Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tues., 11/30/10 Devotion (2 Pet. 2:19b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Peter 2:19b, where we read these words:

" . . . for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage."

All of us are in "service" and "bondage" to someone. The way to know who this person is, is to ask oneself, "About whom do I most often think? About whom am I practically obsessed?" The answers to these queries reveal our master.

When the master is another fallen human being (be they good or
bad)--this is a miserable bondage. When the Master is the King of glory, the Lord Jesus Christ, this is a liberating "bondage." When the master is self--this is torturous labor. But when the Master is God, this is sweet service. Let all Christ's faithful churchmen gladly serve under His banner today!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Lord, let the [magnet] of Your Spirit draw my heart upward. Lord, dig the earth out of my heart; teach me how to possess the world, and not love it; how to hold it in my hand, and not let it get into my heart." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Com-

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mon., 11/29/10 Devotion (2 Pet. 1:2)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Peter 1:2, where we find these wonderful words:

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord . . . "

To have grace and peace *multiplied* to one's soul is a very blessed thing. God does not only "add," or "drip" His good gifts onto His belov-
ed churchmen (a little at a time)--but He multiplies them. And notice how He does this: in our knowledge of Him, and of His Son Jesus.

If we know God, we have grace and peace. The more we know Him, the greater the levels of these things we will enjoy--though they often come through trouble and difficulty.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Upon this reconciliation with God, you and God come to have common friends and common enemies." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Reconciliation"]

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/26-28/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We get to go to church again! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God" book. . . .

"A gracious soul cannot but draw near to God, because of the intimate relationship between God and him. God is a Father, Isa. 64:8: 'Doubt-
less You are our Father.' Does not the child delight to draw near to his father? There is no father like God for love; His children shall never want; He has land enough to give to all His heirs. God loves His chil-
dren so entirely, that He will never disinherit them. How then can be-
lievers keep away from their Father? They do not know how to be long out of His presence.

"A gracious soul cannot but draw near to God, because he has found so much sweetness and contentment in it. While he has drawn near to God, he has drawn virtue from Him. Never did Jonathan taste so much sweetness when he dipped his rod in the honey-comb, (1 Sam. 14:27)
--as the soul finds in communion with God. In drawing near to God a Christian's heart has been warmed and melted; the Lord has kindled His sacrifice from Heaven. In his approaches to God, he has had the blessings of the Spirit, the incomes of God's love, the previews of glory: God has given him a 'bunch of grapes' by the way; he has 'tasted that the Lord is good.' No wonder then he is so frequent in his ap-
proaches to the divine majesty; he has found the comfort of drawing near to God."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thurs., 11/25/10 Devotion (Jonah 4:6)

Happy Thanksgiving, all you American "Pilgrims"!

Today's encouragement comes from Jonah 4:6, where we read these words:

"And the LORD God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant."

To his credit, Jonah was "grateful for the plant"; but it would soon be evident that Jonah's thankfulness was piecemeal. When God removed the plant, Jonah became very peevish and childish. When God refused to give Jonah a divine fireworks display, by blowing up Nineveh, it displeased the prophet greatly.

True gratitude that honors the Lord is universal and uniform. This doesn't mean that we churchmen will always get it right; but it does mean that we are to set our hearts on being grateful to God for all things, be they "good" or "evil."

[Puritan quote of the day: "As the sun rises by degrees till it comes to shine in glory, so it was with the Sun of Righteousness [Christ]. He re-
vealed Himself in the church little by little." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wed., 11/24/10 Devotion (1 Chron. 20:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 20:8, where we read these words:

"These were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants."

What problems do we have, that were (and are) "born" of the "giants" that have harassed us (perhaps for years)? Whatever they are, they may fall at the feet of King Jesus, the true and ultimate "David." Even as David, the lad, slew Goliath, the experienced soldier--so it is that all sincere churchmen overwhelm God's enemies, by faith.

The Lord allows "big" troubles to assail us, so as to show us just how great He truly is.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In heaven the saints rest with Him [God], on earth they walk with Him." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divin-

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tues., 11/23/10 Devotion (Jonah 2:4)

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

"Then I said, 'I have been cast out of Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.' "

Jonah goes from consciously running away from God, to once again desiring to enjoy His sweet presence (in the context of the tem-
ple--the Old Covenant church). What made the difference? Probably, the time he spent in the belly of the great fish.

