Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thurs., 4/30/09 Devotion (Num. 7:89)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 7:89, where we read these words:

"Now when Moses went into the tabernacle of meeting to speak with Him [God], he heard the voice of One speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the Testimony, from between the two cherubim; thus He [God] spoke to him."

The Lord still speaks (as it were) from "above the mercy seat" today. This is because Jesus Christ's perfect sacrifice for the elect sinners that make up His church is completely pleasing to the Father, and Christ's atonement opens the way for full and free communion (and communication) between God and His children.

Let us often ourselves enter the "tabernacle of meeting," even as Moses did. This begins in church on the Lord's Days (Sundays), but it does not end there. If you are a believer, take advantage of your privileged condition and station in life, and commune with God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Whether we have comfort or not, both are for our good." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wed., 4/29/09 Devotion (Ps. 40:8a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 40:8a, where we read these words:

"I delight to do Your will, O my God . . . "

David had penned these words (above) in reference to himself. The Holy Spirit applied them to Christ, (in Heb. 10:7). When we can do the will of the Lord *with delight*, then we are in a good situation. We never do anything well grudgingly, or under compulsion. But, when we do anything with pleasure, we perform the task with alacrity and ease.

Let us make it our chief delight to take our highest pleasure in Christ. When He is first, all other (good and legitimate) delights--from beer to baseball (for instance)--may be enjoyed with relish and grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Grace makes a man terrifying to the devil and to wicked men, both grace in a man, and grace in the church."
--Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tues., 4/28/09 Devotion (Heb. 3:1-2)

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

"Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house."

Remaining faithful over the long haul is not an easy thing to do. Most people that venture off on their Christian journeys, eventually end up giving up the fight. The key to faithfulness is never found within us--but always and only in the Object of the true disciple's love and devotion: the Lord Jesus Christ.

This was why Moses was able to persevere to the end--because he never lost sight of Christ. Is Jesus your "Apostle," the One who fulfilled the mission of redemption? Is He your "High Priest," the One whose atonement cleanses you? If so, then you will, by grace, remain faithful. But this is all of God's sovereign doing. He gets the glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The remembrance of past goodness is very helpful for present encouragement. This rule David followed in Ps. 42:6: 'O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore will I remember Thee from the land of Jordan.' " --Christopher Love, in "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mon., 4/27/09 Devotion (Heb. 2:5)

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

"For He [God] has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels."

If God has not subjected the world to angels, then just *who* has He given it to, to steward and govern it (under Him)? You guessed it: mankind. But not just any and all members of the human race--but those who constitute the body of Christ, the church. The original creation was placed under man; but we botched it up, in Adam. The new creation is placed under the God-MAN, Jesus--and all who are His share in His dominion.

Angels are important; and they have a job to do. But the Second Person of the Holy Trinity did not become an angel--instead, He became a man.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You that are weak, and are full of doubts, should go and lean upon those who are strong and who have full assurance." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/24-26/09 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday's coming! What an honor: to be in the church's worship on the Lord's Day. Can it get any better than this, on this earth?! Indeed, not.

Here's TW, in "The Art of Divine Contentment":

"[This doctrine] shows how a Christian may come to lead a comfortable life, even a heaven upon earth, be the times what they will: by Christian contentment. The comfort of life does not stand in having much; it is Christ's maxim, 'man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses,' (Lk. 12:15)--but it is in being contented. Is not the bee as well contented with feeding on the dew, or sucking from a flower, as the ox that grazes on the mountains? Contentment lies within a man, in the heart; and the way to be comfortable, is not by having our barns filled, but our minds quiet. The contented man, said Seneca, is the happy man.

"Discontent is a fretting humour, which dries the brains, wastes the spirits, corrodes and eats out the comfort of life. A drop or two of vinegar will sour a whole glass of wine. Let a man have the affluence and confluence of worldly comforts, a drop or two of discontent will embitter and poison all."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thurs., 4/23/09 Devotion (Ps. 34:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 34:1, where we read these words:

"I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth."

