Friday, October 31, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/31-11/2/08 Devotion

Happy Reformation Day!

Yippee--Sunday is almost here! Wahoo! In order to get ready for church--our highest and holiest calling--let us hear from TW, from his work entitled, "The Art of Divine Contentment":

"Divine Motives to Contentment

"1. Consider the excellency of it. Contentment is a flower that does not grow in every garden; it teaches a man how in the midst of want to abound. You would think it were excellent if I could prescribe a receipt or antidote against poverty: but behold here is that which is more excellent, for a man to want, and yet have enough, this alone contentment of spirit does bring. Contentation is a remedy against all our trouble, an alleviation to all our burdens, it is the cure of care. Contentation, though it be not properly a grace (it is rather a disposition of mind), yet in it there is a happy temperature and mixture of all the graces: it is a most precious compound, which is made up of faith, patience, meekness, humility, etc. which are the ingredients put into it."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thurs., 10/30/08 Devotion (2 Tim. 2:1)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 2:1, where we read these words:

"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

This is a precious verse. What are we to be "strong" in? The "grace that is in Christ Jesus." What is this grace? It is sufficient grace--that is more than able to meet our specific, everyday, and eternal needs. How are we "strong" in this grace? By faith. When we believe God, that He will answer our prayers, and help us in our needs--it greatly honors Him.

The thing to avoid, is the idea that we need to "get our acts together" *before* we can be strong in Christ's grace. The truth is that this simple faith, whereby we appropriate to our hearts the help we need from God *causes* us to "get our acts together." Are you confused today? Put your faith in 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"]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wed., 10/29/08 Devotion (2 Tim. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, where Paul wrote these words:

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

To fear from time to time in a fallen world is natural and to be expected. But God does not give us a "*spirit* of fear." Instead, His Spirit working in us effects energy, grace, and sanity. None of this is to deny that even the best of churchmen fail to live up to our potential and our resources (in Christ); but the point is that we should be more and more *governed* by the Spirit that is from God.

Practically-speaking, this will mean that instead of cowering before fearful specters of the future, we begin to face them head-on, in advance--believing that our God is going before us, to give us the victory (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "If God thought it fit that Adam in innocence should not be alone, but should have a helper, much more now in a state of defection since the fall do we need others' help as well as our own." --Christopher Love, in "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tues., 10/28/08 Devotion (Ps. 119:86c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:86c, where we read these few words:

" . . . Help me!"

Sometimes the best prayers are the simplest ones. God is not concerned about flowery oratory in prayer. He would rather hear a few syllables of gut-wrenching honesty, than a whole bunch of religious nonsense (or proud utterances).

Do you need help today? Ask Christ for it. Be as specific as you can be, for your own soul's well-being; but don't for a moment think that the Lord can't figure out what you're trying to say, if you're having a hard time getting the words out. Prayer is important--but it is not a magical genie coming out of a bottle, and God does not hold us to any particular formulas.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is no such thing as any inordinate-
ness in holy affections; there is no such thing as excess in longings after the discoveries of the beauty of Christ Jesus . . . Men may be as covetous as they please (if I may so speak) after spiritual riches . . . " --Jonathan Edwards, in one of his sermons]

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mon., 10/27/08 Devotion (Ps. 119:52)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:52, where we read these words:

"I remembered Your judgments of old, O LORD, and have comforted myself."

The best way to get a good perspective on the present and the future, is to heartily believe in the God who has decreed all things in eternity past. It is also helpful to remember how gracious the Lord has been to you in days gone by. All this has the effect of giving us confidence and peace in the current situation (be it "good" or "bad").

Only the faithful churchman can do this, however. For the wicked and unbelieving, their musings on God are *not* comforting. After all, His "judgments" are just that, for them--unless they come by grace to faith and repentance. For the believer, on the other hand, God's judgment has already been poured out on Jesus (on the cross) for them. They can and should rejoice in the forgiveness of their sins.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God intermixes mercy with affliction. He steeps His sword of justice in the oil of mercy. There was no night so dark but Israel had a pillar of fire in it." --Thomas Watson, in "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/24-26/08 Devotion

Can you believe it?!--Sunday is almost here! In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "A Body of Divinity":

"But, some may say, 'If God has a hand in ordering all things that fall out, He has a hand in the sins of men.'

"I answer, 'No, by no means.' God has no hand in any man's sin. God cannot go contrary to His own nature, He cannot do any unholy action, any more than the sun can be said to be darkened. Here you must take heed of two things; as you must take heed of making God ignorant of men's sins, so you must take heed of making God to have a hand in men's sins. Is it likely that God is the author of sin, and the avenger of it? Is it a likely thing that God should make a law against sin, and then have a hand in breaking His own law? God in His providence permits men's sins. 'He allowed all nations to walk in their own ways,' (Acts 14:16). God permitted their sin, which He never would, if He could not bring good out of it. Had not sin been permitted, God's justice in punishing sin, and His mercy in pardoning sin, had not been so well known. The Lord is pleased to permit it, but He has no hand in sin."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thurs., 10/23/08 Devotion (Ps. 116:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 116:1, where we read these words:

"I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications."

