Friday, February 26, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/26-28/10 Devotion

Hooray--it's almost Sunday! Here are great words from the esteemed Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Ten Commandments":

"Faith in Christ is acceptable to God because it is a self-denying grace; it makes a man go out of himself, renounce all self-righteousness, and wholly rely on Christ for justification. It is very humble, it confesses its own indigence [poverty], and lives wholly upon Christ. As the bee sucks sweetness from the flower, so faith sucks all its strength and comfort from Christ.

"Faith is a grace acceptable to God, because by faith we present a righteousness to Him which best pleases Him; we bring the righteous-
ness of Christ into court, which is called the righteousness of God,
(2 Cor. 5:21). To bring Christ's righteousness, is to bring Benjamin with us. A believer may say, 'Lord, it is not the righteousness of Adam, or of the angels, but of Christ who is God-Man, that I bring before You.' The Lord cannot but smell a sweet savour in Christ's righteousness."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thurs., 2/25/10 Devotion (Lk. 11:53-54)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 11:53 & 54, where we read these words:

"And as [Jesus] said these things to them, the scribes and the Phari-
sees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in some-
thing He might say, that they might accuse Him."

Jesus Christ's enemies had this nasty habit of trying to ensnare the Messiah in His words. They would pick them apart and twist them, in order to seek to achieve their desired ends. But this never hindered the Savior from propagating His gospel--with even renewed clarity and vigor. (This is evidenced by what we read in the next verses, in Luke's account.)

The same should hold for all faithful churchmen today--be they of the clergy, or the laity. Let us honor our Lord by "speaking [His] truth, in love," (as per Eph. 4:15a); and let us not be deterred by even-very-determined opposition.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God descends down unto us from election to calling, and so to sanctification . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wed., 2/24/10 Devotion (Lk. 10:3, 19)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 10:3 & 19, which finds the Lord Jesus saying these words to His seventy (or more) disciples/min-

"Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. . . . Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you." (ESV)

This is the way it is with God. He operates much differently than we would. Jesus sends His ministers (and subsequently all His churchmen) out, as lambs amid wolves. At the very *same* time, and in the *same* context, He gives them this amazing power and authority over the enemy (Satan), and all his comrades.

God does this, so that we will know that the might, the victory, and the glory are all His, and not of our own making. This ought to make us both humble and grateful, at the same time.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Fulfill your course with joy; for we take nothing to the grave with us, but a good or evil conscience." --Samuel Rutherford, from, "Letters of Samuel Rutherford"]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tues., 2/23/10 Devotion (Ex. 6:9)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 6:9, which says this:

"Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel; but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery." (ESV)

There is a sense in which a broken spirit and very difficult life circum-
stances make listening to the ministers of God quite hard to do. And yet, the very desired deliverance from these troubles is dependent upon the hearing of the gospel of grace. In the case of Moses, he per-
severed, and eventually won the ears and hearts of the people; but it did not come "automatically."

May we be patient with those who are especially-burdened with heavy cares and concerns. Love demands that we continue to speak to them. Compassion calls for our going the extra mile with them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Suffer we must. Before we were born, God decreed it; and it is easier to complain of His decree than to change it." --Samuel Rutherford, in "Letters of Samuel Rutherford"]

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mon., 2/22/10 Devotion (Ex. 5:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 5:2, which says this:

"But Pharaoh said, 'Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.' " (ESV)

At least Pharaoh is honest; which is to say more of him than of many people, who claim to "Know the Lord." "Knowing the Lord," in the Bible, is practically analogous to obeying His voice. It is interesting that, in the very next verse, Moses' evangelism of Pharaoh has prac-
tically nothing to do with Pharaoh's misapprehensions about God; and everything to do with God's word to His church.

Let us be among those who really do "Know the Lord"; and may this be manifested to all by our faithful walk with Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The fall [of Adam, in the garden] is the occasion of Christ's becoming the head of the church, His body. And believers have become His brethren and spouse in a manner that otherwise would not have been." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "The Wisdom of God"]

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/19-21/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday. We *get* to go to church! Here's Thomas Watson, from his, "The Ten Commandments" book:

"How does it appear that children have a right to baptism?

