Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thurs., 9/30/10 Devotion (Gal. 6:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 6:10, where we read these words:

"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."

Christians are to do good to all people; but first and foremost to their fellow-churchmen. This makes sense: the family of God must look out for each other first, before anyone else. Why? Partly because our clos-
est heart-contacts are those natural family members who are also in the covenant of the (universal, yet particular) church. After them, our next closest "kin" is the rest of the church. From there, we are to care for people in their right order: other (unbelieving) family members, neighbors, co-workers, et. al.

As we follow this God-ordained pattern, we find our resources of time, talent, and treasure used in ways that please Christ, and for-
ward His kingdom (of His church).

[Puritan quote of the day: "When men are godly, their parts [natural abilities] are not debased by their godliness but raised." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wed., 9/29/10 Devotion (Gal. 5:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 5:1, where we read these great words:

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."

Every day when we wake up we are faced with an array of forces that are dead-set on robbing us of our joy in Christ. First among them is our own flesh, which continues to desire to have a right standing with God independently of Jesus' blood atonement. On top of this, there is the world of works-religion, which preaches law to us, and insists that we be enslaved by rules (just like they are).

It takes courage, determination, and intentionality *not* to be swept away with the rest of the world, which is in bondage to its own "right-
eousness." Let all faith-redeemed churchmen trust, not in themselves, but in Jesus only. Let us reaffirm our liberty in Christ today, by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The devil is the most sullen spirit there is, and yet the most proud." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tues., 9/28/10 Devotion (2 Sam. 24:14)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 24:14, where we read these words:

"And David said to Gad [the prophet], 'I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.' "

When faced with the options of dealing directly with God, or with man, David chose God. Why? Because he knew the Lord to be gracious and merciful. Also, he knew that man can be cruel and brutal. What an enlightened perspective! Today, most sinners imagine themselves to be good, fair, and even-handed; while they think God is mean and unreasonable.

Actually, the exact opposite is the case. The Lord is good; He is slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindnesses. Sinners, on the other hand, are vicious and unjust. Let us today--like David--cast ourselves on *God's* mercy, trusting in Jesus, and not in man.

[Puritan quote of the day: "That sin is worse than affliction is evident because the greatest judgment God lays upon a man in this life is to let him sin without control." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mon., 9/27/10 Devotion (Ps. 78:38a)

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

"But He [God], being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity . . . "

What beautiful words these are, (above). The fact that a Holy God forgives sins is amazing in itself. The *way* He does it is even more astounding: through the shedding of His own Son's blood. This for-
giveness is imputed to the souls of sinners by the grace of faith (and nothing else).

If these truths cannot move us, then nothing can. Psalm 78 details the persistent unfaithfulness of the Lord's own covenant people--and yet He (God) was "full of compassion" toward them, and "forgave their iniquity." Are we members of Christ's church today, by grace through faith? If so, this unspeakable blessing is ours, too.

[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"]

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/24-26/10 Devotion

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

"Why must we glorify God?

"Because He gives us our being, Psa. 100:3: 'It is He that made us.' We think it a great kindness in a man to spare our life, but what kindness is it in God to give us our life! We draw our breath from Him; and as life, so all the comforts of life are from Him. He gives us health, which is the sauce to sweeten our life; and food, which is the oil that nourishes the lamp of life. If all we receive is from His bounty, is it not reasonable we should glorify Him? Should we not live to Him, see-
ing we live by Him? Rom. 11:36: 'For of Him, and through Him, are all things.' All we have is of His fulness; all we have is through His free grace; and therefore to Him should be all. It follows, therefore, 'To Him be glory for ever.' God is not our Benefactor only, but our Founder, as rivers that come from the sea empty their silver streams into the sea again."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thurs., 9/23/10 Devotion (2 Cor. 12:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 12:8, where we read these words:

"Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me."

Paul is referring (above) to his famous (and never-fully-defined) "thorn in the flesh." All regenerate churchmen have a "thorn in the flesh." Think with me about our most difficult and persistent "heart-struggle"--the situation that we have to face everyday, and which we wish would just "go away." This is our "thorn in the flesh." Is it wrong for us to desire to be released from this hardship? No. Paul prayed three times that it might "depart from" him.

But a Sovereign God gives us these "thorns" for our good. If we could see things as the Lord does, we would actually *thank* Him that we have these problems. By faith, we may do that anyway--recognizing with Paul that God's grace is "sufficient" for us, in Christ, (cf. v. 9).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The object of divine love is God. God is good, and good is amiable. God is all good; and there is none good but one, and that is God." --Richard Alleine, in, "Heaven Opened"]

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wed., 9/22/10 Devotion (2 Sam. 18:9b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 18:9b, where we read these words:

" . . . so he [Absalom] was left hanging between heaven and earth."

