Friday, April 29, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/29-5/1/11 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church. Here is TW, to help get us ready. This comes from his "A Body of Divinity" book. He is writing about Christ the Redeemer. . . .

"See into what a wretched deplorable condition we had brought our-
selves by sin; we had sinned ourselves into slavery, so that we needed Christ to purchase our redemption. 'Nihil durius servitute,' says Cicero, 'Slavery is the worst condition.' Such as are now prisoners in Algiers think it so. But by sin we are in a worse slavery, slaves to Satan, a merciless tyrant, who sports in the damnation of souls. In this condi-
tion we were when Christ came to redeem us.

"See in this, as in a transparent glass, the love of Christ to the elect. He came to redeem them; and died intentionally for them. Were it not great love for a king's son to pay a great sum of money to redeem a captive? But that he should be content to be a prisoner in his stead, and die for his ransom; this were matter of wonder. Jesus Christ has done all this; He has written His love in characters of blood. It had been much for Christ to speak a good word to His Father for us, but He knew that was not enough to redeem us. Though a word speaking made a world, yet it would not redeem a sinner. 'Without shedding of blood there is no remission,' (Heb 9:22)."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thurs., 4/28/11 Devotion (Heb. 3:1-2)

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

"Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house."

Remaining faithful over the long haul is not an easy thing to do. Most people that venture off on their Christian journeys, eventually end up giving up the fight. The key to faithfulness is never found within us--but always and only in the Object of the true disciple's love and devo-
tion: the Lord Jesus Christ.

This was why Moses was able to persevere to the end--because he never lost sight of Christ. Is Jesus our "Apostle," the One who fulfilled the mission of redemption? Is He our "High Priest," the One whose atonement cleanses us? If so, then we will, by grace, remain faithful. But this is all of God's sovereign doing. He gets the glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The remembrance of past goodness is very helpful for present encouragement. This rule David followed in Ps. 42:6: 'O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore will I re-
member You from the land of Jordan.' " --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wed., 4/27/11 Devotion (Heb. 2:1-3a)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 2:1-3a, where we read these words:

"Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels prov-
ed steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward [punishment], how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation . . . ?"

Sometimes even genuine believers are tempted to "drift away" from the true gospel, the gospel of grace. The rigors of self-denial, cruci-
fixion of the old flesh, taking up one's cross, suffering for the cause of the church--these things can tend to wear us down. This second chap-
ter of Hebrews is a good "wake up call," and it strengthens our souls, especially when we consider that our Captain (Jesus) has suffered for us, (cf. v. 10).

The kingdom is worth the blood, sweat, and tears. The Savior's love is worthy of our endeavoring all, for His sake. Let us take up our arms, and fight the battle of faith well, today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Ministers should study [work] to promote God's glory. God has entrusted them with two of the most precious things: His truth, and the souls of His people." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tues., 4/26/11 Devotion (Heb. 1:1-2a)

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

"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son . . . "

God used to speak to His Old Covenant church and to the world through prophets. Sometimes they would have dreams, visions, or other means of receiving His (God's) communication. Since Jesus Christ's ministry formally began (at His baptism by John), God has *only* spoken through Him. The Lord employed special ambassadors (as in the apostles of the NT); and He still does this today in the church's truly-called clergymen.

. . . But in *all*--not some--cases ever since Jesus inaugurated His ministry, God has *only* spoken through Christ. Why is this significant? For a lot of reasons; among them are these: Christians need not heed any "extra" revelation (like Mohammad's, or Joseph Smith's); and be-
lievers need heed *no one* who is not properly-ordained in Christ's church's ministry.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the world is now seeking and tiring out themselves for rest; here [in Christ] only it can be found." --Thomas Shepard, in, "The Sincere Convert"]

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mon., 4/25/11 Devotion (Ps. 36:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 36:8, where these great words are found:

"They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures."

God is not against our pleasure. In fact, He is really committed to it. The true Christian must go through many trials in this life (to be sure); but this in no way diminishes the fact that he or she enjoys the greatest, and most satisfying delights (in this life). The professing be-
liever who always hangs the head, frowns, and is sullen in spirit is tel-
ling the world that he or she does not have a very good God.

