Friday, December 31, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/31/10-1/2/11 Devotion

Happy New Year, everyone!!

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to return to the church, to wor-
ship God! In order to help us get ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book:

"When was Christ incarnate?

"In the fulness of time. 'When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman,' (Gal 4:4). By the fulness of time we must understand [it to be] the determinate time that God had set. More particularly, this fulness of time was when all the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah were accomplished; and all legal shadows and figures, whereby He was typified, were abrogated. This may com-
fort us, in regard to the church of God, that though at present we do not see that peace and purity in the church which we could desire, yet in the fulness of time, when God's time is come and mercy is ripe, then shall deliverance spring up, and God will come riding upon the chariots of salvation.

"Why was Jesus Christ made flesh?

"The 'causa prima,' and impulsive cause, was free grace. It was love in God the Father to send Christ, and love in Christ that He came to be incarnate. Love was the intrinsic motive. Christ is God-Man, because He is a lover of man. Christ came out of pity and indulgence to us: 'non merita nostra, sed misera nostra,' Augustine. 'Not our deserts, but our misery,' made Christ take flesh. Christ's taking flesh was a plot of free grace, and a pure design of love. God Himself, though Almighty, was overcome with love. Christ Incarnate is nothing but love covered with flesh. As Christ's assuming our human nature was a masterpiece of wisdom, so it was a monument of free grace."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thurs., 12/30/10 Devotion (Mal. 3:17a)

Today's encouragement comes from Malachi 3:17a, where we read these words:

" 'They shall be Mine,' says the LORD of hosts, 'On the day that I make them My jewels.' "

Have you ever thought of yourself as one of Almighty God's "jewels"? If you are a faith-filled churchman, who trusts in Jesus alone for your salvation, and who loves the Lord because of what He has done for you--then indeed you *are* a precious "jewel" in God's treasure chest.

Compared to one sincere member of Christ's church, the entire far-flung and vast universe (which God created) is of minimal value and interest to the Lord. *People* are God's "jewels"; and not just *any* person: only those who are IN Jesus Christ (and His church) by grace through faith alone. Let *us* be numbered among these Divine prizes.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God's] riches make a man wise. Wisdom is the best possession; other riches cannot make one wise. A man may have a full purse and an empty brain." --Thomas Watson, in his ser-
mon, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wed., 12/29/10 Devotion (2 Chron. 34:27)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 34:27, which finds God saying this about the great king Josiah:

" 'Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its in-
habitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,' says the LORD."

A humble, broken, contrite heart is irresistible to the Lord. Josiah was very zealous for God, His church, His word, and His worship. Even after grieving over the punishment that was sure to come because of Judah's past wickedness, Josiah was given by God assurances that none of the calamity would befall the nation, in his lifetime.

As the Lord brings us, His churchmen, to humble brokenness--it may sting for a while. But the end result is blessed assurance of forgive-
ness, and full and complete rest in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let God have His will by being holy, and you shall have your will by being happy." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tues., 12/28/10 Devotion (2 Chron. 33:10-11)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 33:10 & 11, which says this:

"And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon."

Here in two verses of the Bible, we have the entire program of how God deals with those whom He intends to save. The Lord first starts out gently and positively: sending His word to His people (by prophets [OT] and pastors [NT]). If that fails, God brings out His harder and more negative implements: hooks and fetters.

In Manasseh's case, harsh measures were necessary in order to bring him to repentance. This is not the best, nor the wisest approach, how-
ever. When we hear the word of God, let us immediately respond to it in faith (and repentance).

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who has been drinking spirits of wine, will not much thirst after water; and that man who has once 'tasted how sweet the Lord is,' (Ps. 34:8), and has drunk the cordials of the Spirit, will not thirst immoderately after secular delights." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mon., 12/27/10 Devotion (Zech. 14:8-9)

Today's encouragement comes from Zechariah 14:8 & 9, where we read these words:

"And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jeru-
salem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur. And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be--'The LORD is one,' And His name one."

This day *has* occurred, as Jesus inaugurated it in His first Advent, and culminated it in His resurrection, and the pouring out of His Spirit on His church at Pentecost. Now, the whole earth: east and west, north and south, are all fed by Christ from heaven, as He brokers His blessings through His church on earth.

The "Oneness" of God was amplified in Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, of John, ch. 17, (cf. v. 11, for an example). The believing churchman is made "one" with the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. For these unspeakable blessings let us give thanks to the Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing that we do or can do, no-
thing that angels do or can do for us, that can reconcile us to God; but we are reconciled to God in Christ." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Reconciliation"]

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thurs.-Sabbath, 12/23-26/10 Devotion

Merry Christmas, everybody!!!

Sunday's coming! What an honor: to be in the church's worship on the Lord's Day!

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

"[This doctrine] shows how a Christian may come to lead a comfort-
able life, even an 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,' (Lu. 12. 15)--but it is in being content-
ed. Is not the bee as well contented with feeding on the dew, or suck-
ing from a flower, as the ox that grazes on the mountains? Content-
ment 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, says Seneca, is the happy man."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wed., 12/22/10 Devotion (2 Chron. 26:5b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 26:5b, where we read these words:

" . . . and as long as he [Uzziah] sought the LORD, God made him prosper."

Why is it, that we cannot seem to understand this very basic principle? So long as we seek the Lord, in His Son, and in the context of His church, we will "prosper." If we do *not* do this, we will not prosper. The reason we so often fail here, is because our faith is not as per-
fected as it should be. Our flesh tells us that "prosperity" may be had outside of Christ.

Even the great Uzziah ended up getting a bit "full of himself"; and though his life was blessed and prosperous, his pride took a bite out of him before he died, (cf. 2 Chron. 26:16). Let us churchmen be sure to humble ourselves before the Lord--trusting in Him alone, and not in ourselves (at all).

[Puritan quote of the day: "When we preach Christ and free grace it is to bring you to Christ. Our preaching down of works is not to keep you from doing them but from resting in them." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tues., 12/21/10 Devotion (Jn. 11:24-27)

Today's encouragement comes from John 11:24-27, where these words are found:

"Martha said to [Jesus], 'I know that he [Lazarus] will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?' She said to Him, 'Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.' "

Here is an example where good theology informs a living, vibrant, and saving faith. Martha believes in a bodily resurrection, on the last day. She also believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. But even the demons believe these objective, historical facts, as matters of indisputable truth--but, instead of being blessed by them, they "tremble" at them, (cf. Jas. 2:19).

Martha married good doctrine with a heart that truly depended on it.
The difference between her faith and the demons' faith is that hers was one of trusting love of Jesus; theirs was one of the fear of His wrath.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In a heathen nation, first teach, and then baptize them; but in a Christian church, first baptize, and then teach them." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Commandments"]

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mon., 12/20/10 Devotion (2 Chron. 24:18)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 24:18, where we read these words:

"Therefore they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass."

Look at the sad thing that happens to people--even folks who are in the outward covenant--when they abandon Christ, the church, and the gospel: they end up worshipping sticks, stones, and idols. And what reward to they get for their perverted religious efforts?: the wrath of God (which comes down upon them).

Let faithful churchmen learn from this, that there is only One God, and that He will not countenance any "competitors." If we are to stay connected to Jesus, we need "the house of the Lord," and we dare not leave it. If we do, one result is inevitable: we will end up worshipping something else, and doing that will take a great toll on us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A drop of [God's] heavenly comfort is enough to sweeten a sea of worldly sorrow." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/17-19/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church! Here is TW, from his "The Beatitudes" book. . . .

"Let us walk as the children of God in sobriety. 'But let us who are of the day be sober' (1 Thess. 5:8). God's children must not do as others. They must be sober.

"In their speeches; not rash, not unseemly. 'Let your speech be season-
ed with salt' (Col. 4:6). Grace must be the salt which seasons our words and makes them savoury. Our words must be solid and weighty, not feathery. God's children must speak the language of Canaan. Many pretend to be God's children, but their speech betrays them. Their lips do not drop as an honey-comb, but are like the sink, where all the filth of the house is carried out.

"The children of God must be sober in their opinions; hold nothing but what a sober man would hold. Error, as Saint Basil says, is a spiritual intoxication, a kind of frenzy. If Christ were upon the earth again, He might have patients enough. There are abundance of spiritual lunatics among us which need healing."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thurs., 12/16/10 Devotion (Jn. 6:66-68)

Today's encouragement comes from the wonderful interchange be-
tween Christ and His disciples, as it is found in John 6:66-68:

"From that time many of [Christ's] disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?' But Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.' "

This is a very poignant scene in the ministry of the Messiah. After in-
tentionally paring-down the numbers of His "disciples" by teaching them that they would have to ingest Him into their beings, and that God alone could draw them to Himself, etc.--the Lord Jesus is left with just a few remaining hearty souls, (one of which was Judas, who, of course, was not faithful).

