, by grace, to take on the flesh, the world, and the devil--and defeat them (through their faith in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "True religion in a state is as a main pillar of a house and the post of a tent that upholds all." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wed., 5/14/08 Devotion (1 Pet. 1:7c-8a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 1:7c & 8a, where we read these words:

" . . . Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. . . . "

Is it possible to love Someone you haven't seen? For that matter, is it possible to believe in the existence of that Someone (God), whom you have not seen? Indeed, the answer to these questions is, "Yes." How do we know that Jesus Christ exists; and that we can love Him? Through credible witnesses. The ultimate Witness is the Holy Spirit Himself.

If you sincerely love the God you have not seen with the eyes of your body, you are blessed. Christ said as much, in Jn. 20:29. The greatest realities are not seen. Even atheists must employ them, in order to deny them. Love the Christ who is more *with* you, than you are with yourself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Compare sin with hell, and you shall see that sin is worse." --Thomas Watson, in "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tues., 5/13/08 Devotion (Ps. 62:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 62:8, where we read these words:

"Trust in Him [the Lord] at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us."

What are your problems, concerns, and/or heart-struggles today? Have you sought to trust God for their resolution? You might be discouraged, because you still feel "jittery," nervous, and anxious about these things--even after bringing them to the Lord in prayer.

That is all right. The main thing is that you are, by grace, entrusting yourself and your issues to Christ. If you are owned by the Redeemer--if His blood has atoned for you--then you are a whole lot better off than you think you are. Don't kick yourself when you are down. God doesn't do this to you.

[Puritan quote of the day: "That Great Physician [Christ], as He had a quick eye and a healing tongue, so had He a gentle hand, and a tender heart." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mon., 5/12/08 Devotion (Jas. 4:10)

Today's encouragement comes from James 4:10, where we read these words:

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up."

Humility is a beautiful grace. It frees up the soul to live peaceably, and sweetly. Every true saint *will* be humbled. Churchmen have the opportunity, however, to be proactive; and to do the task (of humbling) on themselves. This is a whole lot better than having to have God do it.

Also, there is a neat promise: for those who do humble themselves, Almighty God will "lift [them] up." How great is that? We get "two for one"; God gets the glory; and we get the happiness and honor (bestowed on us by Him).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Son is the fullness of God, and the church is the fullness of the Son of God." --Jonathan Edwards, in
his sermon, "The Glory of God"]

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 5/10-11/08 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is *almost* here! In order to get you ready for church, here is the great TW, from, "A Body of Divinity":

"What are the several species or kinds of Peace?

"Peace, in Scripture, is compared to a river which parts itself into two silver streams, (Isa. 66:12).

"1. There is an external peace, and that is, (a.): Economical, or peace in a family. (b.): Political, or peace in the state. Peace is the nurse of plenty. 'He makes peace in your borders, and fills you with the finest of the wheat,' (Psa. 147:14). How pleasant it is when the waters of blood begin to assuage, and we can see the windows of our ark open, and the dove returning with an olive branch of peace! (c.): Ecclesiastical, or peace in the church. As unity in Trinity is the greatest mystery in heaven, unity in truth is the greatest mercy on earth. Peace ecclesiastical stands in opposition to schism and persecution."

Fri., 5/9/08 Devotion (Ps. 55:16)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 55:16, where we read these words:

"As for me, I will call upon God, and the LORD shall save me."

David makes a personal assertion here. No matter what other people choose to do with their troubles--he, at least, will bring his to the Lord. David believed that simply "calling upon God" would be enough to secure His help. This is why he wrote, "The Lord shall save me."

May all God's churchmen call upon Him, in trouble or in pleasure. Let us recognize that the Lord is good; and that He alone is able to meet our deepest needs.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Those who would annihilate the ministry try to pull the stars out of Christ's hand." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thurs., 5/8/08 Devotion (Heb. 13:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 13:6, where we read these words:

"So we may boldly say: 'The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?' "

Because God is with His churchmen; and because God will never forsake them; and because He is sufficient to meet all our needs (so that we need not covet what others have)--we may make the statement (above), and exude that kind of confidence.