When we avail ourselves of Jesus, and of all His provisions which He metes-out in and through His church--we know everything of which David speaks (above).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Get contentment into the sling of your heart, and with this sacred stone you may both defy the world and conquer it." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/22-24/11 Devotion

Wahoo--we actually *get* to go back to church again this Sunday! In order to help get us ready for Sabbath worship, here is Thomas Wat-
son, from his "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"When we speak of God's glory, the question will be moved, 'What are we to understand by God's glory?'

"There is a twofold glory: [1] The glory that God has in Himself, His intrinsic glory. Glory is essential to the Godhead, as light is to the sun: He is called the 'God of Glory,' (Acts 7:2). Glory is the sparkling of the Deity; it is so co-natural to the Godhead, that God cannot be God without it. The creature's honour is not essential to his being. A king is a man without his regal ornaments, when his crown and royal robes are taken away; but God's glory is such an essential part of His being, that He cannot be God without it. God's very life lies in His glory. This glory can receive no addition, because it is infinite; it is that which God is most tender of, and which He will not part with, (Isa 48:11): 'My glory I will not give to another.' God will give tempor-
al blessings to His children, such as wisdom, riches, honour; He will give them spiritual blessings, He will give them grace, He will give them His love, He will give them heaven; but His essential glory He will not give to another. King Pharaoh parted with a ring off his finger to Joseph, and a gold chain, but he would not part with his throne, (Gen 41:40): 'Only in the throne will I be greater than you.' So God will do much for His people; He will give them the inheritance; He will put some of Christ's glory, as mediator, upon them; but His essen-
tial glory He will not part with; 'in the throne He will be greater.'

"[2] The glory which is ascribed to God, or which His creatures labour to bring to Him. 1 Chron 16:29: 'Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His Name.' And, 1 Cor 6:20: 'Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit.' The glory we give God is nothing else but our lifting up His Name in the world, and magnifying Him in the eyes of others.
Php 1:20: 'Christ shall be magnified in my body.' "

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thurs., 4/21/11 Devotion (2 Tim. 4:5)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 4:5, where we read these words:

"But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."

Paul's exhortation to his fellow-comrade in the church's ministry is a straightforward and difficult one. Timothy will need to be "watchful," or on-guard; and this in "all things." He will need to "endure afflic-
tions," (or persevere through difficult trials). On top of this, Timothy is to be always mindful of his responsibility to "do the work of an evangelist." Finally, Paul would have his young protégé not fall short of his life-goal, but rather "fulfill [his] ministry."

How do any of us--be we of the clergy or the laity--succeed at the high and holy callings (and commands) that God gives us? By deter-
mined faith in our Risen Lord Jesus. There is no room for laxity or slothfulness. The faithful Christian is on a mission; and his or her life is never without challenges and blessings (on faithfulness).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ does His church more good now that He is in heaven . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wed., 4/20/11 Devotion (Ps. 31:14-15a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 31:14 & 15a, where we read these words:

"But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in Your hand . . . "

This perspective of David (above) is very liberating. Instead of wring-
ing our hands in worry and uncertainty, and concern over whatever the future holds--the wise churchman leaves his or her life completely in God's hands, by faith in Christ. Where *others* are certain to wrap themselves around the axle of the anxieties of the world, and try to draw us into their faithlessness--the sincere churchman resists this (natural and easy) tendency.

What is *our* outlook today: one of dark and dismal gloom; or one of hopeful grace (in Jesus)? Easter (as is also true of every Sunday) re-
minds us that our Redeemer lives, and that we have cause for both hope and rejoicing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the church's pangs help forward her de-
liverance." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tues., 4/19/11 Devotion (2 Tim. 2:8)

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

"Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel . . . "

Why would the apostle Paul need to remind the pastor Timothy "that Jesus Christ . . . was raised from the dead"? Perhaps because some-
times churchmen can become a bit "disconnected" from this all-impor-
tant fact (of Christ's resurrection). After all: if the Lord Jesus did not rise from the dead, we are all in our sins, and our religion is worth-
less, (and we are wasting our time).

