Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tues., 5/31/11 Devotion (Deut. 4:39)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 4:39, which says this:

"Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other."

Are we facing difficult trials and fearful hardships today? Then, let us soak up the verse above. By faith in Jesus, let us "know" "this day" (and not some time in the future); and let us take it to "heart"--that there is One God only; and that He rules in heaven, and on earth.

If this *is* the case--and all faithful churched Christians know that it is--then, what do we have to worry about? God has heaven covered; and God has the earth covered. His enemies are active here on earth--there is no doubt about that--but the Lord is the King. Therefore, let us rest in Christ *today*; and take a lot of heart in our holy (and true) faith in the true religion.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Satan puts good names on sin . . . "
--Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mon., 5/30/11 Devotion (Ps. 85:6)

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 85:6, which says this:

"Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?"

God's people tend to fall asleep, spiritually. From time to time we need to be awakened, and renewed (or revived) in our holy faith--which will then rekindle our love for Christ. We should humbly ask God to do this: corporately, as His church; and individually, for our own souls. The revived heart is enamored with God, filled with true and (often) inexpressible joy, and is in a lively state of willing obedi-

God can fan into flame even a very small spark. Do we have life in us? Then, we may be assured: God can revive us again.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the riches of the world, or the honors and pleasure of it, all the learning, the power, and the policy of the world, all the worldly titles and distinctions cannot make the sinful creature happy or do him any good." --Jonathan Edwards, in his ser-
mon, "Christ is the Christian's All"]

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/27-29/11 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. We GET to go back to church! Here are comforting words from the great Puritan pastor Richard SIbbes, rela-
tive to how believers are sometimes accosted by awful thoughts. May this be an encouragement to us, as we get ready to worship the Lord. (This is from Sibbes' "Bruised Reed" book.) . . .

"Some again are haunted with hideous representations to their imag-
inations, and with vile and unworthy thoughts of God, of Christ, of the Word, which, as busy flies, disquiet and molest their peace. These are cast in like wildfire by Satan, as may be discerned by the strange-
ness, the strength and violence, and the horribleness of them even to corrupt nature. A pious soul is no more guilty of them than Benjamin was when Joseph's cup was put into his sack. Among other helps re-
commended by godly writers, such as detestation of them and diver-
sion from them to other things, let this be one, to complain to Christ against them, and to fly under the wings of His protection, and to desire Him to take our part against His and our enemy. Shall every sin and blasphemy of man be forgiven, and not these blasphemous thoughts, which have the devil for their father, when Christ Himself was molested in this way so that He might comfort all poor souls in this condition?"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thurs., 5/26/11 Devotion (1 Jn. 5:4)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 5:4, where these great words are found:

"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the vic-
tory that has overcome the world--our faith."

Whatever comes from heaven is bound to be stronger than anything originating in the fallen world. Regeneration is a miraculous heavenly new birth (cf. Jn. 3:1 ff.). A true saint is born of God, from above. This God-given faith is our solid "victory" that subdues the world (under us). The faith of sincere Christians is victorious, not in itself, but because of Who it is that it fetches to their hearts: the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us not lose sight of the primacy of faith in Jesus. Many voices would enjoin a works-religion on us. Remember: God is only pleased with a life saturated with Christ. Anything good in or from us will *only* flow from Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are many ways to hell; men may go thither which way their fancy leads them; but there is only one direct road to heaven, viz., faith and holiness." --Thomas Watson, in "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wed., 5/25/11 Devotion (1 Jn. 4:16a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 4:16a, where we read these few words:

"And we have known and believed the love that God has for us . . . "

It is a big deal to know and believe that God loves us. This is especial-
ly true, because in our natural state we hated God. But now, if we are in Jesus, we are loved by Him; and we love Him (cf. v. 10a). Now, be-
cause we recognize that we are loved by God, and we actually believe the incredible fact of this truth--we cannot do enough for Christ. God's love now "compels" us, (2 Cor. 5:14), to a lively obedience.