Among many others, here is a good reason to love God: He hears the prayers of His faithful churchmen (saints). What prayers does God
"hear," in the covenantal sense? (After all, He knows the things religionists all over the world are babbling out all the time.) God hears prayers that are made through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But even these prayers should be sincere and earnest. God hears prayers that come from the heart. He answers those people who *really* want to be heard. God does not hear prayers offered from self-, law-, or works-righteousness; but He does hear those that are "soaked," as it were, in the blood righteousness of Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Although to true religion there must indeed be something else besides affection, yet true religion consists so much in the affections that there can be no true religion without them." --Jonathan Edwards, in "A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections"]

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wed., 10/22/08 Devotion (Ps. 115:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 115:3, which says this:

"But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases."

This is a great verse on the sovereignty of God--the doctrine that the Lord does what He wants to, and that He is not beholden to anyone. But it dawned on me today that, if we were totally honest, we would have to admit that we do not always like the things the sovereign God allows to happen. After all, there are a lot of "negatives" out there.

What is the sincere churchman to do about this? Good question. We are to trust that the Maker of all things, and the Redeemer of His elect understands and directs *all* things according to a great plan of His, (that He alone can and does comprehend). We are to believe that He has His church's best interests in mind always--and that what He does ultimately forwards our good and His glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have heaven while you are on earth when you have a contented spirit; yea, in some regards it is better than heaven." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment"]

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tues., 10/21/08 Devotion (Ps. 112:6b-7)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 112:6b & 7, where we read these words:

" . . . The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD."

Whereas the memory of the wicked "rots," (Prov. 10:7)--God's redeemed churchmen leave a blessed and enduring legacy and heritage. On top of this, those who are in Jesus, and who enjoy His righteousness are not "afraid of evil tidings." Instead, their hearts are "steadfast, trusting in the Lord."

Why is this important? Because circumstances of life--be they on a personal, or an international scale--are not to determine how happy, nor how settled we are. Let us fight a good fight, let us run a good race, let us keep the faith; but at the end of the day let us leave it all in the good and sovereign hands of our faithful God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have the favor of God, this doctrine [of encouragement] teaches you that you need not be afraid of enemies; for whoever is your enemy, God looks upon as His enemy."
--Jonathan Edwards, in one of his great sermons]

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mon., 10/20/08 Devotion (Ps. 110:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 110:1, where we read these words:

"The LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.' "

Are you in a worried state, as you consider the political climate of these times? If so, you are not alone. But, if you are a sincere churchman, then you have a huge advantage. You have the privilege of believing the truth of the word of God, which teaches (unequivocally) that Christ will (and does) put all His enemies under His feet.

If this is so--and clearly it is--then we can take comfort. We are still commanded to pray, to be good citizens, and to be submissive and loyal--but we can also rest in the fact that God rectifies all wrongs, and that the Son of God conquers all His foes. Let us bless God for these amazing truths.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To read the word [of God] is a duty, but Satan sometimes puts men upon it when it is unseasonable. To read it at home when God's word is being preached, or the sacrament administered, is unseasonable, yea, sinful . . . " --Thomas Watson, in "The Lord's Prayer"]

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/17-19/08 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his elucidation of the second petition ("Thy Kingdom Come") of The Lord's Prayer (which is also the title of his book):

"Here is comfort to those who are the subjects of the King of heaven. God will put forth all the royal power for their help and comfort. (1) The King of heaven will plead their cause. 'I will plead your cause, and take vengeance for you,' (Jer 51:36). (2) He will protect His people. He sets an invisible guard about them. 'I will be unto her a wall of fire round about,' (Zech 2:5). A wall, that is defensive; a wall of fire, that is offensive. (3) When it may be for the good of His people, he will raise up deliverance to them. 'The Lord saved them by a great deliverance,' (1 Chron 11:14). God reigning as a king, can save any way; even by contemptible means, as the blowing of the trumpets, and blazing of lamps, (Judges 7:20). By contrary means; as when He made the sea a wall to Israel, and the waters were a means to keep them from drowning. The fish's belly was a ship in which Jonah sailed safe to shore. God will never want ways of saving His people; rather than fail, their very enemies shall do His work, (2 Chron 20:23). He sets Ammon and Mount Seir one against another. As God will deliver His people from temporal danger, so from spiritual danger, as from sin, and from hell. 'Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come,' (1 Thess 1:10)."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thurs., 10/16/08 Devotion (1 Thess. 2:4)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 2:4, where we read these words:

"But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts."

