Friday, April 30, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/30-5/2/10 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday!! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. Pastor Watson is addressing Christ's incarnation (below). . . .

"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. Augustine wrote, '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 as-
suming our human nature was a masterpiece of wisdom, so it was a monument of free grace.

"Christ took our flesh upon Him, that He might take our sins upon Him. . . . He took our flesh that He might take our sins, and so ap-
pease God's wrath.

"Christ took our flesh that He might make the human nature appear lovely to God, and the divine nature appear lovely to man."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thurs., 4/29/10 Devotion (Heb. 4:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 4:14, where we read these words:

"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession."

One way I see this verse is like this: Jesus has ascended into heaven. We, His church, are tied to Him. Where He goes, we go. The author of Hebrews is saying here, as he does elsewhere, that the sincerity of our faith will be manifested in and by our "holding fast our confes-sion," (and our not giving up, or shipwrecking our souls).

Therefore, simply *because* Christ has gone into heaven, and is per-
manently seated at the Father's right hand, the church is to continue confessing the true faith--and by doing so, we have the assurance that we are in Jesus (and that we are not deluded).

[Puritan quote of the day: "We must look to our place wherein God has set us. If we be in subjection to others, their authority in doubtful things ought to [have] sway with us." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wed., 4/28/10 Devotion (Heb. 3:1-2)

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

"Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house."

Remaining faithful over the long haul is not an easy thing to do. Most people that venture off on their Christian journeys, eventually end up giving up the fight. The key to faithfulness is never found within us--but always and only in the Object of the true churchman's love and devotion: the Lord Jesus Christ.

This was why Moses was able to persevere to the end--because he never lost sight of Christ. Is Jesus our "Apostle," the One who fulfilled the mission of redemption? Is He our "High Priest," the One whose atonement cleanses us? If so, then we will, by grace, remain faithful. But this is all of God's sovereign doing. He gets the glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The remembrance of past goodness is very helpful for present encouragement. This rule David followed in Ps. 42:6: 'O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore will I remember Thee from the land of Jordan.' " --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tues., 4/27/10 Devotion (Heb. 2:11)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 2:11, where we read these words:

"For both He [Jesus] who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them breth-
ren . . . "

It is amazing, to think that Christ and His church are so closely linked, that the Messiah Himself deigned to undergo *everything* we experi-
ence (yet without sin). Do we suffer? He suffered first. Do we have to get sanctified? He, though always perfectly holy, had to "learn obedi-
ence through the things which He suffered," (Heb. 5:8). Is Jesus in glory, and bliss? The church is there with Him, even now, (cf. Col. 2:12).

Christ does not stand aloof from us, those whom He has redeemed. He is *with* us in every way, as He is our great and elder "brother" in the family of God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that enjoys much of God in this life carries heaven about him. . . . The enjoyment of God's sweet pres-
ence here is an earnest of our enjoying Him in heaven." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mon., 4/26/10 Devotion (Ps. 37:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 37:1, where we read these words:

"Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity."

It can be a real temptation for the people of God to be afraid of evil-
doers. This is especially the case when the wicked are "in our faces," and they are shameless in their bold support of godlessness. But faith-
ful churchmen should not be scared of these people. "Workers of iniq-
uity" are like playground bullies: all puffed-up, but full of nothing but hot air.

Worse than that (for them), they must face the judgment day without the benefit of atonement. Who could be "envious" of that? Instead of fearing evildoers, let us fear the Lord. When we do that, no one and nothing else appears formidable.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As there is in God [enough] to satisfy the whole soul, so trust carries the whole soul to God." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/23-25/10 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. He is addressing God's Mercy in this section. . . .

"God's mercy is free. To set up merit is to destroy mercy. Nothing can deserve mercy, because we are polluted in our blood; nor force it. We may force God to punish us, but not to love us. 'I will love them free-
ly,' (Hos. 14:4). Every link in the chain of salvation is wrought and interwoven with free grace. Election is free: 'He has chosen us in Him, according to the good pleasure of His will,' (Eph. 1:4). Justification is free: 'Being justified freely by His grace,' (Rom. 3:24). Salvation is free: 'According to His mercy He saved us,' (Titus 3:5). If God should show mercy to such only as are worthy, he would show none at all.