. . . But, if indeed Jesus *did* rise from the dead--as we know from Scripture, history, and the Spirit's inward witness that He did--then our Hope is alive, and the church has a gospel of good news for every-
one. This week, as we prepare for Easter, let all the faithful church marvel at the reality of our Living Lord--and let us love Him with re-
newed zeal and passion.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sin is an absurd thing. What greater indis-
cretion is there than to gratify an enemy? Sin gratifies Satan."
--Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mon., 4/18/11 Devotion (2 Tim. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, where we read these great words:

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

Let us keep this in mind: Paul is writing to a minister (Timothy), whom the apostle deemed a sincere believer (and son in the faith). God's true churchmen should never fear condemnation, (because they are redeemed by the blood of Jesus); and they should never fear men, (because they are servants of the sovereign God).

Some of God's children have more "tender" constitutions (like Timo-
thy); and they are more vulnerable to the intimidation of the devil, the world, and people in general. Whether this is our situation, or not--let all of us who belong to Christ's church be strong, loving, and sound-minded, as a result of genuine faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not falling into sin that damns, but ly-
ing in it without repentance [that damns]." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/15-17/11 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We get to go to church! Here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Ten Commandments" book. . . .

"But I fear I have no faith, it is so weak!

"If you have faith, though but in its infancy, be not discouraged. For, (1) A little faith is faith, as a spark of fire is fire. (2) A weak faith may lay hold on a strong Christ; as a weak hand can tie the knot in marriage as well as a strong one. She, in the gospel, who but touched Christ, fetched virtue from Him. (3) The promises are not made to strong faith, but to true. The promise does not say, 'he who has a giant faith, who can believe God's love through a frown, who can re-
joice in affliction, who can work wonders, remove mountains, stop the mouth of lions, shall be saved'--but whosoever believes, be his faith never so small.

"A reed is but weak, especially when it is bruised; yet a promise is made to it. 'A bruised reed shall He not break,' (Matt. 12:20). (4) A weak faith may be fruitful. Weakest things multiply most. The vine is a weak plant, but it is fruitful. The thief on the cross, who was newly converted, was but weak in grace; but how many precious clusters grew upon that tender plant! He chided his fellow-thief. 'Do you not fear God?' (Luke 23:40). He judged himself, 'We indeed suffer justly.' He believed in Christ, when he said, 'Lord.' He made a heavenly pray-
er, 'Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.' Weak Chris-
tians may have strong affections. How strong is the first love, which is after the first planting of faith! (5) The weakest believer is a member of Christ as well as the strongest; and the weakest member of the body mystic shall not perish. Christ will cut off rotten members, but not weak members. Therefore, Christian, be not discouraged. God, who would have us receive them that are weak in faith, will not Him-
self refuse them, (Rom. 14:1)."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thurs., 4/14/11 Devotion (Eccl. 1:2b)

Today's encouragement comes from Ecclesiastes 1:2b, where we read these words:

" . . . Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

These few familiar words (above) are completely true, as they apply to anyone and anything outside of, or separated from the Person, work, covenant, and church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who are not in Jesus have "vain" lives. After all: what do they amount to? A few years of existence, and then death? Accumulating some goods, and then leaving them for someone else?

If sinners would actually stop and take a few moments, and try to figure out why they are on the earth in the first place--they would have to center their thoughts on a Deity who created them, and to Whom they owe everything. But this does not happen with fallen peo-
ple. Unless God regenerates them, they are content in vanity. May the redeemed of the Lord not be like this. Instead, may we be thoughtful and intentional--as we live our lives for Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have the favor of God, this doctrine [of encouragement] teaches you that you need not be afraid of ene-
mies; for whoever is your enemy, God looks upon as His enemy."
--Jonathan Edwards, in one of his great sermons]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wed., 4/13/11 Devotion (Lev. 17:11b)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 17:11b, where we read these words:

" . . . for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul."

This is a cardinal doctrine of the True Religion. If any sinner is to be redeemed at all, it will not be via works, law, supererogation of saints, angels, being good, paying one's taxes, or not killing other people. If anyone is to have sins remitted, it must be through *blood* atonement.

