Monday, June 27, 2011

Mon., 6/27/11 Devotion (Isa. 59:19b)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 59:19b, which says this:

"When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him."

Floods can hit at very unexpected times. Everything can seem perfect-
ly normal, when, *swoosh!*, here comes a wall of water. The devil is often subtle and sly; but sometimes he is brash and bold. Thankfully, for all of those who are clothed in Jesus' righteousness, at the very moment of the spiritual "tsunami," the Spirit of God intervenes, block-
ing the torrent from sweeping the church of God away.

The "standard" the Spirit employs is the cross of Jesus. As we put our faith in Christ, we are lifted up with Him, even in His glorious resur-
rection power. And no assaults of Satan can reach heaven, where the redeemed are seated with the Messiah, (Col. 3:1).

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who prays only when he prays with others would not pray at all, where it not that the eyes of others are upon him." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "Hypocrites deficient in the duty of prayer"]

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/24-26/11 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday. Richard Sibbes is the Puritan doctor of sad souls. Here is his gospel remedy, taken from "The Bruised Reed." . . .

"Among other causes of discouragement, some are much vexed with scruples, even against the best duties; partly by disease of body, help-
ed by Satan's malice in casting dust in their eyes in their way to heav-
en; and partly from some remainder of ignorance, which, like dark-
ness, breeds fears-ignorance especially of this merciful disposition in [Christ], the persuasion of which would easily banish false fears. They conceive of Him as One on watch for all advantages against them, in which they may see how they wrong not only themselves but Christ's goodness.

"This scrupulosity, for the most part, is a sign of a godly soul, as some weeds are of a good soil. Therefore they are the more to be pitied, for it is a heavy affliction, and the ground of it in most is not so much from trouble of conscience as from a disordered imagination. The end of Christ's coming was to free us from all such groundless fears. There is still in some such ignorance of that comfortable condition we are in under the covenant of grace as to discourage them greatly."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wed., 6/22/11 Devotion (Isa. 54:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 54:17, where the prophet wrote these great words:

" 'No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,' says the LORD."

God's servants may take great comfort from this divine promise. Satan and evil (religious) men form unholy alliances against God's ministers and churches. And though they rage, and create a fuss, they are never successful. The reason for all this is because of the latter part of this verse: the saints' righteousness is from God. If righteousness had any-
thing to do with us sinners, then the devil and his horde would be wel-
come to have a hey-day with us. But, since righteousness is from Christ alone, and is His gift of grace alone--the redeemed are safe.

Let us joyfully trust in Jesus' righteousness today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justification is the very hinge and pillar of Christianity. An error about justification is dangerous, like a defect in a foundation." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tues., 6/21/11 Devotion (Deut. 26:11)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 26:11, where we read this:

"So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the LORD your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you."

Do we realize that it is sinful not to be thankful for our temporal blessings? Do we know that it is horrible ingratitude to despise God's good gifts? Some people, imaging themselves to be too "spiritual" to appreciate anything temporal, look down their noses at the Lord's provisions to them.

God is not honored by thanklessness for "normal" gifts to us, (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-5). Those who love Jesus, His gospel, and His church, will also rejoice in every other sweet thing coming to us from heaven. Let us give God praise and thanks for *all* His good provision.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God] rewards His subjects in this life. He gives them inward peace and joy; a bunch of grapes by the way; and oft-times riches and honor." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mon., 6/20/11 Devotion (Isa. 52:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 52:7, where we find these great words:

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!' "

When messengers from battlefields brought news of their nation's vic-
tory, they were a welcome sight, indeed. When God's messengers bring to His people tidings of Jesus' victory over sin, Satan, the world, and our old flesh--it is cause for great celebration. The cross and re-
surrection of the Savior is the sure sign that our "God reigns."

Let the church both enjoy the benefits of, and proclaim the truth of the Gospel of grace. As we do so, our lives, and even our "feet," will be very comely visages.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you do not have a spirit to love God above your dearest earthly friends, and your most pleasant earthly en-
joyments, the Scriptures are very plain and full that you are not true Christians." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer"]

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/17-19/11 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! Here is Richard Sibbes, from his, "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .

