Friday, January 30, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/30-2/1/09 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is *almost* here! We *get* to go to church! Here's TW, from "Heaven Taken by Storm":

"Truth is the most glorious thing; the least filing of this gold is precious. What shall we be violent for, if not for truth? Truth is ancient; its grey hairs may make it venerable; it comes from Him who is 'The Ancient of Days.' Truth is unerring, it is the Star which leads to Christ. Truth is pure, (Psalm 119:140). It is compared to silver refined seven times, (Psalm 12:6). There is not the least spot on truth's face; it breathes nothing but sanctity.

"Truth is triumphant; it is like a great conqueror. When all his enemies lie dead, it keeps the field and sets up its trophies of victory. Truth may be opposed but never quite deposed. In the time of Dioclesian things seemed desperate and truth ran low. Soon after was the golden time of Constantine, and then truth did again lift up its head. When the water in the Thames is lowest, a high tide is ready to come in. God is on truth's side and so long as there is no fear it will prevail . . . "

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thurs., 1/29/09 Devotion (Gen. 30:2b)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 30:2b, which says this:

" . . . And [Jacob] said, 'Am I in the place of God . . . ?' "

Whenever anyone fails to look to Christ for the fullest level of life and satisfaction, the inevitable consequence is the "deification of man." This is a common form of idolatry. The simple fact is that no human being (who is not divine) can fully satisfy us. This would be true, even if this (non-divine) person was without sin.

Jacob could not give Rachel what she wanted (in the Genesis context above). Only God could do that. Let us be careful not to ascribe to anybody what only belongs to Christ alone: namely, the ability to make us supremely happy, content, full, and free.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us labor to cherish union and hate division." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wed., 1/28/09 Devotion (Esth. 5:2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Esther 5:2a, which says this:

"And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand." (ESV)

When God sees the church, the bride of Christ, approach the throne of grace, He is pleased to hold out the golden scepter of His love, mercy, and grace. All of this is because Jesus shed His precious blood for His people.

Do you need to approach the throne of God today? Don't come empty-handed. Bring, in the arms of faith, the Savior of your soul, the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," (Jn. 1:29). No other offering will be accepted.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A child of God keeps two books always by him: one to write his sins in, so that he may be humble; the other to write his mercies in, so that he may be thankful." --Thomas Watson, in "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tues., 1/27/09 Devotion (Gen. 28:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 28:12, where we read these words:

"Then he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it."

In Jacob's dream, notice where the ladder is "set up." It is not set up in heaven, but on the earth. This is intriguing, because sometimes we mistakenly separate heaven and earth, and imagine that they are radically "separate" from one another. The actual truth is that they are *united* in the "Ladder," the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why is this an encouragement for us who are alive "down here" today? Because it reminds us that our lives here are as full and rich as the lives of the saints above (in the triumphant church). They have Jesus; we have Jesus. Heaven is where Jesus is. The closer we are to Him in this world, the closer we are to heaven (in its essence).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let me not deny myself comfort and God glory both at once." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mon., 1/26/09 Devotion (Acts 26:25)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 26:25, where Paul said this:

"I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason."

The Spirit-led words of God's apostles, ministers, and faithful people are not those of madmen, or lunatics. An unbelieving world thinks of us that way because our words seem "otherworldly" to them, viz., we talk about a crucified and resurrected Savior, of repentance, and of the kingdom of God. The actual fact is that the gospel is "more real," or "more objectively true" than anything a person could ever conceive of with the use of a fallen reason alone.

It's just that the gospel is a *higher* and nobler "truth and reason"than can be apprehended by the flesh. It can only be understood, believed, and applied by the work of the blessed Holy Spirit, using the Word of God (preached and read).

[Puritan quote of the day: "As wise and learned as you are, take heed to yourselves lest [Satan] outwit you. The devil is a greater scholar than you, and a nimbler disputant." --Richard Baxter, in "The Reformed Pastor"]

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/23-25/09 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get you ready for church, here is TW, from "The Art of Divine Contentment":

"Be content, by virtue of a decree. Whatever our condition be, God the umpire of the world has from everlasting decreed that condition for us; and by His providence ordered all things thereunto. Let a Christian often think with himself, 'Who has placed me here, whether I am in a high sphere, or in a lower?' Not chance or fortune, as the purblind heathens imagined; no, it is the wise God that has by His providence fixed me in this orb. We must act that scene which God would have us. . . .

"God's providence is that helm which turns about the whole ship of the universe. Say then, as holy David, 'I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because You, Lord, did it,' (Ps. 39:9). God's providence, which is nothing else but the carrying on of His decree, should be a counterpoise against discontent. God has set us in our station, and He has done it in wisdom. We fancy such a condition of life is good for us; whereas if we were our own carvers, we should often cut the worst piece. . . . "

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thurs., 1/22/09 Devotion (Neh. 12:43)

Today's encouragement comes from Nehemiah 12:43, where we read these words:

"Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off."

God-honoring Sabbath church worship will (inevitably) lead to a great deal of joy. This heartfelt celebration will be so profound, that those outside the church will hear it (and be impacted by it). Life is not all joy and sweetness--but there *are* special times when God Himself "[makes us] rejoice with great joy," (even as today's text avers).