Peter's confession, representing the true church throughout all ages, is not only brilliantly insightful, but it was also eminently practical: there is nowhere to go, in this world, but to Jesus--unless one prefers hell.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When the Word comes to any place, the kingdom of heaven is said to come. . . . and Christ rules in it by the preaching of the gospel." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remis-

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wed., 12/15/10 Devotion (2 Chron. 17:5b, 6a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 17:5b & 6a, where we read these words:

" . . . and all Judah gave presents to Jehoshaphat, and he had riches and honor in abundance. And his heart took delight in the ways of the LORD."

It takes a strong heart to be able to both possess many good things of this world, and yet to do so in the attitude and perspective of "taking delight in the ways of the Lord." Jehoshaphat was a full man: he had the best of everything, and yet he did not idolatorize his blessings. Instead, he kept his head, and loved his God first and foremost.

Let all faithful churchmen seek to have this same spirit. The key to this is in our identification with Jesus. Let us seek to be crucified with Him everyday, so that we may rise with Him everyday. When we do this, we get to take pleasure in *everything* He provides us, with free and grateful hearts.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Therefore, now go to Jesus, the Supreme Head of the church and Bishop of souls. . . . He ever lives to provide for His church, and to guide and feed HIs flock." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Sorrows of the Bereaved Spread before Jesus"]

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mon., 12/6/10 Devotion (1 Jn. 4:18)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 4:18, where we read these great words:

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love."

This totally perfected love is never 100% experienced in this life (be-
cause of our flesh). But this does not mean that the sincere churchman may not have real and palpable (felt) assurance. The Puritans were the great theological expositors of divine assurance, in the souls of the saints. (They recognized that not all true believers would have the same levels of this confidence.)

Still, to fear eternal punishment, after having the blood atonement clearly applied to one's soul, is not noble, but God-dishonoring. It denies and decries the work of the Redeemer. It is a form of atheism. If our hope is not in ourselves or our works--but in Christ alone, then let us be fully-assured churchmen, who know that God loves us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let this take up your thoughts as the greatest business that your hearts can be set upon, that you may be found of Him [God] in peace." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Reconciliation"]

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/3-5/10 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, dis-
cussing peace. In beautiful Puritan style, he is very pastoral. This comes from his amazing "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"But why have not all believers the full enjoyment and possession of peace? Why is not this flower of peace fully ripe and blown?

"Some of the godly may not have so full a degree of peace. (1.) Through the fury of temptation. Though the devil cannot destroy us, he will disturb us. He disputes against our adoption; he would make us question the work of grace in our hearts, and so disturb the waters of our peace. He is like a subtle cheater, who, if he cannot make a man's title to his land void, yet will put him to many troublesome suits in law. If Satan cannot make us ungodly, he will make us unquiet. Violent winds make the sea rough and stormy; so the winds of temp-
tation blowing, disturb peace of spirit, and put the soul into a com-

"(2.) The godly may not enjoy peace, through mistake and misap-
prehension about sin. They find so much corruption, that they think sure, if there were grace, there would not be such strong working of corruption; whereas this should be so far from discouraging Christians, and hindering their peace, that it is an argument for them. Let me ask, 'Whence is it that you feel sin?' No man can feel sin, but by grace. A wicked man is insensible. Lay a hundredweight upon a dead man, he does not complain; but being sensible of corruption, argues a gra-
cious principle, (Rom. 7:21). Again, Whence is it that there is a com-
bat with sin, but from the life of grace? (Gal. 5:17). Dead things can-
not combat. Whence is it that the saints weep for sin? What are these tears but seeds of faith? The not understanding of this hinders a Christian's peace."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thurs., 12/2/10 Devotion (Mic. 7:18a, 19b)

Today's encouragement comes from Micah 7:18a & 19b, which relates these fabulous words:

"Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the trans-
gression of the remnant of His heritage? . . . You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea."

One of the greatest blessing we can possibly possess is the forgiveness of our sins. This is the most magnificent deed God performs in us. If we are forgiven, it took the blood of God's Son to bring this about. God had to overcome our hearts, the fallen world, and the devil, in order to procure our pardon.

But if we are forgiven our sins, nothing else really matters. If we have a clear and clean conscience before the Almighty God--is it of any great consequence that we have trials and tribulations? We have al-
ready obtained what everyone needs.

[Puritan quote of the day: "They dishonor the pardoning grace of God, and most considerably of all, by seeking and expecting it any other way than through the mediation of the Son of God." --Jeremiah Bur-
roughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wed., 12/1/10 Devotion (1 Chron. 29:3)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 29:3, where we read these words of David, inspired by the Holy Spirit:

"Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have pre-
pared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver."

Whatever we value and love, we adorn. David esteemed the house of his God, having affection for it. Jesus loves His church, and bedecks it with all His gracious jewels, (cf. Rev. 21:10 ff.). Whatever or who-
ever we love, we are careful to bestow high honor on.

The wise and happy person loves what God loves; and invests his or her life in beautifying what will last forever. Let us set our affection on the Son of God and house of God, even as David did.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For the greatest and most glorious work that you can perform is not nearly worth so much as one drop of the blood of Christ." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tues., 11/30/10 Devotion (2 Pet. 2:19b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Peter 2:19b, where we read these words:

" . . . for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage."

All of us are in "service" and "bondage" to someone. The way to know who this person is, is to ask oneself, "About whom do I most often think? About whom am I practically obsessed?" The answers to these queries reveal our master.

When the master is another fallen human being (be they good or
bad)--this is a miserable bondage. When the Master is the King of glory, the Lord Jesus Christ, this is a liberating "bondage." When the master is self--this is torturous labor. But when the Master is God, this is sweet service. Let all Christ's faithful churchmen gladly serve under His banner today!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Lord, let the [magnet] of Your Spirit draw my heart upward. Lord, dig the earth out of my heart; teach me how to possess the world, and not love it; how to hold it in my hand, and not let it get into my heart." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Com-

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mon., 11/29/10 Devotion (2 Pet. 1:2)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Peter 1:2, where we find these wonderful words:

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord . . . "

To have grace and peace *multiplied* to one's soul is a very blessed thing. God does not only "add," or "drip" His good gifts onto His belov-
ed churchmen (a little at a time)--but He multiplies them. And notice how He does this: in our knowledge of Him, and of His Son Jesus.

If we know God, we have grace and peace. The more we know Him, the greater the levels of these things we will enjoy--though they often come through trouble and difficulty.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Upon this reconciliation with God, you and God come to have common friends and common enemies." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Reconciliation"]

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/26-28/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We get to go to church again! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God" book. . . .

"A gracious soul cannot but draw near to God, because of the intimate relationship between God and him. God is a Father, Isa. 64:8: 'Doubt-
less You are our Father.' Does not the child delight to draw near to his father? There is no father like God for love; His children shall never want; He has land enough to give to all His heirs. God loves His chil-
dren so entirely, that He will never disinherit them. How then can be-
lievers keep away from their Father? They do not know how to be long out of His presence.

"A gracious soul cannot but draw near to God, because he has found so much sweetness and contentment in it. While he has drawn near to God, he has drawn virtue from Him. Never did Jonathan taste so much sweetness when he dipped his rod in the honey-comb, (1 Sam. 14:27)
--as the soul finds in communion with God. In drawing near to God a Christian's heart has been warmed and melted; the Lord has kindled His sacrifice from Heaven. In his approaches to God, he has had the blessings of the Spirit, the incomes of God's love, the previews of glory: God has given him a 'bunch of grapes' by the way; he has 'tasted that the Lord is good.' No wonder then he is so frequent in his ap-
proaches to the divine majesty; he has found the comfort of drawing near to God."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thurs., 11/25/10 Devotion (Jonah 4:6)

Happy Thanksgiving, all you American "Pilgrims"!

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

"And the LORD God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant."

To his credit, Jonah was "grateful for the plant"; but it would soon be evident that Jonah's thankfulness was piecemeal. When God removed the plant, Jonah became very peevish and childish. When God refused to give Jonah a divine fireworks display, by blowing up Nineveh, it displeased the prophet greatly.

True gratitude that honors the Lord is universal and uniform. This doesn't mean that we churchmen will always get it right; but it does mean that we are to set our hearts on being grateful to God for all things, be they "good" or "evil."

[Puritan quote of the day: "As the sun rises by degrees till it comes to shine in glory, so it was with the Sun of Righteousness [Christ]. He re-
vealed Himself in the church little by little." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wed., 11/24/10 Devotion (1 Chron. 20:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 20:8, where we read these words:

"These were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants."

What problems do we have, that were (and are) "born" of the "giants" that have harassed us (perhaps for years)? Whatever they are, they may fall at the feet of King Jesus, the true and ultimate "David." Even as David, the lad, slew Goliath, the experienced soldier--so it is that all sincere churchmen overwhelm God's enemies, by faith.