David's intentions (above) were good, and he was sincere in his profession; but the truth is that we do not always *consciously* "bless the LORD," (though we should). It is not that David is lying, or misleading anyone, because God has so orchestrated the lives of His redeemed churchmen that *in fact* they *do* praise and bless God with all that they do--whether they realize it, or not.

Even when regenerate people sin--which happens a lot--they are *blessing* God by the fact that those sins are forgiven, and by the inevitable resulting repentance that follows. Let us resolve to always praise God, because this is good; but let us recognize that it will sometimes take less-than-obvious forms.

[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, April 22, 2009

Wed., 4/22/09 Devotion (Lev. 26:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 26:2, where we read these words:

"You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary: I am the LORD."

This verse (above) is a powerful one to live by. Faith in and love for Christ always issues forth in two basic life parameters: celebration of the Sabbath (Sunday); and worship and service in the church (especially on Sunday).

The Christian life is designed to prosper and grow, "from glory to glory," (2 Cor. 3:18); and the way God achieves this is, "from Sabbath to Sabbath," (as it were). If God is "The LORD," as He says He is (at the end of the verse above), then He gets to "call the shots," and set the guidelines for His people. Let us benefit ourselves (and everyone else) by abiding faithfully within Christ's sheepfold.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Who shall despair when he is in Christ, who is complete?" --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tues., 4/21/09 Devotion (Lev. 25:23)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 25:23, where we read these words:

"The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me."

This (above) is an interesting verse. God owns the land, the earth, and (for that matter) everything in the entire universe. Still, He reckons Himself to be a "stranger" and a "sojourner" with His church, as they (with Him) traverse the globe. The Lord is *with* us, as we move from the sin and bondage of spiritual Egypt, to the glory and freedom of the spiritual "Canaan."

Wherever we are, as long as it is with Christ, we are enjoying heaven itself. Are you feeling alone today? If you are a faithful churchman, your Savior is with you on your journey.

[Puritan quote of the day: "True saving peace will live in the sight of sin." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mon., 4/20/09 Devotion (2 Tim. 3:10)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 3:10, where we read these words:

"But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance . . . "

Paul applauds Timothy (above) for following him. Is this wrong, or prideful, on the part of the apostle? No. Instead, it is completely appropriate and fitting. We all follow someone--the only real question is: is it the best model, or not? Note what Paul lists first, as to what Timothy follows. It is his (Paul's) "doctrine."

Why is doctrine at the top of the heap, and not buried below somewhere? Because doctrine determines life, happiness, and fulfillment. Poor doctrine fails us, at the very point where we need the most help. Good doctrine supports us, since it directs us to Jesus, His grace, His gospel, and His church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To faith, future glory is present, present in Christ, and we are part of Christ, Christ mystical, and members."
--Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/17-19/09 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 "A Body of Divinity" book:

"Adore the infinite wisdom and goodness of God that found out a way to justify us by 'rich grace and precious blood.' We were all involved in guilt; none of us could plead,'not guilty'; and being guilty, we lay under a sentence of death. Now that the Judge Himself should find out a way to justify us, and the creditor Himself contrive a way to have the debt paid, and not distress the debtor, [it] should fill us with wonder and love. The angels admire the mystery of free grace in this new way of justifying and saving lost man, (1 Pet. 1:12); and should not we, who are nearly concerned in it, and on whom the benefit is devolved, cry out with the apostle, 'O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!'?"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thurs., 4/16/09 Devotion (2 Tim. 1:8b-9a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 1:8b & 9a, where Paul wrote these words, to the young pastor:

" . . . [B]ut share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace . . . "

How do ministers and parishioners suffer for the gospel "according to the power of God"? This is done through *identification* with Christ, His church, and His servants--especially those enduring Satan's wrath against God's grace. It *does* take God's power to share in gospel sufferings, because the tendency of our flesh is to *withdraw* from those who are most closely associated with suffering persecution for the cause of Christ.