"God's mercy is an overflowing mercy; it is infinite. 'Plenteous in mercy,' (Psa. 86:5). 'Rich in mercy,' (Eph. 2:4). 'Multitude of mercies,' (Psa. 51:1). The vial of wrath drops, but the fountain of mercy runs. The sun is not so full of light as God is of mercy. God has morning mercies: 'His mercies are new every morning,' (Lam. 3:23). He has night mercies: 'In the night His song shall be with me,' (Psa. 13:8). God has mercies under heaven, which we taste; and in heaven, which we hope for."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thurs., 4/22/10 Devotion (Ps. 33:5b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 33:5b, where David wrote these words:

"The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD."

Look around you. Do you see God's beauty all over the place? I am sitting on the back deck of our house, and I am soaking-up the amaz-
ing wonder of this situation, and the splendor of this lovely day. The earth really is "full of the goodness of the Lord." Of course, there is a much more profound sense in which this is true: and that is in the spiritual/moral realm.

As believing churchmen, let us never "short-change" God with regard to His worship, by disdaining this life. Some misguided religious people think doing this is somehow "God-honoring." Wherever Jesus is, there is grace, glory, and heaven. Is He in your life and church, by grace? Then you have a lot to be thankful for!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Nothing should displease us that pleases God; neither should anything be pleasing to us that displeases Him."
--Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wed., 4/21/10 Devotion (Lev. 25:23b)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 25:23b, where Moses wrote this, under God's inspiration:

" . . . [F]or you are strangers and sojourners with Me."

What a fascinating thought: God's people, down here, are pilgrims and travelers "WITH" The Lord. This is why the tabernacle first, and later the temple, and finally the New Covenant church must be at the *center* of the believers' lives.

What a comfort, to know that our God traverses this world *with* us.
In this sense, we're already home, since we already have our Redeem-
er in our midst. Still, one day the trials of this life will be rolled away; and we will behold, *with* our precious Savior, the celestial city, in all its glory. Until that day, let us keep our eyes on Jesus, the Goal--knowing that arriving fully home will only seem like a small final step along the way.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us proclaim it boldly--the man who is not inflamed with divine love is an outsider to all theology!" --John Owen, in the Epistolary section of "Biblical Theology"]

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tues., 4/20/10 Devotion (Eccl. 7:14a, b)

Today's encouragement comes from Ecclesiastes 7:14a & b, where we read these words:

"In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity con-
sider: surely God has appointed the one as well as the other . . . "

This is good counsel (above) from the "Preacher" (Solomon). We all naturally want good things to come our way, and to happen to us; but it takes real faith and maturity to understand that "bad" things also come from the *same* Fatherly hand of our loving God in heaven.

This is not to suggest that we should be "happy" about bad things hap-
pening to us--because that would be perverse. But we may take com-
fort in knowing that nothing comes our way that does not ultimately originate from God's perfect will and intentions toward us (who are faithful in Christ and His church).

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a holy state of soul to be under the power of nothing beneath itself." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Con-
flict with Itself"]

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mon., 4/19/10 Devotion (Ps. 30:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 30, v. 2, which says this:

"O LORD my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me."

In the Bible (particularly in the Psalms) there is quite an emphasis on "crying out to" God. I think the meaning is that we are to be very earnest in our petitions to the Lord. He wants to see wholehearted-
ness in us, and this is best manifest in prayers.

The cultures that many of us come from are not all that demonstra-
tive; and even though false enthusiasm is to be decried; I wonder if we may not be able to "ratchet up" a little more passion in our pleas to God. At any rate, let us be as sincere as we can be, as we bring our hearts before the Lord in prayer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is very jealous of our trust, and can endure no idol of jealousy to be set up in our hearts." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/16-18/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday. We *get* to go to church!! In order to help get us ready, here is the remarkable and ingenious Thomas Watson, from his, "The Picture of a Godly Man" book:

"A humble soul thinks better of others than of himself: 'Let each esteem others better than themselves,' (Php. 2:3). A humble man values others at a higher rate than himself, and the reason is because he can see his own heart better than he can another's. He sees his own corruption and thinks surely it is not so with others; their graces are not so weak as his; their corruptions are not so strong. 'Surely,' he thinks, 'they have better hearts than I.' A humble Christian studies his own infirmities and another's excellencies, and that makes him put a higher value upon others than himself. 'Surely I am more brutish than any man,' (Prov. 30:2). And Paul, though he was the chief of the apos-
tles, still calls himself, 'less than the least of all saints,' (Eph. 3:8)."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thurs., 4/15/10 Devotion (Ps. 23:1)

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

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want."