God has a way of making us--His churchmen--want Him very badly. Even when our own fleshly wills assert themselves and get us into big trouble--the Lord knows how to bring storms and deliverances from them, to us. As we once again regain our senses, and begin to think clearly, we, like Jonah, say, "I will look again toward Your holy tem-
ple." In Christ, there is always hope.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God would have His people humble, but not ungrateful. It is the devil's policy either to keep us from duty, or else to put us upon it when it is least in season." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Trees of Righteousness Blossoming"]

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mon., 11/22/10 Devotion (1 Chron. 17:2)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 17:2, which says this:

"Then Nathan said to David, 'Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.' "

The churchman who walks by faith in Jesus has great freedom. Here (above), the prophet Nathan gives King David the "green light" to do whatever he (David) wants to, in his earnest desire to love and serve his God. It turns out later in the chapter that the Lord intervenes, and tells David that his son (Solomon) would build the temple, and not David (after all).

. . . But the principle is a sweet one. Do we love Christ? Are we wor-
shipping Him aright? Are the essentials of our faith intact? If so, then we are free to do "whatever we want to," since our heart's deepest wishes are only to exalt God, and further Christ's church and gospel. This is a threat to the world, and pharisees; but it is a promise to faithful churchmen.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's work, both in the church and in the hearts of Christians, often goes backward so that it may go forward better." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/19-21/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church! In order to help us prepare for Sabbath worship, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Plea for the Godly" book. Here, he explains how much the Father loves the church. . . .

"See how dearly God loves the righteous and how near to His heart they lie. They are more excellent. The word 'excellent' carries affec-
tion in it. Things we prize we love. The righteous are God's treasure, (Psalm 135:4); and where His treasure is there is His heart. They are God's delicious garden where He plants the flower of His love. They are the dearly beloved of His soul. They are His darlings. He engraves them upon the palms of His hands that they may be never out of His eye. He rejoices over them with joy and rests in His love. It is no or-
dinary affection that God bears to the righteous. The sun shining upon a burning glass sets on fire only the object that is near the glass. The beams of God's love are more intensely enflamed towards them who are near Him by grace; these have the strength and spirits of His love distilled, He loves them as He loves Christ. Indeed, in one sense, God's love to Christ and believers is not alike, for Christ is loved purely for His own sake but believers are loved for Christ's sake. Yet, in another sense, God the Father loves believers as He loves Christ. It is the same love for the quality, the same for the unchangeableness of it. God will no more cease to love believers than He will to love Christ."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thurs., 11/18/10 Devotion (1 Chron. 11:6)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 11:6, which says this:

"Now David said, 'Whoever attacks the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain.' And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and became chief."

David here employs God's way of developing leaders. The king didn't need talkers, braggers, or theoreticians--he needed someone to risk his neck, and kick the Jebusites out (of what would become Jeru-
salem--the headquarters of the Old Covenant church). We see this same pattern in the New Testament, (cf. Rom. 16:3-4).

What about us? Is God calling us to do something bold for Him, within the sphere of our influence and ability? Spiritually, we are always "safer" when we are on the offensive, rather than when we are on the defensive.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is not the weakest and poorest crea-
ture in the world who is pardoned [for sin] but he understands more of the light of God's grace and covenant than the greatest doctors or rab-
bis in the world." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wed., 11/17/10 Devotion (1 Chron. 9:22)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 9:22, where we read this:

"All those chosen as gatekeepers were two hundred and twelve. They were recorded by their genealogy, in their villages. David and Samuel the seer had appointed them to their trusted office."

David was the king of Israel. Samuel was the prophet of Israel. This verse reminds us that the church and the state--though not one and the same--are certainly not enemies. Both are instituted by God. There is--in reality and practice--really no such thing as the "separa-
tion of church and state." They are distinct entities, but they are to work together for the glory of Christ, and the spread of the gospel.

The church is greater than the state (or the family, for that matter); and because of this she is to serve them both, by gentle instruction, and godly example.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Where God has forgiven sin, such a one need not care for the censures of all the world and the reproaches they cast upon him." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tues., 11/16/10 Devotion (Heb. 11:6)

Today's encouragement comes from the immortal words of Hebrews 11:6, which say this:

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

This amazing verse, along with the chapter in which it is found, is of great encouragement to every sincere churchman. Why? Among other reasons, because it highlights the primacy of the one grace (faith) that immediately fetches our Only Hope (Jesus) to our souls. Also, when we look at the "heroes" of the true religion mentioned in Heb., ch. 11, we see a lot of people who were ordinary sinners--just like
us--but who were *extraordinary* because of their exercise of faith.

Let us recognize that faith pleases God because it asserts that it be-
lieves He exists, and that He can do anything He want to, for our good. Are we weak in other graces? Let us not worry, so long as we have faith in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A believing soul dares venture his name, his estate, his life, yea, his eternal life on God. He dares to put them all into His hands." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mon., 11/15/10 Devotion (1 Chron. 5:20)

Today's encouragement comes from the amazing words of 1 Chronicles 5:20, where we read this:

"And [the Israelites] were helped against [the Hagrites], and the Hag-
rites were delivered into [the Israelites'] hand, and all who were with them, for [the Israelites] cried out to God in the battle. He heeded their prayer, because they put their trust in Him."

