Friday, October 29, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/29-31/10 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! In order to help us get ready for worship services, let us hear from Richard Sibbes, (yes, that's NOT Thomas Watson!), from his great book, "The Bruised Reed":

"What should we learn from this, but to 'come boldly to the throne of grace,' (Heb. 4:16), in all our grievances? Shall our sins discourage us, when Christ appears there only for sinners? Are you bruised? Be of good comfort, He calls you. Conceal not your wounds, open all before Him and take not Satan's counsel. Go to Christ, although trembling, as the poor woman who said, 'If I may but touch His garment,' (Matt. 9:21). We shall be healed and have a gracious answer. Go boldly to God in our flesh; Christ is flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone for this reason, that we might go boldly to Him.

"Never fear to go to God, since we have such a Mediator with Him, who is not only our friend but our brother and husband. Well might the angel proclaim from heaven, 'Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,' (Luke 2:10). Well might the apostle stir us up to 'rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice,' (Php. 4:4). Paul was well advised upon what grounds he did it. Peace and joy are two main fruits of Christ's kingdom. Let the world be as it will, if we cannot rejoice in the world, yet we may rejoice in the Lord. His presence makes any condition comfortable. 'Be not afraid,' says Christ to His disciples, when they were afraid, as if they had seen a ghost, 'It is I,' (Matt. 14:27), as if there were no cause of fear where He was present."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thurs., 10/28/10 Devotion (Ps. 119:86c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:86c, where we read these few words:

" . . . Help me!"

Sometimes the best prayers are the simplest ones. God is not impres-
sed with flowery oratory in prayer. He would rather hear a few syl-
lables of gut-wrenching honesty, than a whole bunch of religious in-

Do we need help today? Let us ask Christ for it. Let's be as specific as we can be, for our own soul's well-being; but let us not for a moment think that the Lord can't figure out what we're trying to say, if we're having a hard time getting the words out. Prayer is important--but it is not a magical genie coming out of a bottle, and God does not hold us to any particular formulas.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is no such thing as any inordinate-
ness in holy affections; there is no such thing as excess in longings after the discoveries of the beauty of Christ Jesus . . . Men may be as covetous as they please (if I may so speak) after spiritual riches . . . " --Jonathan Edwards, in one of his sermons]

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wed., 10/27/10 Devotion (1 Tim. 5:23)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 5:23, where we read these words:

"No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities."

This is a very profound verse (above) for a number of reasons. Con-
sider these: first, Timothy, the beloved "adopted son" of the Apostle Paul, had "frequent infirmities." If Christians are never to be sick, then why didn't Paul simply heal Timothy? The fact is (certainly) that Paul prayed for Timothy; and yet God allowed Timothy to remain hindered by sickness. Secondly, medicine is good, (as wine was used as medicine). And thirdly, wine is good--as God gave it to us, "To make glad the heart of man," (as per Ps. 104:15a).

All this to say, that the Lord is eminently reasonable, and gracious. He has provided His church *all* good things, in Jesus!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do I lack bread? I have Christ, the Bread of Life. Am I under defilement? His blood is like the trees of the sanc-
tuary: not only for meat, but for medicine." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tues., 10/26/10 Devotion (1 Tim. 4:6a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 4:6a, where we read these words:

"If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good min-
ister of Jesus Christ . . . "

Wow--just *what* instruction will make a man "a good minister of Jesus Christ"? The words that preceded: the warning that heretics would come along and preach a "gospel" of self-deprivation; that (rather) "every creature of of God is [actually] good," (v. 4a); and that churchmen are to be thankful for *everything* good that God gives them, and that they are to "sanctify" those things, by prayer (vv. 4b-5).

Why does that teaching make a minister a "good" servant of Christ? Because it points people to the One (Jesus) who is all-good. Also it directs sinners *away* from all false religions, and their specious claims of salvation (based on works, law, or self).

[Puritan quote of the day: "A true Christian grows in beauty. Grace is the best complexion of the soul. It is, at the first planting, like Rachel: fair to look upon, but, the more it lives, the more it sends forth its rays of beauty." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Con-

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mon., 10/25/10 Devotion (2 Ki. 6:33b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 6:33b, where we find these words:

" . . . And then the king [of Israel] said, 'Surely this calamity is from the LORD; why should I wait for the LORD any longer?' "

Many people fail in their religion because of impatience. Here, the king of Israel is right: God sent the trouble with which they were dealing. But he was wrong, in thinking that it was futile to "wait for the LORD any longer." Little did he know that in the very next chapter God would bring about a great and miraculous deliverance.