These familiar words of David (above) wed together the ownership God has of His people with the fact that their needs and legitimate desires will be taken care of. David seems to be saying, "Since I have the Lord, everything is covered."

On the other hand, those who do not possess Christ by faith "want," or are in need of *everything.* They have nothing of value, and their lives are devoid of positive purpose and meaning. Let all the church rejoice in that we are in our Redeemer's "sheepfold"; and let us be compassionate toward those who are not, as we seek to bring the gospel to them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Faith is to be prized, and other things undervalued, at least not to be trusted to as the chief [good]."
--Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wed., 4/14/10 Devotion (1 Tim. 3:15)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 3:15, where we read these words:

"But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

If we can learn to live in the church properly, we can then thrive in every other realm in God-honoring ways. Conversely, if we never be-
come faithful churchmen, then we fail God in all other dimensions of our lives. Many people--even those who profess to be Christians--hate the church. But Jesus does not: He died for her.

On top of all that, the church is, "the pillar and ground of the truth." Let us, as faithful members of Christ's body, hold out the gospel to our dead world, and stand for the truth of the Word of God at every turn.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Happy is he that in his way to heaven meets with with a cheerful and skillful guide and fellow-travel-
er . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tues., 4/13/10 Devotion (Lev. 17:11b)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 17:11b, where we read these words:

" . . . For it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul."

This profound little statement (above), made back in the times of the establishing of the Levitical priestly laws, is perpetually true. If sin-
ners are to be forgiven; and if sin is to be remitted--then it must be by the agency of blood. Works will not do; neither will effort. "Being good" will not be good enough.

But not just *any* blood can cleanse away iniquity: only that of the "Lamb of God," Jesus Christ, can do that. His atoning merit is applied to the filthy souls of sinners, by grace through faith. What are we trusting in today, for the forgiveness of our sins?

[Puritan quote of the day: "Use all those comforts which God has given to refresh us in the way to heaven." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mon., 4/12/10 Devotion (Ps. 19:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 19:14, where we read these words:

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be ac-
ceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer."

This is a sweet prayer (above) with which David ends this psalm. It is interesting that he mentions "the words of [his] mouth" before the "meditation of [his] heart." We usually like to think that we think first, and then speak. Knowing human nature the way David did, he may have been making a "preemptive strike" here, against his words--recognizing that what is in the heart will make its way through the mouth.

At any rate, let all of us churchmen today offer the same prayer--as it is surely good to be "acceptable in God's sight." We can only be this, as we are found to be faith-filled, toward Jesus.

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

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/9-11/10 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. Here is Richard Sibbes, from his book, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself." May these words encourage us, as we prepare for the church's worship of God:

"For our better encouragement in these sad times, and to help our trust in God the more, we should often call to mind the former ex-
periences, which either ourselves or others have had of God's good-
ness, and make use of the same for our spiritual good. 'Our fathers trusted in You,' says the Head of the church, 'and they were not con-
founded,' (Ps. 22:14). God's truth and goodness is unchangeable, 'He never leaves those who trust in Him,' (Ps. 9:10). So likewise in our own experiences, we should take notice of God's dealings with us in different ways; how many ways He has refreshed us, and how good we have found Him in our worst times. . . . If His nature and His word and His former dealing has been sure and square, why should our hearts be wavering?"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thurs., 4/8/10 Devotion (Ps. 13:1a, 6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 13:1a & 6, where we read these words:

"How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? . . . I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me."

How could David's perspective change so dramatically, in the span of only five verses? Because, in v. 5, he re-asserts his faith in God. This dispelled his "sorrow," and his melancholy musings of heart.