When our Lord Jesus Christ was on the cross, bearing the sins of all the elect from all time, He hung, as it were, "between heaven and earth." He bridged the infinite gap between a holy God and sinful men. The regenerate churchman, who struggles through the process of sanctification, also, in a sense, is suspended "between heaven and earth." His old flesh nature (earth), is at war with his new nature (heaven).

Where are the eyes of our hearts focused, today? If they are on earth, we will naturally gravitate there. If they are in heaven, we will, by grace, soar there (in our souls).

[Puritan quote of the day: "In His last sufferings, Christ sapped the very foundations of Satan's kingdom. He conquered His enemies in their own territories, and beat them with their own weapons, as David cut off Goliath's head with his own sword." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Excellency of Christ"]

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tues., 9/21/10 Devotion (Ps. 72:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 72:17, where we read these words:

"His [Christ's] name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; all nations shall call Him blessed."

Sometimes, when we see pictures of international terrorists, we might notice in the background maps of the world. This should remind us that the devil hopes to take over the entire globe, employing these, his minions. But this will never happen. Verses such as Ps. 72:17 (above) assure us that Jesus Christ and His church--and no one or nothing else--will indeed prevail.

Let us bless God for this precious truth; and then let us live by even more hearty faith (than before). This faith will manifest itself in the church's worship, love, service, and evangelism.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church of Christ, notwithstanding her imperfections, is in a safer state than Adam was in innocence." --Na-
thaniel Vincent, in, "A Discourse concerning Love"]

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mon., 9/20/10 Devotion (Ps. 71:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 71:14, which says this:

"But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more."

The psalmist, likely David, had just been enunciating to God in prayer the trials and woes he had been experiencing, at the hands of wicked men. But his response to this trouble is not retreat or despair--instead he "ratches-up" his hope and praise. This is a good model of how we are to handle our difficulties. Does Satan throw some garbage our way? Let us redouble our commitment to Christ.

Instead of collapsing under our burdens, we may grow stronger from bearing them; and then, leave them at Jesus' feet.

[Puritan quote of the day: "And so to come into God's presence is the greatest joy for a godly man in this life, to come into God's presence in His ordinances in His Church." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/17-19/10 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is *almost* here! We GET to go to church! Here is an amazing quote from Martin Luther, in his remarkable book, entitled, "Commentary on Galatians," (an all-time favorite book of mine)! . . .

"To be brief, all the enemies which did before torment and oppress me, Christ Jesus has brought to nothing: He has spoiled them, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them by His cross (Col. 2:15), in such sort that they can now rule and reign no more over me, but are constrained to obey me.

"By this we may plainly see that there is nothing here for us to do, only it belongs to us, to hear that these things have been wrought and done in this sort, and by faith to apprehend the same. Now when I have thus apprehended Christ by faith, and through Him am dead to the law, then I do good works, I love God, I give thanks to Him, I exercise charity towards my neighbors. But this charity or works fol-
lowing, do neither form nor adorn my faith, but my faith forms and adorns charity. This is our divinity [doctrine], which seems strange and marvelous, or rather, foolish to carnal reason: namely, that I am not only blind and deaf to the law, yea, delivered and freed from the law, but also wholly dead unto the same."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thurs., 9/16/10 Devotion (2 Cor. 5:17)

Today's encouragement comes from the familiar and lovely words of 2 Corinthians 5:17, which say this:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

Newness is a good thing. For the believing churchman, all past sins are forgiven--covered by the blood of Jesus; and the present and the future is brighter (than the past). People outside of Jesus also want "newness," and seek it all the time. But they remain in their "ancient" sins: the sin they shared in Adam; and the sins they have committed along the paths of their lives.

Christians may need to suffer more than most people; but we also have a surpassing glory that more than compensates for it: and that is our blessed life in Jesus. Love Him today; and enjoy Him.

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wed., 9/15/10 Devotion (2 Cor. 4:1)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 4:1, where we read these words:

"Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart."

This chapter (2 Cor. 4), is amazing. Any believer that has been through really hard times can gain great comfort and strength from it. Here, in v. 1, Paul edifies himself with the reminder of what God had done in him (in the past), with an encouraging assurance of what He will continue to do through him (in the future).

If we have "received mercy" from God, in the blood atonement of Jesus--received by grace through faith alone, plus nothing--THEN, but only then, we have no reason to "lose heart." If the Lord has been *that* good to us, then why should we imagine that He will come up short on any other need or issue that we will face, (cf. Rom. 8:32)? Let us trust Christ today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not so much the sins we have commit-
ted that so provoke and grieve Christ as that we refuse the [medicine] of repentance which He prescribes." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doc-
trine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tues., 9/14/10 Devotion (2 Cor. 3:6a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 3:6a, where we read these words:

" . . . [God] also made us sufficient as ministers of the new cove-
nant . . . "

As I read these words this morning, it dawned on me that the New Covenant church ministers look a lot different from the Old Covenant ministers. In the old order, only Hebrews could minister at the altar, and these were from one tribe (Levi). In the new order, God calls His ministers from all kinds of people groups, ethnicities, and races.

