Friday, October 30, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/30-11/1/09 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Lord's Prayer":

"Here is comfort to those who are the subjects of the King of heaven. God will put forth all the royal power for their help and comfort.
(1) The King of heaven will plead their cause: 'I will plead your cause, and take vengeance for you,' (Jer. 51:36). (2) He will protect His people. He sets an invisible guard about them: 'I will be unto her a wall of fire round about,' (Zech. 2:5). A wall, that is defensive; a wall of fire, that is offensive. (3) When it may be for the good of His people, He will raise up deliverance to them. 'The Lord saved them by a great deliverance,' (1 Chron. 11:14).

"God reigning as a king, can save any way; even by contemptible means, as the blowing of the trumpets, and blazing of lamps, (Judges 7:20). By contrary means; as when He made the sea a wall to Israel, and the waters were a means to keep them from drowning. The fish's belly was a ship in which Jonah sailed safe to shore. God will never want ways of saving His people; rather than fail, their very enemies shall do His work, (2 Chron. 20:23). He sets Ammon and Mount Seir one against another. As God will deliver His people from temporal danger, so from spiritual danger, as from sin, and from hell. 'Jesus delivered us from the wrath to come,' (1 Thess. 1:10)."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thurs., 10/29/09 Devotion (2 Tim. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, which says this:

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

Ministers have to be pretty stout souls--and Paul knew that Timothy's natural disposition was anything but "Type A." Still, the apostle reminded the young pastor that God's provisions in his (Timothy's) ordination included courage, sweetness, and firm resolve.

The world around us *can* at times be a pretty foreboding (fearful) place; but the Lord has given each of His churchmen--clergy *and* laity--a Spirit, not of cowardice--but one of true skill in living, charity, and solid, spiritual reason. Let all God's believing children rise up today, and shed everywhere the light of Christ's grace. Let us take our rightful places as the royalty of heaven (here on earth).

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who has God to be his God is so well contented with his condition that he does not much care whether he has anything else." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Content-

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wed., 10/28/09 Devotion (1 Tim. 6:17b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 6:17b, where we read these words:

" . . . But [let us trust] in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy."

I like this text (above). Not only does the Lord give us enough to live on--He also provides us "*All* things to enjoy." In other words, every-
thing God has created is to be employed for and subsumed under the welfare and happiness of Christ's church.

Our Heavenly Father is not "stingy," as some foolish people would imagine Him. Instead, He is extraordinarily generous (with those who are His, in Christ). As a matter of fact, God is more than kind to *all* creatures: even to those who hate Him, and will experience His eternal wrath, (cf. Ps. 145:9). Let us more fervently love our God, who "gives us *richly* all things to enjoy."

[Puritan quote of the day: "A true Christian grows in beauty. Grace is the best complexion of the soul. It is, at the first planting, like Rachel: fair to look upon, but, the more it lives, the more it sends forth its rays of beauty." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tues., 10/27/09 Devotion (Ps. 119:49)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:49, where we read these words:

"Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope."

All of us operate on the principle(s) of one or two foundational statements, which we thoroughly believe; and, against which all other truth claims get measured. The psalmist (above--who wrote Ps. 119) was famous for his love for God's word; and yet even he fiercely clung to some *one* promise of the Lord, which gave him "hope," and which helped him cope in a tough world.

What is it, at base, to which you and I are *really* committed? If it is the Gospel principle, which directs us to Jesus, and puts us in His church--then we are in good shape. If it is anything else, then we are putting our hope in things (and people) which cannot deliver.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Faith works the heart to a sweet, serene composure. It is not having food and raiment, but having faith which will make us content." --Thomas Watson, in "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mon., 10/26/09 Devotion (1 Tim. 4:4a)

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

"For every creature of God is good . . . "

This is a refreshing doctrine (above). Every single created being and thing is good, (even mosquitos--if you can believe that[!]). Of course, sinners have managed to foul-up virtually every good thing God created. But this in no way detracts from the intrinsic goodness of everything God made.

False religion leaves people feeling sick and uneasy. This is because it seeks to gain God's approval through denigration of the good things God created, viz. by requiring people to abstain from them. The True Religion is able to enjoy *everything* God made; and do so to Christ's honor and glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Lord gives double pay. He gives great rewards in His service here--and afterwards He refreshes us with the delights of paradise which are without intermission and expiration."
--Thomas Watson, in "The Fight of Faith Crowned"]

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/23-25/09 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday. We GET to go to church! In order to help get you ready, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God":

"Let us contemplate the excellencies of God. He is the 'God of glory,' (Ps. 29:3). He is full of orient beauty--in comparison of whom both angels and men are but as the 'small dust of the balance.' He is the 'God of love,' (2 Cor. 13:11). God triumphs in acts of mercy. Well may this encourage us in our approaches to Him who delights to display the banner of free grace to sinners. If we should hear of a person of honour who was of a lovely disposition, obliging all that came to him by acts of kindness and civility, it would make us ambitiously desirous to ingratiate ourselves with him and to obtain his acquaintance. God is the most sovereign good, the wonder of love, ready to diffuse the silver streams of His bounty to indigent creatures. This, if anything, will make us willing to draw near to Him and acquiesce in Him as the centre of felicity.