If we are almost at the end of our ropes today, and we are tempted to give up on God--let us be sure not to do this. The Lord is always faith-
ful to His church; and all alternatives to Christ only lead to much worse disasters (in this world, and in the one to come).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Oh, do not let the devil be your master, nor the world your god. Do not let sin cheat and impose upon you with its false and counterfeit delights." --Timothy Rogers, in, "Trouble of Mind and the Disease of Melancholy"]

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/22-24/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. He is dealing with our chief end of glorifying God here. . . .

"Glorifying God consists in adoration, or worship. Psa. 29:2: 'Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.' There is a twofold worship: (1.) A civil reverence which we give to persons of honour. Gen. 23:7: 'Abraham stood up and bow-
ed himself to the children of Heth.' Piety is no enemy to courtesy. (2.) A divine worship which we give to God as His royal prerogative. Neh. 8:6: 'They bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces towards the ground.'

"This divine worship God is very jealous of; it is the apple of His eye, the pearl of His crown; which He guards, as He did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God Himself has appoint-
ed, else it is offering strange fire, (Lev. 10:1). The Lord would have Moses make the tabernacle, 'according to the pattern in the mount,' (Exod. 25:40). He must not leave out anything in the pattern, nor add to it. If God was so exact and curious about the place of worship, how exact will He be about the matter of His worship! Surely here every-
thing must be according to the pattern prescribed in His word."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thurs., 10/21/10 Devotion (Dan. 6:3a)

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

"Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and sa-
traps, because an excellent spirit was in him . . . "

Daniel was an extraordinarily-gifted man. He had faith, integrity, in-
telligence, looks, position, honor, and the respect of all his super-
iors. But what is interesting--and we see this as an almost-universal fact--is that his contemporaries both envied him, and sought to bring him down.

When we find these "excellent spirit"-type of churchmen--we should seek to emulate them; and not to destroy them. They are models to us of what we can all be, too. Let us learn to appreciate what God Himself admires; and let us not forget the fate of the enemies of such souls: they--Daniel's accusers--ended up being dinner for a bunch of hungry lions(!)

[Puritan quote of the day: "A true saint thinks he can never speak too well of God or too ill of himself." --Richard Steele, in, "The Character of an Upright Man"]

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wed., 10/20/10 Devotion (Ps. 111:4b, 5b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 111:4b & 5b, where we read these words:

"The LORD is gracious and full of compassion. . . . He will ever be mindful of His covenant."

What a great God believing churchmen serve! He is amazingly merci-
ful; and He is totally committed to His covenant (i.e. keeping His promises to His church, in Christ's blood atonement). The world, our own flesh, and the devil are always seeking to make us think that the Lord is anything *but* "gracious and full of compassion"--but at the end of the day, all the redeemed know this to be true.

Since we have such a wonderful God, let us serve Him with cheerful-
ness and vivacity today. While we live in this world, we have the honor and privilege of overcoming our weaknesses (by faith); and, as we do this, we can lift up the Name of the Lord Jesus before the watching world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Though heaven is God's glorious mansion, yet it will not serve His turn. God does not think that to be enough unless He has a dwelling also in a tender, broken, humble spirit."
--Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Fear"]

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tues., 10/19/10 Devotion (1 Thess. 5:15b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:15b, where we read these words:

" . . . but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all."

I had never really noticed this phrase (above) before. God would have us pursue what is good--this we readily understand; but He would have us to this "both for *ourselves*," as well as "for all." This seems a bit like the "airplane principle": "put your own mask on first, and then put it on the child next to you."

It makes sense: if we are not cognizant of the states of our own hearts, we can be of little good use to the well-being of others. Are we faith-filled churchmen today, trusting in Jesus? If so, then let us pursue what is good--both for ourselves, as well as everybody else.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have heaven while you are on earth when you have a contented spirit; yea, in some regards it is better than heaven." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment"]

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mon., 10/18/10 Devotion (Ps. 107:27b-28)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 107:27b & 28, where we read these words:

" . . . And [when they] are at their wits' end. Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses."

My scripture readings today were rife with examples of people--some faithful and some unfaithful--crying out to God, and being given re-
lief. In Daniel, the three young men are saved from the fire. In 1 Kings, the wicked King Ahab is spared for a while (because he actually humbled himself).

. . . And here (above), in Psalm 107, we see numerous accounts of how merciful God is, when sinners simply yell up to heaven, for help. How true it is, that we fallen creatures have to be brought to our "wits' end" before we look to the Only One (Jesus) who can save us. Let us cry out to God for help today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Jesus Christ never thinks He has fully heal-
ed us, till He has drawn His own beautiful image upon us." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon entitled, "The Soul's Malady and Cure"]

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/15-17/10 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! We get to go to church! Here is Thomas Watson, from his excellent work, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God":

"How we are capable of drawing near to God.

