Friday, September 26, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/26-28/08 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday, the New Covenant Sabbath, the day we commemor-
ate Christ's resurrection, is just around the corner! In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book entitled, "The Godly Man's Picture":

"The test of a pilot is seen in a storm; so the test of a Christian is seen in affliction. That man has the right art of navigation who, when the boisterous winds blow from heaven, steers the ship of his soul wisely, and does not dash upon the rock of impatience. A Christian should always maintain decorum, not behaving himself in an unseemly manner or disguising himself with intemperate passion when the hand of God lies upon him.

"Patience adorns suffering. Affliction in Scripture is compared to a net: 'You brought us into the net,' (Psa. 66:11). Some have escaped the devil's net, yet the Lord allows them to be taken in the net of affliction. But they must not be 'as a wild bull in a net,' (Isa. 51:20), kicking and flinging against their Maker, but lie patiently till God breaks the net and makes a way for their escape."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thurs., 9/25/08 Devotion (Ps. 77:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 77:3a, where we read these words:

"I remembered God, and was troubled . . . "

This is unusual phraseology (above); but it is not irreverent, nor God-dishonoring. Remember: the Holy Spirit inspired the psalmist to write this. How is it possible for a faith-filled churchman to "Remember God, and [be] troubled"?

In the case of this author, he called to mind both the hard times *and* the deliverances that the Lord brought to him (in his past). Still, in the end, his faith held up, and he found comfort in the faithful and gentle shepherding God demonstrated toward His church (see v. 20). Let us have this outlook too--no matter where the Lord leads us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do you fear the Lord? He will open His secret to you, even that which He has hidden and kept secret from all the world, namely the secret of His covenant and your concern therein." --John Bunyan, in "The Fear of God"]

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wed., 9/24/08 Devotion (2 Cor. 13:11c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 13:11c, where we read these words:

" . . . And the God of love and peace will be with you."

Do any of you remember the 1960's "hippies"? They were supposedly all into "love and peace." Though they made a mockery of these graces through their hypocrisy, the true God actually *is* the "God of love and peace." And, because of this, we, His churchmen, may enjoy true love and real peace.

How? By being complete in Jesus alone (see the earlier part of 2 Cor. 13:11). As we take our comfort in Christ, and live in unity and sweetness (in Him)--the "God of love and peace" is with us. If this God is with us, we have nothing to fear. We may live confidently and serviceably in His presence.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Even if sin did not bear such bitter fruit, if death did not grow on this tree, a gracious soul would forsake it out of love to God." --Thomas Watson, in "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tues., 9/23/08 Devotion (Ps. 74:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 74:12, where we read these words:

"For God is my King from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth."

This verse is sweet for several reasons. 1) There is a personal dimension to it: the Lord is the churchman's own "King." Then, there is a cosmic aspect: God is "working salvation in the midst of the earth." The same God who has secured the eternal salvation of those already in His justifying care is also at work to bring others to Himself.

Let us never despair of how "bad" things are, or seem on the earth. The flesh, the devil, and the world system set up against the Lord and His Christ have *already* been defeated in Jesus' resurrection. They are simply in their hysterical and frantic "last gasps" of seeking to (vainly and futilely) overcome the God of heaven.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[For] you who do love Christ, and have the manifestations of His love to your souls. . . . Of all persons in the world, you have most reason to rejoice. You are the happiest men and women alive." --Thomas Vincent, in "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mon., 9/22/08 Devotion (Ps. 73:28a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 73:28a, where we read these words:

"But it is good for me to draw near to God . . . "

It is very good for all God's churchmen to draw near to Him. Are you ever reticent about doing this, since you imagine yourself to be too unworthy, dirty, imperfect, or unacceptable? If so, that is *all* the *more* reason to "draw near to God." There is only one way the Lord will allow Himself to be approached, however, and that is by virtue of the merits of Jesus' blood atonement (the benefits of which we apprehend by grace through faith alone).

