Friday, August 29, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/29-31/08 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! To get you going, here is TW, from his book, "A Body of Divinity":

"As God's mercy makes the saints happy, so it should make them humble. Mercy is not the fruit of our goodness, but the fruit of God's goodness. Mercy is an alms that God bestows. They have no cause to be proud that live upon the alms of God's mercy. 'If I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head,' (Job 10:15). All my righteousness is the effect of God's mercy, therefore I will be humble and will not lift up my head.

"Mercy stays the speedy execution of God's justice. Sinners continually provoke God, and make 'the fury come up in His face,' (Ezek 38:18). Whence is it God does not presently arrest and condemn them? It is not that God cannot do it, for He is armed with omnipotence, but it is from His mercy. Mercy gets a reprieve for the sinner, and stops the speedy process of justice. God would, by His goodness, lead sinners to repentance."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thurs., 8/28/08 Devotion (Ps. 36:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 36:8, where we read these words:

"They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures."

Such is the state (above) of all God's sincere churchmen--who rest all their hopes for redemption and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ (alone). They are given a lot: abundant satisfaction from God's fullness of His house (church). On top of this, they drink daily of the Water of Life (Christ). He is God's "River" of "pleasures."

Is the faithful life easy? No. Are there struggles that accrue to it, that even the unregenerate do not have to deal with? Yes. But, in the full scope of things, the true believer has a very wonderful life and inheritance (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us assure ourselves that God's grace, even in this imperfect state, is stronger than man's free will in the state of original perfection." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wed., 8/27/08 Devotion (1 Cor. 1:18)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 1:18, which says this:

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

Why do some people fail to respond to the amazing truth that a perfect God-Man died on a cross for wicked sinners? Partly, because they think the message is foolish, (see the verse above). And why do they think this? Because they cannot conceive of themselves as that bad; and they want salvation mixed with their own works (or alleged righteousness).

Why, on the other hand, do others receive the grace of the cross, and experience redemption? Because God regenerates them, and they recognize the truth: that their sins put the Beloved One on the cruel tree (cross); and that true atonement is powerful--strong enough to effect the forgiveness of their sins.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Where the aim and bent of the soul is towards God, there is grace, though opposed." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tues., 8/26/08 Devotion (Lam. 3:22-23)

Today's encouragement comes from Lamentations 3:22 & 23, where we read these lovely words:

"Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."

As I sat outside on this absolutely beautiful morning, I thought these words were so marvelously relevant. God is so good to His redeemed churchmen. Every day He renews His compassionate grace to them; and He never ever fails them.

Do we understand that, except for God's mercies, we would (and should) be condemned? Without this basic starting point, we cannot (and will not) enjoy nor value Christ's atonement of our souls. If your sins are forgiven today, it is not because you did anything to make that happen. God did it all, in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ . . . goes forth conquering, in the ministry, that He may overcome either to conversion or confusion."
--Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mon., 8/25/08 Devotion (1 Sam. 17:26b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 17:26b, where we find David saying this:

" . . . For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"

We have got to love David's spirit here (above). He had a simple faith in God, so he could not understand why anyone would be afraid of a giant (Goliath). "Compared to God, who is this Philistine?," would be David's way of thinking.

And so it is today. The church needs "Davids," who will not cower before the blustering, bloated "giants" of heresy and blasphemy--who are more full of hot air than they are of any substance. Let us, like David, take our stand on the gospel of Christ, and fight as the "armies of the living God."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Such is the goodness of our sweet Savior that He delights still to show His strength in our weakness." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/22-24/08 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We get to go to church! In order to help get you ready to worship God, here is Thomas Watson, waxing eloquently on Original Sin, in his book, entitled, "A Body of Divinity":

"In original sin there is something privative, and something positive.

"Something privative. We have lost that excellent quintessential frame of soul which once we had. Sin has cut the lock of original purity, where our strength lay.