Bold living is not the result of possessing the things of the world (as so many wrongly imagine). Instead, valorous conduct comes about because the God who created the world, and saves His own, is cherished in the heart.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Prayer crowns God with the honor and glory that is due to His name; and God crowns prayer with assurance and comfort." --Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wed., 5/7/08 Devotion (Ps. 51:1b-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 51:1b & 2, where we read these words:

"Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin."

What a great prayer (by David). After all, if our sins are forgiven, and if we know (and even sense) this--can there be a greater blessing? Jesus died for sinners. He did not die for good people. If you are a sinner, saved by grace through faith in Christ (plus nothing)--then you are supremely happy.

What are we to do when we feel guilty? Bring the issue to God. If we believe in Jesus' atonement, then let us leave our sin there (at the cross). If we do not believe in Jesus' atonement, then we are lost, and must bear our own sin's punishment (in perdition).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church of Christ is a common hospital, wherein all are in some measure sick of some spiritual disease or other . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tues., 5/6/08 Devotion (Ps. 50:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 50:15, where we read these words:

"Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."

God brings trouble to His people, so that they will cry out to Him. God loves it, when we exercise faith (see Heb. 11:6)--and faith is mostly demonstrated through response to difficulties. Faith takes practical expression in and through prayer.

Are you in trouble today? Good, so long as you have a God to go to. Life is less about how to avoid hardship; and a lot more about how to take advantage of the opportunities it affords us (to know Christ better).

[Puritan quote of the day: "We should labor to give the best interpretation to the actions of governors that the nature of the actions will possibly bear." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mon., 5/5/08 Devotion (Num. 12:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 12:3, where we read these words:

"(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)"

Moses' humility was in some respects his most notable characteristic. He was not full of himself. Moses would have been very pleased, had God chosen someone other than he (Moses) to lead the people.

Humility, however, is necessary for greatness; and Moses was certainly destined for that. Let us recognize that God chooses His faithful churchmen, not on the basis of anything at all in them--but entirely on the premise of His own will and greater glory. None of us have anything to boast in (except Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church is a distinct race, that originally came from God." --Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Knowing Christ"]

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/2-4/08 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is almost here! In order to prepare you for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "A Body of Divinity":

"What is the means or instrument of our justification?

"Faith. 'Being justified by faith,' (Rom. 5:1). The dignity is not in faith as a grace, but relatively, as it lays hold on Christ's merits.

"What is the efficient cause of our justification?

"The whole Trinity. All the Persons in the blessed Trinity have a hand in the justification of a sinner: 'opera Trinitatis ad extra sunt indivisa.' God the Father is said to justify. 'It is God that justifies,' (Rom. 8:33). God the Son is said to justify: 'By Him all that believe are justified,' (Acts 13:39). God the Holy Ghost is said to justify: 'But you are justified by the Spirit of our God,' (1 Cor. 6:2). God the Father justifies, as He pronounces us righteous; God the Son justifies, as He imputes His righteousness to us; and God the Holy Ghost justifies, as He clears up our justification, and seals us up to the day of redemption."

Thurs., 5/1/08 Devotion (Heb. 6:19a)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 6:19a, where we read these words:

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stead-
fast . . . "

In a world where atheists and other fools would seek to shake us off from our faith in God, it is encouraging to know that our hope is anchored to an immovable Rock (Christ). Our hope is "anchored" on God's immutable (unchangeable) promise; and it is supported by the fact that He "cannot lie," (see v. 18).

Even as in the case of a ship tethered to an anchor, it is certainly possible for us to be "tossed and turned" a bit in this life--but even then, we are never lost. The anchor holds us fast. The "rope" which attaches us to our Anchor (Christ), is faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Assurance is a choice part of a believer's happiness . . . " --Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]