Friday, August 27, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/27-29/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! Here is TW, on God's Mercy, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book:

"Mercy coming to us in a covenant is sweetest. It was mercy that God would give Israel rain, and bread to the full, and peace, and victory over their enemies, (Lev 26:4-6)--but it was a greater mercy that God would be their God, (v. 12). To have health is a mercy, but to have Christ and salvation is a greater mercy. It is like the diamond in the ring, which casts a more sparkling lustre. . . .

"All the mercy in the creature is derived from God, and is but a drop of this ocean. The mercy and pity a mother has to her child is from God. God is called, 'The Father of mercies,' because He begets all the mercies in the world, (2 Cor 1:3). If God has put any kindness into the creature, how much kindness is in Him who is the Father of mercy!

"As God's mercy makes the saints happy, so it should make them humble. Mercy is not the fruit of our goodness, but the fruit of God's goodness. Mercy is an alms that God bestows. They have no cause to be proud that live upon the alms of God's mercy. 'If I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head,' (Job 10:15): 'All my righteousness is the effect of God's mercy, therefore I will be humble and will not lift up my head.' "

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thurs., 8/26/10 Devotion (Ps. 34:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 34:4, where we read these words:

"I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."

It is a lovely blessing to be delivered from fears. Fears are like mos-
quitoes--once you have driven them out, there are more that show up. It is not shameful to have fears. But only faith-filled churchmen can be truly "delivered" from them. And how? By exercising faith, in seek-
ing (or calling on) the Lord.

Here is a good prayer: "Father, I do not trust myself. Today, I am en-
tirely dependent upon Christ. I place my faith in Him, not in myself or anyone else. Give me victory over all my fears and foes--in Jesus." What happened to David (above), is our right too, as children of God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The hypocrite takes more care to make a covenant than to keep it, and is more studious to enter into religion than that religion should enter into him." --Thomas Watson, in his ser-
mon, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wed., 8/25/10 Devotion (Rom. 15:13)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 15:13, where we read these words:

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

This sweet verse (above) ought to encourage all of us, today. Note that it is "in believing" that we receive the blessings of joy and peace from the "God of hope." It is not in doing, trying, or striving that we benefit from these heavenly things--but rather in "believing."

Let all of us who have put our faith in Jesus, and who are joined to Him in His church "abound in hope." We are the only ones who have a reason to have hope at all; and we are to flourish in it. Hope in Christ will never disappoint. Let us trust in Him this day.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you would regain a comfortable assur-
ance of God's love, keep a holy and conscientious care to live in grace throughout the course of your lives." --Christopher Love, in, "The De-
jected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tues., 8/24/10 Devotion (Ps. 32:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 32:1, where we read these words:

"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."

If sins are covered--and they can only be atoned for by apprehending the benefits of Christ's sacrifice of Himself on the cross, by faith--then a person is truly blessed. If a soul lives in unforgiveness before God, that soul can in no way be truly happy, or at peace.

Forgiven people are not perfect people--they continue to sin, while they live here. But the guilt of their trespasses is forever removed, and their iniquity is not "imputed" to them, (see v. 2). Instead, Christ's perfect righteousness is imputed to them. Who are these blessed people? Believing churchmen--who do not trust in themselves, but in Jesus alone.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We then, who are Christians, having made a vow to Christ in baptism, and so often renewed it in the blessed sacrament [of the Lord's Supper], should, with much contentment, choose rather to suffer than violate our sacred oath." --Thomas Wat-
son, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mon., 8/23/10 Devotion (Rom. 13:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 13:14, where we read these words:

"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."

How do we "put on the Lord Jesus Christ"? It is an intentional act of a regenerated will, that, by faith, covers one's soul with Jesus and His righteousness--much like a person would put on an overcoat. When we "put on Jesus," we are, of necessity, also "taking off" everything that is in opposition to Him, viz. known sin.

