Friday, December 31, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/31/10-1/2/11 Devotion

Happy New Year, everyone!!

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to return to the church, to wor-
ship God! In order to help us get ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book:

"When was Christ incarnate?

"In the fulness of time. 'When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman,' (Gal 4:4). By the fulness of time we must understand [it to be] the determinate time that God had set. More particularly, this fulness of time was when all the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah were accomplished; and all legal shadows and figures, whereby He was typified, were abrogated. This may com-
fort us, in regard to the church of God, that though at present we do not see that peace and purity in the church which we could desire, yet in the fulness of time, when God's time is come and mercy is ripe, then shall deliverance spring up, and God will come riding upon the chariots of salvation.

"Why was Jesus Christ made flesh?

"The 'causa prima,' and impulsive cause, was free grace. It was love in God the Father to send Christ, and love in Christ that He came to be incarnate. Love was the intrinsic motive. Christ is God-Man, because He is a lover of man. Christ came out of pity and indulgence to us: 'non merita nostra, sed misera nostra,' Augustine. 'Not our deserts, but our misery,' made Christ take flesh. Christ's taking flesh was a plot of free grace, and a pure design of love. God Himself, though Almighty, was overcome with love. Christ Incarnate is nothing but love covered with flesh. As Christ's assuming our human nature was a masterpiece of wisdom, so it was a monument of free grace."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thurs., 12/30/10 Devotion (Mal. 3:17a)

Today's encouragement comes from Malachi 3:17a, where we read these words:

" 'They shall be Mine,' says the LORD of hosts, 'On the day that I make them My jewels.' "

Have you ever thought of yourself as one of Almighty God's "jewels"? If you are a faith-filled churchman, who trusts in Jesus alone for your salvation, and who loves the Lord because of what He has done for you--then indeed you *are* a precious "jewel" in God's treasure chest.

Compared to one sincere member of Christ's church, the entire far-flung and vast universe (which God created) is of minimal value and interest to the Lord. *People* are God's "jewels"; and not just *any* person: only those who are IN Jesus Christ (and His church) by grace through faith alone. Let *us* be numbered among these Divine prizes.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God's] riches make a man wise. Wisdom is the best possession; other riches cannot make one wise. A man may have a full purse and an empty brain." --Thomas Watson, in his ser-
mon, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wed., 12/29/10 Devotion (2 Chron. 34:27)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 34:27, which finds God saying this about the great king Josiah:

" 'Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its in-
habitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,' says the LORD."

A humble, broken, contrite heart is irresistible to the Lord. Josiah was very zealous for God, His church, His word, and His worship. Even after grieving over the punishment that was sure to come because of Judah's past wickedness, Josiah was given by God assurances that none of the calamity would befall the nation, in his lifetime.

As the Lord brings us, His churchmen, to humble brokenness--it may sting for a while. But the end result is blessed assurance of forgive-
ness, and full and complete rest in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let God have His will by being holy, and you shall have your will by being happy." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tues., 12/28/10 Devotion (2 Chron. 33:10-11)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 33:10 & 11, which says this:

"And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon."

Here in two verses of the Bible, we have the entire program of how God deals with those whom He intends to save. The Lord first starts out gently and positively: sending His word to His people (by prophets [OT] and pastors [NT]). If that fails, God brings out His harder and more negative implements: hooks and fetters.

In Manasseh's case, harsh measures were necessary in order to bring him to repentance. This is not the best, nor the wisest approach, how-
ever. When we hear the word of God, let us immediately respond to it in faith (and repentance).

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who has been drinking spirits of wine, will not much thirst after water; and that man who has once 'tasted how sweet the Lord is,' (Ps. 34:8), and has drunk the cordials of the Spirit, will not thirst immoderately after secular delights." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mon., 12/27/10 Devotion (Zech. 14:8-9)

Today's encouragement comes from Zechariah 14:8 & 9, where we read these words:

"And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jeru-
salem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur. And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be--'The LORD is one,' And His name one."

This day *has* occurred, as Jesus inaugurated it in His first Advent, and culminated it in His resurrection, and the pouring out of His Spirit on His church at Pentecost. Now, the whole earth: east and west, north and south, are all fed by Christ from heaven, as He brokers His blessings through His church on earth.

The "Oneness" of God was amplified in Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, of John, ch. 17, (cf. v. 11, for an example). The believing churchman is made "one" with the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. For these unspeakable blessings let us give thanks to the Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing that we do or can do, no-
thing that angels do or can do for us, that can reconcile us to God; but we are reconciled to God in Christ." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Reconciliation"]

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thurs.-Sabbath, 12/23-26/10 Devotion

Merry Christmas, everybody!!!

Sunday's coming! What an honor: to be in the church's worship on the Lord's Day!

