Monday, June 30, 2008

Mon., 6/30/08 Devotion (Isa. 62:6-7)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 62:6 & 7, where we read these words:

"I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth."

These verses encapsulate the principle that the ministers of the church are to continue to proclaim the gospel, and to press the borders of Christ's kingdom unrelentingly, until the glory of Christ shines, and God's ways are established on the earth.

All churchmen are to join them in "giv[ing God] no rest" until His church is more fully established on the globe. We have something to live for--let us be about the exciting work of gospel expansion and grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Keep the soul open to entertain the Holy Ghost, for He will bring in continually fresh forces to subdue corruption, and this most of all on the Lord's Day." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 6/28-29/08 Devotion

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

"Each Sabbath may be the last we shall ever keep. We may go from the place of hearing to the place of judging--and shall not we give reverend attention to the word? Did we think when we come into God's house, 'Perhaps this will be the last time that ever God will counsel us about our souls'; and before another sermon death's alarm will sound in our ears; with what attention and devotion should we feel, and our affections would be all on fire in hearing!

"You must give an account for every sermon you hear. 'Give an account of your stewardship,' (Lk. 16:2). So will God say, 'Give an account of your hearing. Have you been affected with the word? Have you profited by it?' How can we give a good account, if we have been distracted in hearing, and have not taken notice of what has been said to us? The judge to whom we must give an account is God. Were we to give account to man, we might falsify accounts; but we must give an account to God. . . . "

Fri., 6/27/08 Devotion (Matt. 7:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 7:7, where our Lord Jesus said this:

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."

This promise is not made to just anyone--but to Christ's redeemed church alone. But what a great promise it is! Sometimes we think we are "asking," "seeking," and "knocking," when in fact we are not. What the Savior has in mind here is this: those who know themselves to belong to God ought to clearly formulate their desires, and then earnestly seek them from Him--with expectation that they will be granted.

God's favor to His church is not given because we are so good, or faithful. Instead, it is given because we, by grace, *believe* the gospel, and *believe* that the Lord is both good and true. God is more than eager to give sweet gifts to His children.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What greater unthankfulness can there be than to despise any help that Christ in mercy has provided for us?"
--Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thurs., 6/26/08 Devotion (Isa. 58:13b-14a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 58:13b & 14a, where we read these words:

"And [if you] call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable . . . Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD . . . "

How does one "delight" oneself "in the Lord"? Or, to put it another way, "How does any human being experience the truest, highest, and most lasting and satisfying pleasure?" Answer: by delighting in the *same* things God Himself does.

The Lord delights in seeing faith and repentance in people, which manifest themselves immediately in love for Sabbath (Sunday), church, and worship. Do you want to be happy, like God is? Then adopt His values, His priorities, and His love-objects.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We must keep grace in exercise. It is not sleepy habits, but grace in exercise, that preserves us." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wed., 6/25/08 Devotion (Isa. 57:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 57:15, where we read these wonderful words:

"For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.' "

This is a lovely verse, indeed. I am especially blessed today by the end of it: "To revive the spirit of the humble . . . " Because the contrite ones dwell with God in Christ (by faith), God dwells also with them (in the lowliness of their hearts). And the Lord "revives" them, His church.

This "revival," among other things, is the experience of those occasional "glimpses" into heaven, wherein we are fully assured of the absolute love, goodness, power, and sovereignty of God. We can, and do live a long time on these mercies.

[Puritan quote of the day: "And if you look into your experience, who has more kisses and embraces of love from God our Father, than the weak Christian has?" --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tues., 6/24/08 Devotion (Isa. 56:6b-7a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 56:6b & 7a, where we read these words:

" . . . Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant--even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. . . . "

Here (above) is a sweet promise to the faithful churchman. Do you love the Lord? Do you love Him enough to value His Sabbath (Sunday), His church, and His worship? If so, then there are real solid blessings that are yours. You will know "mountain" experiences of praise (even in this world); and you will be joyful in God's house, His church.

Most religious people are seeking their fulfillment in other places, and in other ways. They may receive some false "highs" from time-to-time; but only the faithful get the real goods (in Christ). Stay the course of faith--you will not regret it (on the last day).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Prayer is the pouring out of the soul to God; not the pouring out of words, nor the pouring out of expressions; but the pouring out of the soul to God." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mon., 6/23/08 Devotion (Isa. 55:2b)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 55:2b, where we read these words:

" . . . Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance."