"If we would draw near to God, let us study our own wants. Let us consider in what need we stand for God and that we cannot be happy without Him. The prodigal never drew near to his father, until he began to be in want, (Lk. 15:17). A proud sinner, who was never convinced of his want, minds not to come near God; he [thinks he has] a stock of his own to live upon . . . "

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thurs., 10/22/09 Devotion (2 Thess. 3:5)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 3:5, where we read these words:

"Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ."

Biblical terms such as, "the love of God," or, "the patience of Christ," can be interpreted either objectively, viz. God's love for His church; or subjectively, viz. Christians' love for God; or both (of these options). This instance (above) is probably referring to both.

It is, after all, only possible for us to show God's love when we our-
selves know that He loves us. The same is true with patience: we can only demonstrate it as we realize (personally) how much of it we have received from God. It is a good prayer Paul offers (in this verse); and we ought to ask the Lord to do this for us, too.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us pray that God will preserve pure ordinances and powerful preaching among us. Idolatry came in at first by the want of good preaching." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Com-

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wed., 10/21/09 Devotion (2 Thess. 2:15)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 2:15, where we read these words:

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle."

Religious traditions are not inherently bad (or heretical). Paul passed some traditions along through his preaching and teaching; and others through his inspired letters. All denominations--from those which use "bells and smells," to those that handle snakes and drink poison--employ tradition(s). Even the most "loosey-goosey" congregations basically do the same things week after week (only changing the props, or whatever).

Tradition is only a problem if and when it conflicts with divine (scriptural) revelation. When this happens, tradition must be chucked, in favor of God's revealed will. Otherwise, however, let God's faithful church not worry too much about tradition.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Zeal quickens the pursuit after glory. Zeal, encountering difficulty, is emboldened by opposition and tramples upon danger." --Thomas Watson, in "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tues., 10/20/09 Devotion (2 Thess. 1:3a)

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

"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly . . . "

We do not usually think of faith as "growing." What does this mean? It refers to the fact that saving faith, which is a gift of God in regenera-
tion, begins to be applied to more and more situations and circum-
stances of life. Instead of solely touching on salvation--growing faith begins to impose itself on other (and vast) tracts of everyday experi-

Therefore, what is it that we have to face today? Whatever that is, it is to be subject to our faith--the same miraculous faith God gave us when He joined us to Jesus in His church. Faith in Christ is to swallow-up all of our problems. Remember: faith alone pleases God, (cf. Heb. 11:6).

[Puritan quote of the day: "A believing soul dares venture his name, his estate, his life, yea, his eternal life on God. He dares to put them all into His hands." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mon., 10/19/09 Devotion (1 Ki. 22:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Kings 22:7, where we read these words:

"And Jehoshaphat said, 'Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?' "

There are many false "prophets" today, who will tell people whatever they want to hear. But, there are still some true, faithful, and lawfully-called "prophets" (ministers) today, as well. In ancient Israel, during Ahab's reign, the ratio was something like 400 to one. (One true prophet; four-hundred fake ones.)

As we might expect, Ahab (a bad guy), did not accept Micaiah's (the good prophet's) words--but he (Ahab) certainly respected him (Micaiah). Let all God's church be careful to give heed to God's ministers; and disregard Satan's hirelings, who are "wolves in sheep's clothing."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Nothing in all the world can deliver from the fear of death but forgiveness of sin, and then this makes a man look on the Day of Judgment with comfort." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in a book of his sermons, entitled, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/16-18/09 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! Here's Thomas Watson, from, "The Ten Commandments." Here, he is dealing with the Fifth Command-
ment. . . .

"Honour these spiritual fathers, by becoming advocates for them, and wiping off those slanders and calumnies which are unjustly cast upon them, (1 Tim 5:19). Constantine was a great honourer of the ministry; he vindicated them; he would not read the envious accusations brought against them, but burnt them. Do the ministers open their mouths to God for you in prayer, and will not you open your mouths in their behalf? Surely, if they labour to preserve you from hell, you should preserve them from slander; if they labour to save your souls, you ought to save their credit.

