Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wed., 8/24/11 Devotion (Ps. 32:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from the great words of David, as found in Psalm 32:1 & 2:

"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit."

Are our sins forgiven in the blood atonement of Christ? If so, then we are truly blessed. The forgiven soul is a cleansed soul. It is not a per-
fect soul--it still sins a lot, all the time. But the forgiven soul is a sin-
cere soul. It no longer loves sin; in fact, it hates it. This is what is meant by the spirit having no deceit (above).

No amount of religion, devotion, activity, speech, knowledge, or game-playing can replace or make up for the forgiven soul. As we are forgiven in Jesus' blood, let us rejoice greatly in Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The beauties and excellencies of the Son of God will afford to all the saints inconceivable and eternal delights." --Isaac Ambrose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tues., 8/23/11 Devotion (1 Sam. 15:1b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 15:1b, where we read these words:

" . . . Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the LORD."

These words (above) really stood out to me this morning. The prophet Samuel's phraseology to the king Saul is interesting. The "words of the Lord" are really "voiced" by God. We are reminded of 2 Tim. 3:16a, where Paul wrote: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God [or, is God-breathed]."

The word of God, then, preached, or spoken (as it was by Samuel, in the verse above), has pungent power that "breaks the cedars," and cracks the stony hearts of man into pieces. Let all faithful churched Christians "heed the voice of the words of the Lord" today. As we do this, we glorify Christ, and we benefit ourselves and everyone around us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is best worth thinking on. Is there any excellency in the world? Then what is there in God that made it?"
--Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mon., 8/22/11 Devotion (1 Sam. 14:45b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 14:45b, where we read these interesting words:

"As the LORD lives, not one hair of his [Jonathan's] head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day."

The people of Israel are (here, above) saving Jonathan, Saul's son, from Saul's plan to kill him. The words they use in their defense of Jonathan are interesting: "he has worked with God this day." There is a legitimate sense in which Christians "work with God"--not only in the world, conquering His foes; but even in the sanctification process, whereby the new man in Christ "cooperates" with the Spirit's work of growth in grace.

May all believers be found "working with God" today, as we fully trust in our blessed Redeemer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We cannot of ourselves think a good thought (2 Cor. 3:5), but the Spirit elevates and fixes the heart on God." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/19-21/11 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday again. Lord-willing, we will be *able* to be in church in a few days. In order to help us get ready, here is the eminent Puritan pastor Richard Sibbes, from his, "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .


"Christ has conquered all in His own Person first, and He is 'over all, God blessed for ever,' (Rom. 9:5); and therefore over sin, death, hell, Satan and the world. And, as He has overcome them in Himself, so He overcomes them in our hearts and consciences. We commonly say that conscience makes a man kingly or contemptible, because it is planted in us to judge for God, either with us or against us. Now if natural conscience be so forcible, what will it be when, besides its own light, it has the light of divine truth put into it? It will undoubtedly prevail, either to make us hold up our heads with boldness or abase us beneath ourselves. If it subjects itself, by grace, to Christ's truth, then it boldly faces death, hell, judgment and all spiritual enemies, because then Christ sets up His kingdom in the conscience and makes it a kind of paradise.

"The sharpest conflict which the soul has is between the conscience and God's justice. Now if the conscience, sprinkled with the blood of Christ, has prevailed over assaults fetched from the justice of God, now satisfied by Christ, it will prevail over all other opposition what-

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thurs., 8/18/11 Devotion (Ps. 24:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 24:1, which says this:

"The earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein."

One of the biggest international religious fads to be in vogue right now is earth-worship. The hysteria over "environmentalism" is its creed, and Al Gore is its high priest. The idea is that the earth is of ultimate value, and that human beings are to be subservient to it, (and are to essentially worship it).

But according to Ps. 24:1, it is GOD who ultimately "owns" the earth, because He is the One who created it. The Lord has "given" it to the meek of His church (cf. Matt. 5:5)--but He did this, not so that we would serve it, but so that it would serve us. God would have us be good stewards of His creation; but He would have us worship *Him*, and not what He made.

[Puritan quote of the day: "And so, as to the church in general, by Christ it will have its victory." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wed., 8/17/11 Devotion (Jer. 46:27)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 46:27, which says this:

"But do not fear, O My servant Jacob, and do not be dismayed, O Is-
rael! For behold, I will save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity; Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; no one shall make him afraid."

Behold the blessed promise God makes to His church (in every age). No matter how bad things are, or what direction they seem to be go-
ing--the Lord cannot be prevented from extending His kingdom through gospel-proclamation, and spreading His grace on His children.