The "flesh" will always be with us in this world. The way to "disable" it, is not by trying to take it on, one-on-one. We are no match for it. Instead, we pit our Savior against it. The flesh has no power against the Son of God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Therefore, now go to Jesus, the Supreme Head of the church and Bishop of souls. . . . He ever lives to provide for His church, and to guide and feed HIs flock." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Sorrows of the Bereaved Spread before Jesus"]

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/20-22/10 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sun-day! Here is TW, on the subject of God's knowledge of all things, (from "A Body of Divinity"):

"God's knowledge is infallible; there is no mistake in His knowledge. Human knowledge is subject to error. A physician may mistake the cause of a disease; but God's knowledge is unerring; He can neither deceive, nor be deceived. He cannot deceive, because He is truth, nor be deceived, because He is wisdom. God's knowledge is instantaneous. Our knowledge is successive, one thing after another. We argue from the effect to the cause. God knows things past, present, and to come, 'uno intuito,' at once; they are all before Him in one entire prospect.

"God's knowledge is retentive; He never loses any of His knowledge. He has 'reminiscentia,' as well as 'intelligentia'; He remembers as well as understands. Many things elapse out of our minds, but God's know-
ledge is eternized. Things transacted a thousand years ago, are as fresh to Him as if they were done but the last minute. Thus He is per-
fect in knowledge."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thurs., 8/19/10 Devotion (Rom. 9:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 9:20, where we read these words:

"But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' "

Though God would have His own sincere churchmen be very gut-wrenchingly candid with Him, and tell Him everything in their hearts, and lay everything bare before Him--the Lord does *not* entertain complaints about *why* He has made people in one way or another.

Even when it comes to His sovereign election, (which is the immedi-
ate context of Rom. 9:20), we are not allowed to "reply against God." Of course, no one cares whether they please God, or not, until they are regenerated (born again). Therefore, it is especially ill-suited for God's redeemed people to quarrel with the Lord, as to why He elects some, and not others.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Without Christ's Spirit the soul is in con-
fusion, without beauty and form . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wed., 8/18/10 Devotion (Rom. 8:1[a])

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 8:1[a], which says this:

"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus . . . "

*How* can there "now be no condemnation" for the churchmen and for Paul--especially given that he (Paul) had just enunciated (in ch. 7 of Romans) his indwelling sin nature (that just won't go away entirely in this life)? Because Someone else (Jesus) had accomplished redemption and forgiveness for him (and for all believers), (cf. Rom. 8:2-3).

If it was at all up to us, there would be no hope at all. We would be doomed, and condemned. But our salvation is not dependent upon us at all. Instead, it rests entirely on the Lord Jesus Christ. How do we then participate in His atonement? By faith, (plus nothing). This gos-
pel is truly revolutionary, and the world has no understanding of it. But let us who are known by God bless Him for revealing it to us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The gospel stands in no need of external evidences of its truth and divinity. It carries its own light and evidence with it." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Wisdom of God"]

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tues., 8/17/10 Devotion (Jer. 46:27)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 46:27, which says this:

"But do not fear, O My servant Jacob, and do not be dismayed, O Israel! For behold, I will save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity; Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; no one shall make him afraid."

Note the blessed promise God makes to His church (in every age). No matter how bad things are, or what direction they seem to be going--the Lord cannot be prevented from extending His kingdom, and spreading grace on His children.

Many people today anticipate evil days. It is easy to do this. But it takes faith to believe verses such as this one (above). As believers in Jesus we must never lose heart. To do so is to give into the enemy. Let us trust God to keep His promises to His beloved bride.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Evil is an evil thing, and yet it may be a good thing that evil should be in the world." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Decrees of God"]

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mon., 8/16/10 Devotion (Rom. 6:11)

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

"Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

This (above) is a neat way to frame the churchman's life. To a very large extent, overall victory or defeat as a Christian is determined by how we "reckon" ourselves. If we "reckon" ourselves to be "dead" to something, this will have a dramatic effect on us. Conversely, if we "reckon" ourselves to be "alive" to Someone--this also will profoundly impact us.