The Lord allows "big" troubles to assail us, so as to show us just how great He truly is.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In heaven the saints rest with Him [God], on earth they walk with Him." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divin-

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tues., 11/23/10 Devotion (Jonah 2:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Jonah 2:4, where we read these words:

"Then I said, 'I have been cast out of Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.' "

Jonah goes from consciously running away from God, to once again desiring to enjoy His sweet presence (in the context of the tem-
ple--the Old Covenant church). What made the difference? Probably, the time he spent in the belly of the great fish.

God has a way of making us--His churchmen--want Him very badly. Even when our own fleshly wills assert themselves and get us into big trouble--the Lord knows how to bring storms and deliverances from them, to us. As we once again regain our senses, and begin to think clearly, we, like Jonah, say, "I will look again toward Your holy tem-
ple." In Christ, there is always hope.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God would have His people humble, but not ungrateful. It is the devil's policy either to keep us from duty, or else to put us upon it when it is least in season." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Trees of Righteousness Blossoming"]

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mon., 11/22/10 Devotion (1 Chron. 17:2)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 17:2, which says this:

"Then Nathan said to David, 'Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.' "

The churchman who walks by faith in Jesus has great freedom. Here (above), the prophet Nathan gives King David the "green light" to do whatever he (David) wants to, in his earnest desire to love and serve his God. It turns out later in the chapter that the Lord intervenes, and tells David that his son (Solomon) would build the temple, and not David (after all).

. . . But the principle is a sweet one. Do we love Christ? Are we wor-
shipping Him aright? Are the essentials of our faith intact? If so, then we are free to do "whatever we want to," since our heart's deepest wishes are only to exalt God, and further Christ's church and gospel. This is a threat to the world, and pharisees; but it is a promise to faithful churchmen.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's work, both in the church and in the hearts of Christians, often goes backward so that it may go forward better." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/19-21/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church! In order to help us prepare for Sabbath worship, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Plea for the Godly" book. Here, he explains how much the Father loves the church. . . .

"See how dearly God loves the righteous and how near to His heart they lie. They are more excellent. The word 'excellent' carries affec-
tion in it. Things we prize we love. The righteous are God's treasure, (Psalm 135:4); and where His treasure is there is His heart. They are God's delicious garden where He plants the flower of His love. They are the dearly beloved of His soul. They are His darlings. He engraves them upon the palms of His hands that they may be never out of His eye. He rejoices over them with joy and rests in His love. It is no or-
dinary affection that God bears to the righteous. The sun shining upon a burning glass sets on fire only the object that is near the glass. The beams of God's love are more intensely enflamed towards them who are near Him by grace; these have the strength and spirits of His love distilled, He loves them as He loves Christ. Indeed, in one sense, God's love to Christ and believers is not alike, for Christ is loved purely for His own sake but believers are loved for Christ's sake. Yet, in another sense, God the Father loves believers as He loves Christ. It is the same love for the quality, the same for the unchangeableness of it. God will no more cease to love believers than He will to love Christ."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thurs., 11/18/10 Devotion (1 Chron. 11:6)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 11:6, which says this:

"Now David said, 'Whoever attacks the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain.' And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and became chief."

David here employs God's way of developing leaders. The king didn't need talkers, braggers, or theoreticians--he needed someone to risk his neck, and kick the Jebusites out (of what would become Jeru-
salem--the headquarters of the Old Covenant church). We see this same pattern in the New Testament, (cf. Rom. 16:3-4).

What about us? Is God calling us to do something bold for Him, within the sphere of our influence and ability? Spiritually, we are always "safer" when we are on the offensive, rather than when we are on the defensive.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is not the weakest and poorest crea-
ture in the world who is pardoned [for sin] but he understands more of the light of God's grace and covenant than the greatest doctors or rab-
bis in the world." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wed., 11/17/10 Devotion (1 Chron. 9:22)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 9:22, where we read this:

"All those chosen as gatekeepers were two hundred and twelve. They were recorded by their genealogy, in their villages. David and Samuel the seer had appointed them to their trusted office."

David was the king of Israel. Samuel was the prophet of Israel. This verse reminds us that the church and the state--though not one and the same--are certainly not enemies. Both are instituted by God. There is--in reality and practice--really no such thing as the "separa-
tion of church and state." They are distinct entities, but they are to work together for the glory of Christ, and the spread of the gospel.

The church is greater than the state (or the family, for that matter); and because of this she is to serve them both, by gentle instruction, and godly example.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Where God has forgiven sin, such a one need not care for the censures of all the world and the reproaches they cast upon him." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tues., 11/16/10 Devotion (Heb. 11:6)

Today's encouragement comes from the immortal words of Hebrews 11:6, which say this:

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

This amazing verse, along with the chapter in which it is found, is of great encouragement to every sincere churchman. Why? Among other reasons, because it highlights the primacy of the one grace (faith) that immediately fetches our Only Hope (Jesus) to our souls. Also, when we look at the "heroes" of the true religion mentioned in Heb., ch. 11, we see a lot of people who were ordinary sinners--just like
us--but who were *extraordinary* because of their exercise of faith.

Let us recognize that faith pleases God because it asserts that it be-
lieves He exists, and that He can do anything He want to, for our good. Are we weak in other graces? Let us not worry, so long as we have faith in Jesus.

[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, November 15, 2010

Mon., 11/15/10 Devotion (1 Chron. 5:20)

Today's encouragement comes from the amazing words of 1 Chronicles 5:20, where we read this:

"And [the Israelites] were helped against [the Hagrites], and the Hag-
rites were delivered into [the Israelites'] hand, and all who were with them, for [the Israelites] cried out to God in the battle. He heeded their prayer, because they put their trust in Him."

Are we in the midst of some spiritual battles today? If so, then we ought to "cry out to God" for help. If we will but trust the Lord, He will come to our aid. In the meantime, it may be stressful and dif-
ficult--but our God will not abandon His faith-filled churchmen.

The reality is that all God's children have to fight battles everyday--against our own flesh, the world, and the devil. In a fallen world, this is inevitable. But we do not fight alone. Let us always ask Christ for help and strength.

[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, November 12, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/12-14/10 Devotion

Thank God--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church. Here is Thomas Watson, on the subject of God's Mercy, from his "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"Mercy coming to us in a covenant is sweetest. It was mercy that God would give Israel rain, and bread to the full, and peace, and victory over their enemies, (Lev. 26:4-6); but it was a greater mercy that God would be their God, (verse 12). To have health is a mercy, but to have Christ and salvation is a greater mercy; it is like the diamond in the ring, which casts a more sparkling lustre.

"One act of mercy engages God to another. Men argue thus, 'I have shown you kindness already, therefore trouble me no more'; but, because God has shown mercy, He is more ready still to show mercy. His mercy in election makes Him justify, adopt, glorify; one act of mercy engages God to more. A parent's love to his child makes him always giving.

"All the mercy in the creature is derived from God, and is but a drop of this ocean. God is called, 'The Father of mercies,' because He begets all the mercies in the world, (2 Cor. 1:3). If God has put any kindness into the creature, how much kindness is in Him who is the Father of mercy!

"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."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thurs., 11/11/10 Devotion (Heb. 6:19-20a)

Today's encouragement comes from the words of Hebrews 6:19 & 20a:

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus . . . "

The hope of believing churchmen is as tied to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, as was the rope that they used to tie to the high priest in the old covenant era, when he entered the Holy of Holies. When God's people are afflicted, and tossed and turned on the sea of a world of sin and rebellion--they are always tethered to the Rock, which cannot be moved.

As Christ is our "forerunner," He assures that we, His church, will in-
evitably end up where He is. Jesus is our Hope. There is none to be found anywhere else. Let us trust Him afresh today.

[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"]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wed., 11/10/10 Devotion (Heb. 5:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 5:8, where we read these words:

" . . . though He [Jesus] was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered."

This amazing verse (above) teaches the church clearly that even the perfect, spotless, sinless, and pristine Lord Jesus Christ Himself had to "learn obedience," and that this was accomplished "through the things which He suffered."

If this was true for our Savior, who humbled Himself in His incarna-
tion for us, and was born under the law, etc., but who was yet God in the flesh--how much more true is it for us, who are conceived in orig-
inal sin, and whose every impulse in our fallen nature is toward sin? Faith in Christ, which leads to love for God, issues forth in obedience; but even that obedience is very often "learned," and that through our "sufferings." When this lesson *is* "learned," however, it bears the peaceable fruit of righteousness and a clean and happy conscience.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Spiritual blessings are such as enable men to improve all other blessings they enjoy." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tues., 11/9/10 Devotion (2 Ki. 22:8a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 22:8a, where we read these words:

"Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, 'I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.' "

When the church rediscovers the Holy Scriptures, in the glory of the Christ of the gospel found therein, amazing and dramatic things begin to happen. This occurred in King Josiah's time (here in 2 Ki.). It also took place in Nehemiah's and Ezra's lifetimes, (cf. Neh., ch. 8). This also continues to happen in the post-apostolic church era, as it did during the Reformation of the 16th century.

