Friday, July 30, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/30-8/1/10 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! Here is TW, on Justification, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book:

"But does not the apostle James say that Abraham was justified by works?

"The answer is easy. Works declare us to be righteous before men; but they do not make us righteous before God. Works are evidences of our justification, not causes. The only name graven upon the golden plate of Christ our High Priest must be, 'THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.'

"Use two: Of exhortation. (1.) Adore the infinite wisdom and goodness of God that found out a way to justify us by 'rich grace and precious blood.' We were all involved in guilt; none of us could plead 'not guilty'; and being guilty, we lay under a sentence of death. Now that the Judge Himself should find out a way to justify us, and the creditor Himself contrive a way to have the debt paid, and not distress the debtor, should fill us with wonder and love. The angels admire the mystery of free grace in this new way of justifying and saving lost man, (1 Pet 1:12); and should not we, who are nearly concerned in it, and on whom the benefit is devolved, cry out with the apostle, 'O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!' "

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thurs., 7/29/10 Devotion (Mk. 11:22)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 11:22, where we read these words:

"So Jesus answered and said to them, 'Have faith in God.' "

Of all the blessed utterances that ever fell from our Savior's lips, this one (above) is among the sweetest. We fail, we are continually im-
perfect; if we were to be scored on a performance-basis, we would all flunk. But Christ says, "Have faith in God." Nothing else really matters to the Lord, if faith is missing.

. . . But its presence is much-pleasing to God; and it brings us enor-
mous benefits. Whereas our works or efforts could *never* make God love us; our faith--which is a gift from God--fetches Jesus Himself to our souls. Once we have Christ, we have everything. Let us not look to ourselves, but the our Redeemer today--and be encouraged.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Church is to be increased by the powerful preaching of the gospel. This preaching by all means is to be encouraged, for 'faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God,' (Rom. 10:17)." --Nathaniel Vincent, in, "A Discourse concerning Love"]

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wed., 7/28/10 Devotion (Mk. 10:35-36)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 10:35 & 36, where we read these words:

"Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to [Jesus], saying, 'Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.' And He said to them, 'What do you want Me to do for you?' "

This text always impresses me because of both the bold audacity of James and John; and--even more so--the generosity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The disciples know what they want, and they are willing to go get it from the Messiah. The Redeemer is not threatened by such a large prelude to their request--since He knew He had the resources to provide it, (should He desire to do so).

Let us ask big things of God. What is it, that seems to be (and is) im-
possible for us to attain, in ourselves? Let the church make supplica-
tion of Christ. If He can save our souls from sin; He can do anything.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's blood only can merit pardon. We please God by repentance but we do not satisfy Him by it." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tues., 7/27/10 Devotion (Mk. 9:14-15)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 9:14 & 15, which says this:

"And when [Jesus] came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him [Jesus], greeted Him."

These two verses well-illustrate a basic principle of life: where Jesus is not, people dispute and argue. Where Jesus is, people gather as one around Him. The disciples were pretty much helpless and punchless, as they tried to get something done (in Christ's absence).

And notice how suddenly the disciples lost their "star power," once the Messiah came on the scene. The church is God's only "colony" on
earth--but we are only effective as Jesus is at the heart of everything we do.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God's will will be done upon us whether we do His will or not. There is no such thing as frustrating the Almighty." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "God Does What He Pleas-

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mon., 7/26/10 Devotion (Mk. 8:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 8:1a, where we read these words:

"In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him . . . "

I found it intriguing, as I was reading these words this morning, that Jesus' very first response to the fact that the multitude that was fol-
lowing Him was hungry--was to call His disciples to Himself. Why? After all, Christ could have easily handled the situation *without* the twelve.

I think the reason the Savior did this is consistent with a divine prin-
ciple; and it is this: when God desires to do something great in the world, He very often wants His church to "broker" His work, and to "partner" with Him in it. In this way, God both gets the glory; and His people get identified with Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing within us that could jus-
tify, 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 Di-

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/23-25/10 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here! In order to get us ready for church worship, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. (He is dealing with Justification here.) . . .

"By justification we enjoy peace in our conscience; a richer jewel than any prince wears in his crown. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,' (Rom 5:1). Peace can sweeten all our afflictions; it turns our water into wine. How happy is a justified person who has the power of God to guard him, and the peace of God to comfort him! Peace flowing from justification is an antidote against the fear of death and hell. 'It is God that justifies, who is he that condemns?' (Rom 8:33, 34). Therefore seek this justification by Christ. This privilege is obtained by believing in Christ. 'By Him [Christ] all that believe are justified,' (Acts 13:39). 'Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood,' (Rom 3:25). Faith unites us to Christ; and having union with His person we partake of His merits, and the glorious salvation which comes by Him.