If we do not know and believe that God loves us, then we will inevit-
ably show ourselves to be spiritually unfaithful--since we will seek our affection from idols. This is why it is imperative that we get a solid interest in Jesus' gospel--so that we are the genuine objects of His love.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Such as think totally to ruin the church, must do it in a time when it is neither day nor night, for the Lord keeps [the church] by His providence night and day." --Thomas Wat-
son, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tues., 5/24/11 Devotion (Num. 33:2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 33:2a, where we read these words:

"Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the LORD. . . . "

God is a meticulous record-keeper. Not only does He keep updated church membership rolls--He also chronicles the progress of His chil-
dren. What are some basic "starting points" of the Christian life? Bap-
tism. Profession of faith in Jesus (as a result of the gift of regenera-
tion). Understanding of God's sovereignty (Calvinism). Comprehension of Covenant Theology. Ecclesiocentricity. Priority of Sunday and the church's worship. Understanding of one's calling. More assurance of God's perfect and unchanging love.

It is not a bad idea to keep tabs on our own church lives. Maybe you write down major spiritual events in your Bible (or elsewhere). If you do, you have a good example in God, who notates our advancement in our faith and resultant love (for Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The fear of God will make one avoid those sins which can neither be heard or seen by men." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mon., 5/23/11 Devotion (Ps. 77:13)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 77:13, where Asaph wrote these words:

"Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God?"

God always operates from His sanctuary. The Old Covenant sanctuary was a type of heaven, (cf. Heb. 8:4-5). In the heavenly sanctuary to-
day, the Son of God intercedes for His saints by virtue of His atoning death, (cf. Heb. 7:25). The gathered church in Sunday worship consti-
tutes the place of God's sanctuary, (cf. 1 Pet. 2:4-5). And finally, the individual hearts of the regenerate are also the place of His sanctu-
ary, (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16).

*From* God's sanctuary goes forth praise of Christ, and the evangelism of the world. Be thankful that the true God is the God of the sanctu-
ary: the place of worship and rest.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Here is a pillar of support to every soul who has broken off sin and espoused holiness. This is an undoubted evidence that you are a true child of God." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Mischief of Sin"]

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/20-22/11 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday!! We GET to go back to church, to worship
God together. Wahoo. In order to help get us ready, here is the great Puritan Richard Sibbes, from his excellent book, "The Bruised
Reed." . . .

"Preachers should take heed likewise that they hide not their meaning in dark speeches, speaking in the clouds. Truth fears nothing so much as concealment, and desires nothing so much as clearly to be laid open to the view of all. When it is most unadorned, it is most lovely and powerful. Our blessed Saviour, as He took our nature upon Him, so He took upon Him our familiar manner of speech, which was part of His voluntary abasement. Paul was a profound man, yet he became as a nurse to the weaker sort (1 Thess. 2:7).

"That spirit of mercy that was in Christ should move His servants to be content to abase themselves for the good of the meanest [lowest]. What made the kingdom of heaven 'suffer violence' (Matt. 11:12) after John the Baptist's time, but that comfortable truths were laid open with such plainness and evidence that the people were so affected with them as to offer a holy violence to obtain them?

"Christ chose those to preach mercy who had felt most mercy, as Peter and Paul, that they might be examples of what they taught. Paul be-
came all things to all men (1 Cor. 9:22), stooping unto them for their good. Christ came down from heaven and emptied Himself of majesty in tender love to souls. Shall we not come down from our high con-
ceits to do any poor soul good? Shall man be proud after God has been humble? We see the ministers of Satan turn themselves into all shapes to 'make one proselyte' (Matt. 23:15). We see ambitious men study ac-
commodation of themselves to the humours of those by whom they hope to be raised; and shall not we study application of ourselves to Christ, by whom we hope to be advanced, nay, are already sitting with Him in heavenly places? After we are gained to Christ ourselves, we should labour to gain others to Christ. Holy ambition and covetous-
ness will move us to put upon ourselves the disposition of Christ. But we must put off ourselves first."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thurs., 5/19/11 Devotion (Isa. 19:24-25)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 19:24 & 25, which finds the prophet writing these remarkable words:

"In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria--a bles-
sing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, say-
ing, 'Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.' "

We should be so encouraged by the New Covenant's promises of the church's universality, and realized victory. For Isaiah to prophesy these words must have seemed extremely preposterous to his contempor-
aries. But, because of the coming of the "Rod from the stem of Jesse [Christ]," (Isa. 11:1 ff.)--the fulfillment of this prophecy was not only possible, but inevitable. (For a good NT explanation of the folding to-
gether of all nations into the church, see Eph. 2, esp. vv. 11-13.)