One of *the* great glories of the gospel--and it is vividly demonstrated in Isa. 55--is this dimension of our need to simply come, take, and "eat" to our heart's content of all the grace of God. Gluttony is a sin; but it is *not* a sin to sate oneself on as much of Christ and His goodness as one wants to.

Therefore, let all people recognize that God is good; and that He has prepared a great feast for those who would but come and avail themselves of it--without money, without works, without effort, and without law. The church certainly serves a wonderful God. Let us enjoy Him wholeheartedly.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The . . . people of God are . . . of God's special acquaintance, and so they have peace, for they walk with God, and have communion with Him." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 6/21-22/08 Devotion

Yippee--it's *almost* Sunday! Wahoo! In order to help you get ready for church, here is TW, from "The Ten Commandments":

"We dress our souls on a Sabbath morning by prayer; 'When you pray, enter into your closet,' (Matt 6:6). Prayer sanctifies a Sabbath.

"The things we should pray for in the morning of the Sabbath. Let us beg a blessing upon the word which is to be preached; that it may be a savour of life to us; that by it our minds may be more illuminated, our corruptions more weakened, and our stock of grace more increased. Let us pray that God's special presence may be with us, that our hearts may burn within us while God speaks, that we may receive the word into meek and humble hearts, and that we may submit to it, and forth fruits, (James 1:21). Nor should we only pray for ourselves, but for others."

Fri., 6/20/08 Devotion (Ps. 116:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 116:6, where we read these words:

"The LORD preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me."

By "simple," God means those who have an uncomplicated understanding of their relationship with Him. The "simple" recognize that they are in the church because God was good to them, and chose to have mercy on them. They understand that their right relationship with God has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with Christ.

The "simple" will still have to undergo lots of hard times, like being "brought low." But, through it all, the blessedness of salvation is more than enough to soothe the bruised and humbled soul. God is not impressed with those who are full of themselves. He only saves sinners, who rely entirely on Christ's atonement.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Blessed is he who has his sin pardoned, for pardon of sin is the very bottom of all true comfort." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "Gospel Remission"]

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thurs., 6/19/08 Devotion (Isa. 51:12a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 51:12a, where we read these words:

"I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid . . . "

When God comforts His churchmen, as He always does in the atonement given them in Christ, they (the believers) have no ground for fear (especially of man). And the reason for this is because of *Who* it is that consoles and strengthens our hearts: it is not another fellow-sinner, nor an angel, nor anyone else--but God Himself.

When we rest, by faith, in Jesus' righteousness alone (as our own)--then, how can we justify fearing man or anything else? After all, if God is satisfied with us, in Christ, who cares what anyone else thinks?

[Puritan quote of the day: "If God delivers you from any of your sins, He must do such work as is greater than the making of heaven and earth." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wed., 6/18/08 Devotion (Isa. 50:2b)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 50:2b, where we read these words:

" . . . Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver? . . . "

How often do we think that our worst struggles *really are* beyond the reach, even of God Himself? If the truth be told, more often than we would like to admit. But really, are our trials too hard for the Lord? They are not. You might be asking, "If this is the case, then why has He not answered my prayers, and relieved me of this burden?"

Good question. I do not know the answer (absolutely)--only God does. But, it is likely that the Lord allows us to continue with certain difficulties for our good. Maybe these things "ballast" our souls, and keep us humble. Maybe they are designed by God to cause us to always have to rely on Christ and His grace. Surely, this is the best way to look at it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To suppose a man is justified by his own virtue or obedience derogates [takes away from] the honor of the Mediator [Christ] . . . " --Jonathan Edwards, in "Justification by Faith Alone"]

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tues., 6/17/08 Devotion (Ps. 111:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 111:2, where we read these words:

"The works of the LORD are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them."

God's works are remarkable indeed. Consider the far-flung universe. Who created all those galaxies and stars, etc.? God. But the creation of one human being is more significant than *all* the non-rational creation put together. Still, greater than the work of the making of man, is the labor of God through which He procured His church's salvation.

