Monday, March 23, 2009

Mon., 3/23/09 Devotion (Jn. 13:35)

Today's encouragement comes from John 13:35, where our Lord Jesus said this:

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (ESV)

The distinguishing mark of the follower of Jesus is love--not knowledge, understanding of doctrine, the skill to parse Greek words, or the ability to spell "presbyterian." The world (rightly) cares little about these things. God has so constituted human nature, that the only great magnet to the church is the love of the saints for one another, which flows from their undying affection for, and loyalty to their Redeemer.

Let us abandon all the failed means of "church growth"; and commit ourselves to the Messiah's simple formula: "Love one another, and all the world will know that you belong to Me."

[Puritan quote of the day: "A godly man loves God and therefore delights to be in His presence; he loves God and therefore takes comfort in nothing without Him." --Thomas Watson, in "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/20-22/09 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We GET to go to church! In order to help get you ready for worship, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "The Art of Divine Contentment":

"Contentment is a divine thing; it becomes ours, not by acquisition, but infusion. It is a slip taken off from the tree of life, and planted by the Spirit of God in the soul. It is a fruit that grows not in the garden of philosophy, but is of an heavenly birth. It is therefore very observable that contentment is joined with godliness, and goes [with it]; 'Godliness with contentment is great gain,' (1 Tim. 6:6).

"Contentment being a consequent of godliness, or concomitant, or both, I call it divine, to contradistinguish it to that of contentment, which a moral man may arrive at. Heathens have seemed to have this contentment, but it was only the shadow and picture of it. [It was] the beryl, not the true diamond. Theirs was but civil, this is sacred; theirs was only from principles of reason, this of religion; theirs was only lighted at nature's torch, this at the lamp of scripture. . . . "

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thurs., 3/19/09 Devotion (Jn. 9:35)

Today's encouragement comes from John 9:35, where we read these words:

"Jesus heard that they had cast him [the formerly blind man] out; and
when He had found him, He said to him, 'Do you believe in the Son of
God?' "

One of the neat things about this verse is that it teaches that Christ
went looking for this man (whom Jesus had healed of blindness). God
does this (seeking) with everyone that He calls to Himself, and to
whom He gives the great gift of salvation.

Jesus' question: "Do you believe in the Son of God?," is a huge one.
It would do the now-seeing man little good to have his eyes, but to
lose his soul. When the world "cast[s]" us out, as they did the
healed man--let us find our refuge in the embraces of our gracious

[Puritan quote of the day: "Though all sin is killing and damning, yet
no sin shall ever damn or destroy us unless we add thereunto the sin
of neglect or refusal of Christ." --Edward Pearse, in "The Best Match"]

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wed., 3/18/09 Devotion (Jn. 8:42a)

Today's encouragement comes from John 8:42a, where we read these words:

"Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here.' " (ESV)

If we do not have God as our Father, we do not have, nor do we know God. If God *is* our Father, then we *do* love the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no breaking up the Holy Trinity. This has huge ramifications. Anyone who "prays" to "God," but who does not do it in and through love for Jesus Christ, in fact does not pray to God at all.

But Jesus' words here in v. 42 are foreboding. Remember: He did not say these things to pagans and "infidels." He said them to formal members of the covenant, who, though they should have known better, neither loved nor acknowledged the true Christ.

By grace, may we do much better!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Fill your heart with the sense of the love of God in Christ, and apply the eternal design of His grace and shed blood to yourselves." --John Owen, in "Sin and Temptation"]

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tues., 3/17/09 Devotion (Gal. 3:24)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 3:24, where we read these words, written by Paul:

"Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith."

The law of God *does* have a role in believers' lives. Its purpose is to drive us to despair, with regard to finding or achieving any righteousness before a holy God on the basis of religious works or good behavior. The law condemns us, and shuts out any and every vestige of hoped-for self-righteousness.

But, thankfully, once the sinner is brought to the utter "end" of himself--he is graciously directed toward the One (Christ) who actually *can* save him. By faith we take hold of Jesus' righteousness, and we are then placed into His body (the church), enjoying all the benefits that have accrued to Him.

[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"]

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mon., 3/16/09 Devotion (Jn. 6:68)

Today's encouragement comes from John 6:68, where we read these words:

"But Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.' "

Whenever we are tempted to believe that there could be happiness, life, fulfillment, or any other good thing to be somehow found *outside* of our connection to the Lord Jesus Christ--let us remember Peter's words (above). To whom other could we go? Who, or what else could or does possess the power to give eternal life?