When the church dusts off the Bible, we discover (first) from the Law that we are in deep trouble, because we have sinned. But then, as we continue to read, we find abundant mercy and forgiveness in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ our Savior--received by grace through faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "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."
--Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mon., 11/8/10 Devotion (2 Ki. 21:1a, 2a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 21:1a & 2a, where we read these words:

"Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. . . . And he did evil in the sight of the
LORD . . . 

What is interesting about this evil Manasseh (above), is that he would never have existed at all, if his (good) father Hezekiah had accepted his own mortality more readily.  What I mean is this: in 2 Ki. 20:1, God tells Hezekiah to get his house in order, because he is going to die.  But Hezekiah doesn't want to go just yet, and God grants him 15 more years (in 2 Ki. 20:6).

In the meantime Manasseh is born, who proves to do more harm to the nation of Judah than all those kings (who were evil) that had come before him.  Judah goes into captivity because of Manasseh's wicked-
ness.  What's the point?: sometimes it's better to submit to God's "timetable" without quibbling.  Still, everything falls under God's good sovereignty, (as even Manasseh is saved in the end--cf. 2 Chron. 33:13).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Be as speedy in your repentance as you would have God speedy in His mercies."   --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/5-7/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We again get to go to church! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Picture of a Godly Man" book. He is dealing with the churchman's walk with God here. . . .

"Walking with God is a pleasant walk. The ways of wisdom are called pleasantness, (Prov. 3:17). Is the light not pleasant? 'They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance,' (Psa. 89:15). Walking with God is like walking among beds of spices which send forth a fragrant perfume. This is what brings peace: 'walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost,' (Acts (9:31). While we walk with God, what sweet music the birds of conscience makes in our breast! 'They shall sing in the ways of the Lord,' (Psa. 138:5).

"Walking with God is honourable. It is a credit for one of an inferior rank to walk with a king. What greater dignity can be put upon a mortal man than to converse with his Maker and to walk with God every day?

"Walking with God leads to rest: 'There remains therefore a rest for the people of God,' (Heb. 4:9). The philosopher Aristotle says, 'Motion tends to rest.' Indeed, there is a motion which does not tend to rest. They who walk with their sins shall never have rest: 'they rest not day and night,' (Rev. 4:8). But they that walk with God shall sit down in the kingdom of God, (Luke 13:29); just as a weary traveler, when he comes home, sits down and rests. 'To him that overcoms will I grant to sit with Me on My throne,' (Rev. 3:21). A throne denotes honour and sitting denotes rest."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thurs., 11/4/10 Devotion (Ps. 129:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 129, v. 2, where we read these words:

"Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me."

Are you a faithful churchman (Christian) today; and have you been around a while (especially, as a believer)? If so, then you know--like I do--the truth of this verse (above), Ps. 129:2. How many times have we been "afflicted" by all kinds of people, but most-notably by hypo-
crites and false brethren? Probably more than any of us would like to remember.

. . . But here is the good news: never once have they succeeded at "prevail[ing] against [us]." Sure, they have made our lives difficult from time-to-time, but they have always failed at gaining their goal: namely, our downfall. Instead of giving ourselves any credit for this, let us glory in Christ, who always preserves His faithful church through His abundant grace and provision.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Look back upon the path you have trod from the day that God brought you out of the womb, and say whether you do not, as it were, see all the road thick set with the marks and memorials of divine goodness." --Philip Doddridge, in, "The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul"]

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wed., 11/3/10 Devotion (Ps. 126:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 126:3, where we read these great words:

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad."

God is so good to His children. He allows us to endure affliction, so as to make us better. Then, He gives us a glimpse of heaven, as we get clearer and clearer soul visions of Jesus--and we are filled with exce-
eding levels of gladness and joy.

Remember: the Lord only has good in store for His genuine church-
men; and He delights to show us His grace, mercy, and joy. Even if we are not "on the top of the world" today, let us thank God for all the good things He has already done for us, in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not repentance, patience, love, pray-
er, or obedience that justifies us, but faith in Christ." --Obadiah Grew, in, "The Lord our Righteousness"]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tues., 11/2/10 Devotion (Ps. 124:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 124:8, where David wrote these words:

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

True churchmen find their help in God alone. No one else can really and fully assist them. No matter where others go for their susten-
ance--the sincere child of God knows that his or her deepest and most profound needs must be met by the Lord (alone).

And this is a very wise and reasonable approach to life. After all: the Lord "made heaven and earth." If He has that much amazing power--surely He can take care of the concerns of His people. Is our help "in the name of the Lord" today?

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is very sinful to give way to vain thoughts at this time [of hearing preaching]; because, when we are hearing the word, we are in God's special presence." --Thomas Wat-
son, in, "The Ten Commandments"]

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mon., 11/1/10 Devotion (Ps. 120:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 120, v. 1, where we read these words:

"In my distress I cried to the LORD, and He heard me."

It is good to both "cry to the Lord," *and* to be "heard" by Him. What we do not typically like is the "distress" that propels and motivates our prayer (in the first place). But this is one of the reasons God allows troubles to enter our lives: so that we *will* call upon Him. If every-
thing was "hunky-dory" for us all the time, we might well have no-
thing to do with the Lord.

Do we have "distresses" today? If so, the best initial reaction is to "call on the Lord." He is near to the brokenhearted; and He is ready to for-
give, heal, strengthen, and to give us cause for rejoicing (again). Let us all look to the Lord today, in and through our faith in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It argues that our heart is chaste and loyal to Christ, when we can look a temptation in the face, and turn our back upon it." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/29-31/10 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! In order to help us get ready for worship services, let us hear from Richard Sibbes, (yes, that's NOT Thomas Watson!), from his great book, "The Bruised Reed":

"What should we learn from this, but to 'come boldly to the throne of grace,' (Heb. 4:16), in all our grievances? Shall our sins discourage us, when Christ appears there only for sinners? Are you bruised? Be of good comfort, He calls you. Conceal not your wounds, open all before Him and take not Satan's counsel. Go to Christ, although trembling, as the poor woman who said, 'If I may but touch His garment,' (Matt. 9:21). We shall be healed and have a gracious answer. Go boldly to God in our flesh; Christ is flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone for this reason, that we might go boldly to Him.

"Never fear to go to God, since we have such a Mediator with Him, who is not only our friend but our brother and husband. Well might the angel proclaim from heaven, 'Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,' (Luke 2:10). Well might the apostle stir us up to 'rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice,' (Php. 4:4). Paul was well advised upon what grounds he did it. Peace and joy are two main fruits of Christ's kingdom. Let the world be as it will, if we cannot rejoice in the world, yet we may rejoice in the Lord. His presence makes any condition comfortable. 'Be not afraid,' says Christ to His disciples, when they were afraid, as if they had seen a ghost, 'It is I,' (Matt. 14:27), as if there were no cause of fear where He was present."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thurs., 10/28/10 Devotion (Ps. 119:86c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:86c, where we read these few words:

" . . . Help me!"

Sometimes the best prayers are the simplest ones. God is not impres-
sed with flowery oratory in prayer. He would rather hear a few syl-
lables of gut-wrenching honesty, than a whole bunch of religious in-

Do we need help today? Let us ask Christ for it. Let's be as specific as we can be, for our own soul's well-being; but let us not for a moment think that the Lord can't figure out what we're trying to say, if we're having a hard time getting the words out. Prayer is important--but it is not a magical genie coming out of a bottle, and God does not hold us to any particular formulas.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is no such thing as any inordinate-
ness in holy affections; there is no such thing as excess in longings after the discoveries of the beauty of Christ Jesus . . . Men may be as covetous as they please (if I may so speak) after spiritual riches . . . " --Jonathan Edwards, in one of his sermons]

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wed., 10/27/10 Devotion (1 Tim. 5:23)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 5:23, where we read these words:

"No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities."

This is a very profound verse (above) for a number of reasons. Con-
sider these: first, Timothy, the beloved "adopted son" of the Apostle Paul, had "frequent infirmities." If Christians are never to be sick, then why didn't Paul simply heal Timothy? The fact is (certainly) that Paul prayed for Timothy; and yet God allowed Timothy to remain hindered by sickness. Secondly, medicine is good, (as wine was used as medicine). And thirdly, wine is good--as God gave it to us, "To make glad the heart of man," (as per Ps. 104:15a).

