Monday, January 31, 2011

Mon. 1/31/11 Devotion (Gen. 32:1)

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

"So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him."

A lot of times we meet up with the blessings and benefits of God sim-
ply upon "going on our way," (as Jacob did, above). There was nothing particularly remarkable or religious about what Jacob was doing: he was merely moving from one place to another, when "the angels of God met him."

Today, let us not think that what we do is not important or signifi-
cant. Sure, what faithful Christians did yesterday (Sunday), as they worshipped God in church is the high point of our weekly lives--but what we do today, in the light of that worship, and with the blessing of God upon us, may be (and is) also very momentous in its own way.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Our victory will be further realized as the new man immediately springs to action, and cheerfully fights against lust the moment it appears." --John Owen, in, "The Mortification of Sin"]

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/28-30/11 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church! Here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Lord's Prayer" book. He is dealing here with the petition: "Lead us not into temptation." . . .

"Satan's diligence in tempting is seen in the variety of temptations he uses. He does not confine himself to one sort of temptation; he has more plots than one. If he finds one temptation does not prevail, he will have another; if he cannot tempt to lust, he will tempt to pride; if temptation to covetousness does not prevail, he will tempt to pro-
fuseness; if he cannot frighten men to despair, he will see if he can-
not draw them to presumption; if he cannot make them profane, he will see if he cannot make them formalists; if he cannot make them vicious, he will tempt them to be erroneous.

"He will tempt them to leave off ordinances [church life]; he will pre-
tend revelations. Error damns as well as vice: the one pistols, the other poisons. Thus Satan's diligence in tempting is great: he will turn every stone; he has several tools to work with; if one temptation will not do he will make use of another. Had we not need then to pray, 'Lead us not into temptation'?"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thurs., 1/27/11 Devotion (Acts 27:11)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 27:11, which says this:

"Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul."

This one little verse summarizes the fatal error most people make. They listen to their pocket books, their carnal hopes, and their vain lusts, *more* than they heed the word and gospel of God. And, of course, the result, in every case without exception, is the shipwreck of their lives, their estates, and all their hopes and dreams.

May we be wiser than this, by the sufficient grace given the church in the gospel of Christ. May God's people listen to Him; do His will; en-
dure and enjoy what He lays-out; and find, in the end, the shores of heaven.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What Satan did in tempting man to fall is made an occasion of the contrary to what he intended in that it gave occasion for God to glorify Himself all the more, and gives occasion for the elect being brought to higher happiness." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Wisdom of God"]

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wed., 1/26/11 Devotion (Matt. 26:35)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 26:35, which says this:

"Peter said to [Jesus], 'Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!' And so said all the disciples."

It is easy for disciples to *say* things, (and presumably even Judas made this assertion). Saying things *is* a very important part of being a disciple of Christ: we must affirm our faith, confess our Savior, and make our covenant vows. But the real challenge is in believing and doing, not saying. Satan does not oppose profession, but he does bristle at sincere action, based in faith.

By grace, may our words match our faith-filled behavior; and let us remember that all our power comes through the Resurrected Christ (cf. v. 32).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Be ready to speak of Christ and for Christ in any company as you have opportunity, and diligently watch for an occasion." --Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love To The Unseen Christ"]

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tues., 1/25/11 Devotion (Gen. 26:18)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 26:18, where we read these words:

"And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them."

The ongoing life of the church--from generation to generation--is to do (in principle) precisely what Isaac did here (above) relative to the old wells his father Abraham had dug: namely, open them up again, derive refreshing benefit from them, and name them their original names (again). There is nothing "new" under the sun worth pursuing. Everything of true value has already been revealed to the church (in Jesus); and our job is to go *back* to the "old" and "good" paths (of Jer. 6:16a).

Therefore, let all faithful churchmen look back, to the cross and re-
surrection of Christ; and may we imitate the father of our faith, Abra-
ham (Isa. 51:1-2a)--who was justified by faith in Christ alone.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sincerity is gospel perfection. . . . Though a Christian is full of infirmities and, like a child that is put out to nurse, weak and feeble, God still looks on him as if he were com-
pletely righteous." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mon., 1/24/11 Devotion (Acts 24:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 24:14, which says finds Paul saying this:

"But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets."

This is a pretty bold statement by a former super-strict pharisee, re-
garding the comprehensive primacy of the New Covenant church's wor-
ship and life. Whatever Paul still did, in reference to the old temple and the old forms, it was done, not out of the vitals of true worship, but as a civil nod to a passe, eclipsed system. He viewed New Coven-
ant worship as the genuine fulfillment of the law and the prophets.