Let us revel in the wonderful strength of our Savior; and thank God for His comprehensive rule of the entire world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Which of these two is more fit to take place, God's justice or man's reason? . . . The plumb line of our reason is too short to fathom the depth of God's justice." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wed., 5/18/11 Devotion (Ps. 71:16b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 71:16b, where we read these words (of David):

" . . . I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only."

This little phrase (above) is a good reminder that the *only* One who has any inherent "righteousness" is God alone. All of our righteousness is derived from Him. (We have none of it in ourselves--ever since Adam's fall.) When it comes to the greatest form of righteousness (i.e. justification before God), this is imputed to the church Christian; and is received by faith in Jesus. When it comes to any form of "civil" righteousness (which cannot and does not save), any person may have it, but it is given as a token of God's "common" grace.

Let us who have received the gift of faith in Christ bless God that we possess *His* (Jesus') Own righteousness. This is the great advantage of the church; and it is cause for great rejoicing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The truth is, we should listen as much to the voice of God in the ministry of His Word as if the Lord should speak out of the clouds to us." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Wor-

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tues., 5/17/11 Devotion (1 Pet. 4:19)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 4:19, where we read these words:

"Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator."

Suffering is never fun; but it can forward the genuine progress of the saints. It has a cleansing effect on the soul; and it draws us back to Christ. If we are going to have to suffer anyway, let us do so for doing good, or for insisting on God's ways. "Commit[ting sour] souls" to God means that we do what is right, and leave the consequences with the Lord.

It is interesting that Peter refers to the Lord as a faithful "Creator," at the end of this verse--rather than a Redeemer. God's creation covers everything in the universe: those things that positively affect our obe-
dience, and those things that "negatively" affect it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Satan tempts to sin under a pretense of re-
ligion. He is most to be feared when he transforms himself into an angel of light." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mon., 5/16/11 Devotion (Num. 25:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 25:1 & 2, where we read these words:

"Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to com-
mit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods."

The Bible teaches that immorality and idolatry are two sides of the same (rotten) coin. Every adulterer is an idolator; and every idolator is an adulterer. In v. 1 (above), the people "commit harlotry"; and in v. 2, they "bowed down to their gods." The general cultures of the western world and that of the religions of pagans are both fraught with idolatry and immorality. Hollywood and Osama B-L have this in common: they both love pornography and false gods.

Let the true church be careful to guard against both of these foes of the soul. Immorality robs us of God; and idolatry causes us to worship dirt. Sincere Christians have the royal prerogative of living in dignity and honor: loving and worshipping the Holy Trinity of the true reli-

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is a free agent, to work where He will, and when He will, and to reveal His love how He will, and when He will, and to whom He will." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/13-15/11 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! We GET to go back to church! In order to help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his "Beati-
tudes" book. . . .

"Consider Who it is that we have engaged ourselves to in baptism. There we took our press-money [money paid to those enlisted in ser-
vice]. We solemnly vowed that we would be true to Christ's interest and fight it out under His banner to the death. And how often have we in the blessed supper taken the oath of allegiance to Jesus Christ that we would be His liege-servants and that death should not part us!

"Now if when being called to it, we refuse to suffer persecution for His name, Christ will bring our baptism as an indictment against us. Christ is called 'the Captain of our salvation,' (Hebrews 2:10). We have listed ourselves by name under this Captain. Now if, for fear, we shall fly from our colours, it is perjury in the highest degree, and how shall we be able to look Christ in the face another day? That oath which is not kept inviolably shall be punished infallibly. Where does the 'flying roll' of curses light, but in the house of him that 'swears falsely,' (Zechariah 5:4)?"