Don't give up on your potential for a very high degree of happiness (in this world). So long as you remain faith-filled toward Jesus (and therefore faithful in His church), there is for you a certainty that your joy will be made full.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ and all good things are stored in the gospel; that is the rich mine." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wed., 1/21/09 Devotion (Gen. 22:7b)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 22:7b, where we read these words:

" . . . Then [Isaac] said, 'Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?' "

Every human being has "fire" and "wood" when it comes to life and religion. Everyone knows, deep in their hearts, that there is a righteous God who must be assuaged. What separates the redeemed church from everyone else is the "Lamb for a burnt offering." Only those that possess Jesus have the atoning sacrifice for their sins.

Issac's question, "*Where* is the lamb . . . ?" is a good one. The Lamb is found by faith. He is worshipped in His church. And His gospel is to be proclaimed in the world. When you pray, bring in your arms of faith the "Lamb of God" (Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more we see the grace of God in Christ, the spirit of fear is diminished and replaced by a spirit of love and boldness." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tues., 1/20/09 Devotion (Gen. 21:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 21:1, where we read these words:

"And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken."

Sarah had to wait a long time to get what she wanted, and for what she had undoubtedly often petitioned God concerning, (namely, a child--whom she got, in Isaac). Had God given Sarah what she desired earlier, when she so earnestly sought for it--it would have been a disaster for Sarah (and for the rest of the world, too). She was not particularly "patient," but the Lord overlooked that, and was gracious to her.

What is it that you have long and ardently "sought for"? Don't lose hope; and don't give up. If this desire is God-honoring, continue to wait for the Lord, and don't cease to continue to ask Him for it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Q. What is the liberty of the gospel? A. It is a blessed liberty in the church to have true liberty opened, the charter of our liberty." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/16-18/09 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is almost here! In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "A Plea to the Godly" book:

"A righteous man is of a more excellent birth. Alexander the Great feigned himself to be son to Jupiter. Every good Christian is high-born; he is born of God, and that is more than to come from princes and be of the royal blood. David thought it no small honor to be the king's son-in-law, (1 Samuel 18:18). Oh, what an infinite honor is it to be regenerated by the Spirit and enrolled among the first-born of heaven! The righteous man derives his pedigree from the ancient of days, (Daniel 7:9). He gives the fairest nameplate, the eagle and the lion; he is near akin to the Lion of the tribe of Judah, (Isaiah 40:31)."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thurs., 1/15/09 Devotion (Mt. 15:28a)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 15:28a, which says this:

"Then Jesus answered and said to her, 'O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.' . . . "

This Canaanite woman goes from being temporarily rebuffed by the Lord Jesus (v. 23a), to being given everything she wants. And what made the difference? Her faith. The Lord will allow us, at times, to "reason" with Him. Christ had told this woman that He was sent only to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel," (v. 24)--but her persistent faith paid off, and she got what she wanted.

This is not the "name it/and claim it" heresy; instead, it is a lesson in the goodness, generosity, and benevolence of the church's God. He simply cannot find it within Himself to deny His children, who come to Him in faith (so long as their requests are not sinful, or would not compromise their greater happiness).

[Puritan quote of the day: "But however much the wisdom and justice of God in many things may be out of sight to us, we may be sure that since God does all things as He pleases, they are ordered in the wisest and best manner." --Jonathan Edwards, in one of his sermons]

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wed., 1/14/09 Devotion (Gen. 15:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 15:6, where we read these words:

"And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness."

This is (undoubtedly) one of the most important verses in all the Bible. Faith is what *really* pleases God (see Heb. 11:6). True faith leads to warm and devoted love. Love, then, results in sanctified behavior. But it is faith which not only ushers us into God's merciful embraces, but also keeps us united to Christ.

The devil loves to get God's churchmen hung up on other things, like meticulously "perfect" living. All God requires is faith. The Lord would not pleased with us, even if we had a 99.9% perfection rating (which none of us have); but He *is* pleased with us if we believe Christ truly and sincerely, even at less than 1% of what we ought to.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A man may know that he is a son of God and a member of Christ." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tues., 1/13/09 Devotion (Mt. 12:21)

Happy New Year, everyone! It's good to be back "devotioning" with you!

Today's encouragement comes from the few words of Matthew 12:21, (which are quoting the OT):

"And in His [Christ's] name Gentiles will trust."

How incredible and unbelievable must this promise had seemed, to the Old Testament saints (and to those in the early New Covenant era). Would the Gentiles *really* come to trust the Messiah?! Indeed, after over 2000 years, we grow accustomed to what God has done; but the marvel of it should never cease to amaze us.

Is your ethnicity "Gentile"? Then, rejoice that the Lord has joined you to His covenant, in His holy Son's church, which is now made up of Jews and Gentiles.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The covenant of grace brings preferment. Our nature now is more ennobled, we are raised to higher glory than in innocence, we are advanced to sit upon Christ's throne, (Rev. 3:21)." --Thomas Watson, in "A Body of Divinity"]