Friday, May 29, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/29-31/09 Devotion

Hallelujah--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church! Wahoo! In order to help get you ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his outstanding book, entitled, "A Body of Divinity":

"As God's mercy makes the saints happy, so it should make them humble. Mercy is not the fruit of our goodness, but the fruit of God's goodness. Mercy is an alms that God bestows. They have no cause to be proud that live upon the alms of God's mercy. 'If I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head,' (Job 10:15). All my righteousness is the effect of God's mercy, therefore I will be humble and will not lift up my head. . . .

"God's mercy is free. To set up merit is to destroy mercy. Nothing can deserve mercy, because we are polluted in our blood; nor force it. We may force God to punish us, but not to love us. 'I will love them freely,' (Hos. 14:4). Every link in the chain of salvation is wrought and interwoven with free grace. Election is free. '[God] has chosen us in [Christ], according to the good pleasure of His will,' (Eph. 1:4). Justification is free. 'Being justified freely by [God's] grace,' (Rom. 3:24). Salvation is free. 'According to [God's] mercy He saved us,' (Titus 3:5). . . . If God should show mercy to such only as are worthy, He would show none at all."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thurs., 5/28/09 Devotion (3 Jn. 2)

Today's encouragement comes from 3 John, v. 2, where we read these words:

"Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers."

I like this little verse (above). It reminds churchmen that God is concerned about *all* facets of our being, (and not just one or two of them). The soul is the most important part of any person--by far--and it is to get first attention; but, after it is thriving, God would have every other part of His child prosper, too.

Does this mean that sick believers are under God's displeasure? No, not at all. We cannot know the Lord's providences for His sheep; but we can know this: that *we* ought to desire, and pray for success at every level: so that the church and the gospel spread and grow--in and through the saints--to all the world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Have you forgotten the years of the right hand [viz. the extreme blessings] of the Most High? --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wed., 5/27/09 Devotion (2 Jn. 9)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 John, v. 9, where we read these words:

"Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son."

Sometimes you will hear foolish and ignorant people say things like this: "Doctrine is bad. Who needs it? It only causes trouble and division among Christians." Actually, those statements themselves are doctrinal in nature--but they demonstrate very *bad* doctrine.

We cannot have Christ without doctrine; and this is one of the reasons it is so critically-important. Good doctrine leads the church directly *to* Jesus, and seeks to keep her there. Bad and vacuous doctrine leaves people out in the theological "cold." Don't be ashamed of Christ, nor His doctrine. You can't have one without the other.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A praying man can never be very miser-
able, whatever his condition be, for he has the ear of God . . . "
--William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tues., 5/26/09 Devotion (1 Jn. 5:12)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 5:12, where we read these words:

"He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

This is a very straightforward scripture (above). If a soul has Jesus, that soul has life. If a soul lacks Jesus, that soul has no life. If this is true--which it clearly is--then most people do not have life. No matter what else they possess, they are devoid of the most important and vital principle of existence: being "alive" spiritually, (or, in the soul).

Therefore we must ask: "*How* do we *get* this life? Do we have to work for it, beat ourselves up (in order to get it), or become extremely religious (to procure it)?" No; none of this will suffice. We must have *faith* in Jesus. Saving faith fetches Christ to our hearts; and He (alone) gives us life. (Cf. 1 Jn. 5:4 in this regard.)

[Puritan quote of the day: "We do not live by feeling, but by faith. It is the duty of a Christian to begin with faith, and so to rise up to feeling." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mon., 5/25/09 Devotion (1 Jn. 4:16a)

Happy Memorial Day (in the USA)!

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 4:16a, where we read these few words:

"And we have known and believed the love that God has for us . . . "

It is a big deal to know and believe that God loves us. This is especially true, because in our natural state we all hated God. But now, if we are in Jesus, we are loved by Him; and we love Him (cf. v. 10a). Now, because we recognize that we are loved by God, and we actually believe the incredible fact of this truth--we cannot do enough for Christ. God's love now "compels" us, (2 Cor. 5:14), to a lively obedience.