"By nature we stand in opposition to God, (Col. 1:21). We are alien-
ated, and enemies. How then can we approach near to God? Answer: It is through a Mediator. Jesus Christ is the screen between us and divine justice. Christ as our High Priest assumes our flesh. Christ's flesh is called a 'veil,' (Heb. 10:20). As Moses when his face shone so exceedingly bright put a veil upon it, and then Israel might approach near to him and look upon him: so Christ having veiled Himself with our human nature, we may now draw near to God and behold Him.

"And as Christ makes way for us into the Holy of Holies by His incar-
nation, so also by His crucifixion. He died to make God and us friends. The divine law being infringed, God's justice was provoked, and satis-
faction demanded, before we could approach to God in an amicable way. Now here Christ as our Priest shed His blood for our sins, and so made the atonement--Col. 1:20: 'Having made peace through the blood of His cross.' As Joseph being so great at court, made way for all his brothers to draw near into the king's presence, (Gen. 47:2), so Jesus Christ is our Joseph, that makes the way for us by His blood, that we may now come near into God's presence. Through Christ, God is pleased with us; He holds forth the golden scepter, that we may draw near, and touch the top of the scepter."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thurs., 10/14/10 Devotion (Ezek. 47:12b)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 47:12b, where we read these amazing words:

" . . . They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine."

Behold (above), the wonderful ministry of Christ in *this* world, through His New Covenant church. From the sanctuary (pulpit) the water of life flows freely, and it causes both fruitfulness and healing for all the nations.

Jesus is the Water of Life, and He is presented in His preached gospel of grace. As souls are regenerated, healed, forgiven, and enlightened, they continue to "bear fruit" as they keep coming back to the sanctu-
ary, from whence the "water flows." Let us be thankful that God has provided such bounty for us, in *this* life.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Submit to Christ willingly. All the devils in hell submit to Christ; but it is against their will; they are His slaves, not His subjects." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wed., 10/13/10 Devotion (Col. 3:12-13a)

Today's encouragement comes from Colossians 3:12 & 13a, where we read these words:

"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another . . . "

These words (above) pretty well wrap up the "nuts and bolts" of the life of faith. In relation to other human beings, it is all about love, grace, and forgiveness. After all, since the elect churchman has been given these benefits by God Himself, does it not make sense that we would be called upon by our Father in heaven to emulate Him (in showing them to others)?

Is obedience to this text easy? No. Actually, it is impossible (in the flesh). But our salvation was also a miracle. Since God has made His faith-filled churchmen new creatures, we are able, by grace, to do as He says.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As the oil poured on the head of Aaron went down to the skirts of his garments, so the Spirit poured on Christ, the Head, descends to all His members." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Peace which Christ gives His True Followers"]

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tues., 10/12/10 Devotion (Col. 2:23)

Today's encouragement comes from Colossians 2:23, where we read these words:

"These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh."

Paul (here, above) is lambasting human religion, which always thinks that the way to godliness is through self-deprivation. Works-religion is consumed with *doing* things, designed to impress God, so that He will be obligated to save the religionist, and/or to do something good for him (or her). They also believe that somehow this asceticism will subdue the flesh and its desires.

But *no* amount of strident religious activity can do anything to please God. Only Jesus satisfies the Father. *We* are acceptable to God *only* as we are seen by the Father as being *in* Christ, by faith. Let us trust in our Savior today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have an accuser, but you have an Ac-
quitter; you have adversaries, but you have an Advocate." --Richard Alleine, in, "Heaven Opened"]

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mon., 10/11/10 Devotion (Col. 1:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from Colossians 1:13 & 14, where Paul wrote these words to the church:

"He [God] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemp-
tion through His blood, the forgiveness of sins."

Behold the privilege of every sincere churchman. He or she is no long-
er a citizen of the kingdom of darkness (Satan). Rather, now, believ-
ers are the princes and princesses in the kingdom of light (Christ). And we do not need to wait till we die, to get there, either. Instead, this advantage is ours now, as we has been engrafted into Jesus, in His body, the church.