"Use three: Comfort to the justified. (1.) It is comfort in case of failings. Alas! how defective are the godly! they come short in every duty; but though believers should be humbled under their defects, they should not despond. They are not to be justified by their duties or graces, but by the righteousness of Christ. Their duties are mixed with sin, but that righteousness which justifies them is a perfect righteousness."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thurs., 7/22/10 Devotion (Jud. 5:31a, b)

Today's encouragement comes from Judges 5:31a & b, where we read these words:

"Thus let all Your enemies perish, O LORD! But let those who love Him be like the sun when it comes out in full strength."

Deborah sang these words at the end of her victory song. With God, everybody falls (ultimately) into one of two polar-opposite categories: either that of utter destruction, or that of prosperity and fullness. And there is only one distinguishing characteristic: is the person in Christ (by faith), or not?

If so, then he or she is abundantly blessed, despite all the troubles and hardships that must be faced. If not, then he or she is bound for hell, no matter how much of this earth they think they enjoy. Let us today find our happiness and life in Jesus alone, by grace through faith alone.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Acts of sin may be restrained out of fear or design, but a true penitent turns from sin out of a religious principle, namely, love to God." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repent-

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wed., 7/21/10 Devotion (Jud. 4:14a)

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

"Then Deborah said to Barak, 'Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the LORD gone out before you?' "

When God goes before His saints, it is imperative that they come after Him, fighting in His strength, and collecting the spoils of victory. There can be no glory where there is no engagement in the battle. Here, the woman judge Deborah has to nudge the captain Barak to do what should have come naturally.

As Christ goes before His church today, as the Good Shepherd, let us be sure to follow Him. As we do so, we will reap enough encourage-
ment to keep going, as long as He wants us to.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Maintain your hopes against all discour-
agements either of fear or temptation. Christians, do not let the devil dispute you out of your hopes." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Sacred Anchor"]

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tues., 7/20/10 Devotion (Jer. 16:19)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 16:19, where we read these words:

"O LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of afflic-
tion, the Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, 'Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthlessness and un-
profitable things.' "

Things were not going particularly well for Jeremiah, and certainly not for his countrymen. Still, the prophet found comfort and courage in his God. On top of this, he drew strength from the fact that though his generation might not be too stellar--there would indeed be a people arising in God's time who would cling to the gospel of grace.

Let all God's sincere churchmen--be they clergy or laity--trust in the Lord, and persevere, knowing that nothing done from genuine faith is insignificant or vain, (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58).

[Puritan quote of the day: "But now Christ does that which we could not do, that is, fulfill the law for us. And He also does that which the law could not do, which was justify us." --Obadiah Grew, in, "The Lord our Righteousness"]

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mon., 7/19/10 Devotion (Mk. 1:21-22)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 1:21 & 22--verses which describe Christ's ministry:

"Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath [Jesus] entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."

Jesus, being a good churchman, is in the synagogue on the Sabbath. He is teaching. What makes Christ's message unique is the authority He demonstrated. The Messiah actually believed what He was saying, knew it was from God, and was willing to proclaim the gospel boldly and unashamedly.

Most people hate this kind of preaching and teaching. Many will simply not tolerate it. Let us be different; and desire what Christ and His true messengers bring to us--whether it makes us feel good, or bad.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Give a beast hay and he will follow you all over the field. Not to draw near to [God] who is our Benefactor is worse than brutish." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Drawing Near to God"]

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/16-18/10 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here. We *get* to go to church! In order to help us get ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Lord's Prayer" book:

"What do we pray for in these words, 'Thy will be done?' We pray for two things; 1: For active obedience; that we may do God's actively in what He commands. 2. For passive obedience; that we may submit to God's will patiently in what He inflicts.

"We pray that we may do God's will actively, subscribe to all His commands, believe in Jesus, which is the cardinal grace, and lead holy lives. We pray that we may actively obey God's will. This is the sum of all religion, the two tables epitomised, the doing God's will. 'Thy will be done.' We must know His will before we can do it; know-
ledge is the eye which must direct the foot of obedience.

"At Athens there was an altar set up, 'To the unknown God,' (Acts 17:23). It is as bad to offer the blind to God as the dead. Knowledge is the pillar of fire to give light to practice; but though knowledge is requisite, yet the knowledge of God's will is not enough without doing it. If one had a system of divinity in his head; if he had 'all know-
ledge,' yet, if obedience were wanting, his knowledge were lame, and would not carry him to heaven, (1 Cor 13:2). Knowing God's will may make a man admired, but it is doing it that makes him blessed. Knowing God's will without doing it, will not crown us with happi-

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thurs., 7/15/10 Devotion (Acts 2:11b)

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

" . . . We hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God."