Many people today anticipate evil days. It is easy to do this. But it takes faith to believe verses such as this one (above). Let true believ-
ers never lose heart. To do so is to give into the enemy. Let us trust God to keep His promises to His beloved bride.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Evil is an evil thing, and yet it may be a good thing that evil should be in the world." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Decrees of God"]

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tues., 8/16/11 Devotion (Jer. 44:18)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 44:18, where we read these words:

"But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine."

A major reason people commit idolatry is because of a serious mis-
understanding of the source of blessing. God through Jeremiah had condemned this worship of Ishtar, "the queen of heaven"--but the people would not risk the truth of the prophet's words, as over against an alleged stock of provision that they thought they received (by wor-
shipping the "queen of heaven").

It is wiser for us to choose to worship the true God, and to get by with hardly anything, and end up in heaven--than to commit idolatry, and allegedly have our "needs" met, and end up in hell.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The happiness of angels as well as of men consists very much in beholding the glory of God." --Jonathan Ed-
wards, in his sermon, "The Wisdom of God"]

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mon., 8/15/11 Devotion (1 Sam. 5:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 5:3a, where we read these words:

"And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD."

This account (above) is part of the story of when the Philistines put the ark of the Lord in the temple of their false god Dagon. While the two objects were set there next to each other, Dagon fell down from his pedestal, and had to give homage to the Lord (through the ark's presence). The poor idol could do nothing, except collapse, and break off its head and hands (see v. 4).

So it is with all idols (or false gods)--be they the primitive type of the Philistines; or the "sophisticated" style of false believers: they all end up having to fall down and give honor to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God. Let us be thankful for this fact; and let us be sure to ab-
hor all our own idols.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is, I say, natural to think, but it is not natural to think of God; this is proper to a saint." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/12-14/11 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday. We *get* to go back to church. Richard Sibbes' words are helpful to us, as they come from his excellent "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .


"It is not only said that judgment shall be victorious, but that Christ will bring it forth openly to victory. From this we observe that grace will become glory, and come forth into the sight of all. Now Christ conquers, and achieves His own ends, but He does so to some extent invisibly. His enemies in us and outside us seem to prevail. But He will bring forth judgment unto victory, in full view of all. The wicked that now shut their eyes to this shall see it to their torment. It shall not be in the power of subtle men to see or not see what they wish. Christ will have power over their hearts; and as His wrath shall immediately seize upon their souls against their wills, so will He have power over the eyes of their souls, that they may see and know what will increase their misery. Grief shall be fastened to all their senses, and their senses to grief.

"Then all the false glosses which they put upon things shall be wiped off. Men are desirous to have the reputation of good, and yet the sweetness of ill; nothing is so cordially opposed by them as that truth which lays them open to themselves and to the eyes of others, their chief care being how to deceive the world and their own consciences. But the time will come when they shall be driven out of this fools' paradise, and the more subtle their manipulation of things has been, the more shall be their shame."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thurs., 8/11/11 Devotion (Rom. 1:17a, 18a)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's words, as they are found in Romans 1:17a & 18a:

"For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith . . . For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men . . . "

Notice that God makes two "revelations" here, both within the space of only two verses. The first is His "righteousness"; and the second is His "wrath." The righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel (and its elect recipients); and it is received and lived-in by faith. The wrath of God is revealed to the entire world; and is manifest in the con-
sciences of all men.

The only difference between those who receive the righteousness of God and the wrath of God is faith. "The just live by faith," (Rom. 1:17b); whereas the wicked are "given up to uncleanness," (Rom. 1:24a). What is being revealed to our hearts today: God's righteous-
ness or His wrath?

[Puritan quote of the day: "A good life adorns religion, a good tongue propagates it." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wed., 8/10/11 Devotion (Acts 28:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 28:6, where these words are found:

"However, they were expecting that [Paul] would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god."

Behold the amazing fickleness of religious man. In v. 4, the natives thought Paul was a murderer. Two verses later, they think he's a god. There is a lesson here: it is the weakness of the flesh to automatically run to wild extremes, in the evaluation of people. The truth is that even the redeemed of the Lord operate in the "middle," "gray area," where our new natures in Christ struggle against our old natures in Adam.

Let us be wary of either exalting or demeaning God's people. Only Christ is 100% perfect in every way.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Zeal quickens the pursuit after glory. Zeal, encountering difficulty, is emboldened by opposition and tramples up-
on danger." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tues., 8/9/11 Devotion (Ruth 2:12)

Today's encouragement comes from some of Boaz' words to Ruth, as they are found in Ruth 2:12:

"The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge."

It is good for us to come under God's wings for refuge. How did Ruth do this? She forsook her native land and its gods and idols, and she joined herself to God's covenant people. God's refuge includes the pro-
vision of family, food, clothing, housing, community, and security. Ruth's willingness to come under God's wings was richly rewarded by many good blessings.