Here's TW, in "The Art of Divine Contentment":

"[This doctrine] shows how a Christian may come to lead a comfort-
able life, even an heaven upon earth, be the times what they will: by Christian contentment. The comfort of life does not stand in having much; it is Christ's maxim, 'man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses,' (Lu. 12. 15)--but it is in being content-
ed. Is not the bee as well contented with feeding on the dew, or suck-
ing from a flower, as the ox that grazes on the mountains? Content-
ment lies within a man, in the heart; and the way to be comfortable, is not by having our barns filled, but our minds quiet. The contented man, says Seneca, is the happy man."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wed., 12/22/10 Devotion (2 Chron. 26:5b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 26:5b, where we read these words:

" . . . and as long as he [Uzziah] sought the LORD, God made him prosper."

Why is it, that we cannot seem to understand this very basic principle? So long as we seek the Lord, in His Son, and in the context of His church, we will "prosper." If we do *not* do this, we will not prosper. The reason we so often fail here, is because our faith is not as per-
fected as it should be. Our flesh tells us that "prosperity" may be had outside of Christ.

Even the great Uzziah ended up getting a bit "full of himself"; and though his life was blessed and prosperous, his pride took a bite out of him before he died, (cf. 2 Chron. 26:16). Let us churchmen be sure to humble ourselves before the Lord--trusting in Him alone, and not in ourselves (at all).

[Puritan quote of the day: "When we preach Christ and free grace it is to bring you to Christ. Our preaching down of works is not to keep you from doing them but from resting in them." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tues., 12/21/10 Devotion (Jn. 11:24-27)

Today's encouragement comes from John 11:24-27, where these words are found:

"Martha said to [Jesus], 'I know that he [Lazarus] will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?' She said to Him, 'Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.' "

Here is an example where good theology informs a living, vibrant, and saving faith. Martha believes in a bodily resurrection, on the last day. She also believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. But even the demons believe these objective, historical facts, as matters of indisputable truth--but, instead of being blessed by them, they "tremble" at them, (cf. Jas. 2:19).

Martha married good doctrine with a heart that truly depended on it.
The difference between her faith and the demons' faith is that hers was one of trusting love of Jesus; theirs was one of the fear of His wrath.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In a heathen nation, first teach, and then baptize them; but in a Christian church, first baptize, and then teach them." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Commandments"]

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mon., 12/20/10 Devotion (2 Chron. 24:18)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 24:18, where we read these words:

"Therefore they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass."

Look at the sad thing that happens to people--even folks who are in the outward covenant--when they abandon Christ, the church, and the gospel: they end up worshipping sticks, stones, and idols. And what reward to they get for their perverted religious efforts?: the wrath of God (which comes down upon them).

Let faithful churchmen learn from this, that there is only One God, and that He will not countenance any "competitors." If we are to stay connected to Jesus, we need "the house of the Lord," and we dare not leave it. If we do, one result is inevitable: we will end up worshipping something else, and doing that will take a great toll on us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A drop of [God's] heavenly comfort is enough to sweeten a sea of worldly sorrow." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/17-19/10 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church! Here is TW, from his "The Beatitudes" book. . . .

"Let us walk as the children of God in sobriety. 'But let us who are of the day be sober' (1 Thess. 5:8). God's children must not do as others. They must be sober.

"In their speeches; not rash, not unseemly. 'Let your speech be season-
ed with salt' (Col. 4:6). Grace must be the salt which seasons our words and makes them savoury. Our words must be solid and weighty, not feathery. God's children must speak the language of Canaan. Many pretend to be God's children, but their speech betrays them. Their lips do not drop as an honey-comb, but are like the sink, where all the filth of the house is carried out.

"The children of God must be sober in their opinions; hold nothing but what a sober man would hold. Error, as Saint Basil says, is a spiritual intoxication, a kind of frenzy. If Christ were upon the earth again, He might have patients enough. There are abundance of spiritual lunatics among us which need healing."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thurs., 12/16/10 Devotion (Jn. 6:66-68)

Today's encouragement comes from the wonderful interchange be-
tween Christ and His disciples, as it is found in John 6:66-68:

"From that time many of [Christ's] disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?' But Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.' "

This is a very poignant scene in the ministry of the Messiah. After in-
tentionally paring-down the numbers of His "disciples" by teaching them that they would have to ingest Him into their beings, and that God alone could draw them to Himself, etc.--the Lord Jesus is left with just a few remaining hearty souls, (one of which was Judas, who, of course, was not faithful).

