Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thurs., 12/31/09 Devotion (Rev. 22:17)

Happy New Year!

Today's encouragement comes from Revelation 22:17, where we read these words:

"And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely."

In this one little verse, in the very last chapter of the Bible, we have God's perfect formula for evangelism, and for living the Christian religion (in general). And that is, simply "Coming" to Christ, by grace through faith--with nothing else in our hands (as payment for our sins).

And note that God's three mighty forces are at work here, inviting us to come to Jesus: the "Spirit," the Church ("Bride"), and the Word (the preached Scripture itself). If we take any one of these blessed pro-
visions away, we not only cannot come to Jesus, we do not possess Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When God shines in the use of means, then the soul is, as it were, in heaven." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wed., 12/30/09 Devotion (2 Chron. 35:21)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 35:21, where we read these words:

"But he [the king of Egypt] sent messengers to him [King Josiah of Judah], saying, 'What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.' "

This is a rather odd case (above). The great and godly Josiah does not believe the words of the pagan pharaoh of Egypt, and it ends up costing him (Josiah) his life. God can and does sometimes employ even the heathen for His own purposes. Those who are in the church covenant should be aware of this, and we should be loathe to assume that the Lord cannot (on occasion) speak through them, (those outside the covenant).

Josiah ends up dying in the (unnecessary) battle he insisted on having with Egypt. Let us not "meddle" where we do not belong. In all things, let us be sure to seek God's guidance.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Though [David] found God present with him in exile, yet there is a sweeter presence of Him in His ordinanc-
es." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tues., 12/29/09 Devotion (2 Chron. 34:27)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 34:27, where we read these words:

" ' . . . because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,' says the LORD."

This verse (above) is in reference to the excellent king of Judah, Josiah. When Josiah heard the Scripture read to him, he immediately responded, with faith and repentance. When Josiah inquired of God, as to the judgments pronounced on the land, the king greatly humbled himself before the Lord.

This is a wonderful encouragement for the church today. Things in our nation, and in the world generally, are not good. But, so long as be-
lievers are thoroughly pierced by God's word, and are melted in heart by the Spirit of Grace, there is full hope even concerning the temporal issues of life. On top of that, through this process, the souls of churchmen are made more like Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Places and conditions are happy or miser-
able as God grants His gracious presence more or less." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict"]

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mon., 12/28/09 Devotion (2 Chron. 33:12-13)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 33:12 & 13, which says this:

"Now when [Manasseh] was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God."

This is the account of one of the most astounding conversions of all time. Manasseh, the king of Judah, was one of the worst idolaters the Bible ever chronicled. He never met an idol he did not love. But God, in His amazing and infinite grace and mercy, brought this man to his senses, and gave him the gift of faith and repentance.

May we all take comfort from examples such as this. As the angel said, in Lk. 1:37: "For with God nothing will be impossible."

[Puritan quote of the day: "That you may become capable of [God's] mercy, you must fall out with your sins, for there's no talk of mercy till you first are cruel to your sins." --Robert Harris, in, "The Way to True Happiness"]

Friday, December 25, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/25-27/09 Devotion

Merry Christmas!

Here is the devotion. . . .

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.  (Luke 2:1-20)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thurs., 12/24/09 Devotion (2 Chron. 29:5b)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 29:5b, where we read these words:

" . . . Sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place."

Chapter 29 of 2 Chronicles gives the model for restoration of the world, following years of apostasy and sin. The doors of the church are repaired and opened; the ministers are gathered and consecrated to the Lord; and the people come, contribute, and worship (according to God's own design).

But one of the first necessities is the carrying out of the "rubbish from the holy place," (see above). Let the church officers among us do all that we can, to rid the church and her worship of all the man-made clutter that has deprived the God of heaven of His rightful due. But before we do that, let us cleanse our own hearts, by the grace of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Tell me, saints, is it not a more sweet,
comfortable, and delightful thing to look more upon one another's graces than upon one another's infirmities?" --Thomas Brooks, in, "United we Stand"]

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wed., 12/23/09 Devotion (2 Chron. 28:22a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 28:22a, where we read these words:

"Now in the time of his distress King Ahaz became increasingly unfaithful to the LORD."

I have known people like this. They encounter hardships in their lives, and their response is to become angry at God--to the extent that they forsake Him utterly (by abandoning Christ's church). Instead of *going* to the only One who can actually *help* them in their distress--they flee from Him (God), and hate Him.

In the case of the wicked King Ahaz of Judah (above), his problems were of his own making. He was a gross idolater. His worship of fake gods brought on him (and his nation) great judgment. Then, when given an excellent opportunity to repent, and embrace the True God--he "became increasingly unfaithful" to Him. May we learn from Ahaz' bad example; and may we always go to Jesus and His church when we are in trouble.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a harder thing to believe than to keep the Ten Commandments." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tues., 12/22/09 Devotion (2 Chron. 26:5b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 26:5b, where we read these words:

" . . . And as long as he [King Uzziah of Judah] sought the LORD, God made him prosper."

Why is it that we sinners insist on hurting ourselves, and our best prospects for true happiness and peace? In the case of Uzziah (above), it was his pride. So long as he was humble, and sought the Lord, things went well for him. Once he got a bit "uppity" in spirit, he thought he could do anything he wanted to, (like offer incense in the temple). For this transgression, God gave Uzziah leprosy, (see vv. 16 ff.).

Pride is at the root of *our* foolishness, as well. What is the church-
man to do--especially when our hearts are "lifted up" in pride? We are to humble ourselves, and cast ourselves on the mercies of God as they are found in Jesus. This is done by grace, through faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Is it presumption for a man to keep the Sabbath Day? No. Why? Because it is commanded." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mon., 12/21/09 Devotion (Jn. 11:26b)

Today's encouragement comes from the few words of John 11:26b, where we read this:

" . . . Do you believe this?"

Our Lord Jesus asked this question (above), of Martha, the sister of Lazarus. Christ is asking her if she believes a body of doctrine that He had just taught her--regarding Himself (Jesus), the potency (power) of faith, and the resurrection of the dead.

Such is the nature of all good doctrine, and of the churchman's belief in it: when rightly-construed it (good doctrine) always directs the believer to the Person of Jesus. The difference between a regenerated Christian and the devil himself, is not that we believe different things--but that the churchman's faith resides ultimately in the Person of the Redeemer (Jesus).

[Puritan quote of the day: "A man by faith may come into the presence of God with open mouth and speak all his mind unto God."
--William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/18-20/09 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! Here is some encouraging doc-
trine re. prayer, from the great Thomas Watson. This comes from his "The Ten Commandments" book:

"What are the several parts of prayer?

"1) There is the confessor's part, which is the acknowledgement of sin. 2) The supplicatory part, when we either deprecate and pray against some evil, or request the obtaining of some good. 3) The congratulat-
ory part, when we give thanks for mercies received, which is the most excellent part of prayer. In petition, we act like men; in giving thanks, we act like angels.

"What are the several sorts of prayer?

"1) There is mental prayer, in the mind, (1 Sam. 1:13). 2) Vocal, (Psa. 77:1). 3) Spontaneous, which is a sudden and short elevation of the heart to God: 'So I prayed to the God of heaven,' (Neh. 2:4). 4) Inspir-
ed prayer, when we pray for those things which God puts into our heart: 'The Spirit helps us with sighs and groans,' (Rom. 8:26). Both the expressions of the tongue, and the impressions of the heart, so far as they are right, are from the Spirit. 5) Prescribed prayer. Our Saviour has set us a pattern of prayer. God prescribed a set form of blessing for the priests, (Numb. 6:23). 6) Public prayer, when we pray in the audience of others. Prayer is more powerful when many join and unite their forces. 7) Private prayer; when we pray by ourselves: 'Enter into your closet,' (Matt. 6:6)."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thurs., 12/17/09 Devotion (2 Chron. 20:12b, c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 20:12b & c, where we read these words:

" . . . For we have no power against this great multitude that is com-
ing against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."

I want to focus on the phrase, "Nor do we know what to do." This is how we often feel, when we are faced with overwhelming forces that are arrayed against us, and that are threatening our peace and secur-
ity. Jehoshaphat, the godly king of Judah who uttered this prayer (above), actually *did* know that he was to trust the Lord, and rest in Him, etc.--but he didn't know how this was to *practically* manifest itself (in such a stressful situation).