If we do not know and believe that God loves us, then we will inevitably show ourselves to be a spiritual adulterers--since we will seek our affection from idols. This is why it is imperative that we get a solid interest in Jesus' gospel--so that we are the genuine object of His love.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Such as think totally to ruin the church, must do it in a time when it is neither day nor night, for the Lord keeps [the church] by His providence night and day." --Thomas Watson, in "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/22-24/09 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church! Here is Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "All Things for Good":

"We must love God above all other objects. 'There is nothing on earth that I desire beside You,' (Psalm 73:25). God is the quintessence of all good things; He is superlatively good. The soul seeing a super eminency in God, and admiring in Him that constellation of all excellencies, is carried out in love to Him in the highest degree. The measure of our love to God, says Bernard, must be to love Him without measure. God, who is the chief of our happiness, must have the chief of our affections. The creature may have the milk of our love, but God must have the cream. Love to God must be above all other things, as the oil swims above the water."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thurs., 5/21/09 Devotion (2 Pet. 3:18a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Peter 3:18a, where we read these words:

" . . . But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. . . . "

How does a church *grow* in "the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"? Certainly, by being well-fed. The context of Peter's injunction (above) is largely that of the proper use and understanding of the word of God (the sacred scriptures).

Christians *grow* when they ingest the word--being hungry for its nourishment. The written word, which is the base and foundation of the church's preached word, always points to the Incarnate Word (the "Logos," of Jn. 1:1). This "Word" is the ultimate Revelation of God. Only He (Christ) can "feed" us. He feeds us His own "flesh" and "blood," in the preached Gospel, and in the proper administration of the sacrament of The Lord's Supper.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Every godly, gracious man is a praying man." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wed., 5/20/09 Devotion (2 Pet. 2:9a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Peter 2:9a, where we read these words:

" . . . Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations . . . "

Peter establishes this truth (above) on the basis of God's willingness and ability to punish sin (and evildoers). But whereas the Lord did not have a means of redemption for the fallen angels--He *does* provide it to His elect churchmen. On top of that, God delivers them "out of temptations."

What kinds of temptations will you face today? Not all of them will be to do some gross, crass evil. You may be tempted to doubt the love of God, (or even His very existence). You may be tempted to succumb to great discouragement of heart. You may be tempted to quit church, and prayer. The Lord can and will supply His children persevering grace, to withstand and overcome all of these (and more).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The valley of your discouragements shall be the door and inlet unto all your rest and comfort." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tues., 5/19/09 Devotion (Isa. 19:24-25)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 19:24 & 25, where we read these words:

"In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria--a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, 'Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.' "

These two verses (above) end a remarkable section of scripture, that describe the era in which we currently live. Egypt, Assyria, Israel, and every other nation on earth are all now "leveled" in the New Covenant church. No one country has prominence over another, since elect souls in all of them are brought into the one church, by grace through faith in the One Savior, Christ.

Thank God that this day has come. Had it not, most of you who are reading these words would still be in darkness, and in the condemnation of your sins. But now, Christ has proclaimed His gospel to the whole world. May His Name be blessed for this!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's blood is the object of faith, and faith brings peace." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mon., 5/18/09 Devotion (Num. 27:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 27:5, where we read these words:

"So Moses brought their case before the LORD."

When Moses was faced with a practical dilemma, and there was no clear-cut ordinance that applied directly to it (in the written word of God), he brought the issue to the Lord in prayer, and waited for an answer. We who are in the church ought to do the same thing. Nothing is too big, nor too small for our God; and He is honored when we inquire of Him.

Sometimes the Lord allows things to come into our lives that bewilder us--solely for the purpose of our appealing to Him for help and support. What are you facing today? Whatever it is, spread it out before your Father in heaven, as you boldly approach the throne of grace in and through Jesus' imputed righteousness (to you).