"Children are parties in the covenant of grace. The covenant was made with them. 'I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and your seed after you, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto you, and to your seed after you,' (Gen. 17:7). 'The promise is to you and to your children,' (Acts 2:39). The covenant of grace may be considered either, (1) More strictly, as an absolute promise to give saving grace; and so none but the elect are in covenant with God. Or, (2) More largely, as a covenant containing in it many outward glorious privileges, in which respects the children of believers do belong to the covenant of grace.

"The promise is to you and to your seed. The infant seed of believers may as well lay a claim to the covenant of grace as their parents; and having a right to the covenant, they cannot justly be denied baptism, which is its seal. It is certain the children of believers were once visibly in covenant with God, and received the seal of their admission into the church; where now do we find this covenant interest, or church membership of infants, repealed or made void? Certainly Jesus Christ did not come to put believers and their children into a worse condition than they were in before. If the children of believers should not be baptised, they are in worse condition now than they were in before Christ's coming."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thurs., 2/18/10 Devotion (1 Cor. 5:12-13)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 5:12 & 13, which says this:

"For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. 'Purge the evil person from among you.' " (ESV)

Church discipline is a good thing. It shows love for God, for the flock of the church, and even for the offender. Church discipline is almost never easy; but, when done rightly, it always brings good benefits.

God makes a distinction between those inside, and outside, the church, (note also vv. 9-11 of this chapter of 1 Cor. 5). Those "outside," God judges; those "inside," the elders are to judge.

Thank God if He has been kind enough to put you in a faithful local church; and never take your privileges as a member of Christ for granted.

[Puritan quote of the day: "This fear, this grace of fear, this son-like fear of God, flows from the distinguishing love of God toward His elect." --John Bunyan, in, "The Fear of God"]

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wed., 2/17/10 Devotion (Gen. 50:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 50:20, which finds Joseph saying this, to his brothers:

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (ESV)

What trials or afflictions has God brought our ways lately? Have we ever considered that perhaps, without them, we would lose our souls? None of this is meant to diminish the fact that actual evil is perpetrat-
ed on the godly church, by wicked men. But it puts it all into perspec-
tive, in light of a the love and government of a Sovereign God.

Does this mean that we are to necessarily "enjoy" our tribulations, any more than Joseph did all his time in prison, etc.? No. But it does mean that we are able to see, by faith, that without these troubles we would end up in hell; and we would never become like Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now Christians know that they are in their warfare, they are here in this world fighting and combating with the enemies of their souls and their eternal welfare, and they must be willing to endure hardness here." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment"]

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tues., 2/16/10 Devotion (1 Cor. 3:17a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 3:17a, where we read these words:

"If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. . . . "

These Holy Spirit-inspired words of the Apostle Paul (above) are very
strong. The same Greek word is used here for "defiles" and "destroy." The "temple of God" in the New Covenant age is comprehended under two related heads: the church corporately, and the particular mem-
bers therein individually.

The same point holds: if someone seeks to destroy (or ruin, or mar) the church, he will be destroyed by God; if someone seeks to harm one of the lambs in the church fold, he will be destroyed by God. This is a very dire warning; but it is also a comfort for all of the children of God (since the Lord treasures us so much to protect us to the utter-

[Puritan quote of the day: "Peace rises out of quietness and order; and God, who is 'the God of peace,' is the 'God of order' first, (1 Cor. 14:33)." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Monday, February 15, 2010

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

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 2:9, where we read these words:

"But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have enter-
ed into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.' "

Paul (above) is quoting Isa. 64:4 and other OT texts. In the very next verse (1 Cor. 2:10) the apostle states that God *has* (past tense) re-
vealed these great blessings to the church, "through the Spirit." This is neat, because we do not have to wait for heaven in order to enjoy all of God's *best* things. In fact, if we do not taste heaven *now*, in Christ, we will never be part of it later (in full glory).

What has God "prepared for [you]"--churchmen who "love Him," by grace? Everything great; and many things about which you could never have imagined. Take pleasure in the Lord today; and anticipate His continued blessings of you, in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us look upon our nature, as it is in Christ, in Whom it is pure, sweet, calm, meek, [and] every way lovely." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/12-14/10 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! I've been reading my second favorite Purit-
an pastor of all time (Richard Sibbes). Here is some solid Puritan gold, from his, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself" book. I hope this helps you get ready for church on the Lord's Day (coming). . . .

