Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wed., 9/30/09 Devotion (Gal. 6:9-10)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 6:9 & 10, where Paul wrote these words:

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."

Perseverance is difficult. Any who believe that they will endure to the end in their own strength, have failed before they even get started. Many who embark on the journey of faith with earnest zeal, fall away. Why? Much of this is from not counting the cost (Lk. 14:28); but much of it is from not understanding the nature of the trek.

Let us look to the Captain of our souls, Jesus (Heb. 12:2); and be encouraged by the promise that we will reap a rich harvest if we persevere--in both this world, and in the one to come.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you love anything, love something better than yourself; and that only is Christ, who is altogether lovely."
--Thomas Watson, in his sermon entitled, "Christ's Loveliness"]

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tues., 9/29/09 Devotion (Gal. 5:1)

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

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."

The default position of the flesh--even in truly converted churchmen--is always back to law, and works. The Galatian church had been sold a "bill of goods" by a Judaizer. He was urging them to add the Old Covenant stipulations to their faith in Christ. Some of the Galatians were caving in. The Apostle Paul took out all his guns, and began to blast away (at this works-religion).

Let us recognize that, unless we are very careful, we also will fall back into "ordinary religion," which amounts to nothing more than what a Muslim or an atheist hopes for: rewards based on performance. Instead, let us continue to cling to Christ, by faith; and, in so doing, enjoy our blessed freedoms as children of the Great King.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Prayer is the pouring out of the soul to God; not the pouring out of words . . . " --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mon., 9/28/09 Devotion (Ps. 79:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 79:1, where we read these words:

"O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; Your holy temple they have defiled; they have laid Jerusalem in heaps."

All believing Christians *want* the nations to come into Christ's "inheritance," (the church). But we want this to be on *God's* terms, not theirs. This text (above) reflects the negative dynamics of the nations "defiling" the "temple." When the church allows the world to set the tone and tempo of worship, it corrupts the true religion, and dishonors God.

Let us bring the nations into the church: but let them be brought under the tutelage of Christ, wherein they learn a new language, culture, and lifestyle. When we do this, we bless them, and honor God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Keep your ear open to God and shut out sin; deafen your ears to the lies of the slanderer and the heretic. Do not let him have your ear who comes to rob you of your heart."
--Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Spiritual Watch"]

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/25-27/09 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We get to go to church! In order to help get you ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "Picture of a Godly Man" book:

"Question: How does faith work patience? Answer: Faith argues the soul into patience. Faith is like that town clerk in Ephesus who allayed the contention of the multitude and argued them soberly into peace, (Acts 19:35, 36). So when impatience begins to clamour and make a hubbub in the soul, faith appeases the tumult and argues the soul into holy patience. Faith says, 'Why are you disquieted, O my soul?,' (Psa. 42:5).

"Are you afflicted? Is it not your Father who has done it? He is carving and polishing you and making you fit for glory. He smites that He may save. What is your trial? Is it sickness? God shakes the tree of your body so that some fruit may fall, even 'the peaceable fruit of right-
eousness,' (Heb. 12:11). . . . Do you suffer reproach for Christ's sake? 'The spirit of glory and of God rests upon you,' (1 Pet. 4:14). Thus faith argues and disputes the soul into patience."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thurs., 9/24/09 Devotion (2 Cor. 13:11c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 13:11c, where we read these words:

" . . . And the God of love and peace will be with you."

Even the world relishes the idea of a God of "love and peace." Their "love and peace" god, however, is not the Lord of heaven and earth, who saves sinners and judges all men (according to His perfect and holy standard). Unbelievers' idea of "love and peace" is really more like, "lust, and leave me alone."

But Paul's statement above *does* apply to the redeemed church. The True God of "love and peace" *is* with us; and we particularly *experience* these blessed attributes of His (love and peace), as we are maturing, united, and secure (as the Body of Christ), [see the earlier parts of v. 11].