The devil seeks to discourage God's people from drawing near to Him. With faith, let us come boldly to our Father in heaven--recognizing that we are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For from our neglect of prayer comes that deadness of spirit, that worldly-mindedness and unaptness to pray, to hear the Word, and to keep the Sabbath." --John Preston, in his sermon entitled, "The Saint's Daily Exercise"]

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/19-21/08 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday. Here's TW, to help get you ready for church, (from his "Beatitudes" book):

"Let us carry ourselves as the children of God in CHEERFULNESS. It was the speech of Jonadab to Amnon, 'Why are you, being the king's son, sad?' (2 Sam. 13:4). Why do the children of God walk so pensively? Are they not 'heirs of heaven'? Perhaps they may meet with hard usage in the world, but let them remember they are the seed-royal, and are of the family of God. Suppose a man were in a strange land, and should meet there with unkind usage, yet he rejoices that he is son and heir, and has a great estate in his own country; so should the children of God comfort themselves with this, though they are now in a strange country, yet they have a title to the Jerusalem above . . . "

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thurs., 9/18/08 Devotion (2 Cor. 7:4c, 5c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 7:4c & 5c, where we read these words:

" . . . I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. . . . Outside were conflicts, inside were fears."

I found it helpful this morning, to read of the Apostle Paul's experiences. You can see (above) that even he, the stalwart of faith and strength, was "fearful" at times. But even more than this, he could find a way (in Christ) to be "joyful" in "tribulation."

Every true believer is capable of enduring a whole lot more than he or she could ever imagine that he or she could. There is valor within that will never come to the fore unless it is put through the fire (of afflictions). Still, none of us look forward to these conflicts. The only thing we like is the Christlike character that develops in us (which brings us much peace, stability, and happiness).

[Puritan quote of the day: "People [become] distracted from coming to God by their own self-imposed spiritual disciplines." --John Owen, in "Sin and Temptation"]

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wed., 9/17/08 Devotion (Ps. 66:12b, c)

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

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

If you are a sincere believing churchman, saved by grace through faith in Christ (alone), then this much is certain: you will go through some very difficult times in this life. But this much is also a sure thing: you will be brought through them, to even higher levels of faith, character-development, joy, and fulfillment.

But no one gets the "good stuff" without first traversing some pretty dark valleys. Therefore, learn now, in advance, that God is good, and that Jesus is worth possessing no matter what. Then, staring into hard circumstances will not be so bad, since you *know* you will benefit on the other end.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If the thing we desire is good for us, we shall have it. If it is not good, then not having it is good for us. Resting satisfied with this promise gives contentment." --Thomas Watson, in "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tues., 9/16/08 Devotion (2 Sam. 12:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 12:1a, where we read these words:

"Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. . . . "

When David's friend Nathan knocked on his door, David was probably thinking, "Come on in, let's chat a while." Instead, Nathan had a pastoral message that exposed David's sins (of murder and adultery). But notice (above), that "the LORD sent Nathan to David." God did this--not because He hated David--but because He loved him.

When the ministry comes knocking on your door, recognize that, if you are a faithful churchman, the message is ultimately for your good, and for your cleansing. Nathan did not leave David until he (the prophet) had assured David that his sin had been forgiven by God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A godly man loves that word which most alarms his conscience, and he loves that man who shall awaken a secure conscience." --Christopher Love, in "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mon., 9/15/08 Devotion (Ps. 62:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 62:1, where we read these words:

"Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation."

A "silent" soul is often a good thing. It has nothing to say, or do, but to "wait" for God. There is no question in David's mind (above), but that the Lord would save him. The only thing to do was to wait

Take a few deep (spiritual) "breaths" today, and seek to stop the clamor going on in your heart and soul. Recognize what (and more importantly, Who) is truly important. Trust God that He will meet all your needs, in Christ--and then approach life with more confidence, all based in faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Suffer we must. Before we were born, God decreed it; and it is easier to complain of His decree than to change it." --Samuel Rutherford, in "Letters of Samuel Rutherford"]

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/12-14/08 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! So as to help you prepare for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his great book, "The Doctrine of Repentance":

"Godly sorrow is ingenuous.

