Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wed., 6/30/10 Devotion (Matt. 10:28)

Tdoday's encouragement comes from Matthew 10:28, where our Lord Jesus said this:

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

Practically-speaking, fear is a huge issue everyone must face every-
day. Will we fear men; or will we fear God? If we fear men, then we will not fear God; and if we fear God, then we will not fear men. Do we have faith in Christ? Do we really believe the soul is of infinite value? Do we believe that this present body will someday die; and that it will be resurrected? If so, then why do we fear man?

Failure to fear God will certainly, in the end, turn out to be much more frightening, than anything a human being could bring our way. Let us trust Christ, love Him, and fear Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As the restraint of a sin is gladness to a godly man, so falling into a sin is a matter of trouble, sorrow, and tears to him." --Christopher Love, in, "The Mortified Christian"]

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tues., 6/29/10 Devotion (Ps. 121:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 121:1 & 2, where these great words are found:

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills--from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."

When the Old Testament church member looked upon the hills around Jerusalem, the one that especially caught the eye was Mt. Zion, on which was built the temple. Beholding this sight would raise the faithful saint's spiritual eyes even higher, to heaven itself, where God dwells in unapproachable light. The New Testament believer does the same thing. Having beheld with the eyes of faith the New Jerusalem [New Covenant church] having come down from heaven, (Rev. 3:12)--one then immediately raises the heart, prayers, and thoughts to the highest heaven, where Jesus is enthroned.

Do we need help today? Let us look us to Christ, by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing within us that could justify, but something without us; not any righteousness inherent, but imputed. We may as well look for a star in the earth as for justifica-
tion in our own righteousness." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mon., 6/28/10 Devotion (Deut. 33:26-27)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 33:26 & 27, where we find these great words:

"There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides the heavens to help you, and in His excellency on the clouds. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, and will say, 'Destroy!' "

This is a promise for the faithful church, made up of those who trust in the incomparable God. The world scorns us, the devil assaults us, and the flesh continues to trouble us--but our God rides the heavens to help us. Not only is He "above" us; He is also "beneath" us, with His "everlasting arms."

Christ is closer than breath, to those who are regenerated by His Spirit. He can address our problems faster than our troubles can assail us. Call upon Him today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Though pagans and nominal Christians take liberty to sin, yet it is not fit for those who are called out of the world, and have the mark of election upon them, to do so." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/25-27/10 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is a snippet from Martin Luther's "Declaration," found at the beginning of his Galatians commentary. (Aside from the Bible, this is the best, and most life-changing book I have ever read.) . . .

"First of all, we speak of the argument of this epistle: in it Paul is seeking to establish the doctrine of faith, grace, forgiveness of sins, or Christian righteousness in order that we may know the difference between Christian righteousness and all other kinds of righteousness. There are many sorts of righteousness. There is a civil or political righteousness, which kings, princes of the world, magistrates and lawyers deal with. There is also a ceremonial righteousness, which the traditions of men teach. Besides these, there is another righteousness, called the righteous ness of the law, or the Ten Commandments.

"Above all these, there is yet another righteousness: the righteousness of faith or Christian righteousness, which we must diligently discern from the others. The others are quite contrary to this righteousness, both because they flow out of the laws of kings and rulers, religious traditions, and the commandments of God; and because they consist in our works, and may be wrought by us either by our natural strength, or else by the gift of God. These kinds of righteousness are also the gift of God, like all other good things which we enjoy.

"But the most excellent righteousness of faith, which God through Christ, without any works, imputes to us, is neither political, nor ceremonial, nor the righteousness of God's law, nor consists of works, but is contrary to these; that is to say, it is a mere passive righteousness, as the others are active. For in the righteousness of faith, we work nothing, we render nothing unto God, but we only receive, and allow another to work in us, that is to say, God. This is a righteousness hidden in a mystery, which the world does not know. Indeed, Christians themselves do not thoroughly understand it, and can hardly take hold of it in their temptations. Therefore it must be diligently taught, and continually practiced."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thurs., 6/24/10 Devotion (Matt. 4:11)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 4:11, where we read these words:

"Then the devil left [Jesus], and behold, angels came and ministered to Him."

The Christian's life can flash from demonic oppression and strife, to sweet angelic blessedness and peace--all within a matter of a nano-second. This is why the maturing churchman does not get too worked-up over great "highs"; and neither does he or she get too concerned about dismal "lows."

All of life, for the gospel-believing churchman, is a matter of faith in Jesus. Did Christ have struggles? Sure. Therefore, we should expect them too. Did He have joys? Certainly. Therefore, we get to take pleasure in them as well. Whether devils or angels are "attending" you today--trust in the Lord, and believe Him for your best development in grace.