[Puritan quote of the day: "If temptations arise from natural causes, then natural means, as medicines, are to be used and applied, and people would do well to be persuaded thereunto." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wed., 9/23/09 Devotion (2 Cor. 12:8-9a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 12:8 & 9a, where Paul wrote these words:

"Concerning this [thorn in the flesh] I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' "

The very thing we typically believe hinders our service and love for God--is often the very thing that most powerfully forwards it. Paul loathed his thorn, whatever it was--and yet it had the effect of "deflating" him, so that he thought little of himself, and much of Christ.

I know it is very difficult, but let us begin to think in this counter-cultural and counter-intuitive way; and let us thank God for the hardest trials we face--even those things that are likely to never change, in this world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ does not bid us (says Augustine) learn of Him to work miracles, to open the eyes of the blind, to raise the dead, but He would have us learn of Him to be meek." --Thomas Watson, in "The Beatitudes"]

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/11-13/09 Devotion

With the Lord's Day arriving on Sunday, it is good for us to prepare ourselves well. Here are words from Thomas Watson's "All Things for Good":

"Grace is to the soul, as light to the eye, as health to the body. Grace does to the soul, as a virtuous wife to her husband, 'She will do him good all the days of her life,' (Prov. 31:12). How incomparably useful are the graces! Faith and fear go hand in hand. Faith keeps the heart cheerful, fear keeps the heart serious. Faith keeps the heart from sinking in despair, fear keeps it from floating in presumption. All the graces display themselves in their beauty: hope is 'the helmet,'
(1 Thess. 5:8), meekness 'the ornament,' (1 Pet. 3:4), love 'the bond of perfectness,' (Col. 3:14). The saints' graces are weapons to defend them, wings to elevate them, jewels to enrich them, spices to perfume them, stars to adorn them, cordials to refresh them. And does not all this work for good? The graces are our evidences for heaven. Is it not good to have our evidences at the hour of death?"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thurs., 9/10/09 Devotion (1 Cor. 15:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 15:1 & 2a, where we read these words:

"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved . . . "

The reiteration (or repeating) of the gospel message is very important. Paul does that here, with the Corinthian church. He had already "preached" it to them; now he once again "declares" it to them. The Corinthian believers had both forgotten the gospel message, and it had been misrepresented to them (by the false apostles).

And so it is with us, the church today. We also need to hear, over and over, from Lord's Day to Lord's Day, the glorious good news: that Jesus lives; and that we live in Him--by grace through faith. Do not ever tire of hearing of the grace of God. It should be new and fresh to us everyday.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When a man is humbled, truly humbled, the object of his grief or sorrow or trouble is sin itself, as a dishonor done unto God." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wed., 9/9/09 Devotion (1 Cor. 14:33)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's words, found in 1 Corinthians 14:33:

"For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints."

The devil loves to confuse and bewilder people, and fill their minds with all kinds of swirling notions, many of which contradict one another. This is not the way God works. Instead, He patiently leads, guides, and teaches His children, employing the "textbook" of the Holy Scriptures, and the spiritual shepherding of pastors and teachers, (cf. Eph. 4:11 ff.).

God's peace (mentioned above) does not exclude tribulation and trouble; but in His churches there is safety and sanity--even in the midst of the storms.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The love of God is like Himself--equal, constant, not capable of augmentation or diminution; our love is like ourselves--unequal, increasing, waning, growing, declining." --John Owen, in his "Works"]

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tues., 9/8/09 Devotion (Ps. 50:15)

Today's encouragement comes from the lovely words of Psalm 50:15, which say this:

"Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall
glorify Me."

One of the reasons God gives us troubles, is so that se will call upon Him. After all, when we feel carnally secure and complacent, we sense no urgent need to pray to the Lord. God promises to deliver those who call on Him in their difficulties. Since life in this world will not cease to be full of trials, let us make good use of them, and seek God earnestly.

When the Lord answers our prayers, and lifts us up, then we will "glorify" Him. In doing this, we get a taste of heaven, and we are encouraged to continue pressing on down here.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You may go a great way and yet perish if you lack one thing, even that good thing, a heart so renewed as to prize Christ above this world." --Cotton Mather, in his sermon, "The Best Ornaments of Youth"]

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mon., 9/7/09 Devotion (1 Cor. 12:31)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 12:31, where we read these words:

"But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excel-
lent way."