"Honour them by conforming to their doctrine. The greatest honour you can put upon your spiritual fathers, is to believe and obey their doctrine. He is an honourer of the ministry who is not only a hearer, but a follower of the word. As disobedience reproaches the ministry, so obedience honours it. The apostle calls the Thessalonians his crown. 'What is our crown of rejoicing? Is it not you?' (1 Thess 2:19). A thriving people are a minister's crown. When there is a metamorpho-
sis, a change wrought; when people come to the word proud, but go away humble; when they come earthly, but they go away heavenly; when they come, as Naaman to Jordan, lepers, but they go away healed; then the ministry is honoured. . . . You cannot honour your spiritual fathers more, than by thriving under their ministry, and living upon the sermons which they preach."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thurs., 10/15/09 Devotion (1 Ki. 18:21a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Kings 18:21a, where we read these words:

"And Elijah came to all the people, and said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him. . . . ' "

I like this perspective, put out by Elijah. Even today this principle applies. All people worship some deity (alleged, or true). "Let the best [God] win," as the saying goes. Is the Muslim god the true one? Then all should worship him (or it). Is the atheists' god the true one? Then we should bow down to it. Is the secularists' god true? Let all men honor it (or her, or whatever). Is the God of the True Christian Religion the only Real Deity? Then, let all men worship Him.

It turns out that the Holy Trinity *is* the one and only God. We know this--among other reasons--primarily by the resurrection of the Son of God, who lives and reigns today. He can withstand all pretenders to His throne. Worship Him, and do not fear fake gods.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are the greatest reasons in the world to be a Christian . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wed., 10/14/09 Devotion (Ezek. 47:12b)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 47:12b, where we read these amazing words:

"They [the trees] will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine."

The first part of Ezek., ch. 47, is remarkable--one of my favorite parts of the Bible. The expanse of the New Covenant church, and the spread of the gospel of grace are all in view here. Christ dwells in the "sanctuary," (the church). The church, through the Holy Spirit, feeds, nourishes, and heals the world. And, in time, the "knowledge of the Lord covers the earth, as the waters cover the sea."

Let us be thankful that the God of heaven has *not* abandoned His earth, or the people thereon. He has left His colony, the church, here. As the Body of Christ, let us be "feeders" and "healers" of the whole world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Grace continues and increases." --Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tues., 10/13/09 Devotion (1 Ki. 16:22b)

Today's encouragement comes from the few words which make-up
1 Kings 16:22b, which say this:

" . . . So Tibni died and Omri reigned."

These words (above) are almost comedic. But this was how it was in the ancient (and even the modern) world: when claimants to the throne battled it out, one won, and the other died. But it dawns on me that there is a much more profound (and legitimate) application of this principle; and it is this . . .

. . . When churchmen are regenerated, the "old man" of the flesh dies, and the "new man" of the Spirit reigns. The *experience* of this truth is the struggle all converted souls on earth have to traverse, (and we call this, "sanctification"). Let all believers reckon themselves to be dead to sin, and alive to Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love Him, and the more uneasy is he at his want [lack] of love to Him." --Jonathan Edwards, in "Religious Affections"]

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mon., 10/12/09 Devotion (Col. 2:13)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's words found in Colossians 2:13, which say this:

"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses."

True believing churchmen have this precious promise that God has, in Christ, forgiven them ALL their trespasses (or sins). This gift in itself is more valuable than all the world; and if God did nothing else for His children, to have one's sins forgiven would bring a lifetime of joy, and reason for praising God.

If you are among the redeemed, recognize from whence you have come. You used to be "dead" in trespasses. Now, because of Jesus' work, you are "forgiven" them. If this will not cause you to love God, nothing ever will.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Some set their bags of money always before them, others set the fear of men always before them, but a wise Christian will set God, judgment, and eternity always before him." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/9-11/09 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Ten Commandments" book. (Here, he is dealing with the Fourth [or Sabbath] Commandment.) . . .