May all God's children determine to count it a badge of honor, to be tightly-bound with Jesus, and His glorious gospel--no matter what the consequences may be.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A truly mortified man is like a warrior: he will either kill or be killed. He will kill his sins or else his sin will kill him." --Christopher Love, in "The Mortified Christian"]

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wed., 4/15/09 Devotion (Ps. 23:4a)

Today's encouragement comes from the very familiar words of Psalm 23:4a, where David wrote this:

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me."

Have you ever wakened in the night, with fears that awful things would happen to you, and/or those you love? Have you ever had moments of severe doubt, about the goodness, power, or maybe even the very existence of God? If any of these things have been your lot, then you know at least something about the "shadow of death."

But what is our comfort in these times? Is it not the abiding knowledge that God really *is* there, that He is "with" us, His beloved church? The longer we walk with Jesus, the more intense will be these "shadow" times; but the promises that He is really very near will be the more sure and sweet . God will never forsake His children.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When he that is born of God shall come and say, 'Father, I hunger, give me Christ; Father, I thirst, refresh me with the living streams of Thy Spirit,' can God deny?" --Thomas Watson, in "The Beatitudes"]

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tues., 4/14/09 Devotion (1 Tim. 3:15b, c)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 3:15b & c, where we read these words:

" . . . I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is writing to the pastor Timothy--so that he (Timothy) would know how to act and minister in the church. Timothy, then, would become the example for the elders, the deacons (just mentioned in the earlier part of the chapter), and the rest of the parish.

Until (or unless) we learn the principles of church life--we will be of little account anywhere else: be it in our homes, our workplaces, our schools, our neighborhoods, or our culture(s). The first step is saving faith in Christ, which will lead to faithfulness (in church).

[Puritan quote of the day: "In your daily practice do not trust too much in any outward performance or task, making idols of outward things." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mon., 4/13/09 Devotion (Lev. 17:11)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 17:11, where we read these words:

"For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul."

God will only accept shed blood as atonement for sin. Nothing else will do--not works, not religion, not self-deprecation. The blood of animals sacrificed under the Old Covenant only pointed to the true and only satisfactory blood atonement, which would be offered on the cross by the sinless God-Man, Jesus Christ, who is the "Lamb of God," (Jn. 1:29).

The Lord is *only* pleased with us--and views us as forgiven--as our souls are "covered" by Christ's blood. The only way to appropriate this blessed atonement is by grace through faith (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Never since the beginning of the world have their been such glorious times as we enjoy." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/10-12/09 Devotion

Double wahoo--we get to go to church on Sunday, which is Easter Sunday! In order to help get you all ready, here is the incomparably magnificent Thomas Watson, from his outstanding book, entitled, "A Body of Divinity":

"I would [like to] be in covenant with God, but I have been a great sinner, and I fear God will not admit me into covenant.

"If you see your sins, and loathe yourself for them, God will take you into covenant. 'You have wearied Me with your iniquities; I, even I, am He that blots out your transgressions,' (Isa. 43:24-25). As the sea covers great rocks, so God's covenant mercy covers great sins. Some of the Jews that crucified Christ had their sins washed away in His blood.

"But I am not worthy that God should admit me into covenant.

"It never came into God's thoughts to make a new covenant upon terms of worthiness. If God should show mercy to none but such as are worthy, then must He show mercy to none. But it is God's design in the new covenant to advance the riches of grace, to love us freely; and when we have no worthiness of our own, to accept us through Christ's worthiness. Therefore let not unworthiness discourage you; it is not unworthiness that excludes any from the covenant, but unwillingness."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thurs., 4/9/09 Devotion (Ps. 16:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 16:6, where we read these words:

"The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance."

Why is the regenerate churchman *so* blessed, in *this* world. For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that his or her sins are forgiven, and this leads to a quieted conscience. The redeemed soul is the only one that can, with integrity, get a good night's sleep.

Being given Jesus is quite enough--since He is infinitely greater than all created things put together. But, when we get Christ, we are also given His church, His ordinances, and His means of grace. What more could we want? If you are in Christ today, offer a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving to God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Insofar as we are now praising God and glorifying Him for His mercy and love in Christ, we are in heaven before our time." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wed., 4/8/09 Devotion (1 Thess. 5:5)

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

"You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness."

