Friday, July 29, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/29-31/11 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday again! We *get* to go to church and wor-
ship God! In order to help us get ready, here is the great Puritan pas-
tor Richard Sibbes, from his amazing, "The Bruised Reed" classic. . . .


"When we think of Joseph, Daniel, John the Evangelist, we frame conceptions of them with delight, as of mild and sweet persons. Much more when we think of Christ, we should conceive of Him as a mirror of all meekness. If the sweetness of all flowers were in one, how sweet must that flower be? In Christ all perfections of mercy and love meet. How great then must that mercy be that lodges in so gracious a heart? Whatever tenderness is scattered in husband, father, brother, head, all is but a beam from Him; it is in Him in the most eminent manner. We are weak, but we are His; we are deformed, but yet carry His image upon us. A father looks not so much at the blemishes of his child as at his own nature in him; so Christ finds matter of love from that which is His own in us. He sees His own nature in us: we are diseased, but yet His members. Whoever neglected his own members because they were sick or weak? None ever hated his own flesh. Can the head forget the members? Can Christ forget Himself? We are His fullness, as He is ours. He was love itself clothed with man's nature, which He united so near to Himself, that He might communicate His goodness the more freely to us. And He took not our nature when it was at its best, but when it was abased, with all the natural and com-
mon infirmities it was subject to.

"Let us therefore abhor all suspicious thoughts, as either cast in or cherished by that damned spirit who, as he labored to divide between the Father and the Son by jealousies, by saying, 'If You be the Son of God' (Matt. 4:6), so his daily study is to divide between the Son and us by breeding false opinions in us of Christ, as if there were not such tender love in Him to such as we are. It was Satan's art from the be-
ginning to discredit God with man, by calling God's love into question with our first father Adam. His success then makes him ready at that weapon still."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thurs., 7/28/11 Devotion (Judg. 11:24)

Today's encouragement comes from Judges 11:24, where we read these words:

"Will you not possess whatever Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the LORD our God takes possession of before us, we will possess."

These are the words of Jephthah (above), as he spoke to the king of Ammon. What he is basically saying is this: "Hey, if you want to wor-
ship your false god--go ahead and do so--and receive from it whatever good you think you might. But let's play fair: on the same basis we will receive good things from the True God, the Lord (Yahweh)."

Of course, on these grounds, the unbelieving world is not only at a disadvantage--it is sure to be defeated (by the One God of the true religion). Even today, let all faithful Christians recognize that the "gates of Hades cannot prevail against" Christ's church, (Matt. 16:18).

[Puritan quote of the day: "One word of God can do more than ten thousand words of men to relieve a distressed soul." --John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wed., 7/27/11 Devotion (Acts 14:22b, 23)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 14:22b & 23, where we read these words:

" 'We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.' So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they [Paul and Barnabas] commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed."

It is intriguing how the Holy Spirit juxtaposes here the fact that be-
lievers will have tribulation in their kingdom journey on earth, with the establishment of the local churches' eldership boards [or sessions]. It's as if God is saying, "Look, it's going to be tough--now here is your community of support."

Life is not easy. Let us not try to live the Christian walk on our own. To do so is a recipe for certain failure. Let us take advantage of God's provision of His church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Jacob got the blessing in the garment of his elder brother. So, in the garment of Christ, our older brother, we obtain the blessing." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Christ All in All"]

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tues., 7/26/11 Devotion (Mk. 8:34b-35)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 8:34b & 35, wherein the Lord Jesus said this:

"Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it."

Notice that the key here is the twice-repeated word, "desires." What do we desire? If we desire to follow Jesus, this is good--but it will cost us something. It will cost us our sin, our autonomy, and our false sense of "freedom." We cannot live in Christ, until we die to ourselves. This is very difficult. In fact, aside from sovereign grace, it is impos-

But, once we do this, we are truly liberated. Jesus will be no man's debtor. If we give Him what we are--He will give us far more than we could ever imagine.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Consider that God's mercy and Christ's merits in pardoning the guilt of the sin you have committed are far greater than the greatness of your own guilt." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mon., 7/25/11 Devotion (Mk. 7:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 7:15, where the Lord Jesus said this:

"There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man."