So it may be for some of us churchmen today. What are we to do, especially when we "do not know what to do"? In v. 17 of this same chapter, the people simply "stood still." In v. 22, they sang praises to God. The result: the Lord gave them a big victory. He still does this for His church today!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sin feeds the sinner with delightful objects and then makes him mortgage his soul." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wed., 12/16/09 Devotion (Jn. 6:66-68)

Today's encouragement comes from the wonderful interchange between Christ and His disciples, as it is found in John 6:66-68:

"From that time many of [Christ's] disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?' But Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.' "

This is a very poignant scene in the ministry of the Messiah. After intentionally paring-down the numbers of His "disciples" (from among the multitude) by teaching them that they would have to ingest Him into their beings, and that God alone could draw them to Himself, etc.--the Lord Jesus is left with just a few remaining hearty souls, (one of which was Judas, who, of course, was not faithful).

Peter's confession, representing the true church throughout all ages, is not only brilliantly insightful, but it was also eminently practical: there is nowhere to go, in this world, but to Jesus--unless one prefers hell.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When the Word comes to any place, the kingdom of heaven is said to come. . . . and Christ rules in it by the preaching of the gospel." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remis-

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/4-6/09 Devotion

Hurray--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his work entitled, "The Lord's Prayer." (He is dealing with the second petition, "Thy Kingdom Come,"
here.) . . .

"God is a glorious King. 'Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory,' (Psa. 24:10). He has internal glory: 'The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty,' (Psa. 93:1). Other kings have royal and sumptuous apparel to make them appear glorious to behold-
ers, but all their magnificence is borrowed. God is clothed with His own majesty; His own glorious essence is instead of royal robes, and 'He has girded Himself with strength.' Kings have their guard about them to defend their person, because they are not able to defend themselves; but God needs no guard or assistance from others. 'He has girded Himself with strength.' His own power is His lifeguard. 'Who in the heaven can be compared to the Lord?'

"Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?,' (Psa. 89:6). He has a pre-eminence above all other kings for majesty. 'He has on His vesture a name written, Rex Regum, KING OF KINGS,' (Rev. 19:16). He has the highest throne, the richest crown, the largest dominions, and the longest possession. 'The Lord sits as King forever,' (Psa. 29:10). Though He has many heirs, yet no successors. He sets up His throne where no other king does; He rules the will and affections; His power binds the conscience. Angels serve Him; all the kings of the earth hold their crowns and diadems by immediate tenure from this great King. 'By Me kings reign,' (Prov. 8:15). To this Lord Jehovah all kings must give account, and from His tribunal there is no appeal."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thurs., 12/3/09 Devotion (Nah. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Nahum 1:7, which says this:

"The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him."

Because God is inherently benevolent (good), He is able to help His
believing children whenever they are in distress. But the phrase that most comforts me is this, that, "[God] knows those who trust in Him." This knowledge is not only informational, viz., "Joe trusts Me, Fred does not"--but it is *personal*, viz., "I KNOW Joe, he's one of my redeemed churchmen; I also love Joe."

Our trust in God is not perfect in this life. Therefore, do not be tricked by the devil into thinking that you have *no* faith in Christ, when in fact you *do* possess faith--even though it is not to the degree that you desire.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You come to prayer and cannot tell what to say. . . . Can you breathe? God's ear lies open to the breathings of a soul He has received to mercy." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wed., 12/2/09 Devotion (Mic. 7:18a, 19b)

Today's encouragement comes from Micah 7:18a & 19b, which relates these fabulous words:

"Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the trans-
gression of the remnant of His heritage? . . . You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea."

THE greatest blessing we can possibly possess is the forgiveness of our sins. This is THE most magnificent deed God performs. If we are forgiven, it took the blood of God's Son to bring this about. God had to overcome our hearts, the fallen world, and the devil, in order to procure our pardon.

But if we are forgiven our sins, nothing else really matters. If we have a clear and clean conscience before the Almighty God--is it of any great consequence that we have trials and tribulations? We have already obtained what everyone needs.

[Puritan quote of the day: "They dishonor the pardoning grace of God, and most considerably of all, by seeking and expecting it any other way than through the mediation of the Son of God." --Jeremiah Bur-
roughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tues., 12/1/09 Devotion (Lk. 15:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 15:1, where we read these words:

"Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him [Jesus] to hear Him."

Aren't verses like this one (above) astounding? Let us ask ourselves:
"Why did the notorious 'sinners' find Christ so compelling, so attrac-
tive, so alluring, that they would gather around Him, and hang on every word that fell from His blessed mouth?" I believe it is because they knew that He was real. They knew that He wasn't a religious freak, or a hypocrite, or a puffed-up doctrinaire. They also knew that Jesus genuinely cared for them.

Let all of us who are sincere churchmen recognize that if unbelievers do not find us magnetic--something is wrong with us, not them. Jesus set the standard; let us follow in His blessed steps. Let pharisees de-
spise us; but may ordinary sinners love us, and seek us out.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you grieve [God's] Spirit in heaven, He will sadden your spirit on earth." --Christopher Love, in, "The Deject-
ed Soul's Cure"]

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mon., 11/30/09 Devotion (Mic. 5:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Micah 5:2, where we read these words:

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from ever-

Often, God works from and in obscure places. Bethlehem was certain-
ly not Rome, or Babylon, or even Jerusalem. Still, it would be the place where the now-incarnated King of Glory would be born into the fallen world. Bethlehem became the "hinge" between Christ's heavenly past; and His current state as the God-Man Lord of of heaven *and* earth, as He is the Head of His church.

Are our situations in life down here a bit on the "humble" side? Let us not think that God cannot and will not visit us in our lowly conditions. He delights to do so--and Bethlehem is proof of this.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Those whose hearts follow hard after the Lord have the right hand of God upholding them." --Jeremiah Bur-
roughs, in, "Gospel Worship"]

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/27-29/09 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! So as to help prepare you for the Lord's Day's church worship, here are some good words from the great Jonathan Edwards, as they are taken from his sermon entitled, "God Glorified in Man's Dependence":

"The grace of God in bestowing this gift [of grace] is most free. God was under no obligation to bestow it. He might have rejected fallen man as He did the fallen angels. We never did anything to merit it; it was given while we were yet enemies, and before we had so much as repented. It was from the love of God, who saw no excellency in us to
attract it; and it was without expectation of ever being requited for it. And it is from mere grace that the benefits of Christ are applied to such and such particular persons. Those who are called and sanctified are to attribute it to the good pleasure of God's goodness alone, by which they are distinguished. He is sovereign, and has mercy on who He will have mercy."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thurs., 11/26/09 Devotion (Lk. 10:21a)

Happy Thanksgiving, all you American Christians!

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 10:21a, where we read these few words:

"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth . . . ' "

Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself often thanked His Heavenly Father for the various blessings and mercies that were wrought during the time of the Messiah's first advent. All genuine Spirit-filled living renders thanksgiving to God. There is almost nothing more wretched and gross, than a thankless, graceless person.

On this Thanksgiving Day, the one great American Puritan holiday, let us follow not only our excellent Pilgrim spiritual fathers; but even much more, our Lord, King, Savior, and Head of the church, the Lord Jesus--by giving heartfelt and sincere thanks to God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justification admits of no degrees. No, not in heaven--you are not more justified there than you are here. You are now as perfectly justified as ever and as accepted of Christ as ever." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wed., 11/25/09 Devotion (1 Pet. 2:17)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 2:17, where we read these words:

"Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king."

Here, in just a few words, is a good formula for Christian living. Notice how Peter frames his exhortations (in an A, B, B, A pattern). Churchmen are to "honor" "all" people, particularly the "king," (or, those in civil authority). But they are especially to "love" the
"brotherhood" of the church. This is only possible, as we "fear" God.

None of these pithy commands can be casually put aside, with the claim that any of the others are in any way actually obeyed. In other words, it is an "all or nothing" arrangement. Therefore, let us jettison all of our self-righteous excuses for why we do not need to "honor the king," for instance; and let us adorn our profession of faith through sincere and faith-filled obedience.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The people of God are begotten through the education, instruction, and endeavors of those who were God's people before. Therefore, the church is represented in Scripture as being the mother of its members, (Gal. 4:26)." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "Christians a Chosen Generation"]

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tues., 11/24/09 Devotion (Jonah 3:5a)

Today's encouragement comes from Jonah 3:5a, where we read these words:

"So the people of Nineveh believed God . . . "

Somewhat surprisingly, statements like this one (above), are very infrequent in the Bible. By believing God's prophet (Jonah), the pagan people of Nineveh "believed God." To add to the irony, the singular incident in the Word of God where the prophet sent to proclaim the Lord's message actually did *not* want it to be believed, is when it *is* believed. (Remember: Jonah wanted the Ninevites destroyed, not saved.)

