Friday, September 30, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/30-10/2/11 Devotion

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


"And among others, how do they wrong themselves and Him that will have other mediators to God for them than He [Jesus]! Are any more [compassionate] than He who became man to that end, that He might be [merciful] to His own flesh? Let all, at all times, come to this meek Saviour, and put up all our petitions in His prevailing name. What need do we have to knock at any other door? Can any be more tender over us than Christ? What encouragement we have to commend the state of the church in general, or of any broken-hearted Christian, to Him by our prayers, of whom we may speak to Christ, as they did of Lazarus, 'Lord, the church which You love, and gave Yourself for, is in distress'; 'Lord, this poor Christian, for whom You were bruised (Isa. 53:5) is bruised and brought very low.' It cannot but touch His heart when the misery of those so dear to Him is spread before Him.


"Again, considering this gracious nature in Christ, let us think with ourselves thus: when He is so kind to us, shall we be cruel against Him in His name, in His truth, in His children? How shall those that delight to be so terrible to 'the meek of the earth' (Zeph. 2:3) hope to look so gracious a Saviour in the face? They that are so boisterous towards His spouse shall know one day that they had to deal with Himself in His church. So it cannot but cut the heart of those that have felt this love of Christ to hear Him wounded who is the life of their lives and the soul of their souls. This makes those that have felt mercy weep over Christ whom they have pierced with their sins. There cannot but be a mutual and quick sympathy between the Head and the members. When we are tempted to any sin, if we will not pity ourselves, yet we should spare Christ, in not putting Him to new torments. The apostle could not find out a more heart-breaking argument to enforce a sacri-
fice of ourselves to God than to appeal to us 'by the mercies of God' in Christ (Rom. 12:1)."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thurs., 9/29/11 Devotion (Gal. 5:4-6)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 5:4-6. Paul continues his main theme throughout this amazing epistle, with these words:

"You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be jus-
tified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love."

If we are professing Christians, then we will inevitably follow one of two paths this day: either we will take the "safe and easy" way of trusting in ourselves, and walking in the "law"; or we will go the "ex-
citing and risky" way of trusting in Christ, walking in grace, and living by faith (in love).

The first way leads to certain failure and frustration. It is for the lazy, unbelieving, and passionless. The second way ends in true joy and purpose. It is for those who know they possess nothing good in them-
selves, and who are totally dependent upon God. The Lord's curse is on the first way; His blessing is on the second way.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Our happiness here and hereafter depends on our friendly [communication] with heaven. If we do not have that, nothing can make up our loss (Ps. 30:5). If we have that, nothing can make us miserable." --Thomas Boston, in, "The Crook in the Lot"]

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wed., 9/28/11 Devotion (Ps. 79:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 79:1, where we read these words:

"O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; Your holy tem-
ple they have defiled; they have laid Jerusalem in heaps."

In this particular Psalm (79), Asaph, the author, is bemoaning the fact that the "nations have come into [God's] inheritance." The reason? Be-
cause they came at that time to destroy the temple, and to lay waste the city of Jerusalem. But in the New Covenant, the blessed promise is that the Gentile nations would enter into Christ and His church--not to destroy; but to beautify.

Many of the other Psalms (like Ps. 22:27) actually speak of this hap-
pening. Most of us reading this devotion today are the fulfillment of this promise and prophecy. We, who used to be of the idol-worship-
ping peoples, are now the true children of Abraham, by faith in Jesus. For this blessed fact, may we forever give God praise.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Surely God deals familiarly with men; His condescensions to His own clay are astonishing." --John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tues., 9/27/11 Devotion (Ps. 78:38a, 39a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 78, verses 38a & 39a, where we read these words:

"But [God], being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity . . . For He remembered that they were but flesh . . . "

Behold the amazing mercy and forbearance of God. In Ps. 78, the Lord's continued kindnesses to a stubborn and rebellious people are rehearsed over and over. So it is true today: Christ's New Covenant church is also made up of people who are saints and yet still sinners. We need the grace and kindness of our Heavenly Father everyday.

Believers are also able to emulate their Lord: whereas God sees us as "but flesh"--let us remember that our fellow brothers and sisters in the church are also "but flesh," even as we are, as well. This should make us sympathetic toward one another; and it should arrest our tendency to be harsh with each another.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Lord expects praise wherever you have comfort." --John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mon., 9/26/11 Devotion (Gal. 2:21)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 2:21, where we read these great words:

"I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."