[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." --Jona-
than Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "The Peace which Christ
Gives . . . "]

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wed., 6/23/10 Devotion (Isa. 55:1a, 3a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 55:1a & 3a, where we read these words:

"Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. . . . Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live . . . "

God lays-out a great feast, and He invites all nations to it. To partake of the luscious fare set before sinners, all that is necessary is the "tak-
ing" of it. Money, effort, works--none of these may be used, to "buy," earn, or apprehend it.

The practical dimension in getting the goods of the banquet of the kingdom of heaven is simply to "hear," (as v. 3a says, above). The church proclaims the gospel of Christ's free grace; and the only ones that benefit from it are those who come with empty and hungry hearts, and who unashamedly gorge themselves on the Lord's promis-
es. Christianity is entirely a passive religion--which then enlivens the churchmen to all kinds of gracious deeds.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justification admits of no degrees. No, not in heaven--you are not more justified there than you are here. You are now as perfectly justified as ever and as accepted of Christ as ever." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/11-13/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We GET to go to church! Here is the great Thomas Watson, from his excellent work, entitled, "A Divine Cordial":

"Another heart quieting consideration is, that afflictions work for good. Judah's captivity in Babylon was for their good. 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted,' (Psalm 119:71). Afflictions to the godly are medicinal. Out of the most poisonous drugs God extracts our sal-
vation. Afflictions are as needful as ordinances (1 Peter 1:6). No ves-
sel can be made of gold without fire; so it is impossible that we should be made vessels of honour, unless we are melted and refined in the furnace of affliction. 'All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth,' (Psalm 25:10). As the painter intermixes bright colours with dark shadows; so the wise God mixes mercy with judgment.

"Those afflictive providences which seem to be prejudicial, are bene-
ficial. Let us take some instances in Scripture. Joseph's brethren throw him into a pit; afterwards they sell him; then he is cast into prison; yet all this did work for his good. His abasement made way for his advancement, he was made the second man in the kingdom. 'You thought evil against me, but God meant it for good,' (Gen. 50:20). Jacob wrestled with the angel, and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint. This was sad; but God turned it to good, for there he saw God's face, and there the Lord blessed him. 'Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, for I have seen God face to face,' (Gen. 32:30). Who would not be willing to have a bone out of joint, so that he might have a sight of God?"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thurs., 6/10/10 Devotion (Ps. 102:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 102:1 & 2a, where we read these words:

"Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble . . . "

We have got to love texts like these (above). Sometimes we find our-
selves in situations and circumstances that require us to cry out to God for *immediate* help. In our minds, there is no room for delay--we must be aided right away.

The advantages of prayers like these are that they thrust us church-
men directly into the presence of God. Whereby in calmer conditions, we may be a bit less intentional--when things are rough, we get right down to business. Do not hesitate to call on the Lord today. He is both able and willing to hear all who believe in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a true rule in divinity that the desire for any grace is the grace itself; for to desire to believe is faith, and true desire to repent is repentance, and true desire to mourn for sin is mourning for sin." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wed., 6/9/10 Devotion (Ps. 99:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 99:2, which says this:

"The LORD is great in Zion, and He is high above all the peoples."

This verse (above) reminds us that God is both and simultaneously immanent (with us, in Christ and His church ["Zion"]), and transcend-
ent ("high above all the peoples"). Because of this, the Lord is both able to save us (in Jesus' incarnation), and hear us (as we offer prayers to Him).

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the great "Bridge" that makes all of this pos-
sible. He has spanned heaven and earth, and given His churchmen the full benefits of both of them, in Himself. Let us praise and bless our great God who has been so wonderfully good to us--in this life, and in the one to come.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justification is the very hinge and pillar of Christianity. An error about justification is dangerous, like a defect in a foundation." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tues., 6/8/10 Devotion (Ps. 97:10a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 97:10a, where we read these words:

"You who love the LORD, hate evil! . . . "

In order to properly and authentically love God churchmen must also--at the same time, and with equal intensity--hate everything that He (the Lord) hates. This doctrine, of course, is highly politically-incor-
rect. It is resisted on the left (among liberals), and on the right (among mushy conservatives).