One of the great miracles of the New Covenant is that the church would be spread worldwide; and people from everywhere would be part of it, and would worship God in their own languages. At Pente-
cost, the apostles saw this happen, and they heard these words of praise.

What were "the wonderful works of God" that the Gentiles extolled? The perfect salvation wrought in Jesus' blood atonement; and its ap-
plication to elect souls who would make up the universal church. This is still what God is doing in the world today--and it ought to elicit our praise and wonder as well.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[Divine] hope cuts a way through rock; it wrestles with difficulties; it despises dangers; it marches in the face of death." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Sacred Anchor"]

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wed., 7/14/10 Devotion (Jer. 10:23-24)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 10:23 & 24, where we find these words:

"O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O LORD, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing."

Here is the prophet's humble acknowledgment that he is completely dependent upon God. Jeremiah wants the Lord's correction, and he is wise enough to ask for terms that are gracious.

If our ways are "not in [ourselves]," and we do not "direct [our] own steps," then does this excuse us from responsibility before God? No. The teaching here is that we are to seek to be led by the Lord, and in so doing to find our betterment and happiness.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When a people play fast and loose with God, breaking their solemn vows and oblations, whether sacramental or other, this is a God-provoking sin." --Thomas Watson, in his ser-
mon, "Comfort for the Church"]

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tues., 7/13/10 Devotion (Ps. 149:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 149:6, which says this:

"Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand."

It is interesting how the good churchman is both a joyful singer of praise to God, and a valiant soldier for Him. In fact, until or unless one takes up Christ's arms, he or she is no adorer of God at all, (de-
spite all protests to the contrary).

Worshippers are warriors, fighting under the banner of the Prince of Peace. Their mission is to conquer the world for the Redeemer--starting at home, rooting out sin in the heart. From there, the church is to be cleansed of hypocrisy. And from there, the fertile ground of the unconverted is to be taken.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Oh, let us strive to keep God among us! What is the glory of a nation but the presence of God in His Word and ordinances?" --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Comfort for the Church"]

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mon., 7/12/10 Devotion (Jer. 8:19b, 22a)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 8:19b and 22a, where we read these words:

"Is not the LORD in Zion? Is not her King in her? . . . Is there no balm in Gilead, is there no physician there?"

These four questions (above) are all parallel, and the answer to all of them is, "Yes!" None of the problems of the world, nor of our own hearts and souls are without ready remedy. The answer stares us all in the face. The problem is always to be found in our *willingness* to avail ourselves (by faith) of the only One (Jesus) who can help us.

God is in His church. He reigns there, (and from there, over all the world). He is the Great Physician. There is nothing that He cannot fix, and heal. Therefore, let all enlightened churchmen run to Christ, by faith--and find abundant rest and health in Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sometimes persons live in ways of sin and are not sensible of it because they are blinded by common custom and the examples of others." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Necessity of Self-Examination"]

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/9-11/10 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. Here is Thomas Watson, from his "A Body of Divinity" book, to help us get ready for church. . . .

"What shall we do to attain this blessed peace?

"(1.) Let us ask it of God. He is the God of peace; He beats back the roaring lion; He stills the raging of conscience. If we could call all the angels out of heaven, they could not speak peace without God. The stars cannot make day without the sun. None can make day in a dark deserted soul, but the Sun of Righteousness. . . .

"(2.) If you would have peace, make war with sin. Sin is the Achan that troubles us, the Trojan horse. What peace, so long as sin remains unmortified? If you would have peace with God, break the league with sin; give battle to sin, for it is a most just war. God has pro-
claimed it: nay, He has promised us victory. 'Sin shall not have domin-
ion,' (Rom 6:14). No way to peace, but by maintaining a war with
sin. . . .

"(3.) Go to Christ's blood for peace. Some go to fetch their peace from their own righteousness, not Christ's. They go for peace to their holy life, not Christ's death. If conscience be troubled, they strive to quiet it with their duties. This is not the right way to peace. Duties must not be neglected, nor yet idolized. Look to the blood of sprinkling, (Heb 12:24). That blood of Christ which pacified God, must pacify conscience. Christ's blood being applied by faith, gives peace. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,' (Rom 5:1). No balm to cure a wounded conscience, but the blood of Christ."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thurs., 7/8/10 Devotion (Ps. 143:7a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 143:7a, where we read these words:

"Answer me speedily, O LORD; my spirit fails! . . . "

Because we are finite creatures, and cannot see all things at once, (as God can), we are sometimes moved to make prayers like this one (above), which David offered. God knows that He may well be able to "delay" His answer to this prayer; but the person on earth, who is in such dire straits, cannot see that.

