Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tues., 6/30/09 Devotion (Ps. 124:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 124:8, where we read these words:

"Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth."

To have the help of God is a big deal. To have the Lord fighting for us is a great asset. After all, He "made heaven and earth." Think about it: the godless have God as their enemy. He is always set against them. Even as they live, the Lord is simply allowing them to heap up wrath, that will be unleashed on them.

But not so for the church of Christ. Believers are aided and supported in their struggle down here. Life is never easy, but victory is always certain, because the church has a good Captain, who helps her. For this, let us be thankful, and call upon our God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ was made sin for saints, therefore their sin shall not hurt them." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mon., 6/29/09 Devotion (Matt. 9:2)

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

"Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.' "

Here is an interesting case, where our Lord Jesus saves a soul on the basis of the faith of others. Presumably, the paralytic man had no faith. He, like all of us in our fallen states, was dead in trespasses and sins. But the prayers of his believing friends were answered, and the paralyzed man was both saved, and healed.

This verse also encourages the church in her doctrine of covenant. Our little babies--for instance--who are united to the church in baptism also derive benefit from the faith of their parents (and other fellow church members). Be encouraged to apply your faith to the benefit of others.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more a man is humbled, truly humbled for sin, the more he is found in duty; the more a man is discouraged, the more his hands are weakened for duty." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/26-28/09 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday, the Lord's Day, the day we especially (and covenantally) celebrate Jesus' resurrection! In order to help get you ready for church, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his "A Body of Divinity" book:

"As Christ being clothed with our flesh makes the human nature appear lovely to God, so He [Christ] makes the divine nature appear lovely to man. The pure Godhead is terrible to behold, we could not see it and live; but Christ clothing Himself with our flesh, makes the divine nature more amiable and delightful to us. We need not be afraid to look upon God through Christ's human nature.

"It was a custom of old among shepherds to clothe themselves with sheepskins, to be more pleasing to the sheep; so Christ clothed Himself with our flesh, that the divine nature may be more pleasing to us. The human nature is a glass, through which we may see the love and wisdom and glory of God clearly represented to us. Through the lantern of Christ's humanity we may behold the light of the Deity. Christ being incarnate makes the sight of the Deity not formidable, but delightful to us."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thurs., 6/25/09 Devotion (Matt. 5:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 5:20, where our Savior said these words, in His "Sermon on the Mount":

"For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the right-
eousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

It is hard to exceed the pharisees' righteousness. They "out-Godded" God at every turn. God said, "Fast one day a year"; and the pharisees fasted twice a week. Still, our righteousness must exceed theirs, if we are to get to heaven at all. How? By doing more religion than the pharisees did? No; but by giving up on works altogether; and finding our righteous standing before God in Jesus alone (apprehended by grace through faith alone).

No one goes to heaven with any sin on the soul. What are we to do about this monumental problem? Nothing. Instead, we are to rest (by faith) in the One (Christ) who represents us (His church) before the throne of grace. Believing churchmen have perfect righteousness because Jesus' blood was shed for them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As godly men shall never be condemned for their sins, so their sins shall never part God and them." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wed., 6/24/09 Devotion (Matt. 4:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 4:1, which says this:

"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil."

Who would have thought that the blessed and gentle Holy Spirit of God would lead the sinless Son of God into a wilderness, to be tempted by the crass and carnal devil? We tend to have these notions, that the Lord would never do something like this--that it is somehow out of character (for Him).

But all this is because we do not yet fully understand the ways of God. He sometimes leads His own churchmen into situations where they will be tempted to sin; all the while, at the same time, commanding them--as in the Lord's Prayer--to ask not to be led "into temptation." Are you going through temptation today? Recognize that Jesus faced it, too. Pray for God to deliver you, (as He did the Messiah).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sin gains not, but is a loser by every fall of the godly." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tues., 6/23/09 Devotion (Ps. 119:41)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:41, which says this:

"Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD--Your salvation according to Your word."