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thurs., 5/12/11 Devotion (Num. 21:4b-5a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 21:4b & 5a, where we read these words:

" . . . and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses . . . "

The natural reaction of people walking in the flesh (and not the Spirit) is to lash out at God and His church leaders, whenever they are really discouraged or downhearted. This always happens--even among Christians--when faith (and its resultant humility and repentance) is not being exercised. Sometimes we are very sophisticated in our "speaking against God"; and instead of it taking overt forms of expres-
sion, it is the attitude and verbiage of our hearts.

Let all the faithful church be careful to ascribe blame to ourselves and other sinners alone; and always to believe and assert (in earnest) the absolute righteousness and perfection of God. The Lord may send troubles our way--but instead of grumbling about them, let us seek to grow by and through them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A heartless, drooping, and discouraging life and walk is very unbecoming the gospel of Christ." --James Dur-
ham, in, "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ"]

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wed., 5/11/11 Devotion (Jas. 3:17)

Today's encouragement comes from James 3:17, which says this:

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without parti-
ality and without hypocrisy."

The world's "wisdom" is full of frenetic activity--trying to fill up space, and to keep one's mind off of the important things of life. You see a lot of this in today's religious expressions, especially in many forms of Christianity. But God's wisdom is different. It starts in the heart, and gets established there, as the foundation of everything that will be expressed by that life: in word, or in action.

We can tell, whether we are operating on God's wisdom, or that of the world's. If it is of God, it will be very tranquil, and serene; and yet strong and pure. If it is the world's, it will simply wear us out, as we expend energy for no other purpose, but to seek to assuage our guilt.

[Puritan quote of the day: "I cannot but think that to make large con-
fessions of sin, and yet with a senseless dead heart, is a high degree of taking the name of God in vain." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tues., 5/10/11 Devotion (Ps. 56:3-4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 56:3 & 4, where David wrote these words:

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?"

God's children are, from time-to-time, afraid. David had his problems; and undoubtedly we have ours. It is precisely at the exact moment of fear, however, that we are most able to strengthen ourselves in God's grace, and trust Him. This trust, then, has the effect of turning fear away from us. After that, a renewed sense of confidence arises in our hearts, which allows us to say, "What can flesh do to me?"

Let us not be undone by fear. Instead, let's turn it on its head; and use it for our own advantage. Let's see it as a fresh opportunity to trust God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Purity of heart is the jewel which is hung only upon the elect. As chastity distinguishes a virtuous woman from a harlot, so the true saint is distinguished from the hypocrite by his heart-purity." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mon., 5/9/11 Devotion (Ps. 55:6-8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 55:6-8, where David pen-
ned these heartfelt words:

"So I said, 'Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.' "

Have we ever wished that we could be magically transported away from our problems--especially from our problem people? Because of David's pain and anguish (see vv. 4-5), he did. But this is not, in the end, God's way. (It is the world's way--and we see the dreadful effects of this all around us.) God would have David stand his ground, and fight it out (see vv. 16-19).

If we will but persevere, we will, in Christ, get the victory, and the reward. Let's hang in there; and do so by constantly crying out to God for help (see vv. 1-3).

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is from low, mean thoughts of God that in your minds you oppose His sovereignty, that you are not sensible how dangerous your conduct is; and what an audacious thing it is for such a creature as man to strive with his Maker!" --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Sovereignty of God"]

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/6-8/11 Devotion

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

"Let us carry ourselves as the children of God in magnanimity and heroicalness. The saints are high-born. They are of the true blood-
royal, born of God. They must do nothing sneakingly or sordidly. They must not fear the faces of men. As said that brave-spirited Nehemiah, 'Shall such a man as I flee?' (Neh. 6:11)--so should a child of God say, 'Shall I be afraid to do my duty? Shall I unworthily comply and prosti-
tute myself to the lusts and humours of men?' The children of the most High should do nothing to stain or dishonour their noble birth. A king's son scorns to do anything that is below him.