All this to say, that the Lord is eminently reasonable, and gracious. He has provided His church *all* good things, in Jesus!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do I lack bread? I have Christ, the Bread of Life. Am I under defilement? His blood is like the trees of the sanc-
tuary: not only for meat, but for medicine." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tues., 10/26/10 Devotion (1 Tim. 4:6a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 4:6a, where we read these words:

"If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good min-
ister of Jesus Christ . . . "

Wow--just *what* instruction will make a man "a good minister of Jesus Christ"? The words that preceded: the warning that heretics would come along and preach a "gospel" of self-deprivation; that (rather) "every creature of of God is [actually] good," (v. 4a); and that churchmen are to be thankful for *everything* good that God gives them, and that they are to "sanctify" those things, by prayer (vv. 4b-5).

Why does that teaching make a minister a "good" servant of Christ? Because it points people to the One (Jesus) who is all-good. Also it directs sinners *away* from all false religions, and their specious claims of salvation (based on works, law, or self).

[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 Con-

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mon., 10/25/10 Devotion (2 Ki. 6:33b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 6:33b, where we find these words:

" . . . And then the king [of Israel] said, 'Surely this calamity is from the LORD; why should I wait for the LORD any longer?' "

Many people fail in their religion because of impatience. Here, the king of Israel is right: God sent the trouble with which they were dealing. But he was wrong, in thinking that it was futile to "wait for the LORD any longer." Little did he know that in the very next chapter God would bring about a great and miraculous deliverance.

If we are almost at the end of our ropes today, and we are tempted to give up on God--let us be sure not to do this. The Lord is always faith-
ful to His church; and all alternatives to Christ only lead to much worse disasters (in this world, and in the one to come).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Oh, do not let the devil be your master, nor the world your god. Do not let sin cheat and impose upon you with its false and counterfeit delights." --Timothy Rogers, in, "Trouble of Mind and the Disease of Melancholy"]

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/22-24/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. He is dealing with our chief end of glorifying God here. . . .

"Glorifying God consists in adoration, or worship. Psa. 29:2: 'Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.' There is a twofold worship: (1.) A civil reverence which we give to persons of honour. Gen. 23:7: 'Abraham stood up and bow-
ed himself to the children of Heth.' Piety is no enemy to courtesy. (2.) A divine worship which we give to God as His royal prerogative. Neh. 8:6: 'They bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces towards the ground.'

"This divine worship God is very jealous of; it is the apple of His eye, the pearl of His crown; which He guards, as He did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God Himself has appoint-
ed, else it is offering strange fire, (Lev. 10:1). The Lord would have Moses make the tabernacle, 'according to the pattern in the mount,' (Exod. 25:40). He must not leave out anything in the pattern, nor add to it. If God was so exact and curious about the place of worship, how exact will He be about the matter of His worship! Surely here every-
thing must be according to the pattern prescribed in His word."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thurs., 10/21/10 Devotion (Dan. 6:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from Daniel 6:3a, where we read these words:

"Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and sa-
traps, because an excellent spirit was in him . . . "

Daniel was an extraordinarily-gifted man. He had faith, integrity, in-
telligence, looks, position, honor, and the respect of all his super-
iors. But what is interesting--and we see this as an almost-universal fact--is that his contemporaries both envied him, and sought to bring him down.

When we find these "excellent spirit"-type of churchmen--we should seek to emulate them; and not to destroy them. They are models to us of what we can all be, too. Let us learn to appreciate what God Himself admires; and let us not forget the fate of the enemies of such souls: they--Daniel's accusers--ended up being dinner for a bunch of hungry lions(!)

[Puritan quote of the day: "A true saint thinks he can never speak too well of God or too ill of himself." --Richard Steele, in, "The Character of an Upright Man"]

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wed., 10/20/10 Devotion (Ps. 111:4b, 5b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 111:4b & 5b, where we read these words:

"The LORD is gracious and full of compassion. . . . He will ever be mindful of His covenant."

What a great God believing churchmen serve! He is amazingly merci-
ful; and He is totally committed to His covenant (i.e. keeping His promises to His church, in Christ's blood atonement). The world, our own flesh, and the devil are always seeking to make us think that the Lord is anything *but* "gracious and full of compassion"--but at the end of the day, all the redeemed know this to be true.

Since we have such a wonderful God, let us serve Him with cheerful-
ness and vivacity today. While we live in this world, we have the honor and privilege of overcoming our weaknesses (by faith); and, as we do this, we can lift up the Name of the Lord Jesus before the watching world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Though heaven is God's glorious mansion, yet it will not serve His turn. God does not think that to be enough unless He has a dwelling also in a tender, broken, humble spirit."
--Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Fear"]

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tues., 10/19/10 Devotion (1 Thess. 5:15b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:15b, where we read these words:

" . . . but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all."

I had never really noticed this phrase (above) before. God would have us pursue what is good--this we readily understand; but He would have us to this "both for *ourselves*," as well as "for all." This seems a bit like the "airplane principle": "put your own mask on first, and then put it on the child next to you."

It makes sense: if we are not cognizant of the states of our own hearts, we can be of little good use to the well-being of others. Are we faith-filled churchmen today, trusting in Jesus? If so, then let us pursue what is good--both for ourselves, as well as everybody else.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have heaven while you are on earth when you have a contented spirit; yea, in some regards it is better than heaven." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment"]

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mon., 10/18/10 Devotion (Ps. 107:27b-28)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 107:27b & 28, where we read these words:

" . . . And [when they] are at their wits' end. Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses."

My scripture readings today were rife with examples of people--some faithful and some unfaithful--crying out to God, and being given re-
lief. In Daniel, the three young men are saved from the fire. In 1 Kings, the wicked King Ahab is spared for a while (because he actually humbled himself).

. . . And here (above), in Psalm 107, we see numerous accounts of how merciful God is, when sinners simply yell up to heaven, for help. How true it is, that we fallen creatures have to be brought to our "wits' end" before we look to the Only One (Jesus) who can save us. Let us cry out to God for help today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Jesus Christ never thinks He has fully heal-
ed us, till He has drawn His own beautiful image upon us." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon entitled, "The Soul's Malady and Cure"]

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/15-17/10 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! We get to go to church! Here is Thomas Watson, from his excellent work, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God":

"How we are capable of drawing near to God.

"By nature we stand in opposition to God, (Col. 1:21). We are alien-
ated, and enemies. How then can we approach near to God? Answer: It is through a Mediator. Jesus Christ is the screen between us and divine justice. Christ as our High Priest assumes our flesh. Christ's flesh is called a 'veil,' (Heb. 10:20). As Moses when his face shone so exceedingly bright put a veil upon it, and then Israel might approach near to him and look upon him: so Christ having veiled Himself with our human nature, we may now draw near to God and behold Him.

"And as Christ makes way for us into the Holy of Holies by His incar-
nation, so also by His crucifixion. He died to make God and us friends. The divine law being infringed, God's justice was provoked, and satis-
faction demanded, before we could approach to God in an amicable way. Now here Christ as our Priest shed His blood for our sins, and so made the atonement--Col. 1:20: 'Having made peace through the blood of His cross.' As Joseph being so great at court, made way for all his brothers to draw near into the king's presence, (Gen. 47:2), so Jesus Christ is our Joseph, that makes the way for us by His blood, that we may now come near into God's presence. Through Christ, God is pleased with us; He holds forth the golden scepter, that we may draw near, and touch the top of the scepter."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

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

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

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

Behold (above), the wonderful ministry of Christ in *this* world, through His New Covenant church. From the sanctuary (pulpit) the water of life flows freely, and it causes both fruitfulness and healing for all the nations.

Jesus is the Water of Life, and He is presented in His preached gospel of grace. As souls are regenerated, healed, forgiven, and enlightened, they continue to "bear fruit" as they keep coming back to the sanctu-
ary, from whence the "water flows." Let us be thankful that God has provided such bounty for us, in *this* life.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Submit to Christ willingly. All the devils in hell submit to Christ; but it is against their will; they are His slaves, not His subjects." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wed., 10/13/10 Devotion (Col. 3:12-13a)

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

"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another . . . "

These words (above) pretty well wrap up the "nuts and bolts" of the life of faith. In relation to other human beings, it is all about love, grace, and forgiveness. After all, since the elect churchman has been given these benefits by God Himself, does it not make sense that we would be called upon by our Father in heaven to emulate Him (in showing them to others)?

Is obedience to this text easy? No. Actually, it is impossible (in the flesh). But our salvation was also a miracle. Since God has made His faith-filled churchmen new creatures, we are able, by grace, to do as He says.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As the oil poured on the head of Aaron went down to the skirts of his garments, so the Spirit poured on Christ, the Head, descends to all His members." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Peace which Christ gives His True Followers"]

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tues., 10/12/10 Devotion (Col. 2:23)

Today's encouragement comes from Colossians 2:23, where we read these words:

"These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh."

Paul (here, above) is lambasting human religion, which always thinks that the way to godliness is through self-deprivation. Works-religion is consumed with *doing* things, designed to impress God, so that He will be obligated to save the religionist, and/or to do something good for him (or her). They also believe that somehow this asceticism will subdue the flesh and its desires.