. . . But not just *any* blood will do: it must be the blood of a per-
fect, sinless, righteous *human* Savior. Only Jesus meets this require-
ment. He is both God and man--and He is the *only* "Mediator be-
tween God and men," (as per 1 Tim. 2:5). The faith of regenerated churchmen is a bloody faith. There is no "sterile" salvation in God's economy. Let all the saints rejoice, that the "Lamb of God" (Jesus) has borne away our iniquities, in His bloody cross.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To read the word [of God] is a duty, but Satan sometimes puts men upon it when it is unseasonable. To read it at home when God's word is being preached, or the sacrament admin-
istered, is unseasonable, yea, sinful . . . " --Thomas Watson, in, "The Lord's Prayer"]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tues., 4/12/11 Devotion (1 Tim. 1:4)

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

" . . . nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith."

In this verse (above) the Apostle Paul is exhorting the Pastor Timothy to put a stop to foolish religious talk. Have you ever been in the pres-
ence of a religious know-it-all who is riding his hobby-horse with pas-
sion and zeal? His issue may be eschatology, or how all Christians are to educate their children in the same way (or whatever). What you will also notice are these two things: 1) he is not concerned about the gospel; and 2) he is always engendering strife wherever he goes--with the effect of dividing and scattering the people (church) of God.

Paul charges Timothy to put an end to that kind of drivel (in v. 3). In its place, he is to promote "love from a pure heart, from a good con-
science, and from sincere faith," (v. 5). Let us beware of idle talkers; and let us be churchmen who promote Jesus, grace, gospel, church, Sunday, love, and all other good things.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God set His love from eternity upon this and that person, as particularly as if there were no other chosen than he." --Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Knowing Christ"]

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mon., 4/11/11 Devotion (2 Thess. 3:3)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 3:3, where we read these words:

"But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one."

It is wonderful that God protects His churchmen from "the evil one." The old snake comes slithering around in all kinds of guises. He is a restless, sullen, and driven foe. Sometimes he lands a "punch" on some of the Lord's children--but he is never able to fell us.

Let all Christ's believing people be thankful that our Lord is "faithful"; and that this kind grace expresses itself in both the "establishment" of our souls, and the safety and security of them. This is no small bles-
sing--as the world of fallen sinners is not a "walk in the park."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ gives to those who come to Him such comfort and pleasure as are enough to make them forget all their former labor and travail." --Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Knowing Christ"]

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/8-10/11 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday!! We actually GET to go back to church, to hear the gospel, and be fed by God's means of grace in Jesus! In order to help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his
"The Ten Commandments" book. . . .

"If a man has no power to keep the whole moral law, why does God require it of him? Is this justice?

"Though man has lost his power of obeying, God has not lost His right of commanding. If a master entrusts a servant with money to lay out, and the servant spends it dissolutely, may not the master justly de-
mand it? God gave us power to keep the moral law, which by tamper-
ing with sin, we lost; but may not God still call for perfect obedience, or, in case of default, justly punish us?

"Why does God permit such an inability in man to keep the law?

"He does it: (1) To humble us. Man is a self-exalting creature; and if he has but anything of worth, he is ready to be puffed up; but when he comes to see his deficiencies and failings, and how far short he comes of the holiness and perfection which God's law requires, it pulls down the plumes of his pride, and lays them in the dust; he weeps over his inability; he blushes over his leprous spots; he says with Job, 'I abhor myself in dust and ashes.' (2) God lets this inability be upon us, that we may have recourse to Christ to obtain pardon for our defects, and to sprinkle our best duties with His blood. When a man sees that he owes perfect obedience to the law, but has nothing to pay, it makes him flee to Christ to be his friend, and answer for him all the demands of the law, and set him free in the court of justice."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thurs., 4/7/11 Devotion (1 Thess. 4:1a)

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

"Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more . . . "

Sometimes churchmen are tempted to think, "I'm doing pretty well in my walk with the Lord. Now I can just coast." But this is not an option for a sincere believer. Instead, we are exhorted to bear even *more* fruit, and to increase our influence "more and more," (cf. v. 10b).

The reason for this is because Christ is an inexhaustible supply of bles-
sing and provision. Because we can never plumb the depths of His love and grace, there can be no limit (or end) to the effectiveness church-
men are to have in His world. Therefore, today, let us "abound more and more" in Jesus.