"Something positive. Original sin has contaminated and defiled our virgin nature. It was death among the Romans to poison the springs. Original sin has poisoned the spring of our nature. It has turned beauty into leprosy; it has turned the azure brightness of our souls into midnight darkness.

"Original sin has become co-natural to us. A man by nature cannot but sin; though there were no devil to tempt, no bad examples to imitate, yet there is such an innate principle in him that he cannot forbear sinning. . . . In original sin there is:

"An aversion from good. Man has a desire to be happy, yet opposes that which should promote his happiness. He has a disgust of holiness, he hates to be reformed. Since we fell from God, we have no mind to return to Him."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thurs., 8/21/08 Devotion (Jer. 50:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 50:20, where we read these words:

" 'In those days and in that time,' says the LORD, 'The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found; for I will pardon those whom I preserve.' "

If you are a sincere churchman, and you want to warm your affection for Christ, do this: think on your sins that have been forgiven. Consider how awful it is to offend God. Remember back on how much of a burden it was, to be under a load of guilt and condemnation.

Then, marvel that your sins can no longer "be found," (to quote today's text). If your faith is in Jesus alone, for your right standing with God--then your sins are completely covered. Such is the blessedness of the true church. We will be praising God for eternity for such mercies.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Weakness with watchfulness will stand, when strength with too much confidence fails." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wed., 8/20/08 Devotion (Rom. 10:2-3)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 10:2 & 3, where Paul wrote these words:

"For I bear them [the Jews] witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God."

Do you know that a lot of religious fanatics go to hell? In today's text, the problem was not passion, but it was misplaced trust. The Jewish people that Paul is referring to (above) were all for justification (even with God), but they wanted it on their own terms: namely, through keeping the law.

What is "the righteousness of God" referred to above? It is that righteousness that is gained through faith in Christ (and not through works). Abraham had that kind of righteousness; and everyone else who ends up in heaven has it too.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A Christian conquers, even when he is conquered." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tues., 8/19/08 Devotion (Rom. 9:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 9:20, where we read these words:

"But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' "

Though God would have His own sincere churchmen be very gut-wrenchingly candid with Him, and tell Him everything in their hearts, and lay everything bare before Him--the Lord does *not* entertain complaints about *why* He has made people in one way or another.

Even when it comes to His sovereign election, (which is the immediate context of Rom. 9:20), we are not allowed to "reply against God." Of course, no one cares whether they please God, or not, until they are regenerated (born again). Therefore, it is especially ill-suited for God's redeemed people to quarrel with the Lord, as to why He elects some, and not others.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Without Christ's Spirit the soul is in confusion, without beauty and form . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mon., 8/18/08 Devotion (Ps. 24:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 24:1, which says this:

"The earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein."

The latest international religion to come along has been earth-worship. The hysteria over "environmentalism" is its creed, and Al Gore is its high priest. The idea is that the earth is of ultimate value, and that human beings are to be subservient to it, (and are to essentially worship it).

But according to Ps. 24:1, it is GOD who ultimately "owns" the earth, because He is the One who created it. The Lord has "given" it to the meek of His church (cf. Matt. 5:5)--but He did this, not so that we would serve it, but so that it would serve us. God would have us be
good stewards of His creation; but He would have us worship *Him*, and not what He made.

[Puritan quote of the day: "And so, as to the church in general, by Christ it will have its victory." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/15-17/08 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his incomparable work, entitled, "A Body of Divinity":

"A people in covenant with God are a willing people; though they cannot serve God perfectly, they serve Him willingly. They do not grudge God a little time spent in His worship; they do not hesitate or murmur at sufferings; they will go through a sea and a wilderness, if God call. 'Your people shall be a willing people,' (Ps. 110:3). This spontaneity and willingness is from the attractive power of God's Spirit: the Spirit does not force, but sweetly draws the will; and this willingness in religion makes all our services accepted. God does sometimes accept of willingness without the work, but never the work without willingness.