What does it mean for a churchman to "believe God" today? It means that we believe the message of God's ministers: the gospel message (in particular). When we do, we are believing in the Son of God, whose blood cleanses us from our sins; and whose grace binds us to Him, in His church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The human nature of Christ is yet in being. He still continues, and will continue to all eternity, to be both God and man." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "True Saints are Present with the Lord"]

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mon., 11/23/09 Devotion (Lk. 7:40a)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 7:40a, where we read these words:

"And Jesus answered and said to him, 'Simon, I have something to say to you.' . . . "

While reading this phrase, it dawned on me that I am not sure there is another reference in the Gospel accounts where the Lord Jesus ad-
dresses (an apparent) unbeliever by name. On top of that, the King of Glory says that He has "something to say" to this guy.

Do not forget that the Lord Jesus Christ knows all things; and He knows the names--not only of all the members of His redeemed church--but of everyone else, too. Simon should have been honored that the Messiah confronted him by name; and that He cared enough to speak the gospel to him. (Hopefully, Simon became a follower of Christ.) May we be sure to love Jesus well today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let God have His will by [our] being holy, and [we] shall have [our] will by being happy." --Thomas Watson, in
"The Beatitudes"]

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/20-22/09 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday, the day we get to go to church! So as to help prepare you for holy worship, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Ten Commandments." Here, he is dealing with the third commandment. . . .

"When we profess God's name, but do not live answerably to it, we take it in vain. 'They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him,' (Titus 1:16). When men's tongues and lives are contrary to one another, when, under a mask of profession, they lie and cozen, and are unclean, they make use of God's name to abuse Him, and take it in vain. 'The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you,' (Rom. 2:24). When the heathen saw the Jews, who professed to be God's people, to be scandalous, it made them speak evil of God, and hate the true religion for their sakes. . . .

"[We take God's name in vain] when we worship Him with our lips, but not with our hearts. God calls for the heart: 'My son, give Me your heart,' (Prov. 23:26). The heart is the chief thing in religion; it draws the will and affections after it. The heart is the incense that perfumes our holy things; is the altar that sanctifies the offering. When we seem to worship God, but withdraw our heart from Him, we take His name in vain. 'This people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour Me, but have removed their heart far from Me,' (Isa. 29:13)."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thurs., 11/19/09 Devotion (1 Chron. 14:12)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 14:12, where we read these words:

"And when they [the Philistines] left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire."

To me, this is one of the funnier verses in the Bible. The Philistines lug their gods around; and after they get defeated on the battlefield by David and the Israelites, they (the Philistines) dump their gods, and don't even bother to take them with them (as they flee).

What good are gods that can't possess enough value, so that people don't even show them a little respect, so as to get them off the field of battle?! But so it is with all idols: they are worthless. They're good only for being burned (see above). Even our "sophisticated" idols need to be thrown on the ash heap.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God] has sent forth His messengers, and appointed ministers in His church, to be subordinate lights, to shine with the communications of His light, and to reflect the beams of His glory on the souls of men." --Jonathan Edwards, from his sermon, "The True Excellency of a Gospel Minister"]

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wed., 11/18/09 Devotion (Heb. 13:9a)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 13:9a, where we read these words:

"Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. . . . "

Some people are enamored with weird, heterodox, "new," and, as this
text says, "various and strange" doctrines. God's faithful churchmen are not to tinker with the bizarre, (any more than they are the occult). If some doctrine cannot find a place in the church's great Creeds, or in her best Confessions or Catechisms, it is not likely that 2000 years later God is "revealing" some new "truth" to her.

The Lord is not seeking to thwart our desire for adventure; instead, He is actually making the way for a fulfilling life possible. Nothing
kills true life and joy more readily than error, or heresy. Remember: sincere humility keeps the believer close to Jesus; pride is what causes us to wander away from Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Such a high degree of courtesy in so great a person as this apostle [Paul] reproves all those professing Christians who, though far below Paul, are not courteous and respectful in their behavior to their neighbors, and especially to their superiors."
--Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Character of Paul an Example to Christians"]

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tues., 11/17/09 Devotion (1 Chron. 9:13b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 9:13b, where we read these words:

" . . . They were very able men for the work of the service of the house of God."

I was struck by this phrase (above). The church needs, and should always have serving her the very *best* of the culture. This is especial-
ly true when the general state of spirituality and morality is at the worst, or lowest ebb. In 1 Chron. 9, the people of Judah had already been deposed (to Babylon), and some of them were being brought back to the land.

Government, industry, business, education, and every other endeavor needs to be served by God's churchmen making their mark in the world. But these saints must be fed by a capable and serviceable clergy. Therefore, let us pray that God would raise up His "cream of the crop," and that He will install them into the pastoral, eldership, and diaconal ministries.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Defilers and profaners of ordinances, by known and allowed wickedness, provoke God more than the heathen who have no ordinances." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "A Warn-
ing to Professors of Religion"]

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mon., 11/16/09 Devotion (Amos 5:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Amos 5:4, where we read these words:

"For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: 'Seek Me and
live . . . ' "

Notice first of all that this verse (above) is not addressed to the
unbelieving world (generally), but to the covenant people of God. *They* needed to "seek" the Lord, just like all of us today (who are joined to Jesus, in His church) need to. What does it mean, to "seek" God? It is to act on the deep yearning of the regenerated heart--which cannot be happy without being bound-up closely to the Lord.

Seeking God not only leads to the goal of life (Christ Himself); but the very process of seeking is the path of life. When we go after God, in worship and prayer, we embark on a journey of life. Does the Lord seem to be "far" from you today? Don't despair; instead, go about "seeking" Him. He will be found by all who come to Him in faith alone.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who has ever been acquainted with God and seen the light of His pleased face would rather die a thousand deaths than forfeit His favor or incur His displeasure." --Robert Harris, in, "The Way to True Happiness"]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/13-15/09 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get you ready for church, here is the amazing and incomparable Puritan genius Thomas Watson, from his book entitled, "The Ten Commandments":

"Faith in Christ is acceptable to God because it is a self-denying grace; it makes a man go out of himself, renounce all self-righteousness, and wholly rely on Christ for justification. It is very humble, it confesses its own indigence [poverty], and lives wholly upon Christ. As the bee sucks sweetness from the flower, so faith sucks all its strength and comfort from Christ.

"Faith is a grace acceptable to God, because by faith we present a righteousness to Him which best pleases Him: we bring the righteous-
ness of Christ into court, which is called 'the righteousness of God,'
(2 Cor 5:21). To bring Christ's righteousness, is to bring Benjamin with us. A believer may say, 'Lord, it is not the righteousness of Adam, or of the angels, but of Christ who is God-Man, that I bring before You.' The Lord cannot but smell a sweet savour in Christ's righteousness."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thurs., 11/12/09 Devotion (Ps. 144:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 144:15, where we read these words:

"Happy are the people who are in such a state; happy are the people whose God is the LORD!"

What "state" does the psalmist (David) have in mind, here? The state of temporal bliss, made possible through God's divine protection from His (and our) enemies. This is clear, from the verses that precede
v. 15 (above). This doctrine is interesting, because sometimes we are hesitant to ascribe "happiness" to things pertaining to *this* life. But that type of religious outlook is more akin to Buddhism, than it
is to authentic Christianity.

The church, "whose God is the Lord," is a blessed community. Not only do we have all the riches of glory, to be enjoyed in heaven--but we already have all the abundance of grace (in all its forms), to be relished here on earth.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Proud innocence is worse than humble sin, and I would rather see a man tainted with many sins, if he is humbled for them and strives against them, than another puffed up and bragging to others of his freedom from gross and notorious enormities." --Richard Harris, in, "The Way to True Happiness"]

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wed., 11/11/09 Devotion (Heb. 6:19-20a)

Today's encouragement comes from the words of Hebrews 6:19 & 20a, which say this:

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus . . . "

The hope of believing churchmen is as tied to the Person of Jesus Christ, as was the rope that they used to tie to the high priest in the old covenant, when he entered the Holy of Holies (for fear that he would die in there, and they wouldn't be able to get him out). When God's people are afflicted, and tossed and turned on the sea of a
world of sin and rebellion--they are always tethered to the Rock, which cannot be moved.

If Christ is our "forerunner," then we will inevitably end up where He is. He is our Hope. There is none to be found anywhere else.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Keep your ear open to God and shut out sin; deafen your ears to the lies of the slanderer and the heretic. Do not let him have your ear who comes to rob you of your heart."
--Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Spiritual Watch"]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tues., 11/10/09 Devotion (Ps. 142:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 142:7, where David wrote these words:

"Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name; the righteous shall surround me, for You shall deal bountifully with me."