Practical Christian living requires our continual reception of the daily mercies of God. These tokens of our redemption, all found in the Word of God, both encourage and enable us to deal with the various challenges which will be presented to us.

Do not hesitate to boldly ask God to give you what you need (and want). Our Father in heaven will abundantly provide His churchmen all good things--as He has already given us His greatest gift, in the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We never see the face of sin so ugly, as in the glass [mirror] of God's free love." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mon., 6/22/09 Devotion (Isa. 54:5d)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 54:5d, which says this:

" . . . He is called the God of the whole earth."

I can think of at least two senses in which this phrase (above) would bless the church today. One: there is no place where God is not (in His omnipresence); and two: no matter how "separated" from God the believer may *seem* to be, or *feel* like he or she is, the Lord is still there (with him or her). There is a third sense, too: that *all* the earth *belongs* to God; and the church's mission is to saturate it with the gospel of grace.

The Lord of regenerated Christians is the *only* God that exists. All other "gods" are fake. Let us never be shy about this truth; and let the church always believe it, teach it, and proclaim it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You say your sin is great, but is it infinite? Is not God alone infinite? Is your sin as big as God, as big as Christ? Is Jesus Christ only a Mediator for small sins?" --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/19-21/09 Devotion

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

"God is to be trusted when His providences seem to run contrary to His promises. God promised to give David the crown, to make him king; but providence ran contrary to His promise. David was pursued by Saul, and was in danger of his life, but all this while it was David's duty to trust God. Pray observe, that the Lord by cross providences often brings to pass His promise. God promised Paul the lives of all that were with him in the ship; but the providence of God seemed to run quite contrary to His promise, for the winds blew, the ship split and broke in pieces. Thus God fulfilled His promise; upon the broken pieces of the ship they all came safe to shore. Trust God when providences seem to run quite contrary to promises."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thurs., 6/18/09 Devotion (Ps. 112:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 112:7, which says this:

"He [the believer] will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD."

It is good to be so confident in one's faith in Christ, that there is no fear of slander, "bad tidings," or the threat of evil. Only a sincere churchman, who has gained a lot of assurance in Christ, is in this blessed condition. When reports that we have been slandered (for instance) reach our ears, it is never pleasant--but we need not be much moved by them, either.

And why all this strange peace, in the midst of various storms? Because, "[The believer's] heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord." Let all God's churchmen trust in Him, and take their comfort in Christ's grace and peace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Man's unrighteousness must usher in Christ's righteousness." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wed., 6/17/09 Devotion (Deut. 22:3c)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 22:3c, where we read these words:

" . . . You must not hide yourself."

If you are like me, sometimes you probably feel like you would like to be invisible, or anonymous. You would like to have your own private (and "perfect") life, separated from the pedestrian problems of the masses. But God would not have us live like that. Instead, He would have us be involved in the troubles, trials, and misfortunes of other human beings--some of whom are churchmen, and others of whom are not.

The Deut. 22 passage (above) is in a context of the believer not ignoring the lost possessions of one's neighbor. Instead of "looking the other way," or overlooking these things, we are to get actively involved. Christ did this for us, His church; and we are to follow His pattern in His (sovereignly-guided) world today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you look into the scripture, you will observe that when the people of God fall, usually they fail in that grace wherein they most excel." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tues., 6/16/09 Devotion (Isa. 48:17b)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 48:17b, where we read these words:

"I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit . . . "

Most normal and/or sane people want to "profit" in their lives. They want their existence on earth to amount to something. Even the worst and most rebellious sinners feel this way. And this is good, because God made us to want to "profit." But note (above) that the Lord "teaches" His church *how* to profit.

The *way* God does this is through convincing His children of the proper hierarchy of "loves." If we love Jesus and His church *first* and foremost; then we are in a good and legitimate position to also love other people (outside of the church); and to enjoy other things, including wealth and abundance.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you would not be discouraged in any condition, then never make your comforts depend upon your condi-
tion, nor be in love with any condition for itself . . . " --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mon., 6/15/09 Devotion (Ps. 107:9)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 107:9, where we read these words:

"For He [God] satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."