These words lay out a basic criterion between the true religion and all false religion. False religion is always concerned about externals, first and foremost, and exclusively. The true religion is concerned about the wicked nature of the heart, and how this issue must be resolved before a Holy God.

False religion is very easy to practice: do a few things, and one can pretend he is in God's good standing. True religion requires sorrow for heart sins, repentance, and faith in the only Redeemer of God's elect.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a true rule in divinity that the desire for any grace is the grace itself; for to desire to believe is faith, and true desire to repent is repentance, and true desire to mourn for sin is mourning for sin." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/22-24/11 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church! Here is Rev. Richard Sibbes, the great Puritan pastor, from his, "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .


"Those that are under Christ's government have the spirit of revela-
tion, whereby they see and feel a divine power sweetly and strongly enabling them to preserve faith when they feel the contrary, and hope in a state which is hopeless, and love to God under signs of His dis-
pleasure, and heavenly-mindedness in the midst of worldly affairs and allurements which draw a contrary way. They feel a power preserving patience, nay joy, in the midst of causes of mourning, inward peace in the midst of assaults. Whence is it that, when assaulted with temp-
tation and compassed with troubles, we have stood firm, but from a secret strength upholding us? To make so little grace so victorious over so great a mass of corruption, this requires a spirit more than human. This is like preserving fire in the sea, and a part of heaven even, as it were, in hell. Here we know where to obtain this power, and to Whom to return the praise of it. And it is our happiness that it is so safely hid in Christ for His, in one so near to God and us.

"Since the fall, God will not trust us with our own salvation, but it is both purchased and kept by Christ for us, and we for it through faith, wrought by the power of God, which we lay hold of. This power is gloriously set forth by Paul: it is (1) a great power; (2) an exceeding power; (3) a working and a mighty power; (4) such a power as was wrought in raising Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19, 20). That grace which is but a persuasive offer and in our power to receive or refuse is not the grace which brings us to heaven. But God's people feel a pow-
erful work of the Spirit, not only revealing to us our misery and de-
liverance through Christ, but emptying us of ourselves, as being re-
deemed from ourselves, and infusing new life into us, and afterwards strengthening us and quickening us when we droop and hang the wing, never leaving us till the conquest is perfect."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thurs., 7/21/11 Devotion (Acts 8:35)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 8:35, where these words are spoken of Philip, with regard to the Ethiopian eunuch:

"Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him."

Anywhere we turn in our Bibles we find, ultimately, the very same message: it is that the Son of God would be/is incarnated, crucified, resurrected, and glorified. Some texts, like the Isaiah passage that Philip expounded to the Ethiopian, are more specific than others--but every jot and tittle of the OT, and every Greek letter of the NT speaks of Jesus.

Let this inform us as we study the Scriptures, and when we share its truth with others. If we do not "preach Jesus to [them]," we are doing them no service at all.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The love of Christ for the elect is so great that God the Father looks upon it proper and suitable to account Christ and the elect as one, and accordingly to account what Christ does and suffers as if they did it and suffered it." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "The Wisdom of God"]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wed., 7/20/11 Devotion (Ps. 31:14-15a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 31:14 & 15a, where David gave us these wonderful words:

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

I like this prayer, because it is very basic. Let others do what they will, but let the believing Christian trust in Christ. Let others worry themselves silly over details of life that mean little, if anything; but let the faithful churchman call God his God, and leave him- or herself in the Lord's hands.

This is not abrogation, neglect, nor hiding one's head in the sand. In-
stead, it is living faith in Jesus--which is the only way to deal with life's struggles, be they great or small.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Professing Christians, by indulging their sloth, seek their own ease and comfort; but they defeat their own aim. The most laborious and the most self-denying Christians are the most happy." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Character of Paul an Example to Christians"]

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tues., 7/19/11 Devotion (Mk. 1:35/Acts 6:4)

Today's encouragement comes from an interesting collation of two verses: Mark 1:35, and Acts 6:4. They say this:

"Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, [Jesus] went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He pray-
ed. . . . 'But we [the apostles] will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.' "

Both our Lord Jesus Christ, and (later) His apostles put their priority on prayer and the preaching of the Word [gospel] of God. Everything else in the ministry would have to be either done by others (viz. the deacons, as in Acts 6); or it would simply have to wait until a con-
venient time.

