Monday, May 31, 2010

Mon., 5/31/10 Devotion (Ps. 86:5, 15)

Happy Memorial Day, USA!

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 86:5 & 15, which says this:

"For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. . . . But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth."

Who could not love this God?! His nature is generous, kind, benevo-
lent, and overflowing with grace. We are all sinners; and yet God holds out the golden scepter of forgiveness and redemption to us. Any who see these words (of Ps. 86) and yet end up in hell, have only themselves to blame for their foolishness.

Let us come to Jesus today, clinging to Him by faith. He will not dis-
appoint us. His grace is greater than our most ingrained sin, and our most aggravating troubles.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have undone yourselves, and undone yourselves, as it were, thousands of times; but God would not allow you to be eternally undone for He loved you with an everlasting love." --Jonathan Edwards, preaching to his church his sermon entitled, "A man may eternally undo himself in one thought"]

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/28-30/10 Devotion

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

"Glorifying God consists in four things: 1. Appreciation, 2. Adoration, 3. Affection, 4. Subjection. This is the yearly rent we pay to the crown of heaven.

"[1] Appreciation. To glorify God is to set God highest in our thoughts, and to have a venerable esteem of Him. 'You, Lord, are most high for evermore.' 'You are exalted far above all gods.' There is in God all that may draw forth both wonder and delight. There is a constellation of all beauties; He is 'prima causa,' the original and spring head of being, who sheds a glory upon the creature. We glorify God, when we are God-admirers. Admire His attributes, which are the glistering beams by which the divine nature shines forth; His promises which are the charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet where the pearl of price is hid; the noble effects of His power and wisdom in making the world, which is called 'the work of His fingers,' (Psa 8:3). To glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem Him most excellent, and search for diamonds in this Rock only."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thurs., 5/27/10 Devotion (2 Jn. 10-11)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 John, vv. 10 & 11, where we read these words:

"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not re-
ceive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds."

Here is the clearest Biblical teaching on how to handle heretics at our doors. When people come to us with false gospels, and want us to lis-
ten to them--instead of doing so, we must "not receive them into [our] house[s]." We do not have to be cranky, but we do have to be steadfast. If we do anything, we should invite them onto the "turf" of our own churches, where they can hear the true gospel.

Why all this dogmatism (by John, the "apostle of love," above)? Be-
cause doctrine is the key to life (and death). Way too much is at stake, to play "free and loose" with the faithful church's cardinal tenets.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We are never more precious in God's eyes than when we are lepers in our own." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doc-
trine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wed., 5/26/10 Devotion (1 Jn. 5:4)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 5:4, where we read these words:

"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the vic-
tory that has overcome the world--our faith."

I like this verse a lot--partly because it confirms so much hope for life in THIS world. Do you realize that churchmen who walk with Jesus are kings over the devil, his horde, and all persons who hope in inferior religions? This does not mean that we are perfect (because we are not); and it does not make us tyrants (because that is not how Jesus rules).

. . . But our faith in Christ provides us a perfect victory over the world; and we need not fear it, submit to its ways, nor be in any way manipulated by it. Let all God's children rejoice in the Redeemer; and let us always recognize the absolute primacy of faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not so much the sins we have com-
mitted that so provoke and grieve Christ as that we refuse the [medi-
cine] of repentance which He prescribes." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tues., 5/25/10 Devotion (Ps. 78:38)

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

"But He [the Lord], being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath . . . "

This (above) is an apt description of the true God. Most sinners view the Lord as harsh, demanding, easily-perturbed, and as a general "kill-joy." But, in reality, He is gracious, merciful, forgiving, kind, generous, and slow to anger.

How can God be that way--especially as He is constantly provoked to wrath by sinful and selfish creatures? One, because that is His nature; and two, because He has provided perfect atonement in Jesus' blood, that fully satisfies Him. Those whom God saves by grace through faith in Christ He loves; and to them He shows continual mercy.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is the end [or goal] of our living, to be useful in our generation. Better lose our lives than the end of our liv-
ing." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mon., 5/24/10 Devotion (Isa. 25:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 25:6, where we read these words:

"And in this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees."