The ministers of the church who are truly called by God are sent to speak to all people everywhere the gospel of Christ's grace. But they are to do so with a mind on God first. What is it that *He* wants spoken? This is what must be said. The faithful clergy do not poll the people, to determine what they want to hear. Instead, they "poll" the Lord, in order to know what He would have them proclaim.

This principle is then passed down to the entire church, wherein the people of God begin to think this way too. They begin to ask, "What is it that Christ would have me do, and say?" This is the real way to lasting peace of conscience. Then, when God "tests our hearts," we pass with flying colors.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is in the ship of His church; do not fear sinking. The church's anchor is cast in heaven. Do we not think that God loves His church, and takes as much care of it as we can?"
--Thomas Watson, in "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tues., 10/14/08 Devotion (Ezek. 47:8-9a)

Today's encouragement comes from the very interesting, and inspiring 47th chapter of Ezekiel. The prophet starts out showing how Jesus, the water of life, flows from His church to all the world; and then how the Gospel brings healing wherever it goes. Here are the words of vv. 8 & 9a:

"Then he said to me: 'This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live.' "

This prophecy was initially fulfilled at Pentecost, (Acts, ch. 2), when the Gospel exploded onto the whole world--and the church would no longer be headquartered in one place (Jerusalem). But, there is a continuation of Pentecost's glories, everyday, as the Good News of Jesus spreads across the globe--even in our day. Everywhere it goes, it brings healing: salvation to the elect; and temporal good to all. The reason for this is because Christ is life; and wherever He goes, He sets up His church.

Bless God that you have something to live for, if you belong to the Lord God. Your life has meaning and purpose. You are ambassadors of grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Pride of spirit unsubdued will bring men to lie at the feet of others forever (Isa. 66:24). But humiliation of spirit will bring them undoubtedly out from under their feet (Mal. 4:2-3)."
--Thomas Boston, in "The Crook in the Lot"]

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/10-12/08 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. In order to encourage you in your faith walk, here is TW, from his book, "A Divine Cordial":

"God's purpose is the ground of assurance.

"Here is a sovereign elixir of unspeakable comfort to those who are the called of God. Their salvation rests upon God's purpose. 'The foundation of God stands sure, having this seal. The Lord knows those that are His. And, let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity,' (2 Tim. 2:19). Our graces are imperfect, our comforts ebb and flow, but God's foundation stands sure. They who are built upon this rock of God's eternal purpose, need not fear falling away; neither the power of man, nor the violence of temptation, shall ever be able to overturn them."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thurs., 10/9/08 Devotion (Ps. 93:12-13)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 93:12 & 13, where we read these words:

"Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O LORD, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked."

This is a comforting text, especially in the tumultuous political climate of these days, wherein those who are so adamantly opposed to Christ, His church, and His gospel are flaunting their wares with impudence and shamelessness. These things tend to make the people of God be afraid, and to begin to wring their hands in anxiety.

But this psalm (above) teaches us that the faithful churchman is really safe in Christ, even as the storm of adversity churns over their heads (as it does everyone else's, as well). So long as we do not cast off our faith in Jesus, we will come through the crisis on the other end, safe and sound.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have the favor of God, this doctrine [of encouragement] teaches you that you need not be afraid of enemies; for whoever is your enemy, God looks upon as His enemy."
--Jonathan Edwards, in one of his great sermons]

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wed., 10/8/08 Devotion (Ps. 92:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 92:13 & 14, where we read these great words:

"Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing . . . "

Where are you "planted" most in this world? Are you *most* invested in your business, your civic concerns, and/or your family and home? If so, then you will be eventually uprooted by the storms of life on a fallen planet. Only those who are firmly ingrafted into Christ and His church are able to withstand the forces set against them. On top of this, they are also able to remain "fruitful" all the way to their last breath.

Let us love who and what God Himself loves: Christ and His church. As we do so, we are invincible--no matter what the world, the flesh, or the devil shoot at us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "No matter what storms I meet with, I know where to put in for harbor. He who has God to be his God is so well contented with his condition that he does not much care whether he has anything else." --Thomas Watson, in "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tues., 10/7/08 Devotion (Ps. 91:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from the marvelous words of Psalm 91. This is a psalm of protection and comfort. Here is what we read, in vv. 1 & 2:

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.' "

Where is "the secret place of the Most High"? It is the place of godly humility. Only those who will, as 1 Pet. 5:6 says, "Humble [themselves] under the mighty hand of God," ever find themselves under the Almighty's "shadow," or "wing," (v. 4).

Note from this psalm that danger, sin, pestilence, and warfare are all *very* near the godly soul, even right at hand; but that the quieted, calm, trusting heart rests assured, free of fretting, even *closer* to God. Because of the Lord's presence, he is immune from terror.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If there is a blessed life before we come to heaven, it is the contented life. . . . Man, of all creatures, has the least cause to be discontented. Can you deserve anything from God? Does He owe you anything?" --Thomas Watson, in "The Art of Divine Contentment"]