But *no* amount of strident religious activity can do anything to please God. Only Jesus satisfies the Father. *We* are acceptable to God *only* as we are seen by the Father as being *in* Christ, by faith. Let us trust in our Savior today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have an accuser, but you have an Ac-
quitter; you have adversaries, but you have an Advocate." --Richard Alleine, in, "Heaven Opened"]

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mon., 10/11/10 Devotion (Col. 1:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from Colossians 1:13 & 14, where Paul wrote these words to the church:

"He [God] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemp-
tion through His blood, the forgiveness of sins."

Behold the privilege of every sincere churchman. He or she is no long-
er a citizen of the kingdom of darkness (Satan). Rather, now, believ-
ers are the princes and princesses in the kingdom of light (Christ). And we do not need to wait till we die, to get there, either. Instead, this advantage is ours now, as we has been engrafted into Jesus, in His body, the church.

These blessings are immeasurable. If we belong to Christ, our sins are forgiven, our life is atoned for.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now there is more of God in His word than in all His works of creation and providence." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "Gospel Worship"]

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/8-10/10 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! In order to help us get ready for church, here is TW, on God's Mercy, from his wonderful "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"Use one: We are to look upon God in prayer, not in His judgment robes, but clothed with a rainbow full of mercy and clemency. Add wings to prayer. When Jesus Christ ascended up to heaven, that which made Him go up there with joy was, 'I go to My Father'--so that which should make our hearts ascend with joy in prayer, is, 'We are going to the Father of mercy, who sits upon the throne of grace.' Go with con-
fidence in this mercy; as when one goes to a fire, not doubtingly, say-
ing, 'perhaps it will warm me, perhaps not.'

"Use two: Believe in God's mercy. 'I will trust in the mercy of God
forever,' (Psa. 52:8). God's mercy is a fountain opened. Let down the bucket of faith and you may drink of this fountain of salvation. What greater encouragement to believe than God's mercy? God counts it His glory to be scattering pardons; He is desirous that sinners should touch the golden sceptre of His mercy and live."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thurs., 10/7/10 Devotion (Ps. 91:14)

Today's encouragement comes from the great words of Psalm 91:14, where the Lord says this about any person who is His true worshipper:

"Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name."

Behold the advantages that the God-loving churchman possesses. He or she is both delivered, and exalted. This does not mean that God's favorites are exempt from trouble, or suffering; but it does mean that they experience or endure it while being enfolded "under the shadow of the Almighty," (v. 1).

True security is found in Christ alone. We will seek in vain to discover it anywhere else. If we love God, we may be sure that He will "out-
love" us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God can no more converse with an un-
gracious soul than a king can converse with a sow; it is by grace that we keep a constant [communication] with heaven." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wed., 10/6/10 Devotion (Ps. 90:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 90:17, where Moses wrote these words:

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands."

The beauty of the Lord is what will make our church lives irresistibly appealing to all who behold them. When God anoints our souls with His grace, then our labors, borne out of sincere faith in Jesus, matter. What we do will outlast us. This is why Moses, in this psalm, asks the Lord to "establish the work of our hands."

Most people want their names to be perpetuated; but they neglect the only thing that will cause that to actually happen (in the most hon-
orable way)--namely, having Christ's beauty shine through them. By faith, let us walk with Jesus today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God has a greater delight in the sincere worship and love of one poor, obscure Christian than in all that is done throughout the globe by irreligious kings and princes." --Jon-
athan Edwards, in his sermon, "Christians a Chosen Generation"]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tues., 10/5/10 Devotion (Eph. 5:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 5:1 & 2a, where we read these words:

"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in
love . . . "

Paul is telling the Ephesian churchmen--even as he still speaks to the church today--that we are to "imitate" God. The first and clearest way we do this, is by "walking in love." The key to both of these otherwise preposterous commands, is to be found in what sandwiches in be-
tween them: "as dear children."

As the children of God, churchmen will imitate their Heavenly Father, even as natural children imitate their human father. But *how* do we do something that does not come naturally to us (because of our sin)? Through faith in Jesus. The Son of God is the One who connects us, the children of God, to our Heavenly Father. Can we walk in imitative love today? Yes; in Christ our Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Inward grace is wrought by outward means; the preaching of the Word is the engine that God uses to work grace; it is called 'the rod of HIs strength,' (Ps. 110:2)." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mon., 10/4/10 Devotion (Ps. 87:2-3)

Today's encouragement comes from the wonderful words of Psalm 87:2 & 3, which say this:

"The LORD loves the gates of Zion More than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God!"

Why does God love the "gates of Zion," (His church), more than any-
thing else, including the individual "dwellings of Jacob"? Because the Son of God purchased her, for His own, to be His holy bride. And hence we read in Eph. 5:25b, that, "Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her."

Let us love what God loves; and then imitate Him in our families, neighborhoods, workplaces, and our personal and public lives.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Nothing stirs in the world but God has a design in it for the good of His church." --Thomas Watson, in his ser-
mon, entitled, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/1-3/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church!! In order to
get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, in his "A Body of Divinity"
book. . . .


"Answer: It is an act of God's free grace, whereby He pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteous-
ness of Christ, imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

"Justification is the very hinge and pillar of Christianity. An error about justification is dangerous, like a defect in a foundation. Justi-
fication by Christ is a spring of the water of life. To have the poison of corrupt doctrine cast into this spring is damnable. It was a saying of Luther, 'That after his death the doctrine of justification would be corrupted.' In these latter times, the Arminians and Socinians have cast a dead fly into this box of precious ointment.

"I shall endeavour to follow the star of Scripture to light me through this mysterious point.

"What is meant by justification?

"It is 'verbum forense,' a word borrowed from law-courts, wherein a person arraigned is pronounced righteous, and is openly absolved. God, in justifying a person, pronounces him to be righteous, and looks upon him as if he had not sinned.

"What is the source of justification?

"The 'causa,' the inward impellant motive or ground of justification, is the free grace of God: 'Being justified freely by His grace.' Ambrose expounds this, as 'Not of the grace wrought within us, but the free grace of God.' The first wheel that sets all the rest running is the love and favour of God; as a king freely pardons a delinquent. Justification is a merry spun out of the bowels of free grace. God does not justify us because we are worthy, but by justifying us makes us worthy."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thurs., 9/30/10 Devotion (Gal. 6:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 6:10, where we read these words:

"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."

Christians are to do good to all people; but first and foremost to their fellow-churchmen. This makes sense: the family of God must look out for each other first, before anyone else. Why? Partly because our clos-
est heart-contacts are those natural family members who are also in the covenant of the (universal, yet particular) church. After them, our next closest "kin" is the rest of the church. From there, we are to care for people in their right order: other (unbelieving) family members, neighbors, co-workers, et. al.

As we follow this God-ordained pattern, we find our resources of time, talent, and treasure used in ways that please Christ, and for-
ward His kingdom (of His church).

[Puritan quote of the day: "When men are godly, their parts [natural abilities] are not debased by their godliness but raised." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wed., 9/29/10 Devotion (Gal. 5:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 5:1, where we read these great 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."

Every day when we wake up we are faced with an array of forces that are dead-set on robbing us of our joy in Christ. First among them is our own flesh, which continues to desire to have a right standing with God independently of Jesus' blood atonement. On top of this, there is the world of works-religion, which preaches law to us, and insists that we be enslaved by rules (just like they are).

It takes courage, determination, and intentionality *not* to be swept away with the rest of the world, which is in bondage to its own "right-
eousness." Let all faith-redeemed churchmen trust, not in themselves, but in Jesus only. Let us reaffirm our liberty in Christ today, by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The devil is the most sullen spirit there is, and yet the most proud." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tues., 9/28/10 Devotion (2 Sam. 24:14)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 24:14, where we read these words:

"And David said to Gad [the prophet], 'I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.' "

When faced with the options of dealing directly with God, or with man, David chose God. Why? Because he knew the Lord to be gracious and merciful. Also, he knew that man can be cruel and brutal. What an enlightened perspective! Today, most sinners imagine themselves to be good, fair, and even-handed; while they think God is mean and unreasonable.

Actually, the exact opposite is the case. The Lord is good; He is slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindnesses. Sinners, on the other hand, are vicious and unjust. Let us today--like David--cast ourselves on *God's* mercy, trusting in Jesus, and not in man.

[Puritan quote of the day: "That sin is worse than affliction is evident because the greatest judgment God lays upon a man in this life is to let him sin without control." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mon., 9/27/10 Devotion (Ps. 78:38a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 78:38a, where we read these words:

"But He [God], being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity . . . "

What beautiful words these are, (above). The fact that a Holy God forgives sins is amazing in itself. The *way* He does it is even more astounding: through the shedding of His own Son's blood. This for-
giveness is imputed to the souls of sinners by the grace of faith (and nothing else).