The "mountain" spoken of here is the church, (the New Covenant church, in particular). On this "mount" people from all over the world will (and do) come and feast on the very best things God could and would ever provide. The Master of the feast, and the Subject (or Food) of the feast is the Same: it is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Redeemer feeds us with the Bread of Heaven, (His own Body); and with the Wine of Canaan, (His own blood). We celebrate this in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, which is preceded and accompa-
nied by the church's proclamation of the Word of God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sin is an absurd thing. What greater in-
discretion is there than to gratify an enemy? Sin gratifies Satan."
--Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/21-23/10 Devotion

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


"Ans.: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.

"Here are two ends of life specified. I. The glorifying of God. II. The enjoying of God.

"I. The glorifying of God, 1 Pet. 4:11: 'That God in all things may be glorified.' The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions. 1 Cor. 10:31: 'Whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.' Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be, that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. The great truth is asserted, that the end of every man's living should be to glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity; it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost His life for us; and God the Holy Ghost, who produces a new life in us; we must bring glory to the whole Trinity."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thurs., 5/20/10 Devotion (Ps. 73:16-17)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 73:16 & 17, where Asaph, the human author, was dealing with, and finally received resolution to the thorny issue of the prosperity of the wicked, (see
vv. 2-3 ff.). . . .

"When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me--until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end."

On our own, individually, we are simply *unable* to grasp a whole lot of things that are necessary for our happiness and well-being. This is no accident. God intentionally designed us to be insufficient and in-
complete in and of ourselves. This is why He puts His saints into the body of Christ, His holy church. When Asaph came into the communion of his fellow-believers--all of a sudden the darkness was dispersed, and his understanding was enlightened.

It is the height of pride and stupidity, to believe we don't need God or His people. Let us enter the Lord's sanctuary on Sunday, and get what we need.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Mercy is not for them that sin and fear not, but for them that fear and sin not. God's mercy is a holy mercy; where it pardons it heals." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wed., 5/19/10 Devotion (Isa. 19:24-25)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 19:24 & 25, where we read these amazing words:

"In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria--a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, 'Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.' "

To me, this is one of the most remarkable passages in the whole Bible. Isaiah is prophesying about the New Covenant church age, to be inaugurated by Christ's incarnation. Instead of only Israel being God's people, now even the Assyrians and the Egyptians (representing all other Gentile ethnicities as well) will be the recipients of all the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

This is the world we live in today. Look around you. What do you see in the church on Sundays? You behold people from all kinds of back-
grounds. The promise has been fulfilled.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sin and corruption may be more stirring and boisterous after a man is regenerate than they were before con-
version." --Christopher Love, in, "The Mortified Christian"]

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tues., 5/18/10 Devotion (Num. 27:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 27:5, where we read these words:

"So Moses brought their case before the LORD."

This "case" mentioned here was that of Zelophehad's daughters, who sought to maintain their familial inheritance in Israel, despite the fact that their father had no sons. The inspired Scripture, to that point, did not deal specifically with such situations; therefore, Moses had to specially seek God's will on the matter (in prayer).

*That* is still a good principle for us, today. In circumstances where the question is not distinctively "spiritual," moral, or ethical--and hence, where it is not addressed (at least in principle) in the Word of God--we should still seek the Lord's guidance. The question, "Should I buy the red car, or the blue one?" may not appear to be all that sig-
nificant--but it is, if one of them is about to fall apart.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The word preached is Christ's voice in the mouth of the minister; and those that refuse to hear Christ speaking in the ministry, Christ will refuse to hear speaking on their death-bed." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mon., 5/17/10 Devotion (1 Pet. 4:8b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 4:8b, where we read these words:

" . . . For 'love will cover a multitude of sins.' "

This is a neat and blessed truth for us to hang onto, and to practice. "Love covers sins" by overlooking them. All sane people do this a lot. Regenerated churchmen do it consciously. Self-righteous people do not do it at all--since they believe that no one should dare offend them, (because they think they are "god").

Some sins, of course, have to be dealt with in a more formal way--but the vast majority of sins are to be simply "covered in love." God is merciful with us, and does not hound us over every offense. Those of us who have received mercy from Christ are more than happy to give it to others, (as we recognize how wonderful it is).