"Truth is truth, and error, error, and that which is unlawful is unlaw-
ful, whether men think so or not. God has put an eternal difference between light and darkness, good and ill, which no creature's conceit can alter; and therefore no man's judgment is the measure of things further than it agrees to truth stamped upon things themselves by God. For this reason, because a wise man's judgment agrees to the truth of things, a wise man may in some sense be said to be the meas-
ure of things, and the judgment of one holy wise man to be prefer-
red before a thousand others. Such men usually are immovable as the sun in its course, because they think, and speak and live by rule. A Joshua and his house will serve God (Josh. 24:15), whatsoever others do, and will run a course contrary to the world, because their judg-
ments lead them a contrary way. . . .

"Satan, 'the prince of this world', is judged by the gospel, and the Spirit accompanying it. His impostures are discovered, his enterprises laid open. Therefore when the gospel was spread the oracles ceased, Satan fell from heaven like lightning (Luke 10:18). Men were trans-
lated out of his kingdom into Christ's. Where prevailing is by lies, dis-
covery is victory: 'they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men,' (2 Tim. 3:9). So that manifestation of error gives a stop to it, for none will willingly be deceived. Let truth have full scope without check or restraint, and let Satan and his instru-
ments do their worst, they shall not prevail, as Jerome says of the Pelagians in his time: 'The discovery of your opinions is the vanquish-
ing of them, your blasphemies appear at the first blush.' "

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thurs., 6/16/11 Devotion (Isa. 48:22)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 48:22, where we see these powerful few words:

" 'There is no peace,' says the LORD, 'for the wicked.' "

These words become a refrain in Isaiah. He ends major sections of his thought with it. Who are the wicked? All those who live contrary to the gospel of grace, and who refuse to love and cling to the Messiah. These are found both inside and outside of the realm of organized re-

If the wicked are *never*, even for a solitary moment, at peace--then, who would want to be wicked? Do not even worldlings strongly desire a sense of peace in their hearts? Surely they think they do; but in fact they do not--since they reject the Prince of Peace. By faith, may our hearts dwell contentedly in Jesus today, no matter how much turmoil swirls about us, (cf. Rom. 5:1).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ incarnate is nothing but love cover-
ed with flesh. As Christ's assuming our human nature was a master-
piece of wisdom, so it was a monument of free grace." --Thomas Wat-
son, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wed., 6/15/11 Devotion (Rev. 17:14b)

Today's encouragement comes from Revelation 17:14b, where we read these words:

" . . . and those who are with Him [Christ] are called, chosen, and faithful."

The Bible clearly teaches that God elects some (not all) people unto salvation--and that He then places them into His church (cf. Eph. 1:3-6). But what is sometimes not emphasized enough is the fact that those who are truly chosen, and therefore really redeemed, *will be "faithful" and/or persevering* in this life.

In other words, there is no such thing as an unfaithful "chosen" person. If we *are* chosen, by grace, we *will be* faithful in Christ and His church. Some people (hypocrites) have a false assurance in this re-
gard. They believe in the doctrine--but they do not possess the goods. Let us be true Christians: acknowledging that we are chosen, and showing it by being faithful.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Going to hear a sermon in jest has proved some men's conversion in earnest." --John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tues., 6/14/11 Devotion (Isa. 46:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 46:5, which says this:

"To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me, that we should be alike?"

The incomparability of God is a major theme in Isaiah, and in the rest of the Bible. Compared to the Lord, the entire created universe, with all its vastness and abundance, is nothing. Compared to the Triune God of the Christian religion, an idol is a joke, at best. Isaiah makes fun of how idolaters carve out their god from a block of wood, and then burn up the rest of the timber in the fireplace, (see Isa. 44:15-17).

It is astounding that this incomparable God would unite Himself to mankind, in the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity. May we stand in awe of the church's God, and give Him all the glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have left off calling upon God, it is time for you to leave off hoping and flattering yourselves with an im-
agination that you are the children of God." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer"]

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mon., 6/13/11 Devotion (Isa. 45:22)

Today's encouragement comes from the fabulous words of Isaiah 45:22, which say this:

"Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other."