The work of Christ on the cross, and in His glorious resurrection--is the "magnum opus," and masterpiece of all that God has ever done. We contribute *no* work to our salvation--God does it all, even "against the grain" of our natural rebellion and disdain for Him. Creation is the work of the Lord's "fingers"; redemption is the work of His "arm."

[Puritan quote of the day: "God, in the sentence of justification, pronounces a man perfectly righteous, or else he would need a further justification after he is justified." --Jonathan Edwards, in "Justification by Faith Alone"]

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mon., 6/16/08 Devotion (Isa. 48:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 48:17, which says this:

"Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go.' "

Observe (above) how good God is to His church. First of all, He redeems her. But the Lord goes further: He also teaches her (even how to "profit"). On top of that, our Father shows us the way--so that we do not have to try to figure it all out on our own.

These are all things that God does for His church, even when we do not *feel* like they are being done. Sometimes we wonder if we are lost--when in fact, if we are in Christ--we are quite *found*. Do not be discouraged, if you are a faithful churchman, you are in better shape than you feel like you are.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justifying faith is that by which the soul, which before was separated and alienated from Christ, unites itself to Him . . . " --Jonathan Edwards, in "Justification by Faith Alone"]

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 6/14-15/08 Devotion

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

"Meditating on a Lord's Day morning on Christ's love, would kindle love in our hearts to Him. How can we look on His bleeding and dying for us and our hearts not be warmed with love to Him? Love is the soul of religion, the purest affection. It is not rivers of oil, but sparks of love that Christ values. And sure, as David said, 'While I was musing the fire burned,' (Psa. 39:3)--so, while we are musing of Christ's love in redeeming us, the fire of our love will burn towards Him. And then the Christian is in a blessed Sabbath-frame, when, like a seraphim, he is burning in love to Christ."

Fri., 6/13/08 Devotion (Isa. 45:5a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 45:5a, where we read these words:

"I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides
Me. . . . "

Are you and I true monotheists; or do we just pretend to be? The Lord (YHWH) says that He alone is God, and that no other gods exist. Do we believe this? The pressure on us from the world is for us to "clump" "gods" together. For example, we are told that the Muslims' allah is god, just in another form. The same could be said for other religions as well.

But is it wise to throw away the plain truth for political expediency? Surely, it is not. Worse yet, it is a slight to the true God to in any way, shape, or form associate Him with false gods. Let us be true (Puritan) Christians; and boldly take our stand on the true faith in the one and only Savior Jesus Christ, (and let the chips fall where they may).

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is by faith that we have a title to eternal life because it is by faith that we have the Son of God by whom life is." --Jonathan Edwards, in "Justification by Faith Alone"]

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thurs., 6/12/08 Devotion (Isa. 44:19c)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 44:19c, where we read these words:

" . . . Shall I fall down before a block of wood?"

The soul is God's noblest creation. Man was crafted in the very "image of God." Therefore, it is especially deplorable that fallen and sinful human beings choose to worship sticks, stones, and piles of dirt. It makes absolutely no sense at all--and yet such is the remarkable stupidity that befalls blinded sinners.

But there is an answer to this shameful dilemma. Instead of looking down, on the lower creation (even than that of ourselves), let us look *up* to the God that has created us. And there is no way to behold that God, except by faith in the One (Christ) who has redeemed us, and made us His holy church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is a peculiar relation between true Christians and Christ which there is not between Him [Christ] and others." --Jonathan Edwards, in "Justification by Faith Alone"]

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wed., 6/11/08 Devotion (Isa. 43:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 43:1, where we read these words:

"But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.' "

Observe (above) the blessed state of the redeemed church. We are often inclined to fear--wondering if indeed our sins are still blocking our relationship with God. We are sometimes prone to wonder if God has forgotten us. We are from time-to-time tempted to believe that we are orphans, and not children of grace.

But this verse affirms all the good things for the church: God made us; He knows us; He encourages us; He has cleansed and forgiven us; and He has joined us to Himself (since Christ is the Head of the church). What more could we want?!

[Puritan quote of the day: "We are under greater obligations to love a more lovely being than a less lovely one . . . " --Jonathan Edwards, in "Justification by Faith Alone"]