Notice that Paul tells *all* the faithful Thessalonian churchmen (who were in good standing)--be they young or old--that they are "sons of light and sons of the day." I'm sure that all of them--just like faithful churchmen today--did not *feel* like "sons of light," because of the continuous knowledge of sin, temptation, and various imperfections.

Nonetheless, they still *were* "sons of light," even as faithful churchmen today are, as well. And why? Because Jesus, the True and Perfect Light is in and among them. His light makes us children of light.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing in the world so glorious as a grown Christian." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tues., 4/7/09 Devotion (Lev. 10:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 10:1 & 2, where these words are found:

"Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD." (ESV)

God's worship was serious business in the Old Testament; and its even more so, in the New (Testament). Nadab and Abihu thought they were doing God good service--even going above and beyond the call of duty. God killed them.

What is the New Covenant church to offer God today? We cannot offer sacrifices for sin--since Jesus only did that, one time; and His is the only atonement accepted by God (cf. Heb. 9:24-26). But we may offer sacrifices of praise, as per Heb. 13:15. Especially in church worship, let us do only what God commands, (or else be willing to suffer the consequences).

[Puritan quote of the day: "For any to say that, though their mind be ignorant yet their heart is good, they may as well say that, though they are blind yet their eyes are good." --Thomas Watson, in "The Beatitudes"]

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mon., 4/6/09 Devotion (1 Thess. 3:12-13a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 3:12 & 13a, where we read these words:

"And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God . . . "

It is intriguing that Paul teaches here (above) that holiness is established on the basis of love for other human beings. As we love the church ("one another"), and those outside her ("all"), we are in a position for God to do works of assurance in our souls that comfort us in Christ's blamelessness and holiness.

False holiness puts on a dour face and deprives the body of good things God provides (this is asceticism). True holiness flows from love. Of course, we will not be able to love people unless we love Christ first. And we won't love Him unless we are, by grace, bound to Him in gospel faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Are we not to enjoy the blessings of God purely? And do not these things require a great deal of strength of grace?" --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/3-5/09 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his great book, "The Doctrine of Repentance":

"Turning to God makes for our profit. Our repentance is of no benefit to God, but to ourselves. If a man drinks of a fountain he benefits himself, not the fountain. If he beholds the light of the sun, he himself is refreshed by it, not the sun. If we turn from our sins to God, God is not advantaged by it. It is only we ourselves who reap the benefit. In this case self-love should prevail with us: 'If you be wise, you will be wise for yourself,' (Prov. 9:12).

"If we turn to God, He will turn to us. He will turn His anger from us, and His face to us. It was David's prayer, 'O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me,' (Ps. 86:16). Our turning will make God turn: 'Turn unto me, says the Lord, and I will turn unto you,' (Zech. 1:3). He [God] who was an enemy will turn to be our friend. If God turns to us, the angels are turned to us. We shall have their tutelage and guardianship, (Ps. 91:11). If God turns to us, all things shall turn to our good, both mercies and afflictions . . . "

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thurs., 4/2/09 Devotion (Prov. 20:9)

Today's encouragement comes from Proverbs 20:9, where we read these words:

"Who can say, 'I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin'?"

All fallen people actually *do* say this (statement above), in their heart of hearts. The problem is: it is not true. First of all, we *cannot* "make [our hearts] clean"; and, because of this, on our own, we are *never* "pure from [our] sin." What the NT calls the "flesh" is the agency that seeks to convince us that we really *are* clean before God--when, in fact, we are not.

Only an "alien" righteousness can really and fully purify us. This righteousness is from Another--and not from within ourselves. This cleansing, this justification comes from Christ, and is imputed to believing churchmen by faith. Is your heart clean? Are you pure from your sin? You are, if you trust Jesus (alone) to do it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "No one grows so much as those who have their growth stopped for a time." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]