"God's covenant people are a consecrated people, they have holiness to the Lord written upon them. . . . God's covenant people are separated from the world, and sanctified by the Spirit. The priests under the law were not only to wash in the great laver, but were arrayed with glorious apparel, (Ex. 28:2). This was typical, to show God's people are not only washed from gross sins, but adorned with holiness of heart: they bear not only God's name, but image. Tamerlane refused a pot of gold, when he saw it had not his father's stamp upon it, but the Roman stamp. Holiness is God's stamp; if He does not see this stamp upon us, He will not own us for His covenant people."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thurs., 8/14/08 Devotion (Rom. 4:2-3)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 4:2 & 3, where we read these amazing words:

"For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' "

Religious people often like to boast (at least within themselves) about how good they are. But Abraham knew better. He understood that his faithful deeds--like being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac--were not the *cause* of his right standing with God, but were, rather, the *results* of his being justified by faith.

There is nothing more despicable in the world, or in the eyes of God, than a self-, or works-righteousness person. These people despise and disdain the work of Christ, and believe themselves good enough to satisfy an absolutely holy God. On the judgment day, *only* those clothed with Jesus' righteousness, apprehended by faith alone, will stand.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Every man is as his God is. If you would know whether a man is a godly man or not, you must inquire what his god is like." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "A truly Godly man prefers God before all others"]

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wed., 8/13/08 Devotion (Rom. 3:28)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 3:28, where Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote these words:

"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the
deeds of the law."

How much of your own righteousness do you have? If you answered by thinking that you have any at all, then you are definitely in trouble, and you have blasphemously denigrated the atonement of Christ. There is not one thing you can do to procure your right standing with God, outside of believing that Jesus Christ Himself has *fully* (and not partly) accomplished this for you.

The Fall has left us all with the accursed sense that we still somehow possess Adam's initial "righteousness." The fact is, it is completely gone. If we are going to be justified at all, it must be done in and through Christ alone, apprehended by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Heaven is ours already, only we strive till we have full possession." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tues., 8/12/08 Devotion (1 Sam. 2:30c)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 2:30c, where we read these words:

" . . . For those who honor Me [the Lord] I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed."

The Lord cannot be "outdone." If anyone is willing, by grace through faith in Christ alone, to "honor" Him, God will more than "return the favor." On the flip side: those who treat the Lord with disdain will be "lightly esteemed." (And to be "lightly esteemed" by God is *not* a good thing.)

How do we honor God? Only one thing pleases Him, and that is faith in Christ. (See Heb. 11:6 for vivid proof of this.) Sincere faith will then, inevitably, lead to a life of obedience, beginning with Sunday (Sabbath) observance, church membership, and true worship.

[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"]

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mon., 8/11/08 Devotion (Ps. 13:1, 6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 13:1 & 6, where we read these words:

"How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? . . . I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me."

Such is life down here in a fallen world--even among the people of God. David opens his psalm with the lamentable words of, "How
long . . . ?"; and ends it just five verses later with, "[God] has dealt bountifully with me." One moment he is in the pits; two minutes later he is on the mountaintop.

Prudence dictates that we tether ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith; and that, having done that, we "hang on for the ride." None of us can control our circumstances; but the one thing we *can* and *must* do is to cling tenaciously to Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[Christ] was love itself clothed with man's nature . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, August 8, 2008

Sat./Sabbath, 8/9-10/08 Devotion

Hallelujah--Sunday is almost here! In order to help get you ready for church, here is TW, from his, "The Lord's Prayer" book:

"Doing God's will propagates the gospel. It is the diamond that sparkles in religion. Others cannot see what faith is in the heart, but when they see we do God's will on earth, it makes them have a venerable opinion of religion, and become proselytes to it. Julian [the apostate], in one of his epistles, writing to Arsatius, says, 'that the Christian religion did much flourish, by the sanctity and obedience of them that professed it.'