Do we realize that God literally commands every human being on earth to be saved--by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ? This is espe-
cially to be the case for those who hear the true gospel of grace, as it is preached by Christ's ministers. But it even subordinately applies to those who simply behold the marvelous creation of God, all around them, (cf. Ps. 19:1-6). Why would anyone be so doltish, as to NOT want to be redeemed? The reason, as Jesus Himself said, is because lost sinners love darkness rather than light, (Jn. 3:19).

We gain everything good by coming to Christ, by grace, and being sav-
ed. All we lose is our sin, misery, disgrace, and eternal torment in hell.

[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, June 10, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/10-12/11 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! To help get us ready for church, here is the great Puritan pastor Richard Sibbes, from his "The Bruised Reed" book. Sibbes is dealing with weakness, and how it should not keep us from duty. . . .

"It should encourage us to duty that Christ will not quench the smok-
ing flax, but blow on it till it flames. Some are loath to do good be-
cause they feel their hearts rebelling, and duties turn out badly. We should not avoid good actions because of the infirmities attending them. Christ looks more at the good in them which He means to cher-
ish than the ill in them which He means to abolish. Though eating in-
creases a disease, a sick man will still eat, so that nature may gain strength against the disease. So, though sin cleaves to what we do, yet let us do it, since we have to deal with so good a Lord, and the more strife we meet with, the more acceptance we shall have. Christ loves to taste of the good fruits that come from us, even though they will always savor of our old nature.

"A Christian complains he cannot pray. 'Oh, I am troubled with so many distracting thoughts, and never more than now!' But has [God] put into your heart a desire to pray? Then He will hear the desires of His own Spirit in you. 'We know not what we should pray for as we ought' (nor how to do anything else as we ought), but the Spirit helps our infirmities with 'groanings which cannot be uttered,' (Rom. 8:26), which are not hid from God. 'My groaning is not hid from You,' (Psa. 38:9). God can pick sense out of a confused prayer. These desires cry louder in His ears than your sins. Sometimes a Christian has such con-
fused thoughts that he can say nothing but, as a child, cries, 'O Fa-
ther,' not able to express what he needs, like Moses at the Red Sea. These stirrings of spirit touch the heart of God and melt Him into compassion towards us, when they come from the Spirit of adoption, and from a striving to be better."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thurs., 6/9/11 Devotion (Isa. 41:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 41:10, where we find these great words:

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

These promises are made to God's church, which is gathered "from the ends of the earth," (v. 9a). Faithful Christians may be fearless for only *one* reason: because God is with them. The true believer may be en-
couraged and strengthened--not because of some native ability or pre-
tended righteousness or virtue--but only because the Lord is his (or her) God.

There is no hope, happiness, strength, life, or purpose outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us trust in His promises; and love Him with our whole hearts.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To suppose mercy without supposing mis-
ery, or pity without calamity, is a contradiction; therefore men can-
not look upon themselves as proper acts of mercy unless they first know themselves to be miserable." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "Pardon for the Greatest Sinners"]

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wed., 6/8/11 Devotion (Deut. 12:30b-31a)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 12:30b & 31a, where we read these words:

" . . . do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.' You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way . . . "

This is a very "relevant" Scripture (above), because many (if not most) churches today *do* the very thing we are told not to do (here). They look at the sinful, idol-worshipping society in which we live, and they ask, "How do the people worship their gods? Let's design our services around their ways, so as to be 'relevant'."

Once a church sets out to be "relevant" to the culture, that church has instantly become "irrelevant," (especially to God Himself). We are to look to heaven, and get our instructions from above; rather than look-
ing to earth, to do as all the rest of the heathen. A faithful church sets the standard for the culture, and invites sinners to come up to a life of dignity and worth (in Jesus).

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a greater mercy to descend from pray-
ing parents than from the loins of nobles." --John Flavel, in, "The Mys-
tery of Providence"]

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tues., 6/7/11 Devotion (Deut. 11:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 11:1a, where we read these few words:

"Therefore you shall love the LORD your God . . . "

How does the concept of loving God strike us? Are we comfortable with this? Do we like this idea? Do you and I really love God--even in the mushy emotion-laden way (that most people think about love)? We really should "feel" love to God. Some folks reason this way, (though they would never likely say it): "I know I ought to love God--but it is hard, because He has allowed bad things to happen to me, etc."