It is a good thing, to have a "hungering heart"--so long as the desired "meal" is Christ, His grace, and all His goodness. To long for God is a supreme blessing, because it is one that: 1) is sure to be satisfied; and 2) leads to the highest levels of happiness imaginable (and attainable).

Human beings are so-designed, that they can only rest fully contented with Christ. Everyone who hates God, and refuses to come to Jesus, still seeks fulfillment in their own contrived "christs." But these never work. They may artificially relieve a hunger for a time--but only the true Christ meets the deepest longings of the heart.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God's will will be done upon us whether we do His will or not. There is no such thing as frustrating the Almighty." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "God Does what He Pleases"]

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/12-14/09 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. We *get* to go to church! In order to help get us ready, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his excellent book, "A Body of Divinity":

"The doctrine of redemption by Jesus Christ is a glorious doctrine. It is the marrow and quintessence of the gospel, in which all a Christian's comfort lies. Great was the work of creation, but greater the work of redemption. It cost more to redeem us than to make us. In the one there was but the speaking of a word, in the other the shedding of blood. The creation was but the work of God's fingers, (Psa. 8:3). Redemption is the work of His arm, (Luke 1:51). 'Having obtained eternal redemption for us,' (Heb. 9:12).

"Christ's purchasing redemption for us implies that our sins mortgaged and sold us. Had there not been some kind of mortgaging there had been no need of redemption. When we were thus mortgaged, and sold by sin, Christ purchased our redemption. He had the best right to redeem us, for He is our kinsman. The Hebrew word for 'Redeemer,' 'Goel,' signifies a kinsman, one that is near in blood. In the old law the nearest kinsman was to redeem his brother's land, (Ruth 4:4). Thus Christ being near akin to us, 'Flesh of our flesh,' is the fittest to redeem us."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thurs., 6/11/09 Devotion (Isa. 43:13c)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 43:13c, where we read these words:

" . . . I [the Lord] work, and who will reverse it?"

These are encouraging words (above). A lot of times we might look about us, and think, "God's enemies are certainly at work--look at all they are achieving [in killing babies, or promoting sodomy, etc., for instance]." But there is a huge difference: sinners work hard to establish ungodliness, but it all gets overthrown (in this world, and the one to come). God works, and no one can "reverse it."

Let all sincere churchmen take heart at this truth. Has God "worked" in your soul? Do you trust in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of your sins, plus nothing? If so, God, not *you*, "worked"; and you are redeemed. No one--not even your old flesh nature or the devil--can overturn what the Lord has done in you.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Luther is bold here, for says he, 'Christ is made sin-damning, our sin is sin-damned.' " --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wed., 6/10/09 Devotion (Isa. 42:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 42:3a, where we read these words:

"A bruised reed He [Christ] will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench . . . "

Do you feel sometimes (or even oftentimes) like "smoking flax," or a "bruised reed"? You have life, but it has ebbed so low that you wonder if it is still viable. Take heart. Every regenerated churchman will have low times; but their light (and life) will never completely go out, or be dissolved.

God sometimes allows His children to experience faint pulsations of spiritual life, in order to "kick-start" them to something much better. We should never be content with being "barely alive"; and we should seek grace in Christ to be more fully "fanned into flame"--but, at the same time, we should never despair (of anything). As we are in Christ (and His church) we are ultimately safe, and successful.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The way to keep the enemy [Satan] out of our country, is to fall upon [attack] his." --William Bridge, in "A Lift-
ing Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tues., 6/9/09 Devotion (Isa. 41:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 41:10, where we read these great words:

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

These (above) are encouraging words; are they not? Are you harried today? Do you feel like things are spinning a bit "out of control"? Stop, and re-affirm your faith in Christ. The Lord will not forsake you; instead, He will sustain you--especially in your toughest times.