"Rejoice at the approach of the day [Sunday], as a day wherein we have a prize for our souls, and may enjoy much of God's presence. John 8:56: 'Abraham rejoiced to see My day.' So, when we see the light of a Sabbath shine, we should rejoice, and 'call the Sabbath a delight.' This is the queen of days, which God has crowned with a blessing, (Isa. 58:13). As there was one day in the week on which God rained manna twice as much as upon any other day, so he rains down the manna of heavenly blessings twice as much on the Sabbath as on any other. This is the day wherein Christ carries the soul into the house of wine, and displays the banner of love over it; now the dew of the Spirit falls on the soul, whereby it is revived and comforted. How many may write the Lord's day, the day of their new birth! This day of rest is a pledge and earnest of the eternal rest in heaven. Shall we not then rejoice at its approach? The day on which the Sun of Righteous-
ness shines should be a day of gladness."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thurs., 10/8/09 Devotion (Ps. 92:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 92:13 & 14, where we read these words, from a Psalm for the Sabbath Day:

"Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing . . . "

Are some of you growing a bit older (like me), and wondering if your life has been worth while, or not? If so, recognize--even from the verses above--that those who are firmly planted in Jesus, in His church *do* make a difference, and that they *do* "flourish," and that they *do* continue to "bear fruit in old age."

All who forsake Jesus, and therefore also His church, waste their lives. Their miserable existences are worth nothing. On the other hand, those who plant themselves in Christ and His soil, are rich and fulfilled.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's blood only can merit pardon."
--Thomas Watson, in "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wed., 10/7/09 Devotion (Ps. 91:9-10)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 91:9 & 10, where we read these words:

"Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling . . . "

Those who are safely trusting in Jesus' blood atonement alone to protect them from the condemnation of sin's righteous judgment are the only people on earth who will weather the storms of this life (and the next). God is the churchman's "dwelling place" by faith. Faith, not anything else, proves to be our key to victory (1 Jn. 5:4b), since it directly binds us to Christ.

Do we want to be safe from the most real and fearful evils? Then, as the church, let us trust in Jesus alone. Let us look not to our works, or our performance--but to our Redeemer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the wicked, still, are under the covenant of works . . . " --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tues., 10/6/09 Devotion (Ps. 90:17a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 90:17a, where we read these words:

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us . . . "

Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote the words of the psalm (quoted above). What did he mean by "the beauty of the LORD"? All beauty comes from God, who Himself is the ultimately beautiful Being; and who is the Standard of all comeliness. Those related to Christ possess the same nature, Spirit, and beauty that He demon-
strates, even today, in heaven.

The church's beauty is irresistible to God; and it is a prime means of attracting the elect to Christ, His gospel, and His community. Let us seek to reflect and radiate God's beauty today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The law is but a dead letter in comparison to the word of the gospel. If you come merely to the law to hear the law preached, and not in a [gospel] way, you may hear it a hundred times and it will never be written in your hearts." --Jeremiah Bur-
roughs, in "Gospel Worship"]

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mon., 10/5/09 Devotion (Ps. 89:16)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 89:16, where we read these words:

"In Your name they rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness they are exalted."

How is it, that the sincere believers can rejoice in God "all day long"? Because he or she realizes that his or her life is hidden away in Christ, and that no matter what happens in that particular day God has a sovereign purpose for it.

Believing churchmen have a rock-solid foundation in their faith in Christ alone. Nothing (and no one) else is acceptable to God. But Christ is MORE than pleasing to Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For every believer, the debt-book is crossed out; the black lines of sin are crossed out with the red lines of Christ's blood." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/2-4/09 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost The Lord's Day (Sunday)! In order to help get you ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, in his book, "The Lord's Prayer":

"The old serpent [Satan] either takes men off from the use of means [of grace], or makes them miscarry in the use of them.

"He labours to take men off from duty, from praying and hearing [sermons], in order to discourage them; and, to do that, he has two artifices:

"He discourages them from duty by suggesting to them their unworthi-
ness; that they are not worthy to approach to God, or have any signals of His love and favour. They are sinful, and God is holy, how dare they presume to bring their impure offering to God? That we should see ourselves unworthy, is good, and argues humility; but to think we should not approach God because of unworthiness, is a conclusion of the devil's making. God says, 'Come, though unworthy.' By this temp-
tation, the devil takes many off from coming to the Lord's Table. 'Oh,' says he, 'this is a solemn ordinance, and requires much holiness: how dare you so unworthily come? You will eat and drink unworthily.' Thus, as Saul kept the people from eating honey, so the devil by this temptation, scares many from this ordinance, which is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thurs., 10/1/09 Devotion (Eph. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 1:7, where we read these words:

"In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgive-
ness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . . "

When it is all said and done, the only thing that matters in life (and religion) is the soul's cleansing before a Holy God. Christ's blood *alone* washes away sins; and our confidence before God is solely based in and on our faith in Him (Christ).

So much religious talk and discourse is nothing other than the bluster of people who wish to find some substitute (for the blood atonement of Jesus). Let us not be ensnared by this; and may God's true church-
men rejoice in their right standing with the Lord, by grace through faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a Christian's duty to triumph, not only over the world, but over Satan . . . " --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]