Let me urge us to sincerely love God (in the Lord Jesus Christ). If our sins really *are* forgiven, we *will* love God. This love will be mani-
fest to the level that we understand how wonderful it is to be re-
deemed. Genuine loving gratitude and praise flows from the hearts of all well-informed and regenerated churched Christians.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When men distrust God's promises, they murmur at His providences." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mon., 6/6/11 Devotion (Isa. 38:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 38:17, wherein we find these lovely words:

"Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back."

This is part of the prayer of King Hezekiah, after God had graciously promised to extend his life. Oftentimes it is only through "great bit-
terness" that we experience, in this life, the benefits of resurrection living ("delivering my soul from the pit"). It is also the means, often, by which we feelingly recognize the blessings of forgiveness ("You have cast all my sins behind Your back").

Let us not be discouraged, if we are going through bitter times. In-
stead, let us look to the advantages that will accrue to us as we (by grace) remain faithful--as we keep our eyes focused on Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do we think it too much boldness for such sinners as we to come for pardon? . . . Surely this is a sinful modesty. To be afraid to come to God in prayer is a dishonor to Christ's inter-
cession." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/3-5/11 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to help us get ready for church, here is Puritan Pastor Richard Sibbes, from his "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .

"To determine whether we are this smoking flax which Christ will not quench, we must remember these rules:

"We must have two eyes, one to see imperfections in ourselves and others, the other to see what is good. 'I am black,' says the church, 'but comely,' (Song of Sol. 1:5). Those who are given to quarrelling with themselves always lack comfort, and through their infirmities they are prone to feed on such bitter things as will most nourish that disease which troubles them. These delight to be looking on the dark side of the cloud only.

"We must not judge of ourselves always according to present feeling, for in temptations we shall see nothing but smoke of distrustful thoughts. Fire may be raked up in the ashes, though not seen. Life in the winter is hid in the root.

"We must beware of false reasoning, such as: because our fire does not blaze out as others, therefore we have no fire at all. By false con-
clusions we may come to sin against the commandment in bearing false witness against ourselves. The Prodigal would not say he was no son, but that he was not worthy to be called a son, (Luke 15:19). We must neither trust to false evidence, nor deny true; for so we should dishonor the work of God's Spirit in us, and lose the help of that evi-
dence which would cherish our love to Christ, and arm us against Satan's discouragements. Some are as faulty in this way as if they had been hired by Satan, the 'accuser of the brethren,' (Rev. 12:10), to plead for him in accusing themselves."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thurs., 6/2/11 Devotion (Deut. 6:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from the wonderful words of Deutero-
nomy 6:4 & 5, which say this:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."

As there is but one God (in Three Persons), so we are to have but one great Object of our love, manifesting our affections in the three ca-
pacities (of heart, soul, and strength). Love is the principle thing in the true religion (assuming faith and its resultant humility). It is actu-
ally harder to be a genuine God-lover, than it is to be a religious fa-
natic. It takes a miraculous work of saving grace in our souls.

Let us ask for and attain a fresh stock of grace from Jesus today--with the goal of loving God better than we have before. This request is gladly answered by our Lord.

[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"]

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wed., 6/1/11 Devotion (Isa. 33:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 33:14a, where we read these words:

"The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has seized the hypo-
crites . . . "

The context of the phrase (above) is that the Old Covenant church would be tested and tried in the furnace of affliction. The sincere be-
lievers would submit to this, and would come out more purified. The unbelieving hypocrites--who were still in the covenant--would *not* do well at all. They would be fearful; and they would prove to be false.

True Christians may oftentimes experience fear; but they are able, by grace, to undergo God's "proving grounds." A hypocrite will never wil-
lingly suffer anything for the Lord or the true religion. Real believ-
ers--though not enjoying it--are always, in the end, willing to do whatever their Savior requires of them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who belongs to the Jerusalem above speaks the language of Canaan." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]