Faith is largely about "reckoning." The battle is won or lost in our hearts and minds, way before we ever encounter the stimuli, i.e. temptation (that will prove, or disprove our "mettle"). Let us take time today to "reckon" ourselves as belonging to Jesus, and hence dead to sin.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Joseph dreamed of the preferment and honor he would have above his brethren, but dreamed not of being sold into Egypt, nor of his imprisonment there." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/13-15/10 Devotion

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

"If God be a Spirit, then He is impassible; He is not capable of being hurt. Wicked men set up their banners, and bend their forces against God; they are said to fight against God, (Acts 5:39). But what will this fighting avail? What hurt can they do to the Deity? God is a Spirit, and therefore cannot receive any hurtful impression. Wicked men may imagine evil against the Lord. Nahum 1:9: 'What do you imagine against the Lord?' But God being a Spirit is impenetrable. The wicked may eclipse His glory, but cannot touch His essence. God can hurt His enemies, but they cannot hurt Him. Julian might throw up his dagger into the air against Heaven, but could not touch the Deity. God is a Spirit, invisible. How can the wicked with all their forces hurt Him, when they cannot see Him? Hence all the attempts of the wicked against God are foolish, and prove abortive. Psa. 2:2, 4: 'The kings of the earth set themselves against the Lord and against His Anoint-
ed. . . . He that sits in the heavens shall laugh.' God is a Spirit, He can wound them, but they cannot touch Him."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thurs., 8/12/10 Devotion (Rom. 2:28a, 29a)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 2:28a & 29a, where we read these words:

"For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly . . . but he is a Jew who is one inwardly . . . "

Paul here (above) affirms that the true Jew is one who believes in Jesus--be he or she a Jew or a Gentile (by ethnicity). All of the Old Testament Jewish believers put their trust in Jesus (though they didn't yet know His name). The same is true in the New Testament, and in the era of the New Covenant (in which we currently live).

The "new" "Israel of God," the New Covenant church (cf. Gal. 6:16b), is made up of Jews *and* Gentiles, and they are all the authentic sons of Abraham, the father of our faith. Let us (especially who were Gen-
tiles by birth) thank God that He has ingrafted us into the Vine of Christ.

[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"]

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wed., 8/11/10 Devotion (Rom. 1:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 1:20, where we read these words:

"For since the creation of the world His [God's] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse . . . "

This (above) is Paul's Christianized version of the Cosmological Argu-
ment for the existence of God: "If anything exists, an Absolutely Nec-
essary Being [God] exists. Something exists; therefore, God exists." The problems sinners have with God are almost never intellectual. Practically no one is so stupid, so as to actually think there *is* no God.

Instead, the issue unrepentant people have with God is His holiness. If He is so incredibly powerful, as to create the universe; then He has other attributes, too--and two of these are that He is good, and just. This is where the "rub" is: no sinner wants to acknowledge the exist-
ence of a morally-perfect God, since then he is held to account. Churchmen who are in Christ, however, know that Jesus is our cover-
ing (for our sin).

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a dangerous thing for people to ne-
glect, resist, or rebel against the ministry of the Word." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tues., 8/10/10 Devotion (Ps. 11:1)

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

"In the LORD I put my trust; how can you say to my soul, 'Flee as a bird to your mountain'?"

David here (above) is basically saying, "Since I trust the Lord, why should I take your counsel, and seek some artificial escape (from what troubles me)?" The world is quick to give its advice. It usually goes along these paths: "Do you have a hassle? Then, divorce it. Look out for 'Number One'."

The problem with this "solution" (among other things), is that, 1) this doesn't work; it only makes things worse; and 2) more-importantly, it does not honor God--in that our faith is to cause us to take on chal-
lenges, rather than run away from them. Let all Christ's churchmen have David's spirit, and not that of the world's.

[Puritan quote of the day: "They have armies on their side, and strength and powers of the world on their side; but we have truth and God on our side!" --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mon., 8/9/10 Devotion (Acts 27:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 27:20, where we read these words:

"Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up."

There is a sense in which desperation and/or despair is not such a bad thing. The sailors (described above) where now ready to "cash in their chips." But God had other plans for them--especially since the Apostle Paul was onboard the ship.