Therefore, the Lord is gracious with us, and allows us not only to make urgent pleas; but He also often answers them (even according to *our* own timetable). Are any of God's children feeling overwhelm-
ed today? Is your patience failing? Don't hesitate to cry out to God, through faith in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We borrow all our holiness from God. As the lights of the sanctuary were lighted from the middle lamp, so all the holiness of others is a lamp lighted from heaven." --Thomas Wat-
son, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wed., 7/7/10 Devotion (Matt. 17:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 17:8, where we read these words:

"When they [the three disciples] had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only."

The account above is in reference to Christ's transfiguration on the mountain--when Moses and Elijah joined the Savior and the three apostles (Peter, James, and John). After the encounter with the heroes of the Old Covenant church (Moses and Elijah), the three dis-
ciples saw "no one but Jesus only."

Why? Because everything Moses and Elijah did and wrote pointed di-
rectly and only to Jesus. And, in comparison with the Messiah, Moses and Elijah were "small potatoes." Let all faithful churchmen look to Christ alone for their souls' help and salvation. No one else can do what He alone is capable of doing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In a word, as Christ's Person excels your person, so His obedience infinitely exceeds your disobedience."
--Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tues., 7/6/10 Devotion (Ps. 139:23b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 139:23b, where we read these words:

"Try me, and know my anxieties . . . "

Every normal person who lives in the fallen world has anxieties. This is true for the converted and the unconverted. Even our Lord Jesus Christ had them, (cf. Jn. 12:27a). When we, like David (above), ask God to "know" our anxieties, we are desiring to place them out in the open, before Him.

The faithful churchman does have an antidote to anxiety, that the unbeliever does not possess: and that is faith, exercising itself in prayer. Philippians 4:6 tells us to nullify our anxieties by praying about them (with thanksgiving). Let us do this today, and enjoy the peaceful benefits that flow from Jesus' sacrifice of Himself for His church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God] values one true Christian more than all the wicked in the world. God puts a high value upon His saints; they are His jewels." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "Christians a Chosen Generation"]

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mon., 7/5/10 Devotion (Ps. 138:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 138:3, which finds David saying this:

"In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul."

Strength of soul is infinitely more important than strength of body. Most people are more concerned about their bodies, which, though of great worth, are not nearly as valuable as their souls. The way to get healthy souls is by crying out to God, in prayer, in and through the merits of Jesus Christ. Boldness results. Now, instead of pampering our bodies--we benefit both our souls *and* our bodies, through our union with Jesus.

Let us cry out to God today. He will not turn away any sincere soul, who comes to Him through Christ in faith and repentance.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As a thundering storm sours the beer in our cellars, so, when God thunders upon the conscience, it will sour and embitter sin to a man so that he has no desires after it for the present." --Christopher Love, in, "The Mortified Christian"]

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/2-4/10 Devotion

Yippee! Sunday's coming! Here's TW, in "A Divine Cordial":

"Love will make us stoop to the meanest offices. Love is a humble grace, it does not walk abroad in state, it will creep upon its hands. It will stoop and submit to anything whereby it may be serviceable to Christ. As we see in Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, both of them honourable persons, yet one takes down Christ's body with his own hands, and the other embalms it with sweet odours. It might seem much for persons of their rank to be employed in that service, but love made them do it. If we love God, we shall not think any work too mean for us, by which we may be helpful to Christ's members. Love is not squeamish; it will visit the sick, relieve the poor, wash the saints' wounds. The mother that loves her child is not coy and nice; she will do those things for her child which others would scorn to do. He who loves God will humble himself to the meanest office of love to Christ and His members."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thurs., 7/1/10 Devotion (Matt. 11:28)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 11:28, where we read these words which fell from the Savior's lips:

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Augustine's maxim is so true: "Our souls are restless until we find our rest in Thee." Are our souls "on the move" today? Are they restless, ill at ease, and unsettled? If so, then we need to come to Jesus. If not, then we are resting in Jesus. Sin causes our souls to "move around," like planets in the night sky. Faith causes them to rest, like stars in the firmament.

A soul at rest can pray to God, and can concentrate on what is truly important. A soul that is restless can only do a lot of work, hoping to assuage its guilt. God only accepts souls that come to Christ, and rest in Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "This may be a great comfort to you: God does not expect you to root out all presence of sin, but only to keep down the reigning of sin in you." --Christopher Love, in, "The Morti-
fied Christian"]