May we do the same as Paul; and have his attitude. To lose God's wor-
ship, is to lose everything.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God] calls upon us from time to time in His Word. He is calling us by His written Word and by His preached Word from Sabbath to Sabbath." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "It is Well for us that God is Not as we are"]

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/21-23/11 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We GET to go to church!!! In order to help settle our minds, and make preparation, here is the eminent, articu-
late, and ingenious Puritan Presbyterian Pastor Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "The Lord's Prayer." TW is dealing with the Fifth Petition of the Prayer (re. forgiveness). . . .

"As soon as Christ had said, 'Give us daily bread,' He adds, 'and forgive us.' He joins the petition of forgiveness of sin immediately to the other of daily bread, to show us that though we have daily bread, yet all is nothing without forgiveness. If our sins be not pardoned, we can take but little comfort in our food. As a man that is condemned takes little comfort from the meat you bring him in prison, without a par-
don; so, though we have daily bread, yet it will do us no good unless sin be forgiven.

"What though we should have manna, which was called angels' food, though the rock should pour out rivers of oil, all is nothing unless sin be done away. When Christ had said, 'Give us our daily bread,' he pre-
sently added, and 'forgive us our trespasses.' Daily bread may satisfy the appetite, but forgiveness of sin satisfies the conscience."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thurs., 1/20/11 Devotion (Acts 20:28)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 20:28.  This whole section, of Paul's exhortation to the Ephesian elders, is one of the most power-
ful in all the holy Scriptures. . . .

"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."

God's elders are the guardians and watchmen of the doors of the church.  Paul says, in the next verse, that "fierce wolves" would come in, to disturb the flock.  So, what do the elders do?  They must first take heed to their own lives; and then to the congregations of Christ's church.  They must "be alert," (v. 31), awake, vigilant, diligent, and watchful.  The people of God are to pray for them, that their elders might faithfully discharge their duties.

All of us have plenty of reason to bless God, that He spares us from dangers about which we know nothing.  May He give us grace to be faithful in all things.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Men are by nature utterly careless of the glory of God.  They have no degree of concern for it.  A natural man never does any one thing out of true concern for the glory of God."   
--Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "It Is Well For Us That God Is Not As We Are"]

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wed., 1/19/11 Devotion (Acts 19:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 19:15, which says this:

"And the evil spirit answered and said, 'Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?' "

It is not a good sign when the demons "don't know" someone!  Perhaps as the redeemed are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, the evil spirits become privy to this information--we're not sure.  But this much is certain: the devil is concerned only to wreck havoc on souls--he cares not at all about anything else.  Those who are in Christ as His church are no longer within his gunshot range; but the devil does all he can to minimize their joy, and their effectiveness.

May we not wait to be assaulted by the evil one; but may God's church bring the battle to him.  The promise of Matt. 16:18 is a solid one.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God intermixes mercy with affliction.  He steeps His sword of justice in the oil of mercy.  There was no night so dark but Israel had a pillar of fire in it." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tues., 1/18/11 Devotion (Matt. 18:21)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 18:21, which says this:

"Then Peter came to [Jesus] and said, 'Lord, how often shall my broth-
er sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' "

The best people in the world are the most forgiving ones. I cannot say everything that is involved with forgiveness in this devotion--but this will suffice: all relational problems are always ultimately issues of forgiveness (or unforgiveness). This includes the problem sinners have with God, (as they remain in a state of the flesh and rebellion).

Does a professing Christian ask for forgiveness? It must be granted. The "forgiver" cannot say, "Let me see how sincere you are, and then we will consider forgiving, or not." Would we want to deal with God in that way? How happy would we be with this prayer: "God, please forgive me, based on how well I will do at not committing the same sin again"? In that scenario, we would all be condemned.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now, as a man is broken off from sin by seeing and feeling it, and groaning under the power of it, so is a man broken from himself." --Thomas Shepard, in, "The Sincere Convert"]

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mon., 1/17/11 Devotion (Gen. 18:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 18:14a, where we read these great words:

"Is anything too hard for the LORD? . . . "

Usually, when we think of this well-known phrase, we do not think in high enough terms. We might be thinking, "Could God give me a Rolls-Royce?"; when, in fact, we ought to be asking, "Could God actu-
ally save a sinner, who is hopelessly lost in and of himself?"

Nothing is too hard for God because no amount of glory is too great for the honor and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ--who has miracu-
lously provided atonement for all the people of His church.

[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"]

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/14-16/11 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! Here's TW, from his "Assurance" treat-
ise. . . .