The fact is that a healthy and growing Christian actually both loves and hates at the same time. We are to love Christ and His church wholly. We are to hate evil and idolatry entirely. And we are to both love and hate sinners (at the same time), as we seek to see them won to Jesus. And we are to apply this doctrine fairly, even to ourselves--as we both love our new natures (in Christ), and hate our old ones (that continue to cling to the flesh).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The devil is orthodox in his faith. He be-
lieves the true scheme of doctrine. . . . The articles of his faith are all sound, and in them he is thoroughly established." --Jonathan Ed-
wards, in his sermon entitled, "True Grace Distinguished"]

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mon., 6/7/10 Devotion (Deut. 11:26)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 11:26, where we read these words:

"Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse . . . "

All of life, and every person and angel is either under a blessing or a curse. There is no middle ground. Blessings are on those who believe in Jesus Christ, and who find all their righteousness in Him alone. Curses are on everyone else: be they religious, or not. Moses is writing this verse (above) to the old covenant churchmen of his day.

. . . If they chose by grace to believe in, and hence love, and obey the Lord--then they would be the objects of God's blessing. If they chose to disbelieve--and hence, not to love God, nor to obey Him--then they would be the focus of God's cursing. May we be numbered among the blessed church today, and remain faith-filled, and faithful.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Though pagans and nominal Christians take liberty to sin, yet it is not fit for those who are called out of the world, and have the mark of election upon them, to do so." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/4-6/10 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church and worship, here is Thomas Watson, in his, "A Body of Divinity" book. He is dealing with the benefits of the church's redemption below. . . .

"Use three: Of comfort to such as are redeemed. You are happy, the lot of free grace has fallen upon you. You were once in the devil's prison, but have broken from that prison; you were once bound in the chains of sin, but God has begun to beat off your chains, and has freed you from the power of sin, and the curse due to it. What a comfort is this! Is there any consolation in Christ? It is yours. Is there any sweet fruit growing upon the promise? You may gather it. Are there any glorious privileges in the gospel? They are your jointure, justification, adoption, coronation. Is there any glory in heaven? You shall shortly drink of that river of pleasure. Have you any temporal comforts? These are but a pledge and earnest of more. How you may be com-
forted in all worldly afflictions, though the fig-tree flourish not! Nay, in case of death, it has lost its sting. 'Mors abiit morte Christi,' [Death takes its leave, through the death of Christ]. Death shall carry you to your Redeemer. Fear not dying since you cannot be perfectly happy but by dying."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thurs., 6/3/10 Devotion (Isa. 35:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 35:1 & 2a, where we read these words:

"The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abun-
dantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing."

When God's Holy Spirit is at work reviving Christ's church, the entire fallen world benefits. Even those "wildernesses," "wastelands," and "deserts" come to life. This is true on a macrocosmic level, in that the whole created universe rejoices at God's visitation of His people; and it is true on a microcosmic scale, as the dark and parched places in the hearts of believers are fed and renewed.

Whatever you are facing today, do not be too undone by it. If you are in Christ and His church, there is more than enough hope for you. God delights to make you glad in Him. Trust the Lord for His sweet bles-
sings in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing but what God can easily do for us; there is none of our wants but what He can easily supply. Whatever our case is, it cannot be beyond God's help." --Jonathan Ed-
wards, in his sermon, "God does what He pleases"]

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wed., 6/2/10 Devotion (Deut. 6:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 6:5, where we read these words:

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."

This (above) is one of the most singularly-important verses in the whole Bible. Jesus Himself called it, "the first commandment of all," (in Mk. 12:29-30). Moses' subsequent teaching (in Deut. 6), that we are to have these words on our hearts, and speak of and teach them, etc.--is primarily in reference to this doctrine of the primacy of love for God (found in v. 5).

But how can we who naturally hate God, love Him? When we believe in Jesus' gospel of grace we are filled with love for God. And what does this lead to? Obedience. But how can we believe, without hear-
ing? And how can we hear without a preacher? And how can one preach, unless he is sent? (See Rom., ch. 10, on all of this.)

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ, by what He has done in the work of redemption, has overthrown Satan, and utterly frustrated him as to this end [of robbing God of His glory]." --Jonathan Edwards, in his ser-
mon entitled, "The Wisdom of God"]

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tues., 6/1/10 Devotion (Deut. 5:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 5:6, where we read these words:

"I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."

These are the Lord's very last words just before He gives us the First of His Ten Commandments. But note how significant these words are. Faithful churchmen are to keep the Commandments of God--not to earn God's favor, nor to merit heaven--but because this is the way that redeemed children live. In other words, those who have been freed from sin do not worship other gods, etc.

Those who *never* have been "brought out of Egypt," and/or "the house of bondage," continue to use the Ten Commandments to perpet-
uate their slavery, (by works-righteousness). But those who are liber-
ated believers recognize that walking by faith has the blessed by-pro-
duct of living in harmony with God and our new natures--and hence they keep (though imperfectly) the Commandments.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Every man is as his God is. If you would know whether a man is a godly man or not, you must inquire what his god is like." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "A truly Godly man prefers God before all others"]