Let us not be ashamed to come under God's protection and provision. We are needy; He is the only One who can take care of us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Happiness and rest are what all men pur-
sue. But the things of the world, wherein most men seek it, can never afford it. They are laboring and spending themselves in vain." --Jona-
than Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "The Peace which Christ
Gives . . . "]

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mon., 8/8/11 Devotion (Acts 26:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's words, as they are found in Acts 26:8:

"Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?"

Authentic Christianity is all about resurrection life, at every turn. The faith of believers is built on the objective historical fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. And the current experience of regenera-
tion (resulting in justification, etc.) is the fruit of the soul's resurrec-
tion with Jesus (even now). If we take resurrection out of any aspect of our faith, we have nothing left.

All resurrection (or Spirit-filled) living is miraculous; but, as Paul avers above, it is not impossible, or irrational. What struggles do we have today? Let us, by faith, go to the resurrected Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not so much the sins we have commit-
ted that so provoke and grieve Christ as that we refuse the [medicine] of repentance which He prescribes." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doc-
trine of Repentance"]

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/5-7/11 Devotion

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


"Where Christ establishes His government, He inspires care to keep the judgment clear and fresh, for while the judgment stands straight and firm, the whole frame of the soul continues strong and impreg-
nable. True judgment in us advances Christ, and Christ will advance it. All sin is either from false principles, or ignorance, or thoughtless-
ness, or unbelief of what is true. By lack of consideration and weak-
ness of assent, Eve lost her hold at first (Gen. 3:6). It is good, there-
fore, to store up true principles in our hearts, and to refresh them often, that, in virtue of them, our affections and actions may be more vigorous. When judgment is fortified, evil finds no entrance, but good things have a side within us to entertain them. While true convincing light continues, we will not do the least ill of sin for the greatest ill of punishment. 'In vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird' (Prov. 1:17). While the soul is kept aloft, there is little danger of snares be-
low. We must lose our high estimation of things before we can be drawn to any sin."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thurs., 8/4/11 Devotion (Jer. 32:26-27)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 32:26 & 27, where we read these remarkable words:

"Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 'Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?' "

When we look around us, we see that things are not in good shape. Some once-noble denominations are biting the dust. Because of this, governments are at sea, and families are disintegrating. So, in light of this, what are we to do? Should we throw in the towel? Should we cry, "Uncle"?

No. Nothing is too hard for God. He has rebuilt His church in the past; and He will do the same again. God delights in showing His strong arm, just when all seems to be lost. Let us trust Him. As we are in Jesus, we are on the winning side.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God often saves His church by despicable instruments. He makes use of rotten rags." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Comfort for the Church"]

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wed., 8/3/11 Devotion (Jud. 17:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Judges 17:3, where we read these words:

"So when he [Micah] had returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, 'I had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son, to make a carved image and a mold-
ed image; now therefore, I will return it to you.' "

Now, here is theological confusion at its worst. Micah's mother thinks she is doing God a service, by asking her son to make a carved image, (something explicitly prohibited in the 2nd Commandment). On top of this, Micah gets a priest from Bethlehem to be his own "home priest," and expects that God will be pleased with this(!), (see v. 13).

Why all this sad confusion? Because "everyone did what was right in his own eyes," (v. 6b). This was because there was no king. With no good clergy in the church, the same thing happens today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Conscience is like a bee: If a man does well, it gives honey; if ill, it puts forth a sting." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "A Plea for the Godly"]

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tues., 8/2/11 Devotion (Jer. 29:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 29:4 & 5, where we read these words:

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were car-
ried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jeru-
salem to Babylon: Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit."

Instead of seeking to destroy the Babylonian culture to which the Ju-
dean captives were taken, Jeremiah, under God's direct inspiration, encourages them to build-up the Chaldean society. To many of the captives this instruction must have grated against them: they would rather be terrorists in their enemies' land, than to be assets to it.

The same is true of the church today. We are the only rightful "own-
ers" of the earth, under Jesus--and we are to be a blessing to every community in which we live--even if, for the present, it appears to be under the control of the devil and his minions.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In all the comfortable providences of your lives, eye God as the Author or Donor of them." --John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mon., 8/1/11 Devotion (Acts 19:32)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 19:32, where we read these words:

"Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come to-

Wherever the gospel is preached, one of three results accrue: 1) solid belief, leading to a healthy church life; 2) hypocritical "belief," lead-
ing to eventual apostasy; or 3) (as here), plain old confusion.

Today, many professing Christians are thoroughly befuddled. Some have replaced baptism, with a "christian" tee shirt, (or "christian per-
fume"). This is a sad state of affairs. Still, let us not lose heart. May every enlightened believer serve to help confused people, and bring them to the Savior, and into strong churches (for their good).

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a preposterous course, instead of obeying the gospel, and studying to be found in Christ, to be inquis-
itive whether we were elected from eternity or not." --William Ly-
ford, in "The Instructed Christian"]