[Puritan quote of the day: "My services are weak, yet I am a child; my graces are feeble, yet I am a child; my desires are faint, my wants many, my enemies strong, yet I have God for my Father. This answers all." --Robert Harris, in, "The Way to True Happiness"]

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/14-16/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, on the true churchman's peace. This comes from his, "A Body of Divinity" book.

"How shall we know that ours is a true peace?

"(1.) True peace flows from union with Christ. The graft or scion must first be inoculated into the tree before it can receive sap or nourish-
ment from it; so we must first be ingrafted into Christ, before we can receive peace from Him. Have we faith? By holiness we are made like Christ; by believing we are made one with Christ, and being in Christ we have peace, (John 16:33).

"(2.) True peace flows from subjection to Christ. Where Christ gives peace, there He sets up His government in the heart: 'Of His government and peace there shall be no end,' (Isa. 9:7). Christ is called, 'A priest upon His throne,' (Zech. 6:13). Christ as a priest makes peace; but He will be a priest upon His throne--He brings the heart in subjection to Him. If Christ be our peace, He is our Prince, (Isa. 9:6). Whenever Christ pacifies the conscience, He subdues the lust.

"(3.) True peace is after trouble. First, God lets loose a spirit of bon-
dage. He convinces and humbles the soul; then He speaks peace. Many say they have peace, but is this peace before a storm, or after it? True peace is after trouble. First there was the earthquake, and then the fire, and then the still small voice, (1 Kings 19:12). God pours the gol-
den oil of peace into broken hearts."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thurs., 5/13/10 Devotion (Ps. 63:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 63:1a, where we read these words:

"O God, You are my God; early will I seek You . . . "

David is craving God in this Psalm. He wants to get to the sanctuary, but he is hindered (in that he is in the wilderness). Still, David seeks the Lord "early." We can learn something from his example. Church-
men should think on God and pray to Him as soon as they get up. Young people should seek the Lord in their youth. And we should look to God "early" in all our trials (or joys).

Let us make everything else wait in line, as we put Christ first in all things. This is totally against our fallen nature--but it is consistent with regeneration. Those who earnestly seek God will not be outdone by Him (in terms of His favors bestowed on us).

[Puritan quote of the day: "A heartless, drooping, and discouraging life and walk is very unbecoming the gospel of Christ." --James Dur-
ham, in, "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ"]

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wed., 5/12/10 Devotion (Jas. 4:10)

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

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up."

Faith is best manifest when the churchman says, "Lord, I do not trust myself; but I do--boldly and confidently--trust You." To "humble [one-
self] in the sight of the Lord" is to consciously empty oneself of all self-sufficiency.

Ironically, just as soon as we think we can do the "obedience" thing in our own strength, we are already defeated. The devil knows then that we are his easy prey. But, conversely, when we know we can do no-
thing, and that our flesh nature is totally corrupt, and that our only hope is Jesus--then, we cannot fail.

[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"]

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tues., 5/11/10 Devotion (Num. 20:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 20:10, where we read these words:

"And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he [Moses] said to them, 'Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?' "

Anyone can understand why Moses was so exasperated with the people--still, it was no excuse for him to "blow a fuse" and fail to honor his God. This one critical misstep prevented Moses from enter-
ing the Promised Land. I am sure he replayed what happened many times in his head, and wished he could do it all over again.

Keep this in mind, especially if you are in a significant leadership role: people *will* err, and provoke you to anger; but the mark of greatness is not retaliation, but meekness. Typically, Moses was a giant of humility, but in this case he fell short.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If the church is beautiful beyond all other of the children of men, how beautiful is Jesus Christ, from Whom the church derives all its comeliness?" --Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mon., 5/10/10 Devotion (Ps. 56:3-4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 56:3 & 4, where David wrote these words:

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?"

God's churchmen are, from time-to-time, afraid. David had his prob-
lems; and undoubtedly, we have ours. It is precisely at the exact moment of fear, however, that we are most able to strengthen our-
selves in God's grace, and trust Him. This trust, then, has the effect of turning fear away from us. After that, a renewed sense of confidence arises in our hearts, which allows us to say, "What can flesh do to me?"