The answer: there is no one and no thing that can do for us what Christ can and does do for us. Let others abandon Christ and His church (as they did in Jn., ch. 6)--and so show their true colors. For the faithful and sincere--made that way by grace--may we stick with the only One who gives us life.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sinner, the day you leave your sins and set upon a course of holiness, God will pardon all that is past. . . . The Lord never upbraids a penitent with former unkindnesses." --Thomas Watson, in "The Mischief of Sin"]

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/13-15/09 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is *almost* here. We get to go to church! In order to help get you ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Ten Commandments" book:

"Meditating on a Lord's Day morning on Christ's love, would kindle love in our hearts to Him. How can we look on His bleeding and dying for us and our hearts not be warmed with love to Him? Love is the soul of religion, the purest affection. It is not rivers of oil, but sparks of love that Christ values. And sure, as David said, 'While I was musing the fire burned,' (Ps. 39:3); so, while we are musing of Christ's love in redeeming us, the fire of our love will burn towards Him. Then the Christian is in a blessed Sabbath-frame, when, like a seraphim, he is burning in love to Christ."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thurs., 3/12/09 Devotion (Jn. 2:24-25)

Today's encouragement comes from John 2:24 & 25, where we read these words:

"But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man."

The Lord Jesus was quite careful regarding those with whom He would totally commit Himself; and those with whom He would not. Though the Messiah was not burdened with the curse of original sin (or any sin, for that matter)--He still completely understood what it (sin) was, and what it did to mankind.

The people in Jn., ch. 2, were "believing" in Him; but they were *not* *really* believing in Him. They were impressed by Christ's miracles; but they were not moved to love Him on the grounds and basis of who He was (as the Son of God). May all God's true churchmen prove to be sincere in their faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[Ministers'] success depends entirely and absolutely on the immediate blessing and influence of God." --Jona-
than Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "God Glorified in Man's Depend-

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wed., 3/11/09 Devotion (2 Cor. 10:5)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 10:5, which says this:

"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey
Christ . . . " (ESV)

Behold the work of the Christian ministry: it tears down, so that it can build up (see v. 8). Jesus did this. He came and destroyed the prevailing notions of God and His worship; and then set up the way of the Kingdom (church)--which is glory achieved through suffering, or the cross leading to the resurrection.

A faithful ministry will sometimes make us a bit ill at ease, and always with regard to our favorite sins--especially those that are cloaked in religion. But, let us be encouraged: those who respond well will be abundantly recompensed, with a quiet conscience and a joyful heart.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Tender consciences have their hearts smitten for little sins. . . . Those sins that almost break a godly man's heart never break a wicked man's sleep." --Christopher Love, in "The Mortified Christian"]

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tues., 3/10/09 Devotion (Lk. 24:5b-6a)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 24:5b & 6a, where we read these words:

" . . . [The angels] said to [the women], 'Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! . . . ' "

Your Christian faith is based in objective and historically-verifiable facts. This is helpful for the churchman, since there are numerous other (though spurious) claims to ultimate truth that we must constantly reject. Our sanctification struggle is not so much in comprehending *that* Jesus is alive, and has risen from the dead--as much as it is in *acting* on this knowledge with faith.

The Lord would have each of us who are bound to Him in the church seek Christ earnestly today--but not where the world looks for help (viz. in graves), but where only the saints may go for assistance (viz. the throne of grace in heaven).

[Puritan quote of the day: "God has made man's emptiness and misery, his low, lost, and ruined state into which he sank by the fall, an occasion of the greater advancement of His own glory." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "God Glorified in Man's Dependence"]

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mon., 3/9/09 Devotion (Job 38:4a)

Today's encouragement comes from Job 38:4a, where we read these words:

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? . . . "

Whenever we are tempted to call God Himself to some "bar of justice"--it is prudent for us to recall words like these (above), which the Lord spoke to Job. The answer to God's question, of course, is that Job did not yet exist; and, on top of that, his very being would be completely dependent upon the very One whose judgment he (Job) was calling into question.