These blessings are immeasurable. If we belong to Christ, our sins are forgiven, our life is atoned for.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now there is more of God in His word than in all His works of creation and providence." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "Gospel Worship"]

Friday, October 8, 2010

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

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! In order to help us get ready for church, here is TW, on God's Mercy, from his wonderful "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"Use one: We are to look upon God in prayer, not in His judgment robes, but clothed with a rainbow full of mercy and clemency. Add wings to prayer. When Jesus Christ ascended up to heaven, that which made Him go up there with joy was, 'I go to My Father'--so that which should make our hearts ascend with joy in prayer, is, 'We are going to the Father of mercy, who sits upon the throne of grace.' Go with con-
fidence in this mercy; as when one goes to a fire, not doubtingly, say-
ing, 'perhaps it will warm me, perhaps not.'

"Use two: Believe in God's mercy. 'I will trust in the mercy of God
forever,' (Psa. 52:8). God's mercy is a fountain opened. Let down the bucket of faith and you may drink of this fountain of salvation. What greater encouragement to believe than God's mercy? God counts it His glory to be scattering pardons; He is desirous that sinners should touch the golden sceptre of His mercy and live."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thurs., 10/7/10 Devotion (Ps. 91:14)

Today's encouragement comes from the great words of Psalm 91:14, where the Lord says this about any person who is His true worshipper:

"Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name."

Behold the advantages that the God-loving churchman possesses. He or she is both delivered, and exalted. This does not mean that God's favorites are exempt from trouble, or suffering; but it does mean that they experience or endure it while being enfolded "under the shadow of the Almighty," (v. 1).

True security is found in Christ alone. We will seek in vain to discover it anywhere else. If we love God, we may be sure that He will "out-
love" us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God can no more converse with an un-
gracious soul than a king can converse with a sow; it is by grace that we keep a constant [communication] with heaven." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wed., 10/6/10 Devotion (Ps. 90:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 90:17, where Moses wrote these words:

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands."

The beauty of the Lord is what will make our church lives irresistibly appealing to all who behold them. When God anoints our souls with His grace, then our labors, borne out of sincere faith in Jesus, matter. What we do will outlast us. This is why Moses, in this psalm, asks the Lord to "establish the work of our hands."

Most people want their names to be perpetuated; but they neglect the only thing that will cause that to actually happen (in the most hon-
orable way)--namely, having Christ's beauty shine through them. By faith, let us walk with Jesus today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God has a greater delight in the sincere worship and love of one poor, obscure Christian than in all that is done throughout the globe by irreligious kings and princes." --Jon-
athan Edwards, in his sermon, "Christians a Chosen Generation"]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tues., 10/5/10 Devotion (Eph. 5:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 5:1 & 2a, where we read these words:

"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in
love . . . "

Paul is telling the Ephesian churchmen--even as he still speaks to the church today--that we are to "imitate" God. The first and clearest way we do this, is by "walking in love." The key to both of these otherwise preposterous commands, is to be found in what sandwiches in be-
tween them: "as dear children."

As the children of God, churchmen will imitate their Heavenly Father, even as natural children imitate their human father. But *how* do we do something that does not come naturally to us (because of our sin)? Through faith in Jesus. The Son of God is the One who connects us, the children of God, to our Heavenly Father. Can we walk in imitative love today? Yes; in Christ our Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Inward grace is wrought by outward means; the preaching of the Word is the engine that God uses to work grace; it is called 'the rod of HIs strength,' (Ps. 110:2)." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mon., 10/4/10 Devotion (Ps. 87:2-3)

Today's encouragement comes from the wonderful words of Psalm 87:2 & 3, which say this:

"The LORD loves the gates of Zion More than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God!"

Why does God love the "gates of Zion," (His church), more than any-
thing else, including the individual "dwellings of Jacob"? Because the Son of God purchased her, for His own, to be His holy bride. And hence we read in Eph. 5:25b, that, "Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her."

Let us love what God loves; and then imitate Him in our families, neighborhoods, workplaces, and our personal and public lives.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Nothing stirs in the world but God has a design in it for the good of His church." --Thomas Watson, in his ser-
mon, entitled, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/1-3/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church!! In order to
get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, in his "A Body of Divinity"
book. . . .


"Answer: It is an act of God's free grace, whereby He pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteous-
ness of Christ, imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

"Justification is the very hinge and pillar of Christianity. An error about justification is dangerous, like a defect in a foundation. Justi-
fication by Christ is a spring of the water of life. To have the poison of corrupt doctrine cast into this spring is damnable. It was a saying of Luther, 'That after his death the doctrine of justification would be corrupted.' In these latter times, the Arminians and Socinians have cast a dead fly into this box of precious ointment.

"I shall endeavour to follow the star of Scripture to light me through this mysterious point.

"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 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. Justification is a merry spun out of the bowels of free grace. God does not justify us because we are worthy, but by justifying us makes us worthy."