"It is sorrow for the offence rather than for the punishment. God's law has been infringed, His love abused. This melts the soul in tears. A man may be sorry, yet not repent, as a thief is sorry when he is caught, not because he stole, but because he has to pay the penalty. Hypocrites grieve only for the bitter consequence of sin. I have read of a fountain that only sends forth streams on the evening before a famine. Likewise their eyes never pour out tears except when God's judgments are approaching. Pharaoh was more troubled for the frogs and river of blood than for his sin. Godly sorrow, however, is chiefly for the trespass against God, so that even if there were no conscience to smite, no devil to accuse, no hell to punish, yet the soul would still be grieved because of the prejudice done to God. 'My sin is ever before me,' (Ps. 51:3). David does not say, 'The sword threatened is ever before me,' but 'my sin.' 'O that I should offend so good a God, that I should grieve my Comforter! This breaks my heart!'

"Godly sorrow shows itself to be ingenuous because when a Christian knows that he is out of the gun-shot of hell and shall never be damned, yet still he grieves for sinning against that free grace which has pardoned him."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thurs., 9/11/08 Devotion (1 Cor. 16:2)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 16:2, which says this:

"On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come."

Sunday is not only the day of worship and rest--it is also the day when we offer our resources to God (during the worship service). More good is done by the "widow's mite" placed in the faithful church's offering plate on the Lord's Day, than is done by billions of dollars being given away by unbelievers throughout the rest of the week.

It is an privilege to give to Christ's church. God does not need anything from us; but He honors us by giving us the opportunity to "co-labor" with Him in the furtherance of the gospel of grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Take heed that you do not rest in external purity, but seek purity of heart in the ways of God's appointment. Seek it in a constant and diligent attendance on all God's ordinances [means of Grace]." --Jonathan Edwards in "Altogether Lovely"]

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wed., 9/10/08 Devotion (Ps. 53:5a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 53:5a, where we read these words:

"There they are in great fear where no fear was . . . "

David is (here above) musing on the ways of wicked men; but I wonder if this principle of misdirected fear does not often apply even to the true saints. Why should sincere believing churchmen fear for the state of their souls, if they truly and really trust in Jesus alone for their salvation and the forgiveness of their sins?

We should fear God at all times; but this only leads to our loving Him all the more. But this is possible if one condition is met, (and it is impossible if this condition is not met). And that condition is a good doctrinal and theological understanding of the gospel, and of how justification is realized. When people mix works with their faith, it is no wonder they are in "great fear." They ought to be.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Even if sin did not bear such bitter fruit, if death did not grow on this tree, a gracious soul would forsake it out of love to God." --Thomas Watson, in "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tues., 9/9/08 Devotion (2 Sam. 3:39a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 3:39a, where we find these words:

"And I am weak today, though anointed king . . . "

The words (above) were spoken by King David, as he was mourning the death of Abner, a man he had respected. The point I wish to make is this: it is certainly possible for God's dear and beloved churchmen, who are His royalty on earth, to sometimes feel very weak and (even discouraged).

The experiences of our lives down here are not uniform. Sometimes they are "positive"; sometimes they are "negative." But this one thing *is* constant: if we are in Christ, and are trusting Him alone for our eternal salvation and the forgiveness of our sins, then we are *always* God's princes and princesses--whether we feel strong, or weak.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Our happiness here and hereafter depends on our friendly [communication] with heaven. If we do not have that, nothing can make up our loss (Ps. 30:5). If we have that, nothing can make us miserable." --Thomas Boston, in "The Crook In the Lot"]

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mon., 9/8/08 Devotion (1 Cor. 13:13)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 13:13, which says this:

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Love is greater than faith and hope, because love, like Christ, salvation, and the church lasts forever. As great as faith is--and it is *very* great because it is the grace by which we apprehend Christ and His righteousness--nonetheless, in glory (heaven) it will not be necessary. The same can be said about hope, (which is also a marvelous mercy of God to us).