Let us find comfort in the fact that our Creator is also the Redeemer of His church; and that though sometimes His providences baffle us, we know that God always has the best in mind for those He loves, (cf. Rom. 8:28).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Thus God is said in Scripture to impute righteousness to them who believe, not because they have this righteousness in them, but because He reckons it as theirs, and reckons them righteous by it." --Obadiah Grew, in "The Lord our Righteousness"]

Friday, March 6, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/6-8/09 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "Happiness of Drawing Near to
God" book:

"How we are capable of drawing near to God? By nature we stand in opposition to God, (Col. 1:21)--being alienated and enemies. How then can we approach nigh to God? Answer: It is through a Mediator. Jesus Christ is the screen between us and divine justice. Christ as our High Priest assumes our flesh. Christ's flesh is called a 'veil,' (Heb. 10:20). As Moses when his face shone so exceedingly bright put a veil upon it, and then Israel might approach near to him and look upon him: so Christ having veiled Himself with our human nature, we may now draw nigh to God and behold Him.

"And as Christ makes way for us into the Holy of Holies by His incarnation: so by His crucifixion, He died to make God and us friends. The divine law being infringed, God's justice was provoked, and satisfaction demanded, before we could approach to God in an amicable way. Now here Christ as our Priest shed His blood for our sins, and so made the atonement, (Col. 1:20): 'Having made peace through the blood of His cross.' As Joseph being so great at court, made way for all his brethren to draw near into the king's presence, (Gen. 47:2), so Jesus Christ is our Joseph, that makes way for us by His blood, that we may now come near into God's presence. Through Christ, God is pleased with us; He holds forth the golden scepter, that we may draw near, and touch the top of the scepter."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thurs., 3/5/09 Devotion (2 Cor. 4:1)

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

"Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart."

It is easy to "lose heart" in this fallen world. The better or more noble the cause, the greater the opposition and discouragement of it. Paul knew two things (from above): that he had been called to his apostleship (by God), and that he had received mercy (from God).

These two truths alone were sufficient to prevent the Apostle from "losing heart." If you are a faithful churchman today, then you also have a ministry, and you have received mercy. In light of this wonderful fact, serve Christ with humility and boldness today.

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wed., 3/4/09 Devotion (2 Cor. 3:5b-6a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 3:5b & 6a, where we read these words:

" . . . But our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant . . . "

Christ's truly called church ministry *is* indeed sufficient, but the pastors' sufficiency is entirely "from God." This truth gives confidence to the sincere parishioner, since the same good God is making them sufficient in their ministry and witness, as well.

The work of the church and the gospel is too great for any man to do on his own. He must be "made sufficient" by God. It is an honor to be partakers of the ministry of the "new covenant." Let churchmen pray for each other, and hold their clergymen (especially) before the throne of grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God sits at the stern of His Church. Some-
times it is as a ship tossed upon the waves . . . but cannot God bring this ship to haven though it meets with a storm upon the sea?"
--Thomas Watson, in "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tues., 3/3/09 Devotion (Lk. 17:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 17:5, where we read these words:

"And the apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith.' "

When we believers are faced with impossible tasks, our typical response to God is: "Increase our faith." And though this is not an undesirable goal; the Lord does not answer this request in the way we would expect. Instead, He says that we don't need *much* faith; but that rather we need *sincere* faith, and that in the Only One who can help us (God).

Let us be sure that we do not look for more of anything in our church lives, without first availing ourselves of what we already possess. The exercise of faith does not require a lot of religious "hub-bub"; but it does call on our hearts to truly believe in the Christ of the Gospel (of the forgiveness of sins).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The true God perfectly knows the circum-
stances of everyone who prays to Him throughout the world."
--Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Most High a Prayer-Hearing God"]

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mon., 3/2/09 Devotion (2 Cor. 1:24b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 1:24b, where we read these few words:

" . . . For by faith you stand."

No matter what happens to us, no matter what troubles and/or struggles we have to face--so long as we have and exercise sincere faith in Christ we "stand." This is an encouragement of great magni-
tude, because otherwise we must seek to "stand" on some other basis--and this usually comes down to our works, or what we do (and these are always insufficient).

Justification is apprehended by faith; but so is sanctification. Some-
times the pruning process is difficult and tedious--but, so long as we have genuine (though yet imperfect) faith, we "stand" before Almighty God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Thus, affliction is nothing to them who have no guilt, but those who have the guilt of sin upon them, when they come to suffer, their guilt is a thousand times more than their affliction." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "The Evil of Evils"]