After Christ rose from prayer, He announced that for the purpose of preaching He had come forth (Mk. 1:38). The same thing could be said of the apostles. While others served the tables, they served up the meal of the preached gospel of grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When the times are troublesome, [a] good conscience makes it calm. If the conscience is clear, so what if the days are cloudy?" --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Content-

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mon., 7/18/11 Devotion (Acts 5:38-39)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 5:38 & 39, where we read these words:

"And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it--lest you even be found to fight against God."

Gamaliel, a highly-respected first-century rabbi, made this observa-
tion (above). He was absolutely right. When it comes to religion and the spiritual life--anything man-made is bound to fail. There is little sense in even giving it much of our time or attention. But, what is of (or from) God *is* of absolute importance. What the Lord does, cannot fail.

Let us be found fighting "alongside" God, as faithful churchmen. If we do not do this, we will be exposed as fighting against God--and who could ever hope to overthrow His work?

[Puritan quote of the day: "A godly man has many signal experiences of God's favor to him, and experience breeds hope." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Sacred Anchor"]

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/15-17/11 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church again! In or-
der to help us get ready for worship, here is the great Puritan pastor Richard Sibbes, from his "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .

"The sighs of a bruised heart carry in them a report, both of our affec-
tion to Christ, and of His care to us. The eyes of our souls cannot be towards Him unless He has cast a gracious look upon us first. The least love we have to Him is but a reflection of His love first shining upon us. As Christ did, in His example to us, whatever He charges us to do, so He suffered in His own Person whatever He calls us to suffer, so that He might the better learn to relieve and pity us in our suffer-
ings. In His desertion in the garden and on the cross He was content to be without that unspeakable solace which the presence of His Father gave, both to bear the wrath of the Lord for a time for us, and like-
wise to know the better how to comfort us in our greatest extremi-

"God sees fit that we should taste of that cup of which His Son drank so deep, that we might feel a little what sin is, and what His Son's love was. But our comfort is that Christ drank the dregs of the cup for us, and will comfort us, so that our spirits may not utterly fail under that little taste of His displeasure which we may feel. He became not only a an but a curse, a Man of Sorrows, for us. He was broken that we should not be broken; He was troubled, that we should not be des-
perately troubled; He became a curse, that we should not be accurs-
ed. Whatever may be wished for in an all sufficient Comforter is all to be found in Christ."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thurs., 7/14/11 Devotion (Jer. 10:23-24)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 10:23 & 24, where we find these words:

"O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O LORD, correct me, but with jus-
tice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing."

Here is the prophet's humble acknowledgment that he is completely dependent upon God. Jeremiah wants God's correction, and he is wise enough to ask for terms that are gracious.

If our way is "not in [ourselves]," and we do not "direct [our] own steps," then does this excuse us from responsibility before God? No. The teaching here is that we are to seek to be led by the Lord, and in so doing to find our betterment and happiness.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When a people play fast and loose with God, breaking their solemn vows and oblations, whether sacramental or other, this is a God-provoking sin." --Thomas Watson, in his ser-
mon, "Comfort for the Church"]

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wed., 7/13/11 Devotion (Jer. 9:23-24)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 9:23 & 24, where these great words are found:

"Thus says the LORD: 'Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judg-
ment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the LORD."

What do *we* "glory in"? God created us to enjoy and revel in a Reality so great, wonderful, and worthy, that there would be no danger of it leading us into pride or idolatry. That Reality, of course, is the Lord Himself. There is nothing wrong with delighting in subordinate bles-
sings, like wisdom, might, or even riches--so long as our #1 pleasure is Christ the Lord.