All of us even in the church are prone to the sagging, drooping gravity of sadness and heaviness of soul. The answer to this syndrome is faith. Trusting in Jesus raises us up, even against the wind and force of op-
position, into the heavenlies. Don't give into despair today. Instead, refresh your faith in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Despair is often the ground of hope."
--Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wed., 4/7/10 Devotion (Ps. 11:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 11:1a, where we read these words:

"In the LORD I put my trust . . . "

Because David put his trust in the Lord, he was not ultimately moved by what happened around him down here on earth. The "foundations" may be "destroyed," (v. 3)--but he would nonetheless press on, basing all of his life in his faith in Christ.

And so it should be for us, as well. Circumstances--particularly, negative ones--are sure to impact us, and affect us--but we should not be too disturbed by them. When it is all said and done, at base, the only One we have to lean on is God Himself. This is not an easy thing to do--but the more we succeed at it (by grace), the better off we will be.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In a hopeless estate a Christian will see some door of hope opened . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tues., 4/6/10 Devotion (Ps. 10:4b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 10:4b, where we read these words:

" . . . God is in none of his thoughts."

Can you imagine living a life in which God is in none of one's thoughts? Actually, this is the existence of all the unregenerate. Sinners behave and think as if there was no God at all. Many people go through the motions down here with no saving or covenantal grace, and no serious notions regarding the divine (at all).

That is a sad state of affairs. Mankind is created in the image of God. We can only be fully and finally happy, as we are in communion with our Creator. This is not possible until the Holy Spirit brings us life, and we then believe in Jesus. When this happens, God is in *all* our thoughts.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If ever we mean to trust God, why not now?" --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mon., 4/5/10 Devotion (Ps. 9:9)

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

"The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble."

This is a sweet verse (above), the proper application of which is sometimes misunderstood. The "oppressed" that David is referring to, are the children of God, the faithful members of His church, who are subject to the harsh wranglings of the enemies of the Lord Himself.

Trouble is sure to come. The only real question is, "Where will we go when we are subject to it?" Believers have the comfort and consola-
tion of fleeing to God Himself, who calls Himself, "a refuge for the oppressed." Are you under a pile today? Go to the Head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ for help.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A good Christian begins his repentance where his sin begins, in his thoughts . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Friday, April 2, 2010

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

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! HAPPY EASTER. HE IS RISEN! Here's Thomas Watson, to help get us ready for church. This is from his, "A Plea for the Godly" work:

"A righteous man is wise to know Jesus Christ. The natural man hears of Christ by the hearing of the ear but he does not know Him. Those who journeyed with Paul heard a voice but saw no man, (Acts 9:7). So the unregenerate person hears the minister set forth Christ as alto-
gether lovely; he hears a voice but sees no man. He does not see Christ's orient beauties. Christ is a treasure, but a hidden treasure. But a gracious soul has the veil taken off; he sees the amazing excel-
lencies of Christ: "Unto you therefore who believe He is precious," (2 Peter 2:7). His merits, graces, and benefits are precious. A righteous man has Christ's eye-salve to see his tried gold, (Revelation 3:8).

"Zeuxis, having drawn a curious piece, Nicostratus fell into the admir-
ation of it and commended it. An ignorant man stood by and asked him what rare excellency he saw in that piece. Said he, 'If you could see with my eyes, you would admire it as well as I.' So, if a carnal man could see with a spiritual man's eyes, he would wonder at those surpassing beauties in Jesus Christ which he now makes light of."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thurs., 4/1/10 Devotion (Col. 2:8a, 9-10a)

Today's encouragement comes from Colossians 2:8a, & 9-10a, which says this:

"Beware lest anyone cheat you . . . For in [Christ] dwells all the full-
ness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him . . . "

The free lives of redeemed churchmen must always be zealously guarded. People devoid of grace--in particular, religious people de-
void of saving grace--are always seeking to "cheat" the saints of their rightful inheritance in Christ. They desire to bring us down to their level; and to see us enslaved, just like they are.

The answer to this pressure is self-understanding, which is based in Christ-understanding. The faithful churchman is "complete" in Christ. He or she needs nothing more. Since God's "fullness" is in Jesus, we do not need look to any other beings for salvation or its benefits.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's prayer takes away the sins of our prayers." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]