[Puritan quote of the day: "As you have any spiritual comfort from Christ, spend all for Christ . . . " --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/15-17/09 Devotion

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

"If you would have peace, make war with sin. Sin is the Achan that troubles us, the Trojan horse. . . . If you would have peace with God, break the league with sin; give battle to sin, for it is a most just war. God has proclaimed it: nay, He has promised us victory. 'Sin shall not have dominion,' (Rom. 6:14). No way to peace, but by maintaining a war with sin. . . . "

"Go to Christ's blood for peace. Some go to fetch their peace from their own righteousness, not Christ's. They go for peace to their holy life, not Christ's death. If conscience be troubled, they strive to quiet it with their duties. This is not the right way to peace. Duties must not be neglected, nor yet idolized. Look to the blood of sprinkling, (Heb. 12:24). That blood of Christ which pacified God, must pacify conscience. Christ's blood being taken in by faith, gives peace. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,' (Rom. 5:1). There is no balm to cure a wounded conscience, but the blood of Christ."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thurs., 5/14/09 Devotion (Ps. 65:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 65:3, where we read these words:

"Iniquities prevail against me; as for our transgressions, You will provide atonement for them."

Sin *does* prevail over all the non-redeemed. Even for the justified, sin often seems to get the upper hand. Sometimes (usually) it is our *own* sin; at other times it is the sin(s) of others. At any rate, the great truth is that God has provided "atonement for them [sins]." This atonement is in the blood righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ--ap-
prehended by us by grace through faith alone.

If you are a regenerated churchman today, you have nothing of real substance to fear. Your sins are blotted out; and you will never face the judgment of, nor the wrath of God against your iniquities. This is good news, indeed!

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you would keep your comforts, put them all into the hand of Christ to be kept for you." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wed., 5/13/09 Devotion (Ps. 62:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 62:5, which says this:

"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him."

Though the saints can and do need each other in the church; and though we are all dependent (to some extent) on people in the world that we do not (and never will) know--still, in the end, it is God *alone* that we *must* have. Without Him, our lives are worthless and miserable. With Him, everything else comes into proper focus.

Sometimes churchmen have to "wait" for Christ. This is not because He is too busy for us, or that He does not care for us--but it is because this is one of the ways God develops faith, balance, and grace in His children.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you would be rid of Satan from coming into your quarters, fall you upon his." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tues., 5/12/09 Devotion (Jas. 4:6)

Today's encouragement comes from James 4:6, where we read these words:

"But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' "

Aren't you glad that God "gives more grace"? This is sanctifying grace, that both causes us to humble ourselves (before the Lord), and increases our humility (before Him). No one in their right mind would really want to be "resisted" by God. Who could withstand the Almighty?

Let us humble ourselves today, under the Lord's powerful hand, and in that position enjoy the sweet peace and freedom that only come to the contrite of heart. In Christ, God does not, and cannot "resist" the truly humble soul. To them, He "gives more grace."

[Puritan quote of the day: "When you go to mourn for sin, begin aloft with Christ: and do not always think to begin below with sin, and so to come up to Christ; but begin aloft with Christ, and so by your humiliation, fall down upon sin." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mon., 5/11/09 Devotion (Ps. 59:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 59:8, where we read these words:

"But You, O LORD, shall laugh at them; You shall have all the nations in derision."

God's "belly-laughs" are not always brought on by some silly (or funny) things His creatures do (perhaps, even innocently). In the verse above, the Lord is hooting over the foolishness and stupidity of His enemies, who think they can take on and overcome the Creator (who made them).