Do not be undone by fear. Instead, turn it on its head; and use it for your own advantage. See it as a fresh opportunity to trust God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Purity of heart is the jewel which is hung only upon the elect. As chastity distinguishes a virtuous woman from a harlot, so the true saint is distinguished from the hypocrite by his heart-purity." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/7-9/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body
of Divinity" book. He is dealing with Justification below. . . .

"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 [God's] 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. God does not justify us because we are worthy, but by justifying us makes us worthy.

"What is the ground, or that by which a sinner is justified?

"The ground of our justification is Christ's satisfaction made to His Father. If it be asked, 'How can it stand with God's justice and holi-
ness to pronounce us innocent when we are guilty?'--the answer is, that Christ having made satisfaction for our fault, God may, in equity and justice, pronounce us righteous. It is a just thing for a creditor to discharge a debtor of the debt, when a satisfaction is made by the surety.

"But how was Christ's satisfaction meritorious, and so sufficient to justify?

"In respect of the divine nature. As He was man He suffered, as God He satisfied. By Christ's death and merits, God's justice is more abun-
dantly satisfied than if we had suffered the pains of hell for ever."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thurs., 5/6/10 Devotion (Heb. 11:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 11:6, where we read these great words:

"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 verse (above) is so important. God would rather have faith than anything else. Why? Because it leads to love for Him, (and this issues forth in Spirit-filled obedience). Many religious people think too little of faith. They are convinced that if they do extraordinary spiritual things, God will somehow be moved to be impressed by them.

But alas, nothing is of any value without faith (in Christ). The next time you face any problem, simply say, "Lord, I am going to trust You through this struggle." If you are a faithful churchman, the Lord will be pleased with you.

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

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wed., 5/5/10 Devotion (Heb. 10:22)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 10:22, which says this:

"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."

When believing churchmen approach God in prayer, in and through the merits and atonement of Jesus Christ alone--and all by faith--then they should come to Him with great confidence. And, why not? Our Redeemer has done it all for us, and He is seated in heaven. There is no reason at all for us to be either doubtful or fretful.

But if we presume to come to God in our own righteousness, or on the basis of our works, or merits--then, on the other hand, we ought to fear and quake. Why? Because God will (rightly) reject us, and cast us from His presence.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The creature may have the milk of our love, but we must keep the cream for God. He who is above all, must be loved above all." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tues., 5/4/10 Devotion (Num. 11:1a)

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

"Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD . . . "

First of all, it should be noted that it is not always unacceptable to complain to God. The true churchmen sometimes may do this in God-honoring ways, (as in Ps. 22:1). But here (in Num., ch. 11), the people had begun to despise the Lord's ordinary provision (of manna). They felt like they deserved something "better." God gave them an abundance of quail, and then proceeded to kill a bunch of them.

In the church today we have a lot of people who are sick and tired of preaching, sacraments, and discipline. Instead, they want entertain-
ment, bells, whistles, and theatrics. The Lord sometimes gives them these things--but He also removes His favor, and His fulfillment. May we be happy with Jesus, and His grace through His faithful church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When we wonder what God is doing with us, and are ready to kill ourselves with care; let us rest in God's wis-
dom. He knows best what He has to do." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mon., 5/3/10 Devotion (Num. 10:29)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 10:29, where we read these words:

"Now Moses said to Hobab [or, Jethro] the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses' father-in-law, 'We are setting out for the place of which the LORD said, "I will give it to you." Come with us, and we will treat you well; for the LORD has promised good things to Israel.' "

This is a good example of how believers are to do evangelism--even with those within our own extended families. Moses' father-in-law Jethro was not a member of the old covenant church community (so far as we can tell). Still, Moses invites him to join with the church, as they enter into the Promised Land.

We should still do that today. Let us welcome people into our Sabbath church worship services, recognizing that this is good for them--as they get to witness the children of God enjoy their Heavenly Father. Perhaps the Lord will bring them also to Himself, and they will be joined to Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is better to meet God with tears in your eyes than weapons in your hand. You may overcome Him sooner by re-
pentance than by resistance." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divin-