This is a neat last verse of this psalm, because David started-out very down and dejected. Just as the dark clouds hide the bright sun--so life's struggles may hinder our view of the Son of God. Still, let us remember that He is there; and that He will again (soon) show His wondrous face (to our souls).

It is highly God-pleasing when the saints praise Him in earnest, even when they feel blue. When we are finally delivered, we will wish we had glorified Christ with vigor and enthusiasm.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Church is the wisest body and society in the world. Indeed, all the world besides is a company of mere fools and madmen." --Nathaniel Vincent, in, "A Discourse concerning Love"]

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mon., 11/9/09 Devotion (2 Ki. 22:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 22:8, where these words are found:

"Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, 'I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.' And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it."

Whenever the Holy Scriptures are "discovered," especially for the very first time, by Spirit-ripened souls--the results are revolutionary. When young King Josiah had this newly-found scroll read to him, he responded with humility, contrition, and repentance. He then embarked on his wonderful and far-reaching reforms (in Judah).

Does the Holy Book, in conjunction with the Spirit and life in the church, revolutionize our lives? If so, let us be encouraged. If not, let us be concerned.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The heart will tell us that sin is but small, and, being small, it is venial. The heart will apologize for sin, masking bad transactions over with golden pretenses." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Spiritual Watch"]

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/6-8/09 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here are words from Thomas Watson's, "The Lord's Prayer" book:

"True faith is wrought by the ministry of the word. 'Faith comes by hearing,' (Rom. 10:17). Peter let down the net of his ministry, and at one draught caught three thousand souls. Let us examine how our faith was wrought. Did God in the ministry of the word humble us? Did He break up the fallow ground of our heart, and then cast in the seed of faith? A good sign; but, if you know not how you came by your faith, suspect yourselves; as we suspect men to have stolen goods, when they know not how they came by them.

"True faith is at first small, like a grain of mustard-seed; it is full of doubts and fears; it is smoking flax: it smokes with desire, but does not flame with comfort. It is so small that a Christian can hardly discern whether he has faith or not.

"True faith is joined with sanctity. . . . Though faith does but touch Christ, it fetches a healing virtue from Him. Justifying faith does that in a spiritual sense which miraculous faith does; it removes the mountains of sin, and casts them into the sea of Christ's blood."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thurs., 11/5/09 Devotion (2 Ki. 18:22)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 18:22, where we read these words:

"But if you say to me, 'We trust in the LORD our God,' is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, 'You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem'?"

This verse (above) records the words of the Assyrian official, who was seeking to taunt and discourage the people of Jerusalem, during Hezekiah's reign. What is intriguing, is that he thought Hezekiah (who was a very faithful believer in the Lord) had *dishonored* God, by his (Hezekiah's) tearing down of "high places" and "altars."

In the True Religion, less is more. And even though there were fewer places for people to be religious--the ground was laid for them to be actually faithful and obedient (to God), through Hezekiah's reforms. Let us be less-impressed by pomp and circumstance; and more com-
mitted to God's truth.

[Puritan quote of the day: " 'Yes, I know, Satan, that Christ loves me, because you tell me that He hates me.' " --William Bridge, in, "A Lift-
ing Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wed., 11/4/09 Devotion (Titus 3:1a, 2c)

Today's encouragement comes from Titus 3:1a & 2c, where we read these words:

"Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities . . . showing all humility to all men."

One of the pastor's main roles, according to Paul, is that of teaching the church to be submissive, and humble. Even God's true children can tend to get on their "high horses," so to speak. God would never have us disobey Him, in order to please a human ruler--but this is almost never the situation with which we are faced.

Since the church always has the upper hand, it should be "easier" for us to be good citizens, and humble people--because we know that we serve the Supreme King, who makes all things right, in His own good time. Let us today actually *obey* God, in reference to rulers and others--rather than presuming to sit in His (God's) seat.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Purity of heart is the jewel which is hung only upon the elect. As chastity distinguishes a virtuous woman from a harlot, so the true saint is distinguished from the hypocrite by his heart-purity." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tues., 11/3/09 Devotion (Ps. 128:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 128:5, where we read these words:

"The LORD bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jeru-
salem all the days of your life."

This is a sweet benediction (above). What better life is there, than to be blessed by God "out of Zion," viz. from His church? And what more pleasant prospect is there, than to "see the good of Jerusalem," viz. the church, the people of God, "all the days of [our lives]"?

These are the values the Lord places on life on earth; and they are the ones we ought to aspire to, as well. As we do so, by grace, we learn how to live in heaven, while we are yet on the earth. May all God's children be encouraged today, not despairing, but looking to Him for help and grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Hence we learn that a life of holiness is the pleasantest life in this world, because in such a life we have the imperfect beginnings of a blessed and endless sight of God."
--Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Pure in Heart Blessed"]

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mon., 11/2/09 Devotion (Hos. 8:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from Hosea 8:14a, where we read these words:

"For Israel has forgotten his Maker, and has built temples . . . "

At first glance, this is a strange couplet (above). Israel *forgets* God; and then goes out and *builds temples*. Here, we see the incurable religiosity of all men everywhere. Just because sinners choose to dishonor the True God--this does absolutely nothing to alleviate their need to worship *some* god, of some sort.

Let us resolve to remember that every unbeliever we talk to today--be they allegedly as "irreligious" as they want to pretend to be--are diligently building temples for their false deities. We also would be in this boat, except that God has miraculously and sovereignly brought us to Himself, and placed us in Jesus, and His church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that enjoys much of God in this life carries heaven about him. . . . The enjoyment of God's sweet pres-
ence here is an earnest of our enjoying Him in heaven." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/30-11/1/09 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Lord's Prayer":

"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 delivered us from the wrath to come,' (1 Thess. 1:10)."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thurs., 10/29/09 Devotion (2 Tim. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, which says this:

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

Ministers have to be pretty stout souls--and Paul knew that Timothy's natural disposition was anything but "Type A." Still, the apostle reminded the young pastor that God's provisions in his (Timothy's) ordination included courage, sweetness, and firm resolve.

The world around us *can* at times be a pretty foreboding (fearful) place; but the Lord has given each of His churchmen--clergy *and* laity--a Spirit, not of cowardice--but one of true skill in living, charity, and solid, spiritual reason. Let all God's believing children rise up today, and shed everywhere the light of Christ's grace. Let us take our rightful places as the royalty of heaven (here on earth).

[Puritan quote of the day: "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 Content-

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wed., 10/28/09 Devotion (1 Tim. 6:17b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 6:17b, where we read these words:

" . . . But [let us trust] in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy."

I like this text (above). Not only does the Lord give us enough to live on--He also provides us "*All* things to enjoy." In other words, every-
thing God has created is to be employed for and subsumed under the welfare and happiness of Christ's church.

Our Heavenly Father is not "stingy," as some foolish people would imagine Him. Instead, He is extraordinarily generous (with those who are His, in Christ). As a matter of fact, God is more than kind to *all* creatures: even to those who hate Him, and will experience His eternal wrath, (cf. Ps. 145:9). Let us more fervently love our God, who "gives us *richly* all things to enjoy."

[Puritan quote of the day: "A true Christian grows in beauty. Grace is the best complexion of the soul. It is, at the first planting, like Rachel: fair to look upon, but, the more it lives, the more it sends forth its rays of beauty." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tues., 10/27/09 Devotion (Ps. 119:49)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:49, where we read these words:

"Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope."

All of us operate on the principle(s) of one or two foundational statements, which we thoroughly believe; and, against which all other truth claims get measured. The psalmist (above--who wrote Ps. 119) was famous for his love for God's word; and yet even he fiercely clung to some *one* promise of the Lord, which gave him "hope," and which helped him cope in a tough world.

What is it, at base, to which you and I are *really* committed? If it is the Gospel principle, which directs us to Jesus, and puts us in His church--then we are in good shape. If it is anything else, then we are putting our hope in things (and people) which cannot deliver.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Faith works the heart to a sweet, serene composure. It is not having food and raiment, but having faith which will make us content." --Thomas Watson, in "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mon., 10/26/09 Devotion (1 Tim. 4:4a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 4:4a, where we read these words:

"For every creature of God is good . . . "

This is a refreshing doctrine (above). Every single created being and thing is good, (even mosquitos--if you can believe that[!]). Of course, sinners have managed to foul-up virtually every good thing God created. But this in no way detracts from the intrinsic goodness of everything God made.