"By doing God's will, we show our love to Christ. 'He that has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves Me,' (Jn. 14:21). What greater love to Christ than to do His will, though it cross our own? Every one would be thought to love Christ; but, how shall it be known but by this: Do we do His will on earth? . . . It is a vain thing for a man to say he loves Christ's Person, when he slights His commands. Not to do God's will on earth is a great evil."

Fri., 8/8/08 Devotion (Ruth 1:16)

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

"But Ruth said: 'Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.' "

Ruth's statement to Naomi (above) is an ideal pattern for all sincere churchmen. We are to ask God to permanently accept us (in Jesus), to allow us to follow Him all the way to heaven, to go through whatever circumstances He would choose for us (good or bad), to abide with Him, to make His church our own family, and to be bound perpetually to Him (in faith).

And to think that Ruth was an unclean outsider (in the Old Covenant), just like we are, in our sin and rebellion. God received her into His grace, just as He will all believing sinners, even today. Let us be thankful that we serve such a great Lord.

[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"]

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thurs., 8/7/08 Devotion (Ps. 60:11-12)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 60:11 & 12, where David left us these great words:

"Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless. Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies."

In the most important and significant areas of life, the help of man is of no use whatsoever. This is a lesson that usually has to be learned the hard way. But once we recognize this fact: that really, no human being (outside of Jesus Christ Himself) is going to be able to help us, we are well on our way to the adventure of faith and deliverance.

Now, with Christ as our help, we do far more than we would have ever thought, or imagined. Now, we are "valiant," and we partake of God's victories in and through us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If God is infinitely happy now, then everything is now as God would have it to be now; if everything, then [even] those things that are contrary to His commands." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "The Nature of God"]

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wed., 8/6/08 Devotion (Acts 24:16)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's words, found in Acts 24:16:

"This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men."

God's churchmen ought to do everything in their power to faithfully please God; and, in so doing, to not unduly offend men either. Sometimes this is impossible. Doing what God commands *will*, in some cases, offend people. In this case, it is always best to honor God, and let sinners be upset about it.

The rule to go by is this: faithfulness to Christ is *always* in *every* human beings' best interest, (even though the unregenerate do not realize, nor accept this). Let us seek to keep our consciences clean, by walking by faith, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Truth is truth, and error, error, and that which is unlawful is unlawful, whether men think so or not." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tues., 8/5/08 Devotion (Jer. 33:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 33:3, where we read these words:

"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."

Do we really "call" on God, like we ought to? I doubt it. The Lord
is *so* great, that He is worthy of BIG requests. We ought to call on Him to establish His church as the glory of the earth. We should ask Him to give His faithful churchmen victory over all His enemies--and to make His people agents of reconciliation and righteousness in the world.

A lot of times we just do not know how to pray. Sometimes, we pray about mundane things. But always, it is good to ask God for significant, world-changing dynamics, (which exalt Christ and bless His church).

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is never a holy sigh, never a tear shed, which is lost. . . . By prayer we learn to pray." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mon., 8/4/08 Devotion (Jer. 32:26-27)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 32:26 & 27, which says this:

"Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 'Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?' "

Nothing is too hard for God, because no circumstance or situation is outside of His complete ability to rectify (it). When even the prophet Jeremiah considered God's promise, that the people would return to the land, it seemed utterly preposterous (to Jeremiah) that it could actually come to pass.

Perhaps you are facing something today that truly is humanly-impossible. But, what is not possible for man is possible for God. Why not lay your situation out before Him, and ask Him to do some great miracle? If He chooses to do so, great; if not, you know that He knows what is best for you.

[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, August 1, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/1-3/08 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here. We get to go to church, and worship God. In order to help get you ready, here is TW, from his "The Art of Divine Contentment" book:

"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, which is the actual application of Christ to ourselves, and is as it were the spreading of the sacred medicine of His blood upon our souls. Have you heard much of Christ, and yet cannot with a 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."