"Let us carry ourselves as the children of God in sanctity (1 Pet. 1:16). Holiness is the diadem of beauty. In this let us imitate our Heavenly Father. A debauched child is a disgrace to his father. There is nothing that [more negatively] casts a reflection on our Heavenly Father than the irregular actings of such as profess themselves His children. What will others say? Are these the children of the Most High? Is God their Father? 'The Name of God is blasphemed through you Gentiles' (Rom. 2:24). Oh let us do nothing unworthy of our Heavenly Father."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thurs., 5/5/11 Devotion (Num. 12:1a, 2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 12:1a & 2a, where we read these words:

"Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married . . . So they said, 'Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? . . . ' "

Take a look at these two verses above, and learn something. Aaron's and Miriam's problem with their brother (Moses) was that he had gone off and married an Ethiopian woman. They did not like this for some reason. Maybe they were prejudiced. But note *what* Aaron and Mir-
iam do: they make their statement about those through whom God speaks as a *pretense* (with regard to what it was that *really* bothered them).

This is a very common practice among sinners (of all sorts). What they say is not really the issue. Keep this principle in mind as you deal with people, especially if you are in any kind of leadership position. Try to understand what the real "rub" is, and don't be duped by "straw men."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Bend the greatest strength of your heart in [fervent] prayer to God against the corruption that troubles you the most." --Christopher Love, in, "The Mortified Christian"]

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wed., 5/4/11 Devotion (Num. 11:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 11:1a, where these sobering words are found:

"Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. . . . "

There is an acceptable (even proper) way to "complain" to God (cf. Ps. 142:2); and then there is this unacceptable and improper way to do it, (as seen all throughout Num., ch. 11). The people "craved"; they wanted their way; they "wept all over" Moses; they insisted that they be granted their desires. God's answer was to give them exactly what they wanted, and then to afflict many of them, (see vv. 33-34).

Let us be careful about what we earnestly long for; and of what we "demand" of God. In fact, it may not be good for us. The "status quo," (viz. continuing to eat God's provision of His manna), is a whole lot better than an early grave.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Hence we learn that a life of holiness is the pleasantest life in this world, because in such a life we have the imperfect beginnings of a blessed and endless sight of God." --Jona-
than Edwards, in his sermon, "The Pure in Heart Blessed"]

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tues., 5/3/11 Devotion (Num. 10:32)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 10:32, where we read these words:

"And it shall be, if you go with us--indeed it shall be--that whatever good the LORD will do to us, the same we will do to you."

These words (above) spoken by Moses, to his father-in-law Jethro, are still true today; and they are a good evangelism tool. Those who will willingly join themselves to Christ and His church--even if they have lived their entire lives in idolatry and sin--can and will be the recipi-
ents of all the "good" the Lord is already extending to His children.

There is a condition, though. Outsiders must come in, and become a part of the church of Christ. Standing outside--even while approving of the virtues of the people of God--is not enough. Let all sincere Christians realize how blessed they are in Jesus and His church--and let us seek to share these most sublime benefits with others.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God's word is fitted for all estates, cal-
lings, and conditions of mankind. . . . It gives direction for our appar-
el, sports, labor, gain, and giving; for our buying and selling, for our speech and silence, for our company and solitude." --William Lyford, in, "The Instructed Christian"]

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mon., 5/2/11 Devotion (Num. 9:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 9:1a, where we read these words:

"Now the LORD spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai . . . "

This little phrase (above) reminds us that God does not desert His church at anytime--not even when we feel like we are in the "wilder-
ness." Even then and there the Lord "speaks" to His people. We might be inclined to "expect" God to converse with us when all is well, and we are settled into our faith, our church, and our sense of security very snugly. But do we think the same of Him when all seems dark, aimless, and unfeeling?

Let true Christians be assured of Christ's love for them--even when they feel like they are wandering around in "the wilderness." Even there, God has ordained a ministry to feed us; and He has not aban-
doned us. For this mercy, let us all be thankful.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Show your love to Christ in your vigorous resistance and opposition of Christ's enemies." --Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]