Peter's confession, representing the true church throughout all ages, is not only brilliantly insightful, but it was also eminently practical: there is nowhere to go, in this world, but to Jesus--unless one prefers hell.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When the Word comes to any place, the kingdom of heaven is said to come. . . . and Christ rules in it by the preaching of the gospel." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remis-

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wed., 12/15/10 Devotion (2 Chron. 17:5b, 6a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 17:5b & 6a, where we read these words:

" . . . and all Judah gave presents to Jehoshaphat, and he had riches and honor in abundance. And his heart took delight in the ways of the LORD."

It takes a strong heart to be able to both possess many good things of this world, and yet to do so in the attitude and perspective of "taking delight in the ways of the Lord." Jehoshaphat was a full man: he had the best of everything, and yet he did not idolatorize his blessings. Instead, he kept his head, and loved his God first and foremost.

Let all faithful churchmen seek to have this same spirit. The key to this is in our identification with Jesus. Let us seek to be crucified with Him everyday, so that we may rise with Him everyday. When we do this, we get to take pleasure in *everything* He provides us, with free and grateful hearts.

[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"]

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mon., 12/6/10 Devotion (1 Jn. 4:18)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 4:18, where we read these great words:

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love."

This totally perfected love is never 100% experienced in this life (be-
cause of our flesh). But this does not mean that the sincere churchman may not have real and palpable (felt) assurance. The Puritans were the great theological expositors of divine assurance, in the souls of the saints. (They recognized that not all true believers would have the same levels of this confidence.)

Still, to fear eternal punishment, after having the blood atonement clearly applied to one's soul, is not noble, but God-dishonoring. It denies and decries the work of the Redeemer. It is a form of atheism. If our hope is not in ourselves or our works--but in Christ alone, then let us be fully-assured churchmen, who know that God loves us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let this take up your thoughts as the greatest business that your hearts can be set upon, that you may be found of Him [God] in peace." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Reconciliation"]

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/3-5/10 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, dis-
cussing peace. In beautiful Puritan style, he is very pastoral. This comes from his amazing "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"But why have not all believers the full enjoyment and possession of peace? Why is not this flower of peace fully ripe and blown?

"Some of the godly may not have so full a degree of peace. (1.) Through the fury of temptation. Though the devil cannot destroy us, he will disturb us. He disputes against our adoption; he would make us question the work of grace in our hearts, and so disturb the waters of our peace. He is like a subtle cheater, who, if he cannot make a man's title to his land void, yet will put him to many troublesome suits in law. If Satan cannot make us ungodly, he will make us unquiet. Violent winds make the sea rough and stormy; so the winds of temp-
tation blowing, disturb peace of spirit, and put the soul into a com-

"(2.) The godly may not enjoy peace, through mistake and misap-
prehension about sin. They find so much corruption, that they think sure, if there were grace, there would not be such strong working of corruption; whereas this should be so far from discouraging Christians, and hindering their peace, that it is an argument for them. Let me ask, 'Whence is it that you feel sin?' No man can feel sin, but by grace. A wicked man is insensible. Lay a hundredweight upon a dead man, he does not complain; but being sensible of corruption, argues a gra-
cious principle, (Rom. 7:21). Again, Whence is it that there is a com-
bat with sin, but from the life of grace? (Gal. 5:17). Dead things can-
not combat. Whence is it that the saints weep for sin? What are these tears but seeds of faith? The not understanding of this hinders a Christian's peace."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thurs., 12/2/10 Devotion (Mic. 7:18a, 19b)

Today's encouragement comes from Micah 7:18a & 19b, which relates these fabulous words:

"Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the trans-
gression of the remnant of His heritage? . . . You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea."

One of the greatest blessing we can possibly possess is the forgiveness of our sins. This is the most magnificent deed God performs in us. If we are forgiven, it took the blood of God's Son to bring this about. God had to overcome our hearts, the fallen world, and the devil, in order to procure our pardon.

But if we are forgiven our sins, nothing else really matters. If we have a clear and clean conscience before the Almighty God--is it of any great consequence that we have trials and tribulations? We have al-
ready obtained what everyone needs.

[Puritan quote of the day: "They dishonor the pardoning grace of God, and most considerably of all, by seeking and expecting it any other way than through the mediation of the Son of God." --Jeremiah Bur-
roughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wed., 12/1/10 Devotion (1 Chron. 29:3)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 29:3, where we read these words of David, inspired by the Holy Spirit:

"Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have pre-
pared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver."

Whatever we value and love, we adorn. David esteemed the house of his God, having affection for it. Jesus loves His church, and bedecks it with all His gracious jewels, (cf. Rev. 21:10 ff.). Whatever or who-
ever we love, we are careful to bestow high honor on.

The wise and happy person loves what God loves; and invests his or her life in beautifying what will last forever. Let us set our affection on the Son of God and house of God, even as David did.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For the greatest and most glorious work that you can perform is not nearly worth so much as one drop of the blood of Christ." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]