"He who loves God WILL BE AT ANY PAINS TO GET HIM. What pains the merchant takes, what hazards he runs, to have a rich return from the Indies! Jacob loved Rachel, and he could endure the heat by day, and the frost by night, that he might enjoy her. A soul that loves God will take any pains for the fruition of Him. 'My soul follows hard after God,' (Psalm 63:8). It is the weight which sets the clock going. It is much in prayer, weeping, fasting; it strives as in agony that he may obtain Him whom his soul loves.

"Plutarch reports of the Gauls, an ancient people of France, that after they had tasted the sweet wine of Italy, they never rested till they had arrived at that country. He who is in love with God, never rests till he has a part in Him. 'I sought him whom my soul loves,' (Song of Sol. 3:2). How can they say they love God, who are not industrious in the use of means to obtain Him?"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thurs., 1/13/11 Devotion (Acts 13:42)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 13:42, where we read these words:

"So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath."

What an amazing situation: people "begging" to hear the Gospel of grace in the Lord Jesus Christ--and all that, on the Sabbath Day! That kind of thing doesn't happen very often; and certainly it was the result of a marvelous work of the Holy Spirit, wherein He was drawing Gen-
tiles to Jesus, and placing them into the New Covenant church.

Could this kind of thing ever happen again? Of course it can. As a matter of fact, our only hope as individuals, family members, a na-
tion, or as residents of earth is a great revival of the true religion, as God has done so in the past. No amount of political pandering to the flesh will accomplish this hope. Let us ask God to prosper Christ's Gos-
pel, and to increase the members of the faithful church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You cannot gratify Satan more, nor injure yourselves more, than by living without assurance [of God's favor in Christ]." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wed., 1/12/11 Devotion (Acts 12:7a, 23a)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 12:7a & 23a, where we read these words:

"Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by [Peter], and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side . . . Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck [Herod], because he did not give glory to God."

God does not deal with people in the same way--though He may use the exact same agency (viz. "striking"). Here, the angel "strikes" Peter, so that he (Peter) would wake up and be released from prison. A little while later--in the same chapter--the angel "strikes" Herod, and kills him. . . .

Also, in this very same 12th chapter of Acts, we find God allowing the Apostle James to die at Herod's hand (v. 2); while He (the Lord) de-
livers Peter from Herod's grip (v. 7). What's the point? That God is sov-
ereign; He does what He does for a reason. He is always righteous; and He loves His church--whether He allows His people to suffer, or prosper.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For every believer, the debt-book is cros-
sed out; the black lines of sin are crossed out with the red lines of Christ's blood." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tues., 1/11/11 Devotion (Acts 11:7-8a)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 11:7 & 8a, which says this:

"And I heard a voice saying to me, 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.' But I said, 'Not so, Lord!' "

How often Peter's words here represent even the most devoted saints of God. The King of heaven and earth gives a specific command, and the believer makes this preposterous response: "Not so, Lord." God's faithful churchmen cannot say, "Not so," and "Lord," in the same sen-

Thankfully, God was patient with Peter and repeated the process three times. Peter finally determined that he could not, and should not "resist" God, (cf. Acts 11:17b). When our Lord tells us what to do, we must not let our (faulty) religion get in the way of our obedience.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is better to mortify one sin than to un-
derstand all mysteries." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Re-

Monday, January 10, 2011

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

Today's encouragement comes from Ezra 10:2, where we read these words:

"And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, 'We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this.' "

When all looked dark and hopeless, an otherwise obscure Old Coven-
ant churchman (Shechaniah) comes alongside the despondent leader Ezra, and offers this encouragement (above). The reality is that there is always hope, so long as we are still alive. No matter how much di-
vine wrath one has garnered against his soul because of sin--real faith in Jesus, married with serious and sincere repentance--can and will lead to renewed hope. . . .

That is what happened in ancient Israel, as the pagan wife issue was dealt with, after the people of God renewed their covenant with the Lord. Are you (or someone you know) ready to totally despair? As long as there is a Redeemer, and as long as He leaves His church on earth, there is real hope.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Whatever may be wished for in an all-suf-
ficient Comforter is all to be found in Christ." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/7-9/11 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church, and worship God! In order to help us get ready, here is the venerable Pu-
ritan pastor Thomas Watson. This quote comes from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"What are the counterfeits of sanctification?

"There are things which look like sanctification, but are not.

"The first counterfeit of sanctification is moral virtue: to be just, be temperate, to be of a fair deportment. Not to have one's reputation blotted with ignominious scandal is good, but not enough; it is not sanctification. A field-flower differs from a garden-flower. Heathens have attained to morality; as Cato, Socrates, and Aristides. Civility is but nature refined; there is nothing of Christ there, and the heart may be foul and impure. Under these fair leaves of civility the worm of unbelief may be hid. A moral person has a secret antipathy against grace; he hates vice, and he hates grace as much as vice. The snake has a fine colour, but a sting. A person adorned and cultivated with moral virtue, has a secret spleen against sanctity. The Stoics who were the chief of the moralized heathens, were the bitterest enemies Paul had, (Acts 17:18).