If these truths cannot move us, then nothing can. Psalm 78 details the persistent unfaithfulness of the Lord's own covenant people--and yet He (God) was "full of compassion" toward them, and "forgave their iniquity." Are we members of Christ's church today, by grace through faith? If so, this unspeakable blessing is ours, too.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sound repentance begins in the love of God and ends in the hatred of sin." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/24-26/10 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, in his, "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"Why must we glorify God?

"Because He gives us our being, Psa. 100:3: 'It is He that made us.' We think it a great kindness in a man to spare our life, but what kindness is it in God to give us our life! We draw our breath from Him; and as life, so all the comforts of life are from Him. He gives us health, which is the sauce to sweeten our life; and food, which is the oil that nourishes the lamp of life. If all we receive is from His bounty, is it not reasonable we should glorify Him? Should we not live to Him, see-
ing we live by Him? Rom. 11:36: 'For of Him, and through Him, are all things.' All we have is of His fulness; all we have is through His free grace; and therefore to Him should be all. It follows, therefore, 'To Him be glory for ever.' God is not our Benefactor only, but our Founder, as rivers that come from the sea empty their silver streams into the sea again."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thurs., 9/23/10 Devotion (2 Cor. 12:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 12:8, where we read these words:

"Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me."

Paul is referring (above) to his famous (and never-fully-defined) "thorn in the flesh." All regenerate churchmen have a "thorn in the flesh." Think with me about our most difficult and persistent "heart-struggle"--the situation that we have to face everyday, and which we wish would just "go away." This is our "thorn in the flesh." Is it wrong for us to desire to be released from this hardship? No. Paul prayed three times that it might "depart from" him.

But a Sovereign God gives us these "thorns" for our good. If we could see things as the Lord does, we would actually *thank* Him that we have these problems. By faith, we may do that anyway--recognizing with Paul that God's grace is "sufficient" for us, in Christ, (cf. v. 9).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The object of divine love is God. God is good, and good is amiable. God is all good; and there is none good but one, and that is God." --Richard Alleine, in, "Heaven Opened"]

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wed., 9/22/10 Devotion (2 Sam. 18:9b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 18:9b, where we read these words:

" . . . so he [Absalom] was left hanging between heaven and earth."

When our Lord Jesus Christ was on the cross, bearing the sins of all the elect from all time, He hung, as it were, "between heaven and earth." He bridged the infinite gap between a holy God and sinful men. The regenerate churchman, who struggles through the process of sanctification, also, in a sense, is suspended "between heaven and earth." His old flesh nature (earth), is at war with his new nature (heaven).

Where are the eyes of our hearts focused, today? If they are on earth, we will naturally gravitate there. If they are in heaven, we will, by grace, soar there (in our souls).

[Puritan quote of the day: "In His last sufferings, Christ sapped the very foundations of Satan's kingdom. He conquered His enemies in their own territories, and beat them with their own weapons, as David cut off Goliath's head with his own sword." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Excellency of Christ"]

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tues., 9/21/10 Devotion (Ps. 72:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 72:17, where we read these words:

"His [Christ's] name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; all nations shall call Him blessed."

Sometimes, when we see pictures of international terrorists, we might notice in the background maps of the world. This should remind us that the devil hopes to take over the entire globe, employing these, his minions. But this will never happen. Verses such as Ps. 72:17 (above) assure us that Jesus Christ and His church--and no one or nothing else--will indeed prevail.

Let us bless God for this precious truth; and then let us live by even more hearty faith (than before). This faith will manifest itself in the church's worship, love, service, and evangelism.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church of Christ, notwithstanding her imperfections, is in a safer state than Adam was in innocence." --Na-
thaniel Vincent, in, "A Discourse concerning Love"]

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mon., 9/20/10 Devotion (Ps. 71:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 71:14, which says this:

"But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more."

The psalmist, likely David, had just been enunciating to God in prayer the trials and woes he had been experiencing, at the hands of wicked men. But his response to this trouble is not retreat or despair--instead he "ratches-up" his hope and praise. This is a good model of how we are to handle our difficulties. Does Satan throw some garbage our way? Let us redouble our commitment to Christ.

Instead of collapsing under our burdens, we may grow stronger from bearing them; and then, leave them at Jesus' feet.

[Puritan quote of the day: "And so to come into God's presence is the greatest joy for a godly man in this life, to come into God's presence in His ordinances in His Church." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/17-19/10 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is *almost* here! We GET to go to church! Here is an amazing quote from Martin Luther, in his remarkable book, entitled, "Commentary on Galatians," (an all-time favorite book of mine)! . . .

"To be brief, all the enemies which did before torment and oppress me, Christ Jesus has brought to nothing: He has spoiled them, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them by His cross (Col. 2:15), in such sort that they can now rule and reign no more over me, but are constrained to obey me.

"By this we may plainly see that there is nothing here for us to do, only it belongs to us, to hear that these things have been wrought and done in this sort, and by faith to apprehend the same. Now when I have thus apprehended Christ by faith, and through Him am dead to the law, then I do good works, I love God, I give thanks to Him, I exercise charity towards my neighbors. But this charity or works fol-
lowing, do neither form nor adorn my faith, but my faith forms and adorns charity. This is our divinity [doctrine], which seems strange and marvelous, or rather, foolish to carnal reason: namely, that I am not only blind and deaf to the law, yea, delivered and freed from the law, but also wholly dead unto the same."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thurs., 9/16/10 Devotion (2 Cor. 5:17)

Today's encouragement comes from the familiar and lovely words of 2 Corinthians 5:17, which say this:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

Newness is a good thing. For the believing churchman, all past sins are forgiven--covered by the blood of Jesus; and the present and the future is brighter (than the past). People outside of Jesus also want "newness," and seek it all the time. But they remain in their "ancient" sins: the sin they shared in Adam; and the sins they have committed along the paths of their lives.

Christians may need to suffer more than most people; but we also have a surpassing glory that more than compensates for it: and that is our blessed life in Jesus. Love Him today; and enjoy Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Happiness and rest are what all men pur-
sue. But the things of the world, wherein most men seek it, can never afford it. They are laboring and spending themselves in vain." --Jon-
athan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "The Peace which Christ
Gives . . . "]

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wed., 9/15/10 Devotion (2 Cor. 4:1)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 4:1, where we read these words:

"Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart."

This chapter (2 Cor. 4), is amazing. Any believer that has been through really hard times can gain great comfort and strength from it. Here, in v. 1, Paul edifies himself with the reminder of what God had done in him (in the past), with an encouraging assurance of what He will continue to do through him (in the future).

If we have "received mercy" from God, in the blood atonement of Jesus--received by grace through faith alone, plus nothing--THEN, but only then, we have no reason to "lose heart." If the Lord has been *that* good to us, then why should we imagine that He will come up short on any other need or issue that we will face, (cf. Rom. 8:32)? Let us trust Christ today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not so much the sins we have commit-
ted that so provoke and grieve Christ as that we refuse the [medicine] of repentance which He prescribes." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doc-
trine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tues., 9/14/10 Devotion (2 Cor. 3:6a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 3:6a, where we read these words:

" . . . [God] also made us sufficient as ministers of the new cove-
nant . . . "

As I read these words this morning, it dawned on me that the New Covenant church ministers look a lot different from the Old Covenant ministers. In the old order, only Hebrews could minister at the altar, and these were from one tribe (Levi). In the new order, God calls His ministers from all kinds of people groups, ethnicities, and races.

How can we ordinary people be made "sufficient as ministers of the new covenant"? Only by the grace of God. The same grace that saves us, is the grace that sustains us. May all of Christ's church--clergy and laity--be filled with the joy of ministering life in Jesus today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As God has two places He dwells in, heav-
en and a humble heart, so the devil has two places he dwells in, hell and a hard heart." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repent-

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mon., 9/13/10 Devotion (2 Sam. 8:6b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 8:6b, where we read these words:

" . . . The LORD preserved David wherever he went."

This phrase is repeated, in 2 Sam. 8:14b. They are encouraging words, especially since David was involved in warfare, and the taking of land, etc. When we are engaged in difficult and dangerous activity, it is always a great comfort to know that "The Lord preserves" us, His churchmen.

Therefore, let us act with boldness and courage this day--recognizing that the God of heaven sustains, protects, and provides for us. May our hearts be strengthened by the grace of Christ, and may our faith in Him buoy us up, even against the strongest foes we may have to face today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the riches of the world, or the honors and pleasure of it, all the learning, the power, and the policy of the world, all the worldly titles and distinctions cannot make the sinful creature happy or do him any good." --Jonathan Edwards, in his ser-
mon, "Christ is the Christian's All"]

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/10-12/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Di-
vine Cordial" book:

"Afflictions work for good, as they are the means of making us happy. 'Happy is the man whom God corrects,' (Job 5:17). What politician or moralist ever placed happiness in the cross? Job does. 'Happy is the man whom God corrects.' It may be said, 'How do afflictions make us happy?' We reply that, being sanctified, they bring us nearer to God.