But love is special, because it will be perfected (and continued forever) in heaven; and it is to be our creed here on earth. True faith and true hope always lead to inevitable (and invincible) love. Let us live in Christ's love today, and in so doing, bring Him lots of glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a sinful modesty in Christians that they are not more free with their ministers and other spiritual friends in unburdening themselves and opening the sores and troubles of their souls to them." --Thomas Watson, in "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/5-7/08 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! To help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "All Things for Good" book:

"Another heart quieting consideration is, that afflictions work for good. . . . 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted,' (Psalm
119:71). This text, like Moses' tree cast into the bitter waters of affliction, may make them sweet and wholesome to drink. Afflictions to the godly are medicinal. Out of the most poisonous drugs God extracts our salvation. Afflictions are as needful as ordinances (1 Peter 1:6). No vessel can be made of gold without fire; so it is impossible that we should be made vessels of honour, unless we are melted and refined in the furnace of affliction. 'All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth,' (Psalm 25:10). As the painter intermixes bright colours with dark shadows; so the wise God mixes mercy with judgment. Those afflictive providences which seem to be prejudicial, are beneficial. . . . "

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thurs., 9/4/08 Devotion (Ezek. 7:27c)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 7:27c, where we read these words:

" . . . And according to what they deserve I will judge them; then they shall know that I am the LORD!"

God always has the prerogative to judge "according to what [people] deserve," if He desires to do so. And sometimes God *does* judge in this way. All who will abide in hell will receive precisely what they deserve--nothing more, nothing less. But thankfully, the Lord does not *always* judge in this way.

The truth is, that *every* human being (excepting Jesus Christ) who will be in heaven *also* "deserves" God's righteous punishment (of hell fire and damnation). Instead, however, the Lord has shown mercy to them. God's judgment *was* fully poured out for their sins--but Jesus bore it for them, and they were spared. If this is not cause for praise of the merciful God, then nothing is.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is doing a great work in the world, but God's ends are to make His people sweeter, like preserves, and preserve them for a longer time, and make them be more lasting in the world." --Christopher Love, in "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wed., 9/3/08 Devotion (Ps. 44:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 44:4, where we read these words:

"You are my King, O God; command victories for Jacob."

This is an interesting verse (above); and one we can learn from. The psalmist first pledges allegiance to God, as his personal "King"; and then he immediately has the holy "audacity" to ask Him (God) to "command victories for Jacob."

The point is this: God is a Sovereign King that listens to His children. He does not sit in heaven, "protecting" Himself from the intrusions of His churchmen on earth. Instead, He welcomes our prayers; *wants* us to ask Him for things; and almost "entices" us to be as bold as we want to be with Him. All of this is because of God's incredible love for His redeemed people, (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing that would render the true religion more lovely, or make more proselytes [converts] to it, than to see the professors of it tied together with the heart-strings of love." --Thomas Watson, in "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tues., 9/2/08 Devotion (1 Cor. 7:17b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 7:17b, where we read these words:

" . . . And so I ordain in all the churches."

This little phrase (above), written by Paul, stood out to me this morning. The Apostle did not teach one thing in one church, and another thing in another church. There was uniformity and order to his instruction. The various churches had different needs, challenges, and even giftedness--but they all received consistent doctrinal and practical teaching.

So it is to be, even today. Though there is room for variation in the churches, with regard to non-essentials--there is no room for deviation from the cardinal truths of the gospel. Regrettably, of course, this uniform commitment to core values is not being practiced today, (as it was not totally the case in Paul's day, either). But still, the most faithful churches must, and will, take the lead.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Men are by nature utterly careless of the glory of God. They have no degree of concern for it. A natural man never does any one thing out of true concern for the glory of God."
--Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "It is Well for us that God is Not as we are"]

Monday, September 1, 2008

Mon., 9/1/08 Devotion (1 Sam. 25:29b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 25:29b, where we read these words:

" . . . But the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the LORD your God . . . "

Abigail, then the wife of Nabal, is speaking these words (above) to David. "The bundle of the living" is a neat way to conceive of the redeemed church. David, and all the saints are "bundled" together with Jesus. He is the One who gives us life; and, through our intimate and spiritually "organic" contact with Him, we also live and even thrive.

But there is no life where there is no Christ. No angel, no saint, no offering, no mediator will suffice, to replace the Prince of Life, Jesus Christ our Lord. Do we wish to live today? Then we must do so by grace through faith in Christ alone.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We should judge of things as to whether they help or hinder our main purpose . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]