False religion leaves people feeling sick and uneasy. This is because it seeks to gain God's approval through denigration of the good things God created, viz. by requiring people to abstain from them. The True Religion is able to enjoy *everything* God made; and do so to Christ's honor and glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Lord gives double pay. He gives great rewards in His service here--and afterwards He refreshes us with the delights of paradise which are without intermission and expiration."
--Thomas Watson, in "The Fight of Faith Crowned"]

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/23-25/09 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday. We GET to go to church! In order to help get you ready, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God":

"Let us contemplate the excellencies of God. He is the 'God of glory,' (Ps. 29:3). He is full of orient beauty--in comparison of whom both angels and men are but as the 'small dust of the balance.' He is the 'God of love,' (2 Cor. 13:11). God triumphs in acts of mercy. Well may this encourage us in our approaches to Him who delights to display the banner of free grace to sinners. If we should hear of a person of honour who was of a lovely disposition, obliging all that came to him by acts of kindness and civility, it would make us ambitiously desirous to ingratiate ourselves with him and to obtain his acquaintance. God is the most sovereign good, the wonder of love, ready to diffuse the silver streams of His bounty to indigent creatures. This, if anything, will make us willing to draw near to Him and acquiesce in Him as the centre of felicity.

"If we would draw near to God, let us study our own wants. Let us consider in what need we stand for God and that we cannot be happy without Him. The prodigal never drew near to his father, until he began to be in want, (Lk. 15:17). A proud sinner, who was never convinced of his want, minds not to come near God; he [thinks he has] a stock of his own to live upon . . . "

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thurs., 10/22/09 Devotion (2 Thess. 3:5)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 3:5, where we read these words:

"Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ."

Biblical terms such as, "the love of God," or, "the patience of Christ," can be interpreted either objectively, viz. God's love for His church; or subjectively, viz. Christians' love for God; or both (of these options). This instance (above) is probably referring to both.

It is, after all, only possible for us to show God's love when we our-
selves know that He loves us. The same is true with patience: we can only demonstrate it as we realize (personally) how much of it we have received from God. It is a good prayer Paul offers (in this verse); and we ought to ask the Lord to do this for us, too.

[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 Com-

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wed., 10/21/09 Devotion (2 Thess. 2:15)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 2:15, where we read these words:

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle."

Religious traditions are not inherently bad (or heretical). Paul passed some traditions along through his preaching and teaching; and others through his inspired letters. All denominations--from those which use "bells and smells," to those that handle snakes and drink poison--employ tradition(s). Even the most "loosey-goosey" congregations basically do the same things week after week (only changing the props, or whatever).

Tradition is only a problem if and when it conflicts with divine (scriptural) revelation. When this happens, tradition must be chucked, in favor of God's revealed will. Otherwise, however, let God's faithful church not worry too much about tradition.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Zeal quickens the pursuit after glory. Zeal, encountering difficulty, is emboldened by opposition and tramples upon danger." --Thomas Watson, in "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tues., 10/20/09 Devotion (2 Thess. 1:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 1:3a, where we read these words:

"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly . . . "

We do not usually think of faith as "growing." What does this mean? It refers to the fact that saving faith, which is a gift of God in regenera-
tion, begins to be applied to more and more situations and circum-
stances of life. Instead of solely touching on salvation--growing faith begins to impose itself on other (and vast) tracts of everyday experi-

Therefore, what is it that we have to face today? Whatever that is, it is to be subject to our faith--the same miraculous faith God gave us when He joined us to Jesus in His church. Faith in Christ is to swallow-up all of our problems. Remember: faith alone pleases God, (cf. Heb. 11:6).

[Puritan quote of the day: "A believing soul dares venture his name, his estate, his life, yea, his eternal life on God. He dares to put them all into His hands." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mon., 10/19/09 Devotion (1 Ki. 22:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Kings 22:7, where we read these words:

"And Jehoshaphat said, 'Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?' "

There are many false "prophets" today, who will tell people whatever they want to hear. But, there are still some true, faithful, and lawfully-called "prophets" (ministers) today, as well. In ancient Israel, during Ahab's reign, the ratio was something like 400 to one. (One true prophet; four-hundred fake ones.)

As we might expect, Ahab (a bad guy), did not accept Micaiah's (the good prophet's) words--but he (Ahab) certainly respected him (Micaiah). Let all God's church be careful to give heed to God's ministers; and disregard Satan's hirelings, who are "wolves in sheep's clothing."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Nothing in all the world can deliver from the fear of death but forgiveness of sin, and then this makes a man look on the Day of Judgment with comfort." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in a book of his sermons, entitled, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/16-18/09 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! Here's Thomas Watson, from, "The Ten Commandments." Here, he is dealing with the Fifth Command-
ment. . . .

"Honour these spiritual fathers, by becoming advocates for them, and wiping off those slanders and calumnies which are unjustly cast upon them, (1 Tim 5:19). Constantine was a great honourer of the ministry; he vindicated them; he would not read the envious accusations brought against them, but burnt them. Do the ministers open their mouths to God for you in prayer, and will not you open your mouths in their behalf? Surely, if they labour to preserve you from hell, you should preserve them from slander; if they labour to save your souls, you ought to save their credit.

"Honour them by conforming to their doctrine. The greatest honour you can put upon your spiritual fathers, is to believe and obey their doctrine. He is an honourer of the ministry who is not only a hearer, but a follower of the word. As disobedience reproaches the ministry, so obedience honours it. The apostle calls the Thessalonians his crown. 'What is our crown of rejoicing? Is it not you?' (1 Thess 2:19). A thriving people are a minister's crown. When there is a metamorpho-
sis, a change wrought; when people come to the word proud, but go away humble; when they come earthly, but they go away heavenly; when they come, as Naaman to Jordan, lepers, but they go away healed; then the ministry is honoured. . . . You cannot honour your spiritual fathers more, than by thriving under their ministry, and living upon the sermons which they preach."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thurs., 10/15/09 Devotion (1 Ki. 18:21a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Kings 18:21a, where we read these words:

"And Elijah came to all the people, and said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him. . . . ' "

I like this perspective, put out by Elijah. Even today this principle applies. All people worship some deity (alleged, or true). "Let the best [God] win," as the saying goes. Is the Muslim god the true one? Then all should worship him (or it). Is the atheists' god the true one? Then we should bow down to it. Is the secularists' god true? Let all men honor it (or her, or whatever). Is the God of the True Christian Religion the only Real Deity? Then, let all men worship Him.

It turns out that the Holy Trinity *is* the one and only God. We know this--among other reasons--primarily by the resurrection of the Son of God, who lives and reigns today. He can withstand all pretenders to His throne. Worship Him, and do not fear fake gods.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are the greatest reasons in the world to be a Christian . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wed., 10/14/09 Devotion (Ezek. 47:12b)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 47:12b, where we read these amazing words:

"They [the trees] will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine."

The first part of Ezek., ch. 47, is remarkable--one of my favorite parts of the Bible. The expanse of the New Covenant church, and the spread of the gospel of grace are all in view here. Christ dwells in the "sanctuary," (the church). The church, through the Holy Spirit, feeds, nourishes, and heals the world. And, in time, the "knowledge of the Lord covers the earth, as the waters cover the sea."

Let us be thankful that the God of heaven has *not* abandoned His earth, or the people thereon. He has left His colony, the church, here. As the Body of Christ, let us be "feeders" and "healers" of the whole world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Grace continues and increases." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tues., 10/13/09 Devotion (1 Ki. 16:22b)

Today's encouragement comes from the few words which make-up
1 Kings 16:22b, which say this:

" . . . So Tibni died and Omri reigned."

These words (above) are almost comedic. But this was how it was in the ancient (and even the modern) world: when claimants to the throne battled it out, one won, and the other died. But it dawns on me that there is a much more profound (and legitimate) application of this principle; and it is this . . .

. . . When churchmen are regenerated, the "old man" of the flesh dies, and the "new man" of the Spirit reigns. The *experience* of this truth is the struggle all converted souls on earth have to traverse, (and we call this, "sanctification"). Let all believers reckon themselves to be dead to sin, and alive to Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love Him, and the more uneasy is he at his want [lack] of love to Him." --Jonathan Edwards, in "Religious Affections"]

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mon., 10/12/09 Devotion (Col. 2:13)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's words found in Colossians 2:13, which say this:

"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses."

True believing churchmen have this precious promise that God has, in Christ, forgiven them ALL their trespasses (or sins). This gift in itself is more valuable than all the world; and if God did nothing else for His children, to have one's sins forgiven would bring a lifetime of joy, and reason for praising God.

If you are among the redeemed, recognize from whence you have come. You used to be "dead" in trespasses. Now, because of Jesus' work, you are "forgiven" them. If this will not cause you to love God, nothing ever will.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Some set their bags of money always before them, others set the fear of men always before them, but a wise Christian will set God, judgment, and eternity always before him." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/9-11/09 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Ten Commandments" book. (Here, he is dealing with the Fourth [or Sabbath] Commandment.) . . .