[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." --Jona-
than Edwards, in his sermon, "Christians a Chosen Generation"]

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wed., 4/6/11 Devotion (Lev. 9:4b)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 9:4b, where we read these few words:

" . . . For today the LORD will appear to you."

Every Lord's Day, in the proper worship of the church, God "appears" to His people, and visits them, with His grace and mercy (in Christ). In Lev. 9, God came to the people in their worship, (see vv. 23-24). But the Lord may also "appear" to His saints throughout the week--subor-
dinate to Sabbath worship, but nonetheless every bit as really.

Are our hearts broken? Are we contrite before God? Do we mourn our sins; and cry out for Jesus, and His grace? Then, God is certainly near to us, visiting us, (cf. Ps. 34:18).

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who has God to be his God is so well contented with His condition that he does not much care whether he has anything else." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Content-

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tues., 4/5/11 Devotion (1 Thess. 2:2b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 2:2b, where we read these words:

" . . . we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict."

Sometimes we are able to do the greatest things, when we are under the most intense pressure. Here, Paul had been under enormous stress, but he was still able to preach the gospel to the Thessalon-
ians--and to do it "boldly" "in [his] God." If we think we have to wait for everything in our lives to "calm down" before we think we can do anything of value for the ministry of the church--then we will never act at all.

Indeed, conflict or hardship (pressure) either totally stymies our effec-
tiveness, or it motivates us on in more fruitfulness. Let all the faithful church today recognize that life is not always "easy"--but let us not use this as an excuse to rob ourselves, our Savior, our church, and our world of the benefits God may bring through us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God cannot be pacified by any other means than by the infinite price of the death and blood of His own Son, one drop of which is more precious than all the creatures of heaven and earth." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mon., 4/4/11 Devotion (1 Thess. 1:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 1:8, which says this:

"For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything."

How could a little church in Thessalonica, in the days before Al Gore invented the internet, have its gospel message of faith broadcast all over the world? By the grace of God. Whenever and wherever a faith-
ful church worships Christ on His Day (Sunday)--the Lord makes sure that His glory, His gospel, and His word gets spread about.

Do we understand (completely) how this happens? No; but it is true, nonetheless. Let us recognize that our greatest evangelistic witness happens in the church's worship services; and let us thank God that His praise does indeed go out from there to all the earth.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Those whose hearts follow hard after the
Lord have the right hand of God upholding them." --Jeremiah Bur-
roughs, in, "Gospel Worship"]

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/1-3/11 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! We get to go back to church again! In or-
der to get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Ten Commandments." TW is dealing with love to God here. . . .

"What is love?

"It is a holy fire kindled in the affections, whereby a Christian is car-
ried out strongly after God as the supreme good. What is the antece-
dent of love to God?

"The antecedent of love is knowledge. The Spirit shines upon the un-
derstanding, and discovers the beauties of wisdom, holiness, and mercy in God; and these are the loadstone [magnet] to entice and draw out love to God; 'Ignoti nulla cupido': such as know not God can-
not love Him. If the sun be set in the understanding, there must needs be night in the affections.

"Wherein does the formal nature of love consist?

"The nature of love consists in delighting in an object. 'Complacentia amantis in amato': [The lover's delight in his beloved], Aquinas. This is loving God, to take delight in Him. 'Delight yourself also in the Lord,' (Psa 37:4), as a bride delights herself in her jewels. Grace
changes a Christian's aims and delights.

"How must our love to God be qualified?

"(1) If it be a sincere love, we love God with all our heart. 'You shall love the Lord your God with all thy heart.' God will have the whole heart. We must not divide our love between him and sin. The true mother would not have the child divided, nor will God have the heart divided; it must be the whole heart.

"(2) We must love God 'propter se,' for Himself, for His own intrinsic excellencies. We must love Him for His loveliness. 'Meretricius est amor plus annulum quam sponsum amare': 'It is a harlot's love to love the portion more than the person.' Hypocrites love God because He gives them corn and wine: we must love God for Himself; for those shining perfections which are in Him."