Are we in the midst of some spiritual battles today? If so, then we ought to "cry out to God" for help. If we will but trust the Lord, He will come to our aid. In the meantime, it may be stressful and dif-
ficult--but our God will not abandon His faith-filled churchmen.

The reality is that all God's children have to fight battles everyday--against our own flesh, the world, and the devil. In a fallen world, this is inevitable. But we do not fight alone. Let us always ask Christ for help and strength.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Nothing in all the world can deliver from the fear of death but forgiveness of sin, and then this makes a man look on the Day of Judgment with comfort." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in a book of his sermons, entitled, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/12-14/10 Devotion

Thank God--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church. Here is Thomas Watson, on the subject of 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, (verse 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.

"One act of mercy engages God to another. Men argue thus, 'I have shown you kindness already, therefore trouble me no more'; but, because God has shown mercy, He is more ready still to show mercy. His mercy in election makes Him justify, adopt, glorify; one act of mercy engages God to more. A parent's love to his child makes him always giving.

"All the mercy in the creature is derived from God, and is but a drop of this ocean. 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, November 11, 2010

Thurs., 11/11/10 Devotion (Heb. 6:19-20a)

Today's encouragement comes from the words of Hebrews 6:19 & 20a:

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus . . . "

The hope of believing churchmen is as tied to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, as was the rope that they used to tie to the high priest in the old covenant era, when he entered the Holy of Holies. When God's people are afflicted, and tossed and turned on the sea of a world of sin and rebellion--they are always tethered to the Rock, which cannot be moved.

As Christ is our "forerunner," He assures that we, His church, will in-
evitably end up where He is. Jesus is our Hope. There is none to be found anywhere else. Let us trust Him afresh today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Keep your ear open to God and shut out sin; deafen your ears to the lies of the slanderer and the heretic. Do not let him have your ear who comes to rob you of your heart."
--Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Spiritual Watch"]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wed., 11/10/10 Devotion (Heb. 5:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 5:8, where we read these words:

" . . . though He [Jesus] was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered."

This amazing verse (above) teaches the church clearly that even the perfect, spotless, sinless, and pristine Lord Jesus Christ Himself had to "learn obedience," and that this was accomplished "through the things which He suffered."

If this was true for our Savior, who humbled Himself in His incarna-
tion for us, and was born under the law, etc., but who was yet God in the flesh--how much more true is it for us, who are conceived in orig-
inal sin, and whose every impulse in our fallen nature is toward sin? Faith in Christ, which leads to love for God, issues forth in obedience; but even that obedience is very often "learned," and that through our "sufferings." When this lesson *is* "learned," however, it bears the peaceable fruit of righteousness and a clean and happy conscience.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Spiritual blessings are such as enable men to improve all other blessings they enjoy." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tues., 11/9/10 Devotion (2 Ki. 22:8a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 22:8a, where we read these words:

"Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, 'I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.' "

When the church rediscovers the Holy Scriptures, in the glory of the Christ of the gospel found therein, amazing and dramatic things begin to happen. This occurred in King Josiah's time (here in 2 Ki.). It also took place in Nehemiah's and Ezra's lifetimes, (cf. Neh., ch. 8). This also continues to happen in the post-apostolic church era, as it did during the Reformation of the 16th century.

When the church dusts off the Bible, we discover (first) from the Law that we are in deep trouble, because we have sinned. But then, as we continue to read, we find abundant mercy and forgiveness in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ our Savior--received by grace through faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It never came into God's thoughts to make a new covenant upon terms of worthiness. If God should show mercy to none but such as are worthy, then must He show mercy to none."
--Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mon., 11/8/10 Devotion (2 Ki. 21:1a, 2a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 21:1a & 2a, where we read these words:

"Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. . . . And he did evil in the sight of the
LORD . . . 

What is interesting about this evil Manasseh (above), is that he would never have existed at all, if his (good) father Hezekiah had accepted his own mortality more readily.  What I mean is this: in 2 Ki. 20:1, God tells Hezekiah to get his house in order, because he is going to die.  But Hezekiah doesn't want to go just yet, and God grants him 15 more years (in 2 Ki. 20:6).