"Rejoice at the approach of the day [Sunday], 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 Righteous-
ness shines should be a day of gladness."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thurs., 10/8/09 Devotion (Ps. 92:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 92:13 & 14, where we read these words, from a Psalm for the Sabbath Day:

"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 . . . "

Are some of you growing a bit older (like me), and wondering if your life has been worth while, or not? If so, recognize--even from the verses above--that those who are firmly planted in Jesus, in His church *do* make a difference, and that they *do* "flourish," and that they *do* continue to "bear fruit in old age."

All who forsake Jesus, and therefore also His church, waste their lives. Their miserable existences are worth nothing. On the other hand, those who plant themselves in Christ and His soil, are rich and fulfilled.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's blood only can merit pardon."
--Thomas Watson, in "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wed., 10/7/09 Devotion (Ps. 91:9-10)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 91:9 & 10, where we read these words:

"Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling . . . "

Those who are safely trusting in Jesus' blood atonement alone to protect them from the condemnation of sin's righteous judgment are the only people on earth who will weather the storms of this life (and the next). God is the churchman's "dwelling place" by faith. Faith, not anything else, proves to be our key to victory (1 Jn. 5:4b), since it directly binds us to Christ.

Do we want to be safe from the most real and fearful evils? Then, as the church, let us trust in Jesus alone. Let us look not to our works, or our performance--but to our Redeemer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the wicked, still, are under the covenant of works . . . " --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tues., 10/6/09 Devotion (Ps. 90:17a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 90:17a, where we read these words:

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us . . . "

Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote the words of the psalm (quoted above). What did he mean by "the beauty of the LORD"? All beauty comes from God, who Himself is the ultimately beautiful Being; and who is the Standard of all comeliness. Those related to Christ possess the same nature, Spirit, and beauty that He demon-
strates, even today, in heaven.

The church's beauty is irresistible to God; and it is a prime means of attracting the elect to Christ, His gospel, and His community. Let us seek to reflect and radiate God's beauty today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The law is but a dead letter in comparison to the word of the gospel. If you come merely to the law to hear the law preached, and not in a [gospel] way, you may hear it a hundred times and it will never be written in your hearts." --Jeremiah Bur-
roughs, in "Gospel Worship"]

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mon., 10/5/09 Devotion (Ps. 89:16)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 89:16, where we read these words:

"In Your name they rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness they are exalted."

How is it, that the sincere believers can rejoice in God "all day long"? Because he or she realizes that his or her life is hidden away in Christ, and that no matter what happens in that particular day God has a sovereign purpose for it.

Believing churchmen have a rock-solid foundation in their faith in Christ alone. Nothing (and no one) else is acceptable to God. But Christ is MORE than pleasing to Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For every believer, the debt-book is crossed out; the black lines of sin are crossed out with the red lines of Christ's blood." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/2-4/09 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost The Lord's Day (Sunday)! In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, in his book, "The Lord's Prayer":

"The old serpent [Satan] either takes men off from the use of means [of grace], or makes them miscarry in the use of them.

"He labours to take men off from duty, from praying and hearing [sermons], in order to discourage them; and, to do that, he has two artifices:

"He discourages them from duty by suggesting to them their unworthi-
ness; that they are not worthy to approach to God, or have any signals of His love and favour. They are sinful, and God is holy, how dare they presume to bring their impure offering to God? That we should see ourselves unworthy, is good, and argues humility; but to think we should not approach God because of unworthiness, is a conclusion of the devil's making. God says, 'Come, though unworthy.' By this temp-
tation, the devil takes many off from coming to the Lord's Table. 'Oh,' says he, 'this is a solemn ordinance, and requires much holiness: how dare you so unworthily come? You will eat and drink unworthily.' Thus, as Saul kept the people from eating honey, so the devil by this temptation, scares many from this ordinance, which is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thurs., 10/1/09 Devotion (Eph. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 1:7, where we read these words:

"In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgive-
ness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . . "

When it is all said and done, the only thing that matters in life (and religion) is the soul's cleansing before a Holy God. Christ's blood *alone* washes away sins; and our confidence before God is solely based in and on our faith in Him (Christ).

So much religious talk and discourse is nothing other than the bluster of people who wish to find some substitute (for the blood atonement of Jesus). Let us not be ensnared by this; and may God's true church-
men rejoice in their right standing with the Lord, by grace through faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a Christian's duty to triumph, not only over the world, but over Satan . . . " --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wed., 9/30/09 Devotion (Gal. 6:9-10)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 6:9 & 10, where Paul wrote these words:

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."

Perseverance is difficult. Any who believe that they will endure to the end in their own strength, have failed before they even get started. Many who embark on the journey of faith with earnest zeal, fall away. Why? Much of this is from not counting the cost (Lk. 14:28); but much of it is from not understanding the nature of the trek.

Let us look to the Captain of our souls, Jesus (Heb. 12:2); and be encouraged by the promise that we will reap a rich harvest if we persevere--in both this world, and in the one to come.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you love anything, love something better than yourself; and that only is Christ, who is altogether lovely."
--Thomas Watson, in his sermon entitled, "Christ's Loveliness"]

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tues., 9/29/09 Devotion (Gal. 5:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 5:1, where we read these words:

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."

The default position of the flesh--even in truly converted churchmen--is always back to law, and works. The Galatian church had been sold a "bill of goods" by a Judaizer. He was urging them to add the Old Covenant stipulations to their faith in Christ. Some of the Galatians were caving in. The Apostle Paul took out all his guns, and began to blast away (at this works-religion).

Let us recognize that, unless we are very careful, we also will fall back into "ordinary religion," which amounts to nothing more than what a Muslim or an atheist hopes for: rewards based on performance. Instead, let us continue to cling to Christ, by faith; and, in so doing, enjoy our blessed freedoms as children of the Great King.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Prayer is the pouring out of the soul to God; not the pouring out of words . . . " --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mon., 9/28/09 Devotion (Ps. 79:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 79:1, where we read these words:

"O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; Your holy temple they have defiled; they have laid Jerusalem in heaps."

All believing Christians *want* the nations to come into Christ's "inheritance," (the church). But we want this to be on *God's* terms, not theirs. This text (above) reflects the negative dynamics of the nations "defiling" the "temple." When the church allows the world to set the tone and tempo of worship, it corrupts the true religion, and dishonors God.

Let us bring the nations into the church: but let them be brought under the tutelage of Christ, wherein they learn a new language, culture, and lifestyle. When we do this, we bless them, and honor God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Keep your ear open to God and shut out sin; deafen your ears to the lies of the slanderer and the heretic. Do not let him have your ear who comes to rob you of your heart."
--Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Spiritual Watch"]

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/25-27/09 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We get to go to church! In order to help get you ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "Picture of a Godly Man" book:

"Question: How does faith work patience? Answer: Faith argues the soul into patience. Faith is like that town clerk in Ephesus who allayed the contention of the multitude and argued them soberly into peace, (Acts 19:35, 36). So when impatience begins to clamour and make a hubbub in the soul, faith appeases the tumult and argues the soul into holy patience. Faith says, 'Why are you disquieted, O my soul?,' (Psa. 42:5).

"Are you afflicted? Is it not your Father who has done it? He is carving and polishing you and making you fit for glory. He smites that He may save. What is your trial? Is it sickness? God shakes the tree of your body so that some fruit may fall, even 'the peaceable fruit of right-
eousness,' (Heb. 12:11). . . . Do you suffer reproach for Christ's sake? 'The spirit of glory and of God rests upon you,' (1 Pet. 4:14). Thus faith argues and disputes the soul into patience."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thurs., 9/24/09 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."

Even the world relishes the idea of a God of "love and peace." Their "love and peace" god, however, is not the Lord of heaven and earth, who saves sinners and judges all men (according to His perfect and holy standard). Unbelievers' idea of "love and peace" is really more like, "lust, and leave me alone."

But Paul's statement above *does* apply to the redeemed church. The True God of "love and peace" *is* with us; and we particularly *experience* these blessed attributes of His (love and peace), as we are maturing, united, and secure (as the Body of Christ), [see the earlier parts of v. 11].

[Puritan quote of the day: "If temptations arise from natural causes, then natural means, as medicines, are to be used and applied, and people would do well to be persuaded thereunto." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wed., 9/23/09 Devotion (2 Cor. 12:8-9a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 12:8 & 9a, where Paul wrote these words:

"Concerning this [thorn in the flesh] I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' "

The very thing we typically believe hinders our service and love for God--is often the very thing that most powerfully forwards it. Paul loathed his thorn, whatever it was--and yet it had the effect of "deflating" him, so that he thought little of himself, and much of Christ.