This promise is not for everyone. Instead, it is for the church of Christ. Therefore, let us look to our Savior, the faith we have in Him (which is His gift to us), our baptisms, and our assurance of God's love for us. Let us not look to our circumstances: be they good, or bad.

[Puritan quote of the day: " . . . Get your self-love mortified, even religious self-love." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/5-7/09 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to better help prepare you for your high and holy calling of Lord's Day church worship, here are good words from Jonathan Edwards' sermon, entitled, "The True Excellency of a Gospel Minister":

"If it is, as you have heard, the proper excellency of a minister of the gospel to be a burning and a shining light, then it is your duty earnestly to pray for your minister that he may be filled with divine light, and with the power of the Holy Ghost, to make him so. For herein you will but pray for the greatest benefit to yourselves. For if your minster burns and shines, it will be for your light and life. That which has been spoken of, as it is the chief excellency of a minister, so it renders a minister the greatest blessing of anything in the world that ever God bestows on a people."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thurs., 6/4/09 Devotion (Deut. 8:16b)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 8:16b, where we read these words:

" . . . That He [God] might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end-- . . . "

None of us like humbling, or testing; but all of us like a good end. The hard facts are that churchmen are not made to be like Christ *except* through difficult struggles--that drive us to Christ (in faith and prayer). If everything came to us easily, we would never grow to value the fact that *God* provided it for us, (and we would think that we ourselves earned or merited it).

Therefore, let us churchmen take the initiative, and humble ourselves before the Lord (as per 1 Pet. 5:6). When we do this, we're well on the way to victory and delight. The "end" or goal will be sweet; and we won't regret the process at all.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As the power of God's Spirit raised [Christ] up when He was at the lowest . . . so the Spirit in every Christian raises him up at the lowest . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wed., 6/3/09 Devotion (Isa. 35:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 35:10, where we read these words:

"And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

The blessedness of salvation in Christ leads to forgiveness and repentance. These things bring on a great deal of supernatural heartfelt joy and pleasure. Only the redeemed know the deepest and most profound senses of bliss and contentment (in Jesus).

Try to look at your life from the vantage point of what really matters. Are you a forgiven churchman? Do you trust in Christ alone for your salvation? If so, then, you have reason and cause for much joy--even if other areas of your existence are difficult and trial-filled.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As God is the worst enemy, so He is the best friend, the truest friend, the most real friend in all the world."
--William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tues., 6/2/09 Devotion (Deut. 6:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 6:5, where we read these words:

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."

This (above) is one of the most important verses in all the Holy Book. In the final analysis, everything comes down to whether or not we love God--and that supremely, more than any other entity. From whence does love come? It comes from God Himself. When He grants a sinner the gift of saving faith, that soul, recognizing the immensity of what the Lord has done for it, now genuinely and deeply loves God.

This, then, is the key to all the churchman's obedience and happiness. Do we love God? If so, we're willing and pleased to serve Him (in any and all respects). We can endure hardships and trials, because we know we are forgiven, and that the Almighty Himself loves us. Love is the most powerful force in the world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Are you accused by Satan, the world, or your own conscience? Christ is called your Advocate." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mon. 6/1/09 Devotion (Isa. 33:24b)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 33:24b, where we read these words:

" . . . The people who dwell in it [Zion] will be forgiven their iniquity."

THE great blessing of being in Christ, is having our sins forgiven. Without this, the wrath of God hangs over our heads, and no relationship with God is possible (at all). BUT, with forgiveness comes every other good and truly precious treasure (that churchmen enjoy, in Jesus).

How do you know if your sins are forgiven, or not? Good question. What do you *believe*? Do you believe you have to *do* something, in order to assuage God's righteous anger (against your sin)? If so, your sins remain with you. Do you believe that Jesus Christ *bore* your sins on the cross--and that you apprehend forgiveness through imputation of Christ's righteousness to your soul, by grace through faith (alone--without works)? Then, your sins are forgiven.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Did not Christ lack the sense of God's love, when He said, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'?"
--William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]