The Apostle Paul was adamant about not giving in on the gospel of grace. Like us, he felt the pressure to compromise the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ--but he refused to do so. There is always a tendency in all of us to resort back to works, or law, as the means of our seeking a right standing with God. But this is to lose Jesus al-
together; and to commit the most heinous spiritual crime against God--who saves His church by Christ's blood atonement alone, receiv-
ed by faith alone.

The church in Galatia temporarily caved-into the Judaizers of their day. Many in our time are doing the same. Let us continue to cling to Jesus, by faith--and hence, be His faithful church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Surely it is best for you which Providence has appointed, and one day you yourselves will judge it so to be."
--John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/23-25/11 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church. Here is Richard Sibbes, from his, "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .


"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 confused thoughts that he can say nothing but, as a child, cries, 'O Father', 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, September 22, 2011

Thurs., 9/22/11 Devotion (2 Sam. 18:9b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 18:9b, where we read these words:

" . . . so he [Absalom] was left hanging between heaven and earth."

When our Lord Jesus Christ was on the cross, bearing the sins of all the elect from all time, He hung, as it were, "between heaven and earth." He bridged the infinite gap between a holy God and sinful men. The regenerate churchman, who struggles through the process of sanctification, also, in a sense, is suspended "between heaven and earth." His old flesh nature (earth), is at war with his new nature (heaven).

Where are the eyes of our hearts focused, today? If they are on earth, we will naturally gravitate there. If they are in heaven, we will, by grace, soar there (in our souls).

[Puritan quote of the day: "In His last sufferings, Christ sapped the very foundations of Satan's kingdom. He conquered His enemies in their own territories, and beat them with their own weapons, as David cut off Goliath's head with his own sword." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Excellency of Christ"]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wed., 9/21/11 Devotion (2 Cor. 10:4-6)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, where Paul wrote these astonishing words:

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled."

Behold the weapons and work of the pastoral ministry. Paul's oppo-
nents had corrupted the Corinthian church; and now the apostle does some radical "interior re-designing"--as he destroys the work of the devil, and re-establishes and furthers the cause of Christ.

Let us remember this: all discipleship begins in the church; but it does not stop there. The Corinthians would eventually join with Paul and expunge the evil from their midst.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Moderate sorrow differs from immoderate sorrow in this: true sorrow stirs up holy endeavors to act in your place and calling for the deliverance of the church." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tues., 9/20/11 Devotion (Ps. 71:20a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 71:20a, where we read these words:

"You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, shall revive me again . . . "

Such was David's confident faith, that he believed that the same Lord who had allowed him (David) to struggle with problems, would also be the One who would exalt him and fill him with inexpressible joy.

This is the nature of the churched Christian's faith-walk: trials endur-
ed and persevered through, lead to resurrection pleasure and fulfill-
ment (in this life). All who have experience in loving Christ know this to be true. Therefore, no matter where we are on the life-continuum today, let us not lose heart. Let us be faithful and patient: God shall "revive [us] again."

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God's] love is judicious, not fond. He con-
sults my good rather than my ease." --John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mon., 9/19/11 Devotion (2 Sam. 15:25-26)

Today's encouragement comes from David's words, as they are found in 2 Samuel 15:25 & 26:

"Then the king [David] said to Zadok, 'Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place.' "

David's attitude is a good one. He was suffering the consequences of his (forgiven) sin, as Absalom was in the process of usurping his throne. David had enough faith to believe that the ark should remain in Jerusalem, even though he (David) had to leave that city. He had enough humility to accept from the Lord whatever He would decree: either exile and death, or reinstatement and life.

Let us also have this perspective on life: not holding on too tightly to any of God's blessings; while clinging for dear life to the Lord Jesus Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When Christians are more inquiring after privileges than inquiring after their duty, it is just with God to keep their comfort from them." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/16-18/11 Devotion

Yippee--God's once-a-week holy day (Sunday) is almost here. Here is Richard Sibbes, from "The Bruised Reed," to encourage us in our pre-
paration. . . .