I know it is very difficult, but let us begin to think in this counter-cultural and counter-intuitive way; and let us thank God for the hardest trials we face--even those things that are likely to never change, in this world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ does not bid us (says Augustine) learn of Him to work miracles, to open the eyes of the blind, to raise the dead, but He would have us learn of Him to be meek." --Thomas Watson, in "The Beatitudes"]

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/11-13/09 Devotion

With the Lord's Day arriving on Sunday, it is good for us to prepare ourselves well. Here are words from Thomas Watson's "All Things for Good":

"Grace is to the soul, as light to the eye, as health to the body. Grace does to the soul, as a virtuous wife to her husband, 'She will do him good all the days of her life,' (Prov. 31:12). How incomparably useful are the graces! Faith and fear go hand in hand. Faith keeps the heart cheerful, fear keeps the heart serious. Faith keeps the heart from sinking in despair, fear keeps it from floating in presumption. All the graces display themselves in their beauty: hope is 'the helmet,'
(1 Thess. 5:8), meekness 'the ornament,' (1 Pet. 3:4), love 'the bond of perfectness,' (Col. 3:14). The saints' graces are weapons to defend them, wings to elevate them, jewels to enrich them, spices to perfume them, stars to adorn them, cordials to refresh them. And does not all this work for good? The graces are our evidences for heaven. Is it not good to have our evidences at the hour of death?"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thurs., 9/10/09 Devotion (1 Cor. 15:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 15:1 & 2a, where we read these words:

"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved . . . "

The reiteration (or repeating) of the gospel message is very important. Paul does that here, with the Corinthian church. He had already "preached" it to them; now he once again "declares" it to them. The Corinthian believers had both forgotten the gospel message, and it had been misrepresented to them (by the false apostles).

And so it is with us, the church today. We also need to hear, over and over, from Lord's Day to Lord's Day, the glorious good news: that Jesus lives; and that we live in Him--by grace through faith. Do not ever tire of hearing of the grace of God. It should be new and fresh to us everyday.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When a man is humbled, truly humbled, the object of his grief or sorrow or trouble is sin itself, as a dishonor done unto God." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wed., 9/9/09 Devotion (1 Cor. 14:33)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's words, found in 1 Corinthians 14:33:

"For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints."

The devil loves to confuse and bewilder people, and fill their minds with all kinds of swirling notions, many of which contradict one another. This is not the way God works. Instead, He patiently leads, guides, and teaches His children, employing the "textbook" of the Holy Scriptures, and the spiritual shepherding of pastors and teachers, (cf. Eph. 4:11 ff.).

God's peace (mentioned above) does not exclude tribulation and trouble; but in His churches there is safety and sanity--even in the midst of the storms.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The love of God is like Himself--equal, constant, not capable of augmentation or diminution; our love is like ourselves--unequal, increasing, waning, growing, declining." --John Owen, in his "Works"]

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tues., 9/8/09 Devotion (Ps. 50:15)

Today's encouragement comes from the lovely words of Psalm 50:15, which say this:

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

One of the reasons God gives us troubles, is so that se will call upon Him. After all, when we feel carnally secure and complacent, we sense no urgent need to pray to the Lord. God promises to deliver those who call on Him in their difficulties. Since life in this world will not cease to be full of trials, let us make good use of them, and seek God earnestly.

When the Lord answers our prayers, and lifts us up, then we will "glorify" Him. In doing this, we get a taste of heaven, and we are encouraged to continue pressing on down here.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You may go a great way and yet perish if you lack one thing, even that good thing, a heart so renewed as to prize Christ above this world." --Cotton Mather, in his sermon, "The Best Ornaments of Youth"]

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mon., 9/7/09 Devotion (1 Cor. 12:31)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 12:31, where we read these words:

"But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excel-
lent way."

After the Apostle Paul spends most of a chapter describing various spiritual gifts given to the church--some of which are still in use today; and others of which are not--he enjoins us to go after the "best" ones, but then tells us of "a more excellent way." This superla-
tive path, of course, is that of love, elucidated so famously in the next chapter (1 Cor. 13).

Gifts and love are not at odds; but love is greater in every way. Gifts are of no account without love. The devil has excellent gifts (from God), but he has no proper love (for God). Let us employ our various God-given abilities fully and well--but let us always do it out of love for Christ and His church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more sweetness a Christian finds in any work, the greater is his affliction if he lacks that work." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/4-6/09 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sun-day! (That almost rhymes.) So as to prepare you for church, here is the incomparable Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "A Divine Cordial":

"Love is valorous, it turns cowardice into courage. Love will make one venture upon the greatest difficulties and hazards. The fearful hen will fly upon a dog or serpent to defend her young ones. Love infuses a spirit of gallantry and fortitude into a Christian. He that loves God will stand up in His cause, and be an advocate for Him. 'We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard,' (Acts 4:20). He who is afraid to own Christ has but little love to Him.

"Nicodemus came sneaking to Christ by night (John 3:2). He was fearful of being seen with Him in the day time. Love casts out fear. As the sun expels fogs and vapours, so divine love in a great measure expels carnal fear. Does he love God that can hear His blessed truths spoken against and be silent? He who loves his friend will stand up for him, and vindicate him when he is reproached. Does Christ appear for us in heaven, and are we afraid to appear for Him on earth? Love animates a Christian, it fires his heart with zeal, and steels it with courage."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thurs., 9/3/09 Devotion (1 Cor. 8:4b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 8:4b, where the Apostle Paul wrote these words:

" . . . We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one."

Sinners have created and concocted trillions of idols since Adam's fall in the garden--but the interesting thing is that *none* of them actually *exist* as legitimate "God-substitutes." An idol can have "existence" as a "thing"; but it can make no rightful claim to Christ's throne.

Some of the Corinthian churchmen to whom Paul was writing were concerned that their activities (like eating) would somehow forward the status of some of the idols of the city of Corinth. The apostle assured them that they had nothing to really worry about, since there is no other God than the true God. Take heart today, sincere Chris-
tians, you belong to the one and only God, through faith in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If the promise of grace belongs to you, then you cannot say, 'I have no word, no promise to uphold me.' "
--William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wed., 9/2/09 Devotion (Ps. 42:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from David's words, as they are found in Psalm 42:1 & 2:

"As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?"

For some reason, David had been separated from Jerusalem and the temple there. He could hardly wait to get back into the corporate worship of the God he loved so much. Though he could pray to his Lord, "from the heights of Hermon," (v. 6)--it was not the same to him, as when he joyfully went up to the "house of God," (v. 4).

Do we take God's worship seriously; or does it not really matter to us? Blessed are those who value what the Lord values.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Defilers and profaners of ordinances, by known and allowed wickedness, provoke God more than the heathen who have no ordinances." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "A Warn-
ing to Professors of Religion"]

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tues., 9/1/09 Devotion (Ps. 40:17a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 40, v. 17a, which says this:

"But I am poor and needy; yet the LORD thinks upon me. . . . "

David wrote these words (above). He was "poor and needy" in that he knew he was bankrupt before God--having no righteousness of his own. All of David's favor with God came through his union (by faith) with Christ. But what I find most intriguing in this verse is the expression, "The LORD thinks upon me."

Can you picture the God who created the entire universe "thinking" on you, and me? He does. We may not think of ourselves as particularly interesting--but the church, and the individual members therein are of passionate interest to God. He "thinks" on us; and all His thoughts are for our good, our welfare, our betterment, and our prosperity. Think on Him today, and thank God for His goodness.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do not say thus, 'I shall never be helped; I am in a sad condition and shall never be better.' . . . This you cannot say, for who knows what God will do?" --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mon., 8/31/09 Devotion (Ps. 39:7)

Today's encouragement comes from the words of Psalm 39:7, which say this:

"And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You."

In vv. 4-6, David had surveyed his life, and determined that there wasn't really much to it, especially time-frame-wise. Now, it's as if he says to God, "In light of the brevity of my existence, what does it all amount to? What am I here for?" And the answer, of course, is, "I am here for You, Lord. You are the only One I hope in."