How can we ordinary people be made "sufficient as ministers of the new covenant"? Only by the grace of God. The same grace that saves us, is the grace that sustains us. May all of Christ's church--clergy and laity--be filled with the joy of ministering life in Jesus today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As God has two places He dwells in, heav-
en and a humble heart, so the devil has two places he dwells in, hell and a hard heart." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repent-

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mon., 9/13/10 Devotion (2 Sam. 8:6b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 8:6b, where we read these words:

" . . . The LORD preserved David wherever he went."

This phrase is repeated, in 2 Sam. 8:14b. They are encouraging words, especially since David was involved in warfare, and the taking of land, etc. When we are engaged in difficult and dangerous activity, it is always a great comfort to know that "The Lord preserves" us, His churchmen.

Therefore, let us act with boldness and courage this day--recognizing that the God of heaven sustains, protects, and provides for us. May our hearts be strengthened by the grace of Christ, and may our faith in Him buoy us up, even against the strongest foes we may have to face today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the riches of the world, or the honors and pleasure of it, all the learning, the power, and the policy of the world, all the worldly titles and distinctions cannot make the sinful creature happy or do him any good." --Jonathan Edwards, in his ser-
mon, "Christ is the Christian's All"]

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/10-12/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Di-
vine Cordial" book:

"Afflictions work for good, as they are the means of making us happy. 'Happy is the man whom God corrects,' (Job 5:17). What politician or moralist ever placed happiness in the cross? Job does. 'Happy is the man whom God corrects.' It may be said, 'How do afflictions make us happy?' We reply that, being sanctified, they bring us nearer to God.

"The moon in the full is furthest off from the sun: so are many further off from God in the full moon of prosperity; afflictions bring them nearer to God. The magnet of mercy does not draw us so near to God as the cords of affliction. When Absalom set Joab's corn on fire, then he came running to Absalom, (2 Sam. 14:30). When God sets our worldly comforts on fire, then we run to Him, and make our peace with Him. When the prodigal was pinched with want, then he return-
ed home to his father, (Luke 15:13). When the dove could not find any rest for the sole of her foot, then she flew to the ark. When God brings a deluge of affliction upon us, then we fly to the ark of Christ. Thus affliction makes us happy, in bringing us nearer to God. Faith can make use of the waters of affliction, to swim faster to Christ."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thurs., 9/9/10 Devotion (1 Cor. 14:40)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 14:40, where we read these words:

"Let all things be done decently and in order."

Paul ends the 14th chapter of 1 Corinthians with these words (above). Earlier, he had given specific instructions about Sunday church worship in the congregation (in Corinth). Though much of that detail is now abrogated, in that God's full written revelation is completed--all of it was to be done, "decently and in order."

The Lord is in no way a "kill-joy"; and His insistence on dignity and decorum in His worship is not designed to dishearten us. Instead, the exact opposite is true. God provides structure and order, so that in the church--particularly in Sunday worship--we have a practical "anchor," since we have to deal with a disordered and insane world (the rest of the week).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Flesh and blood may have its fears and disquiets, but grace checks them." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wed., 9/8/10 Devotion (Ps. 50:6b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 50:6b, where we read these words:

" . . . For God Himself is Judge."

God has commanded His churchmen--particularly, the officers in the church--to make all kinds of judgments. Sometimes we are to judge those in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 6:5); and one day the saints will actually judge the angels (1 Cor. 6:3). Of course, all God's people judge behavior and action--even as the reprobate do (though the saints judge sin to be wrong, while the ungodly judge it to be
right). . . .

But, at the end of the day, there is only One Supreme Judge, and that is God Himself, (as per Ps. 50:6b). Only He may judge the eternal state of any person. None of us know where any departed soul ever went--heaven or hell--(with the singular exception of Judas). Let us be thankful that God is a Just Judge, who forgives those who believe in Jesus' blood atonement as their only hope for salvation.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let not ministers be either shaken with fear or seduced with flattery." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tues., 9/7/10 Devotion (Ps. 49:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 49:5, where we read these words:

"Why should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity at my heels surrounds me?"

The psalmist asks a good question here (above). Is fear the proper response to "days of evil"? Is cowering what God requires of His churchmen when "iniquity" "surrounds" them? Indeed, no. Instead, faith and resulting faithfulness is the be employed. Faith in Christ says, " 'The days of evil' will not intimidate me, or overwhelm me."

Let's face it: these are not great days, in many ways; and yet Christ's church is still expanding, and the gospel is going out. No matter whether things look promising, or foreboding--let all the faithful church glory in Jesus today, and trust in our Sovereign God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The true God perfectly knows the circum-
stances of everyone who prays to Him throughout the world." --Jon-
athan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Most High a Prayer-Hearing God"]