After the Apostle Paul spends most of a chapter describing various spiritual gifts given to the church--some of which are still in use today; and others of which are not--he enjoins us to go after the "best" ones, but then tells us of "a more excellent way." This superla-
tive path, of course, is that of love, elucidated so famously in the next chapter (1 Cor. 13).

Gifts and love are not at odds; but love is greater in every way. Gifts are of no account without love. The devil has excellent gifts (from God), but he has no proper love (for God). Let us employ our various God-given abilities fully and well--but let us always do it out of love for Christ and His church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more sweetness a Christian finds in any work, the greater is his affliction if he lacks that work." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/4-6/09 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sun-day! (That almost rhymes.) So as to prepare you for church, here is the incomparable Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "A Divine Cordial":

"Love is valorous, it turns cowardice into courage. Love will make one venture upon the greatest difficulties and hazards. The fearful hen will fly upon a dog or serpent to defend her young ones. Love infuses a spirit of gallantry and fortitude into a Christian. He that loves God will stand up in His cause, and be an advocate for Him. 'We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard,' (Acts 4:20). He who is afraid to own Christ has but little love to Him.

"Nicodemus came sneaking to Christ by night (John 3:2). He was fearful of being seen with Him in the day time. Love casts out fear. As the sun expels fogs and vapours, so divine love in a great measure expels carnal fear. Does he love God that can hear His blessed truths spoken against and be silent? He who loves his friend will stand up for him, and vindicate him when he is reproached. Does Christ appear for us in heaven, and are we afraid to appear for Him on earth? Love animates a Christian, it fires his heart with zeal, and steels it with courage."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thurs., 9/3/09 Devotion (1 Cor. 8:4b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 8:4b, where the Apostle Paul wrote these words:

" . . . We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one."

Sinners have created and concocted trillions of idols since Adam's fall in the garden--but the interesting thing is that *none* of them actually *exist* as legitimate "God-substitutes." An idol can have "existence" as a "thing"; but it can make no rightful claim to Christ's throne.

Some of the Corinthian churchmen to whom Paul was writing were concerned that their activities (like eating) would somehow forward the status of some of the idols of the city of Corinth. The apostle assured them that they had nothing to really worry about, since there is no other God than the true God. Take heart today, sincere Chris-
tians, you belong to the one and only God, through faith in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If the promise of grace belongs to you, then you cannot say, 'I have no word, no promise to uphold me.' "
--William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wed., 9/2/09 Devotion (Ps. 42:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from David's words, as they are found in Psalm 42:1 & 2:

"As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?"

For some reason, David had been separated from Jerusalem and the temple there. He could hardly wait to get back into the corporate worship of the God he loved so much. Though he could pray to his Lord, "from the heights of Hermon," (v. 6)--it was not the same to him, as when he joyfully went up to the "house of God," (v. 4).

Do we take God's worship seriously; or does it not really matter to us? Blessed are those who value what the Lord values.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Defilers and profaners of ordinances, by known and allowed wickedness, provoke God more than the heathen who have no ordinances." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "A Warn-
ing to Professors of Religion"]

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tues., 9/1/09 Devotion (Ps. 40:17a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 40, v. 17a, which says this:

"But I am poor and needy; yet the LORD thinks upon me. . . . "

David wrote these words (above). He was "poor and needy" in that he knew he was bankrupt before God--having no righteousness of his own. All of David's favor with God came through his union (by faith) with Christ. But what I find most intriguing in this verse is the expression, "The LORD thinks upon me."

Can you picture the God who created the entire universe "thinking" on you, and me? He does. We may not think of ourselves as particularly interesting--but the church, and the individual members therein are of passionate interest to God. He "thinks" on us; and all His thoughts are for our good, our welfare, our betterment, and our prosperity. Think on Him today, and thank God for His goodness.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do not say thus, 'I shall never be helped; I am in a sad condition and shall never be better.' . . . This you cannot say, for who knows what God will do?" --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]