In the meantime Manasseh is born, who proves to do more harm to the nation of Judah than all those kings (who were evil) that had come before him.  Judah goes into captivity because of Manasseh's wicked-
ness.  What's the point?: sometimes it's better to submit to God's "timetable" without quibbling.  Still, everything falls under God's good sovereignty, (as even Manasseh is saved in the end--cf. 2 Chron. 33:13).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Be as speedy in your repentance as you would have God speedy in His mercies."   --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/5-7/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We again get to go to church! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Picture of a Godly Man" book. He is dealing with the churchman's walk with God here. . . .

"Walking with God is a pleasant walk. The ways of wisdom are called pleasantness, (Prov. 3:17). Is the light not pleasant? 'They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance,' (Psa. 89:15). Walking with God is like walking among beds of spices which send forth a fragrant perfume. This is what brings peace: 'walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost,' (Acts (9:31). While we walk with God, what sweet music the birds of conscience makes in our breast! 'They shall sing in the ways of the Lord,' (Psa. 138:5).

"Walking with God is honourable. It is a credit for one of an inferior rank to walk with a king. What greater dignity can be put upon a mortal man than to converse with his Maker and to walk with God every day?

"Walking with God leads to rest: 'There remains therefore a rest for the people of God,' (Heb. 4:9). The philosopher Aristotle says, 'Motion tends to rest.' Indeed, there is a motion which does not tend to rest. They who walk with their sins shall never have rest: 'they rest not day and night,' (Rev. 4:8). But they that walk with God shall sit down in the kingdom of God, (Luke 13:29); just as a weary traveler, when he comes home, sits down and rests. 'To him that overcoms will I grant to sit with Me on My throne,' (Rev. 3:21). A throne denotes honour and sitting denotes rest."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thurs., 11/4/10 Devotion (Ps. 129:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 129, v. 2, where we read these words:

"Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me."

Are you a faithful churchman (Christian) today; and have you been around a while (especially, as a believer)? If so, then you know--like I do--the truth of this verse (above), Ps. 129:2. How many times have we been "afflicted" by all kinds of people, but most-notably by hypo-
crites and false brethren? Probably more than any of us would like to remember.

. . . But here is the good news: never once have they succeeded at "prevail[ing] against [us]." Sure, they have made our lives difficult from time-to-time, but they have always failed at gaining their goal: namely, our downfall. Instead of giving ourselves any credit for this, let us glory in Christ, who always preserves His faithful church through His abundant grace and provision.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Look back upon the path you have trod from the day that God brought you out of the womb, and say whether you do not, as it were, see all the road thick set with the marks and memorials of divine goodness." --Philip Doddridge, in, "The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul"]

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wed., 11/3/10 Devotion (Ps. 126:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 126:3, where we read these great words:

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad."

God is so good to His children. He allows us to endure affliction, so as to make us better. Then, He gives us a glimpse of heaven, as we get clearer and clearer soul visions of Jesus--and we are filled with exce-
eding levels of gladness and joy.

Remember: the Lord only has good in store for His genuine church-
men; and He delights to show us His grace, mercy, and joy. Even if we are not "on the top of the world" today, let us thank God for all the good things He has already done for us, in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not repentance, patience, love, pray-
er, or obedience that justifies us, but faith in Christ." --Obadiah Grew, in, "The Lord our Righteousness"]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tues., 11/2/10 Devotion (Ps. 124:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 124:8, where David wrote these words:

"Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth."

True churchmen find their help in God alone. No one else can really and fully assist them. No matter where others go for their susten-
ance--the sincere child of God knows that his or her deepest and most profound needs must be met by the Lord (alone).

And this is a very wise and reasonable approach to life. After all: the Lord "made heaven and earth." If He has that much amazing power--surely He can take care of the concerns of His people. Is our help "in the name of the Lord" today?

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is very sinful to give way to vain thoughts at this time [of hearing preaching]; because, when we are hearing the word, we are in God's special presence." --Thomas Wat-
son, in, "The Ten Commandments"]

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mon., 11/1/10 Devotion (Ps. 120:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 120, v. 1, where we read these words:

"In my distress I cried to the LORD, and He heard me."

It is good to both "cry to the Lord," *and* to be "heard" by Him. What we do not typically like is the "distress" that propels and motivates our prayer (in the first place). But this is one of the reasons God allows troubles to enter our lives: so that we *will* call upon Him. If every-
thing was "hunky-dory" for us all the time, we might well have no-
thing to do with the Lord.

Do we have "distresses" today? If so, the best initial reaction is to "call on the Lord." He is near to the brokenhearted; and He is ready to for-
give, heal, strengthen, and to give us cause for rejoicing (again). Let us all look to the Lord today, in and through our faith in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It argues that our heart is chaste and loyal to Christ, when we can look a temptation in the face, and turn our back upon it." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]