"The moon in the full is furthest off from the sun: so are many further off from God in the full moon of prosperity; afflictions bring them nearer to God. The magnet of mercy does not draw us so near to God as the cords of affliction. When Absalom set Joab's corn on fire, then he came running to Absalom, (2 Sam. 14:30). When God sets our worldly comforts on fire, then we run to Him, and make our peace with Him. When the prodigal was pinched with want, then he return-
ed home to his father, (Luke 15:13). When the dove could not find any rest for the sole of her foot, then she flew to the ark. When God brings a deluge of affliction upon us, then we fly to the ark of Christ. Thus affliction makes us happy, in bringing us nearer to God. Faith can make use of the waters of affliction, to swim faster to Christ."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thurs., 9/9/10 Devotion (1 Cor. 14:40)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 14:40, where we read these words:

"Let all things be done decently and in order."

Paul ends the 14th chapter of 1 Corinthians with these words (above). Earlier, he had given specific instructions about Sunday church worship in the congregation (in Corinth). Though much of that detail is now abrogated, in that God's full written revelation is completed--all of it was to be done, "decently and in order."

The Lord is in no way a "kill-joy"; and His insistence on dignity and decorum in His worship is not designed to dishearten us. Instead, the exact opposite is true. God provides structure and order, so that in the church--particularly in Sunday worship--we have a practical "anchor," since we have to deal with a disordered and insane world (the rest of the week).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Flesh and blood may have its fears and disquiets, but grace checks them." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wed., 9/8/10 Devotion (Ps. 50:6b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 50:6b, where we read these words:

" . . . For God Himself is Judge."

God has commanded His churchmen--particularly, the officers in the church--to make all kinds of judgments. Sometimes we are to judge those in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 6:5); and one day the saints will actually judge the angels (1 Cor. 6:3). Of course, all God's people judge behavior and action--even as the reprobate do (though the saints judge sin to be wrong, while the ungodly judge it to be
right). . . .

But, at the end of the day, there is only One Supreme Judge, and that is God Himself, (as per Ps. 50:6b). Only He may judge the eternal state of any person. None of us know where any departed soul ever went--heaven or hell--(with the singular exception of Judas). Let us be thankful that God is a Just Judge, who forgives those who believe in Jesus' blood atonement as their only hope for salvation.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let not ministers be either shaken with fear or seduced with flattery." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tues., 9/7/10 Devotion (Ps. 49:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 49:5, where we read these words:

"Why should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity at my heels surrounds me?"

The psalmist asks a good question here (above). Is fear the proper response to "days of evil"? Is cowering what God requires of His churchmen when "iniquity" "surrounds" them? Indeed, no. Instead, faith and resulting faithfulness is the be employed. Faith in Christ says, " 'The days of evil' will not intimidate me, or overwhelm me."

Let's face it: these are not great days, in many ways; and yet Christ's church is still expanding, and the gospel is going out. No matter whether things look promising, or foreboding--let all the faithful church glory in Jesus today, and trust in our Sovereign God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The true God perfectly knows the circum-
stances of everyone who prays to Him throughout the world." --Jon-
athan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Most High a Prayer-Hearing God"]

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/27-29/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! Here is TW, on God's Mercy, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book:

"Mercy coming to us in a covenant is sweetest. It was mercy that God would give Israel rain, and bread to the full, and peace, and victory over their enemies, (Lev 26:4-6)--but it was a greater mercy that God would be their God, (v. 12). To have health is a mercy, but to have Christ and salvation is a greater mercy. It is like the diamond in the ring, which casts a more sparkling lustre. . . .

"All the mercy in the creature is derived from God, and is but a drop of this ocean. The mercy and pity a mother has to her child is from God. God is called, 'The Father of mercies,' because He begets all the mercies in the world, (2 Cor 1:3). If God has put any kindness into the creature, how much kindness is in Him who is the Father of mercy!

"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.' "

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thurs., 8/26/10 Devotion (Ps. 34:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 34:4, where we read these words:

"I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."

It is a lovely blessing to be delivered from fears. Fears are like mos-
quitoes--once you have driven them out, there are more that show up. It is not shameful to have fears. But only faith-filled churchmen can be truly "delivered" from them. And how? By exercising faith, in seek-
ing (or calling on) the Lord.

Here is a good prayer: "Father, I do not trust myself. Today, I am en-
tirely dependent upon Christ. I place my faith in Him, not in myself or anyone else. Give me victory over all my fears and foes--in Jesus." What happened to David (above), is our right too, as children of God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The hypocrite takes more care to make a covenant than to keep it, and is more studious to enter into religion than that religion should enter into him." --Thomas Watson, in his ser-
mon, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wed., 8/25/10 Devotion (Rom. 15:13)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 15:13, where we read these words:

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

This sweet verse (above) ought to encourage all of us, today. Note that it is "in believing" that we receive the blessings of joy and peace from the "God of hope." It is not in doing, trying, or striving that we benefit from these heavenly things--but rather in "believing."

Let all of us who have put our faith in Jesus, and who are joined to Him in His church "abound in hope." We are the only ones who have a reason to have hope at all; and we are to flourish in it. Hope in Christ will never disappoint. Let us trust in Him this day.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you would regain a comfortable assur-
ance of God's love, keep a holy and conscientious care to live in grace throughout the course of your lives." --Christopher Love, in, "The De-
jected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tues., 8/24/10 Devotion (Ps. 32:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 32:1, where we read these words:

"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."

If sins are covered--and they can only be atoned for by apprehending the benefits of Christ's sacrifice of Himself on the cross, by faith--then a person is truly blessed. If a soul lives in unforgiveness before God, that soul can in no way be truly happy, or at peace.

Forgiven people are not perfect people--they continue to sin, while they live here. But the guilt of their trespasses is forever removed, and their iniquity is not "imputed" to them, (see v. 2). Instead, Christ's perfect righteousness is imputed to them. Who are these blessed people? Believing churchmen--who do not trust in themselves, but in Jesus alone.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We then, who are Christians, having made a vow to Christ in baptism, and so often renewed it in the blessed sacrament [of the Lord's Supper], should, with much contentment, choose rather to suffer than violate our sacred oath." --Thomas Wat-
son, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mon., 8/23/10 Devotion (Rom. 13:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 13:14, where we read these words:

"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."

How do we "put on the Lord Jesus Christ"? It is an intentional act of a regenerated will, that, by faith, covers one's soul with Jesus and His righteousness--much like a person would put on an overcoat. When we "put on Jesus," we are, of necessity, also "taking off" everything that is in opposition to Him, viz. known sin.

The "flesh" will always be with us in this world. The way to "disable" it, is not by trying to take it on, one-on-one. We are no match for it. Instead, we pit our Savior against it. The flesh has no power against the Son of God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Therefore, now go to Jesus, the Supreme Head of the church and Bishop of souls. . . . He ever lives to provide for His church, and to guide and feed HIs flock." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Sorrows of the Bereaved Spread before Jesus"]

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/20-22/10 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sun-day! Here is TW, on the subject of God's knowledge of all things, (from "A Body of Divinity"):

"God's knowledge is infallible; there is no mistake in His knowledge. Human knowledge is subject to error. A physician may mistake the cause of a disease; but God's knowledge is unerring; He can neither deceive, nor be deceived. He cannot deceive, because He is truth, nor be deceived, because He is wisdom. God's knowledge is instantaneous. Our knowledge is successive, one thing after another. We argue from the effect to the cause. God knows things past, present, and to come, 'uno intuito,' at once; they are all before Him in one entire prospect.

"God's knowledge is retentive; He never loses any of His knowledge. He has 'reminiscentia,' as well as 'intelligentia'; He remembers as well as understands. Many things elapse out of our minds, but God's know-
ledge is eternized. Things transacted a thousand years ago, are as fresh to Him as if they were done but the last minute. Thus He is per-
fect in knowledge."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thurs., 8/19/10 Devotion (Rom. 9:20)

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

"But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' "

Though God would have His own sincere churchmen be very gut-wrenchingly candid with Him, and tell Him everything in their hearts, and lay everything bare before Him--the Lord does *not* entertain complaints about *why* He has made people in one way or another.

Even when it comes to His sovereign election, (which is the immedi-
ate context of Rom. 9:20), we are not allowed to "reply against God." Of course, no one cares whether they please God, or not, until they are regenerated (born again). Therefore, it is especially ill-suited for God's redeemed people to quarrel with the Lord, as to why He elects some, and not others.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Without Christ's Spirit the soul is in con-
fusion, without beauty and form . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]