When we finally, by grace, give up all hope of being saved by our own efforts, works, the law, or self--then, for the first time, we are ac-
tually in a position to *be* saved. Christ will have no co-attendants to His redemptive work and glory. Let us never give up on Jesus; even though we must give up on ourselves everyday.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Most men are of a private, narrow spirit. They are not of the spirit of the Apostle Paul, nor of the psalmist, who preferred Jerusalem before his chief joy, (Ps. 137:6)." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Character of Paul an Example to Chris-

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/6-8/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church! Here is the great Thomas Watson, from his "A Body of Divinity" book. His teaching on Justification is heavenly. . . .

"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.

"(2.) Comfort in case of hard censures. The world censures the people of God as proud and hypocritical, and the troublers of Israel; but though men censure and condemn the godly, yet God has justified them, and as He has now justified them, so at the day of judgment He will openly justify them, and pronounce them righteous before men and angels. God is so just and holy a judge, that having once justified His people He will never condemn them. Pilate justified Christ, saying, 'I find no fault in Him'; yet after this he condemned Him; but God having publicly justified His saints, He will never condemn them; for 'whom He justified, them He also glorified.' "

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thurs., 8/5/10 Devotion (Acts 23:1)

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

"Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, 'Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.' "

This is a pretty remarkable statement by Paul (above)--but he meant it. The old Saul of Tarsus "lived in all good conscience" even when he was persecuting Christ's church. The new Apostle Paul "lived in all good conscience" as he was now proclaiming Christ, and planting churches throughout the Gentile world.

"Good conscience" is good, but it is not good enough. It needs to be led by the truth of the gospel, which comes to souls as a sovereign act of God's grace. *Regenerated* "good consciences" are especially good, because they have the Light (Jesus) guiding them. May our consciences be guided by Christ today, as we live by faith.

[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"]

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wed., 8/4/10 Devotion (Jer. 32:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 32:15, where we read these words:

"For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.' "

This (above) is such an encouraging verse. Even though Judah would suffer (justly) for its idolatry, etc.--God would nevertheless one day restore greatness and goodness "in this land." Faith is essentially en-
joying *now* what the Lord promises in its fullness in the future.

Our churches and our nations may well be languishing, from decades of decay and sin--but it is a sure thing that Christ will revive His church; and it is even possible that He may bring new life to our countries as well. At any rate, let all God's children rejoice in Jesus wherever we are, even today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As for any true natural excellency of spirit, godliness does not quench it, but raises it, beautifies it, and perfects it." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tues., 8/3/10 Devotion (Jer. 31:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 31:3, where these up-
lifting words are found:

"The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: 'Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.' "

Without this promise there would never be any hope for any of God's people. God's love for His church is not conjured-up in space and time; it is not a result of anything "good" in us, that draws His attention. Instead, God's affection for His people was firmly established before He ever created anything. And based on this, He "draws" His children, irresistibly, to Himself, according to His perfect time and plan.

Let us be thankful that ours is a God of love. Without this love, there would be nothing to live for.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sinner, the day you leave your sins and set upon a course of holiness, God will pardon all that is past. . . . The Lord never upbraids a penitent with former unkindnesses." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Mischief of Sin"]

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mon., 8/2/10 Devotion (Judg. 16:15a)

Today's encouragement comes from Judges 16:15a, where we read these words:

"Then [Delilah] said to [Samson], 'How can you say, "I love you," when your heart is not with me?' "

God might ask this question of all professing believers. Consider how often in our prayers and praises we affirm love for God. But, do our hearts agree with our lips? Above everything, we should strive with all our might to give our hearts to Christ. If He has our hearts, He has our all--and the grief of our many failings will be swallowed-up in the satisfaction of knowing that our hearts still beat in love for God.

True religion is all a matter of the heart. Without this issue being settled, we cannot make any further progress.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Three men, asking one another what made them leave sin: one says, 'I think of the joys of heaven'; another, 'I think of the torments of hell'; but the third, 'I think of the love of God, and that makes me forsake it.'" --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doc-
trine of Repentance"]