"It is good to have in our eye the beauty of a well-ordered soul; and we should think that nothing in this world is of sufficient worth to put us out of frame. . . . Our spirits, being of a heavenly breed, should rule other things beneath them, and not be ruled by them. It is a holy state of soul to be under the power of nothing beneath itself. Are we stirred? Then consider: is this matter worth the loss of my peace? What we esteem, that we love; what we love, we labor for; and therefore let us esteem highly of a clear, calm temper, whereby we both enjoy our God and ourselves, and know how to rank all other things. It is against nature for inferior things to rule that which the wise Disposer [God] of all things has set above them. We owe the flesh neither honor nor service; we are no debtors to it."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thurs., 2/11/10 Devotion (Job 10:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Job 10:12, where Job says this about God:

"You have granted me life and steadfast love, and Your care has pre-
served my spirit." (ESV)

Sometimes we feel like "throwing in the towel," and quitting the race of faith. Our infirmities, but especially our lack of faith, fuels this devilish notion. God "preserves the spirit" of His saints; and does not allow them to become so overcome, that they cannot continue the fight of faith.

May God's fresh supplies of grace, by His Spirit, enliven and revive the church (and every soul in it), today!

[Puritan quote of the day: "A Christian should consider, 'That murmur-
ing and discontentedness is below the high dignity which God has put upon him.' . . . The meanest [lowest] Christian in the world is a lord of heaven and earth." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment"]

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wed., 2/10/10 Devotion (Job 9:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Job 9:1 & 2, which says this:

"Then Job answered and said: 'Truly I know it is so, but how can a man be righteous before God?' "

Job's question here (above) is very important. After all, just *how* can a human being, conceived in original sin, actually "be righteous before God"? This is a big problem, since God Himself is totally righteous and holy, and nothing short of absolute sinless perfection will, can, or should satisfy Him.

Nothing we could ever do would give us this righteousness before God. No amount of religion, prayers, or effort will or could suffice. A sinful person gets righteous before God when he/she realizes that Jesus alone is his/her righteousness. Christ is apprehended by faith. There-
fore, a person is "righteous before God" through faith in the Redeem-
er, and in no other way. (There is your answer, Job!)

[Puritan quote of the day: "A Christian may come to lead a comfort-
able life, even a heaven upon earth, be the times what they will: by Christian contentment." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Con-

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tues., 2/9/10 Devotion (Mk. 12:34a)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 12:34a, where we read these words:

"Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to [the scribe], 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.' "

I wonder how many people we will speak with today are "not far from the kingdom of God." The Holy Spirit starts a work in souls, often
long before they are regenerated. Let all churchmen recognize this fact, and act in accord with it. In other words, some people with whom we are doing evangelism--though they are not "in" the kingdom of God yet--may not be far from it.

Clearly, proximity to the kingdom has something to do with doctrinal understanding. But it must also have something to do with human love and patience. Let us be those who encourage others who are "not far" away; and not be those who discourage them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Grace is necessary for a Christian; others things are but inconveniences." --Christopher Love, in his sermon, "Uses of Instruction and Trial"]

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mon., 2/8/10 Devotion (Gen. 41:42)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 41:42, where we read these words:

"Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph's hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck."

Jacob, Joseph's father, had put a beautiful robe on his favored son (Joseph). Potiphar's wife, seeking to set Joseph up, had kept his gar-
ment as alleged evidence of wrongdoing. In prison, Joseph wore clothing unworthy of the pharaoh's audience. But now, the king of Egypt puts royal attire on Joseph.

So it is for all of God's churchmen, in this life. The Lord's good inten-
tion to crown them is always there. But they have to learn the hard lessons of sin, repentance, and perseverance, before experiencing the resurrected life, as regal children. (In other words, the cross precedes the resurrection.)