Do we "understand and know" the true God? If so, then we have good cause to "glory."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Unless your restraint of sin extends to in-
ward and bosom sins as well as to open and notorious crimes, you can-
not conclude that the power of mortifying grace is upon your heart."
--Christopher Love, in, "The Mortified Christian"]

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tues., 7/12/11 Devotion (Matt. 22:29)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 22:29, where we read these words:

"Jesus answered and said to them, 'You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.' "

One sure way for us to be in error, or to be mistaken, is by not know-
ing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. The greatest truths are all too wonderful, to be apprehended by "reason" alone. How would we know that God saves sinners by the atonement achieved by His Son; or how would we know that God is Trinity--were it not for the special revelation of the Scriptures?

Ignorance is *not* bliss--instead, it is a sure road to perdition and mis-
ery. Let us who know Christ, seek to become more acquainted with Him: in His church, through the doctrines found in His word.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A man may think himself into hell. What were the apostate angels damned for, was it for any more than proud thoughts?" --Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mon., 7/11/11 Devotion (Ps. 146:5, 9b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 146:5 & 9b, where we find this remarkable contrast:

"Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God . . . But the way of the wicked [God] turns upside down."

According to these verses, God-lovers are happy; and God-haters are miserable. Why, then, does it often seem to be the other way around? This is because sometimes God allows the wicked to prosper, and the righteous to suffer. But the end result is to "fatten" the godless for slaughter; and to humble the godly, so that they can be made joyful.

If the "God of Jacob" is *our* God, then we, like Jacob, will go through tough times--but we will also be supremely and supernatural-
ly happy in Jesus, by grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "No man can feel sin but by grace. A wicked man is insensible. Lay a hundredweight upon a dead man, he does not complain; but being sensible of corruption, argues a gracious prin-
ciple." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/8-10/11 Devotion

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

"Where, then, do . . . discouragements come from?

"1. Not from the Father, for He has bound Himself in covenant to pity us as a father pities his children (Psa. 103:13); and to accept as a Father our weak endeavors. And what is wanting in the strength of duty, He gives us leave to take up in His gracious indulgence. In this way we shall honor that grace in which He delights as much as in more perfect performances.

"2. Not from Christ, for He by office will not quench the smoking flax. We see how Christ bestows the best fruits of His love on persons who are mean in condition, weak in abilities, and offensive for infirmities, nay, for grosser falls. And this He does, first, because thus it pleases Him to confound the pride of the flesh, which usually measures God's love by some outward excellency; and secondly, in this way He de-
lights to show the freedom of His grace and confirm His royal prerog-
ative that, 'he that glories' must 'glory in the Lord' (1 Cor. 1:31). . . .

"3. Neither do discouragements come from the Spirit. He helps our in-
firmities, and by office is a Comforter (Rom. 8:26; John 14:16). If He convinces of sin, and so humbles us, it is that He may make way for His office of comforting us. Discouragements, then, must come from ourselves and from Satan, who labors to fasten on us a loathing of duty."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thurs., 7/7/11 Devotion (Josh. 9:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Joshua 9:14, which says this:

"Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD."

This verse has to do with the Gibeonite deception of Israel, and their leader, Joshua. This error would plague the people of God for a long time. It is better to trust the unseen God, than to put confidence in what we can touch and smell. There is too much at stake in the spirit-
ual realm to risk great loss, because we think we can handle the situ-
ation on our own.

Let us always bring everything to God. Let us not be so proud, as to think we are able to do *anything* independently of Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "By telling others what God has done for your soul, you may make them in love with the ways of God, and cause them to turn proselytes to religion [viz. the true religion]."
--Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wed., 7/6/11 Devotion (Matt. 16:4b)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 16:4b, where we read these few words:

" . . . And He [Jesus] left them [the Pharisees and Sadducees] and de-

To have Jesus Christ "leave" someone is a sad and serious situation. The Messiah *does* sometimes "leave" people. In this Matthean text (above), it is the self-righteous Pharisees and Sadducees--who, though natural enemies of each other--became allies together against The Lord's Anointed One (Jesus).

Who are the people that Jesus *never* really ever "leaves," (even though sometimes they do not *feel* His closeness)? Humble believing churched Christians, who know themselves to be sinners, and who trust in Christ's blood atonement alone for the forgiveness of their sins. Let us be numbered among those Jesus would never "leave."

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more love a Christian receives from God, the more he sees himself a debtor to free grace, and the sense of his debt keeps his heart humble . . . " --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]