In reality, life is no "laughing matter"; and God calls on His whole world to worship Him (alone). The fact, however, is that only the faithful church actually practices this (proper worship). Those who love God will be vilified by those who hate Him. But the same Lord who "laughs" at the wicked also blesses His true children.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What peace or comfort had Judas in the sight of his thirty pieces of silver?" --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thurs.-Sabbath, 5/7-10/09 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is not that far away. In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Lord's Prayer" book:

"If all be a gift, then it is not a debt, and we cannot say to God as that creditor who said, 'Pay me what you owe,' (Matt. 18:28). Who can make God a debtor, or do any act that is obliging and meritorious? Whatever we receive from God is a gift; we can give nothing to Him but what He has given to us. 'All things come from You, and of Your own have we given to You,' (1 Chron. 29:14).

"David and his people offered to the building of God's house gold and silver, but they offered nothing but what God had given them. 'Of Your own have we given You.' If we love God, it is He that has given us a heart to love Him. If we praise Him, He both gives us the organ of tongue, and puts it in tune. If we give alms to others, He has given alms to us first, so that we may say, 'We offer, O Lord, of Your own to You.' Is all a gift, how absurd, then, is the doctrine of merit? . . . We cannot deserve a bit of bread, much less a crown of glory. If all be a gift, then merit is exploded, and shut out of doors."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wed., 5/6/09 Devotion (Heb. 11:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 11:3, where we read these words:

"By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible."

I was struck by this verse (above) today. None of us were around when the universe was created. We know that God had to speak it into existence "ex nihilo," (from nothing). But this still requires faith. Does faith rule out reasoned considerations of how it (the creation) could have occurred? No.

You'd have to be a moron to think that anything can come from nothing. An infinite regress of causation is absurd. Evolution is a joke. So, it turns out, that though we exercise faith--our view is the only one that makes sense.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Does God expect us to have anything from ourselves? Who expects anything from a barren wilderness?" --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tues., 5/5/09 Devotion (Num. 13:30)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 13:30, where we read these words:

"Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, 'Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.' "

Caleb's attitude (above) is not just secular "positive thinking." Instead, it is faithful confidence, based on his knowledge of who God is, and of how He (the Lord) keeps His promises. What do we have before us today, that must be "conquered": a sinful world, the need to sell something, some sinful habit?

Whatever it is, what do we have to lose, by employing our faith, and trusting that God can (and will) handle it? The bigger the problem is, and the more impossible it seems--the better. The Lord enjoys overcoming humanly-impossible situations; and delivering His children in and through them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "True saving peace loves to be examined, it is willing to be examined, it loves to be tried." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mon. 5/4/09 Devotion (Num. 11:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 11:1a, where we read these words:

"Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD . . . "

Sometimes God countenances the complaints of people; and sometimes He does not. What makes the difference? When David complains to God, (as he did in Ps. 55:2), it is a moan that is mixed with faith. When these people (above) murmured against God, it was all about fulfilling the lusts of their flesh.

God knows that we are weak, and that we--unlike Him--do not know all things, and cannot always maintain perfect composure in all conditions. With those churchmen who have faith, and who are willing (by grace) to persevere, no matter how hard things get--He (God) will hear their complaints. For those who only want their bellies filled, with no concern for their souls--the Lord has no regard for their contentions.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is a tender Father, and He would have all the love of His children." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/1-3/09 Devotion

Hurray--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "A Godly Man's Picture":

"The test of a pilot is seen in a storm; so the test of a Christian is seen in affliction. That man has the right art of navigation who, when the boisterous winds blow from heaven, steers the ship of his soul wisely, and does not dash upon the rock of impatience. A Christian should always maintain decorum, not behaving himself in an unseemly manner or disguising himself with intemperate passion when the hand of God lies upon him. Patience adorns suffering. Affliction in Scripture is compared to a net: 'You brought us into the net,' (Psa. 66:11). Some have escaped the devil's net, yet the Lord allows them to be taken in the net of affliction. But they must not be 'as a wild bull in a net,' (Isa. 51:20), kicking and flinging against their Maker, but lie patiently till God breaks the net and makes a way for their escape."