[Puritan quote of the day: "Men void of grace are dead; they have breath, yet lack life. They are walking ghosts, (Eph. 2:1)." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/5-7/10 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here. All Christians *get* to go to church! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Plea for the Godly" book:

"A righteous man serves God out of a principle of love. Grace now biases the heart and carries it strongly towards God in ardent affec-
tion. A righteous man serving God is not by constraint but consent. It is heaven to him to serve God! He mounts up in the fiery chariot of love and breathes forth his soul into his Savior's bosom. Love is the 'shibboleth' that differentiates a righteous man from others. The carnal man says, 'What a weariness is it to serve the Lord!,' (Malachi 1:13). The righteous man says, 'What a pleasure is it!' 'I delight in the law of God in the inner man,' (Romans 7:22).

"As the bee delights to suck the flower, so a holy person delights to obey God. He does duty out of love to duty; he prays out of love to prayer. When he sings, he makes melody in his heart to the Lord. Love lines the yoke of religion and makes it easy. As a bride delights in putting on her jewels, as a musician delights in playing on his violin, so a gracious soul delights in obeying God. Love to duty is better than duty; serving God with delight is angelic. The seraphims are described as having wings, (Isaiah 6:2), to show their cheerfulness as well as their ability in God's service."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thurs., 2/4/10 Devotion (Gen. 37:31)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 37:31, where we read these words:

"So they [Joseph's brothers] took Joseph's tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood."

Joseph's "coat of many colors" was impressive in itself; but once it had been "defiled" by blood, it became an emblem of something much greater: the atonement of sinners, wrought by the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. Like Joseph's brothers, in our fallen states, we hate the One (Christ) who is uniquely endowed with God's favor; and we willingly put Him (Jesus) on the cross.

But the very blood we shed became for us, the church, the only means of our justification, or right standing with God. Now, the "Lamb of God," Christ, is our highest love, and the Object of our worship and
praise. Only God could effect such a remarkable transformation!

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a sin to dwell on sin and turmoil our thoughts about it, when we are called to thankfulness." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wed., 2/3/10 Devotion (Mk. 6:34)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 6:34, where we read these words:

"And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things."

This text (above) is very instructive, because in it we see what com-
passionate "shepherds" do. Instead of psychoanalyzing people, good church shepherds follow the lead of the church's Chief Shepherd (Jesus), and they *teach* people. Why is this the key to shepherding? Because good instruction, in the context of the church, leads to good order in the lives of people.

When these folks left the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ that day,
they went home with a perspective and an understanding that they had lacked, before they found Him. Now, their lives would never be the same, since they had been perfectly "shepherded" by the Lamb of God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that is at peace in himself, will be peaceable to others, peaceable in his family, peaceable in the church,
peaceable in the state." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tues., 2/2/10 Devotion (Rom. 5:2)

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

" . . . through whom [Jesus Christ] also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

Verse 2 of Romans, ch. 5 often gets overshadowed by the amazing
v. 1. But here (above) we learn that churchmen have continuous access (by faith) to the very same grace that delivered us from sin (in the first place). In other words, through Jesus, and through faith in Him, believers get to *experience* afresh and anew what is already (and always) true of them: namely, that they are justified by faith, that they have peace with God (all from v. 1); and that they stand, and rejoice in their sure hope of glory.

What more could anyone want? Nothing that the world offers us can compare to this. Only our ignorance, flesh, and sin can "clog" this remarkable "pipeline" of happiness. May all the church enjoy her Savior and His blessings today--by faith!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Therefore what we are afraid to do before men, we should be afraid to think before God." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mon., 2/1/10 Devotion (Rom. 4:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 4:5, where we read these words:

"But to him who does not work but believes on Him [Christ] who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness . . . "

Romans, ch. 4, is undoubtedly one of the clearest accounts of the gospel of grace. Paul is saying here (above) that those who continue to insist on working for (or earning) their salvation will never receive it at all, no matter how much effort they put into their project. But those who, instead of working, *believe* in Christ, *do* receive justification, as Jesus' righteousness gets imputed to their account, and into their souls.

This message is impossible for unregenerate people to accept. It grates against their desire to get some "credit" for their (alleged) right standing with God. But the Lord rejects works-righteousness, and hates it. Wouldn't you, if you had sent your one and only Son to the earth, and sinners thought they could add something to His work?

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that is little in his own eyes will not be troubled to be little in the eyes of others." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]