"We must acknowledge that in the covenant of grace God requires the truth of grace, not any certain measure; and a spark of fire is fire, as well as the whole element. Therefore we must look to grace in the spark as well as in the flame. All have not the like strong, though they have the like precious, faith (2 Pet. 1:1), whereby they lay hold of, and put on, the perfect righteousness of Christ. A weak hand may receive a rich jewel. A few grapes will show that the plant is a vine, and not a thorn. It is one thing to be deficient in grace, and another thing to lack grace altogether. God knows we have nothing of our-
selves, therefore in the covenant of grace He requires no more than He gives, but gives what He requires, and accepts what He gives: 'If she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtle doves' (Lev. 12:8). What is the gospel itself but a merciful moderation, in which Christ's obedience is esteemed ours, and our sins laid upon Him, wherein God, from being a judge, becomes our Father, pardoning our sins and accepting our obedience, though feeble and blemished? We are now brought to heaven under the covenant of grace by a way of love and mercy.

"It will prove a special help to know distinctly the difference between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, between Moses and Christ. Moses, without any mercy, breaks all bruised reeds, and quenches all smoking flax. For the law requires personal, perpetual and perfect obedience from the heart, and that under a most terrible curse, but gives no strength. It is a severe taskmaster, like Pharaoh's, requiring the whole tale of bricks and yet giving no straw. Christ comes with blessing after blessing, even upon those whom Moses had cursed, and with healing balm for those wounds which Moses had made."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thurs., 9/15/11 Devotion (Ps. 63:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 63:2, where David wrote these words:

"So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory."

David penned these words while he was stuck in the wilderness of Judah--separated from the Lord's tabernacle in Jerusalem. Even from the dry desert of desolation and isolation, David craved to be in his God's blessed presence.

When we are cut off from the Lord's ordinary means of grace which we would enjoy in the church (house/tabernacle) of God, let us still resort to His presence in the "sanctuary of our hearts"; and let us long for and look forward to those glorious days of sweet communion with the saints, as we gather for Sunday's church worship services.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God's] ways are secret, but always just. God is most in His way when we think He is out of His way." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wed., 9/14/11 Devotion (2 Cor. 3:5-6a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 3:5 & 6a, where Paul wrote these words:

"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant . . . "

What has God given us to do, in this life? Are we content with our as-
signments? Is it a bit "less glamorous" than we would have desired? The sufficient Lord supplies His saints with all the resources we need, in order to fulfill our God-given roles on earth. Especially the church's ministry itself, which cannot be done in the flesh without great shame--is totally dependent upon the grace of Christ.

Let us not be discouraged, if we are faithful (by grace) in our spheres. Let us thank God that He has equipped ua, and honored us with His seal of love.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Son is the fullness of God, and the church is the fullness of the Son of God." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Glory of God"]

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tues., 9/13/11 Devotion (Ezek. 16:63b)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 16:63b, where we read these amazing words:

" ' . . . when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,' says the Lord GOD."

These words mark the end of the otherwise-quite-lurid ch. 16 of Eze-
kiel. Just when all seemed lost and hopeless, and even after God had detailed His condemnation of Judah's idolatry and iniquity--here comes the good news of atonement.

Why would the Lord provide His people of old, or His church today atonement, (and resulting remission of sins)? Is it not because of His love for His elect, secured from all eternity, in His gracious decrees? The redeemed of the Lord *deserve* judgment, hell, and wrath; but, in Christ, we *get* forgiveness, adoption, and sanctification. Let the faithful church love this great God today; and live for Him with sin-
cerity and zeal!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Providence has ordered that condition for you which is really best for your eternal good." --John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mon., 9/12/11 Devotion (2 Cor. 1:24c)

Today's encouragement comes from the few words of 2 Corinthians 1:24c, which say this:

" . . . for by faith you stand."

When it is all said and done, the entire life of the true religion re-
volves around the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ--Who is known by us through faith alone. This is why Paul could write to the rebellious and proud Corinthian believers that "by faith [they] stand."

A lot of times in religion the emphasis is put on all kinds of other things, like, "I'm going to be sure to obey everything the Bible says"; or, "I'm going to try real hard to be a good Christian." These state-
ments have their place--but they don't amount to a hill of beans without simple faith. This is why the little believing baptized child stands infinitely taller than the proud pharisee (in the eyes of God).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Can the soul be sad while God is with it?"
--John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/9-11/11 Devotion

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


"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 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 accommodation 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 covet-
ousness will move us to put upon ourselves the disposition of Christ. But we must put off ourselves first."