What do we "wait for"? If it is anything less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself we are wasting our lives, and our days. Let us put our hope in Him. Let us "wait" for Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "True [gospel] mourning begins in the love of God, and ends in the hatred of sin." --Thomas Watson, in "The Beatitudes"]

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/28-30/09 Devotion

So as to help prepare you for the Lord's Day's church worship services, here are some good words from the great Jonathan Edwards, as they are taken from his sermon entitled, "God Glorified in Man's Dependence":

"The grace of God in bestowing this gift [of grace] is most free. God was under no obligation to bestow it. He might have rejected fallen man as He did the fallen angels. We never did anything to merit it; it was given while we were yet enemies, and before we had so much as repented. It was from the love of God, who saw no excellency in us to attract it; and it was without expectation of ever being requited for it. And it is from mere grace that the benefits of Christ are applied to such and such particular persons. Those who are called and sanctified are to attribute it to the good pleasure of God's goodness alone, by which they are distinguished. He is sovereign, and has mercy on who He will have mercy."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wed., 8/26/09 Devotion (Ps. 34:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 34:4, where we read these words:

"I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."

David's method (above) for dealing with fears is a great model for all believers. Usually, our natural tendency when we are fearful--instead of going to God with it--is to allow it to worry us, and to wear us down. Fear is a powerful emotion; the only true antidote to it is the peace that only Christ can give.

And how do we attain to the experience of that peace? By seeking the Lord (see above). Once God has "heard" us, we have the assurance that our concern is laid to rest. The Holy Spirit communicates this to our hearts; and we can go on living confidently and courageously, in the grace and love of Christ--all by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When a man can praise God for what he has, God will give him more, and give him a better condition."
--William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tues., 8/25/09 Devotion (1 Sam. 17:26b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 17:26b, where we read these words:

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

The church needs "Davids" today, who will stare down the bloated "Goliaths" of this world, who seek to "defy the armies of the living God." David did not fear Goliath, because he (David) knew that the true God was on his side; and Goliath had nothing to lean on but his own strength, and his hope in his fake (Philistine) gods.

So it is with all churchmen today: God's enemies parade themselves in front of us; they try to get "in our faces"; and they do everything they can to seek to dismantle all that is good in the world. But the church may say with David, "Who [are these uncircumcised Philistines, that they] should defy the armies of the living God?"

[Puritan quote of the day: "We must go to heaven by hell gate; and he that is not troubled sometimes by Satan is possessed by him." --Wil-
liam Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mon., 8/24/09 Devotion (Ps. 32:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 32:1, where we read these words:

"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."

What sweet words these (above) are, for those who are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, by grace through faith. "Blessed" is "happy." Those whose sins are forgiven are blissful and free--they realize that they have been given a magnificent gift, and that they are no longer bound by the prison bars of sin, death, and condem-

*This* is true happiness: to have one's sins forgiven. Nothing can replace this: no amount of money, no degree of good health, none of the good things of the world. If you are forgiven your sins today, take time to heartily thank your Heavenly Father for the gracious sacrifice of His Son Jesus, on your soul's behalf.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A promise [of God], once given, shall never be reversed or repealed." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/21-23/09 Devotion

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

"True faith is grounded upon knowledge. Knowledge carries the torch before faith. There is a knowledge of Christ's orient excellencies, (Php. 3:8). He is made up of all love and beauty. True faith is a judicious intelligent grace, it knows Whom it believes, and why it believes. Faith is seated as well in the understanding as in the will. It has an eye to see Christ, as well as a wing to fly to him. Such therefore as are veiled in ignorance, or have only an implicit faith to believe as the church believes, have no true and genuine faith.

"Faith lives in a broken heart. 'The father cried out with tears, "Lord, I believe," ' (Mark 9:24). True faith is always in a heart bruised for sin. They, therefore, whose hearts were never touched for sin, have no faith. If a physician should tell us there was a herb that would help us against all infections, but it always grows in a watery place; if we should see a herb like it in colour, leaf, smell, blossom, but growing upon a rock, we should conclude that it was the wrong herb. So saving faith always grows in a heart humbled for sin, in a weeping eye and a tearful conscience. If, therefore, there be a show of faith, but it grows upon the rock of a hard impenitent heart, it is not the true faith."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thurs., 8/20/09 Devotion (Jer. 49:38a)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 49:38a, where we read these words:

"I [the Lord] will set My throne in Elam . . . "

What a strange place for God to "set [His] throne"--Elam, an ancient pagan power east of Babylon. This is a good reminder of the fact that nothing is outside of the Lord's sovereignty: He is king everywhere--in heaven, and on earth. No devil, no sinners, no evil can overthrow Him; and God remains on His throne at all times, in every situation.

Having said that, it is true that there is a "positive" reign of Christ (in His church), and a "negative" reign of Christ (in His judgment of wickedness). The same Sovereign is in control--it's just that in one case God grants forgiveness and imputed righteousness (from Christ), and in the other case He exercises His prerogative as a Just Judge (in condemnation).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Praise God for every smile, and rejoice in the least." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wed., 8/19/09 Devotion (1 Sam. 11:6)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 11:6, where we read these words:

"Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused."

I know that King Saul of the Old Testament is not the greatest example; but this is an interesting text. Have you ever considered that there is no absolute disparity between the Holy Spirit (and His blessed influences on a person), and righteous anger? The wrath of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God (Jas. 1:20); but this does not mean that godly people should not, on occasion, be angry.

In fact, we *are* to "be angry," and yet not "sin," (Eph. 4:26a). At any rate, I'm not trying to stir anyone up. Still, do you see sin in yourself, in those you love, and in the world in which you live? If you do, it should upset you (and me). A proper response is one of godly warfare against it; and we cannot fight well without being riled-up a bit.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When a man is shaken in his own right-
eousness, then he sees the emptiness and the lying disposition of it."
--William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tues., 8/18/09 Devotion (Rom. 8:26)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 8:26, where we read these words:

"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

Sometimes it is hard to know just *how* to pray, or for *what* to pray. This is a "weakness," but it is not a debilitating one. The reason: the Holy Spirit Himself "makes intercession" for us. When I have a hard time knowing how to pray, I usually try to discern what the main and pressing *concerns* are, that are on my heart.

I then try to bring those to the Lord, and to ask for strength and wisdom. In any case, it is better to *try* to pray, than to leave off praying altogether (because it is often so difficult). God is pleased with our faith-driven efforts, even though they are sometimes paltry. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit "fills in the gaps."

[Puritan quote of the day: "God has two arms whereby He draws us unto Himself--the arm of His love, and the arm of His anger and justice." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mon., 8/17/09 Devotion (Jer. 46:27b)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 46:27b, where we read these words:

" . . . Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; no one shall make him afraid."

Do you know that there is nothing wrong with the faithful church being "at ease"? After all, we rest our souls in Jesus--trusting Him alone for our right standing with God; we take a Sabbath rest every Sunday; we rest from all works-righteousness; and we have eternal rest in heaven throughout eternity.

Sloth and indolence is not being "at ease"; but true faith in the Redeemer *is*. Therefore, do not feel guilty because you are feeling "at ease," and are not "afraid" of anything. These (guilt) feelings belong to those who trust in themselves, or something else. They are not the realm of those who repose their souls in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For the bent and desires of the will carry the whole man with it." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/14-16/09 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! Here's TW, to help get you ready for church. This comes from his "A Plea for the Godly" book:

"See how dearly God loves the righteous and how near to His heart they lie. They are more excellent. The word 'excellent' carries affection in it. Things we prize we love. The righteous are God's treasure, (Psalm 135:4); and where His treasure is there is His heart. They are God's delicious garden where He plants the flower of His love. They are the dearly-beloved of His soul. They are His darling. He engraves them upon the palms of His hands that they may be never out of His eye. He rejoices over them with joy and rests in His love. It is no ordinary affection that God bears to the righteous. The sun shining upon a burning glass sets on fire only the object that is near the glass. The beams of God's love are more intensely enflamed towards them who are near Him by grace; these have the strength and spirits of His love distilled, He loves them as He loves Christ. Indeed, in one sense, God's love to Christ and believers is not alike, for Christ is loved purely for His own sake but believers are loved for Christ's sake. Yet, in another sense, God the Father loves believers as He loves Christ. It is the same love for the quality, the same for the unchangeableness of it. God will no more cease to love believers than He will to love Christ."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thurs., 8/13/09 Devotion (Rom. 3:20a)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 3:20a, which says this:

"Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His [God's] sight . . . "

This (above) is a great, and comforting text. If we were to be saved by works, or the deeds of the law, then we could not and would not be saved at all. Where would the "end line" be, where we could know we had finally done enough "good" and meritorious actions, so as to wrench from God His favor, and salvation?

No. Works-religion is the domain of the devil, and of all the false religions of the world. Only "faith-religion" pleases God--since it embraces Jesus *alone* as the sole satisfaction before a Holy Judge for sin, and sinners. Those who trust in their works are proud and vile in the eyes of God. He looks with more mercy on atheists, than He does on the self-righteous.

[Puritan quote of the day: "I would rather believe poor doubting Thomas than confident Peter . . . " --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]