"The second counterfeit of sanctification is superstitious devotion. . . . A superstitious holiness costs no great labour; there is nothing of the heart in it.

"The third counterfeit of sanctification is hypocrisy; when men make a pretence of that holiness which they have not. As a comet may shine like a star, a lustre may shine from their profession that dazzles the eyes of the beholders. 'Having a form of godliness, but denying the power,' (2 Tim 3:5). These are lamps without oil; whited sepulchres, like the Egyptian temples, which had fair outsides, but within spiders and apes. . . . To pretend to holiness when there is none is a vain thing. What were the foolish virgins better for their blazing lamps, when they wanted oil? What is the lamp of profession without the oil of saving grace? What comfort will a show of holiness yield at last? Will painted gold enrich? painted wine refresh him that is thirsty? or painted holiness be a cordial at the hour of death? A pretence of sanctification is not to be rested in."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thurs., 1/6/11 Devotion (Matt. 6:27)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 6:27, where we find our Savior saying these words:

"Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?"

Worry is the opposite of faith. Worry says, "I cannot really trust God to take care of my concerns; I need to take matters into my own hands." Worry is highly God-dishonoring. People that are given to worry "worry" that, if they quit worrying, they are no longer caring for or about the objects of their worry. But this is a misguided approach. Care does not necessitate worry. In fact, the greatest expressions of care don't worry at all--instead they trust God with the concern.

Let's face it: worry is a malady and affliction that befalls all of us sin-
ners. But we need not live in it. If we want *real* solutions to the heart-concerns that are so important to us, then we are wise if we trust God to take care of them. Are you a faith-filled churchman to-
day, trusting in Jesus alone for your salvation? If so, then worry has no part of your life. (If not, you have plenty to worry about.)

[Puritan quote of the day: "Ground your comfort upon a lasting and unchangeable covenant, on such a covenant that accepts will for works, desires for deeds, and endeavors for performances." --Chris-
topher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wed., 1/5/11 Devotion (Matt. 5:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 5:20, where we read these words of Christ:

"For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteous-
ness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the king-
dom of heaven."

When Jesus said this to His disciples, in His "Sermon on the Mount," it undoubtedly raised some eyebrows. After all, how could anybody do more than the scribes and Pharisees? They "out-Godded" God at every turn. If the Lord said, "Fast once a year"; they would fast twice a week. And yet their "righteousness" was not even close to being good enough to get them to heaven. Why? . . .

Because we have to appear before God--even now--as perfect, (with no flaw or sin whatsoever). And how does anyone get to this condi-
tion? Are there enough works or deeds or efforts that can be expend-
ed, to get perfect? No. Only Jesus is perfect. We must possess *His* righteousness, by faith, wherein it is imputed to our souls. Let the faithful church rejoice that we have this standing, in Christ.

[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"]

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tues., 1/4/11 Devotion (Matt. 4:1)

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

"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil."

People often like to think of the Holy Spirit as the one Person of the Holy Trinity that *always* leads them into pleasurable ways and pas-
tures. Whereas they might envision having to "suffer with Jesus"; and/or undergoing the discipline of the Heavenly Father--it is nor-
mally assumed that everything associated with the Holy Spirit is "pos-

But here the Spirit intentionally *leads* the Son of God into the "wil-
derness," to "be tempted by the devil." Why? So that, in overcoming these demon-proffered "shortcuts" to glory, the Messiah would rather go to the cross, and rise from the dead for His church. When the Spirit leads us into hard roads, let us recognize that it is for good reason: that we will be more Christlike in the end.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If once you come to receive the mercy of God in and through Christ Jesus, then that mercy will be the greatest opposer of your lusts and sin as anything can be in the world." --Jere-
miah Burroughs, a book of his sermons, entitled, "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mon., 1/3/11 Devotion (Matt. 3:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 3:1 & 2, where we read these words:

"In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!' "

*Why* was the "Kingdom of heaven" "at hand" when John the Baptist preached these words (above)? Because *Jesus* was "at hand." Very soon, He (Christ) would be baptized into His own church, wherein He would be the Head (of the Body), and King of kings.

Wherever there is Jesus, there is not only heaven itself, but the King-
dom of God itself. After Christ's death and resurrection, He ascended into heaven, where He is now (not later) crowned King of His church, and the Sovereign Ruler over all God's creation. This is one of the reasons we get excited about church: by being the church, and by worshipping as the church, we draw close to our King.

[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"]