Friday, December 30, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/30/11-1/1/12 Devotion

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church again! Yip-
pee. In order to help us get ready for this highest calling, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The One Thing Necessary" treatise. . . .

"The seasons of grace though they are precious, are not permanent. Abused mercies will like Noah's dove, take their wings and fly from us. England's golden hour will soon run out; gospel blessings are very sweet, but very swift. 'Now they are hid from your eyes' (Luke 19:42). We know not how soon the golden candlestick may be removed.

"There is a time when the Spirit is done striving. There are certain spring tides of the Spirit, and these being neglected, possibly we may never see another tide come in. When conscience is done speaking, usually the Spirit is done striving.

"The loss of gospel opportunities will be the hell of hell. When a sin-
ner shall at the last day think with himself, 'Oh, what might I have been! I might have been as rich as the angels. as rich as heaven could make me. I had a season to work in, but I lost it.' This, this will be as a vulture gnawing upon him; this will enhance and accent his misery. And let this persuade you speedily to work out your salvation."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thurs., 12/29/11 Devotion (2 Chron. 34:27)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 34:27, which finds this being said about the great king Josiah:

" 'Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its in-
habitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,' says the LORD."

A humble, broken, contrite heart is irresistible to the Lord. Josiah was so zealous for God, His house, His word, and His worship. Even after grieving over the punishment that was sure to come because of Ju-
dah's past wickedness, Josiah was given by God assurances that none of the calamity would befall the nation, in his lifetime.

As God brings us to true brokenness--it may sting us for a while. But the end result is our confidence in the fact that our sins are forgiven; and that we may rest in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let God have His will by being holy, and you shall have your will by being happy." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wed., 12/28/11 Devotion (2 Chron. 33:10-11)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 33:10 & 11, which says this:

"And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon."

Here in two verses of the Bible, we have the entire program of how God deals with those whom He intends to save. The Lord first starts out gently and positively: sending His word to His people (by prophets [OT] and pastors [NT]). If that fails, God brings out His harder and more negative implements: hooks and fetters.

In Manasseh's case, harsh measures were necessary in order to bring him to repentance. This is not the best, nor the wisest approach, how-
ever. When we hear the word of God, let us immediately respond to it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who has been drinking spirits of wine, will not much thirst after water; and that man who has once 'tasted how sweet the Lord is,' (Ps. 34:8), and has drunk the cordials of the Spirit, will not thirst immoderately after secular delights." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tues., 12/27/11 Devotion (2 Chron. 32:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 32:1a, where we read these words:

"After [King Hezekiah's] deeds of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah . . . "

Notice here that it appears that Hezekiah's many faithful acts were "rewarded" with the world's strongest man (politically and militarily) coming to Jerusalem, to destroy it. Sometimes it seems that the people made righteous in Jesus' blood, and who are walking by faith, are the ones who get the worst trials in this life. That may well be; but it is no cause for alarm for us, and neither should we be discour-
aged by it.

Later in this very chapter, at v. 20, Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed to-
gether; and the Lord delivered Judah from all Sennacherib's threats, (destroying his army). That is a splendid biblical example of how the state (Hezekiah) and the church (Isaiah) are to minister together, in this world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "They have armies on their side, and strength and powers of the world on their side; but we have truth and God on our side!" --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mon., 12/26/11 Devotion (Jn. 16:33)

Today's encouragement comes from John 16:33, where we read these words, uttered by our Lord Jesus:

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

This is a beautiful verse (above). Christ seals the peace of His people; and then He gives them the assurance of His absolute and unwavering victory (in and through them--even in this world). "Tribulation" is a "shaking" dynamic. It is not a pleasant experience. But, even in the midst of undergoing it, we are to be of "good cheer," because Jesus, in His blood atonement and glorious resurrection, has forever secured the church's triumph over the world (in which we undergo our trou-

Therefore, let us not be discouraged, but greatly heartened, in Jesus. Even our worst feelings and experiences are redeemed and sanctified, by the King and Head of the church--Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If the church is beautiful beyond all other of the children of men, how beautiful is Jesus Christ, from whom the church derives all its comeliness?" --Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/23-25/11 Devotion

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here! We get to go back to church again!! In order to help us get ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Spiritual Watch" treatise. . . .

"Keep your heart as you would keep a TEMPLE. The temple was a hal-
lowed place, set apart for God's worship. Just so, the heart is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). This heart-temple must be kept pure and holy—no filth may lie here; sweep the dust out of the temple. The vessels of the temple were cleansed (2 Chronicles 29:15). Thus the memory, affections, and conscience, these temple vessels, must be cleansed (2 Corinthians 7:1). Christ whipped the buyers and sellers out of the temple in John 2. The cares of the world will be crowding into the heart. Now you must get a whip made of the threatenings of the law, and drive these money-changers out of the temple of your heart. Do not let God's temple be turned into a worldly market.

"The temple had a fire burning on the altar; take heed of strange fire. But keep the fire of zeal and devotion flaming upon the altar of your heart; do temple work and offer up the sacrifice of a broken heart. When the heart is a consecrated place, a holy of holies, then God will walk there. Many a man's heart is a pest-house, a bedlam, being pol-
luted with sin. This is to put swine into God's temple! This is to let the devil come into God's temple! David's heart was a dedicated temple (Psalm 119:38)."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thurs., 12/22/11 Devotion (2 Chron. 26:5)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 26:5, where we read these words:

"[King Uzziah] sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had under-
standing in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper."

Uzziah was a good king, but not a great king.  As long as he had godly clergy instructing him, he did well.  Once he thought he had it all to-
gether, and could assume the duties of the Levites, he fell down, (cf. 2 Chron. 26:16).

We learn at least two things from the example of Uzziah: 1) good church instruction keeps the saints in the narrow way; and 2) unless pride is constantly checked, blessings can turn to burdens, and (for-
merly) very good men can take some serious tumbles.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When we preach Christ and free grace it is to bring you to Christ.  Our preaching down of works is not to keep you from doing them but from resting in them."   --Jeremiah Bur-
roughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wed., 12/21/11 Devotion (Zech. 8:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Zechariah 8:2, where we read these words:

"Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; with great fervor I am zealous for her.' "

God is not zealous about very many things. Our Lord Jesus Christ's ministry saw Him pass by many things with relative indifference. But He *was* extremely zealous for God's "house," (see Jn. 2:17). The church, the redeemed people of God, matter to Him.

Our problem is largely that we do not value what God values. Let us readjust our priority schema, so as to love what Christ loves, enjoy what He enjoys, and live for what He lives for. We will never regret doing so.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Where there is love to God, there is griev-
ing for our sins of unkindness against Him." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tues., 12/20/11 Devotion (2 Chron. 24:18a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 24:18a, where we read these words:

"Therefore they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols . . . "

This verse (above) pretty well sums-up the religious life of professing Christians. So long as we stay close to the Lord, and hence in His "house," we are fine, safe, and secure. Just as soon as we abandon the Lord, and leave His "house," we end up worshipping wood, rocks, sticks, and dirt.

What a contrast: on one hand, we have communion with the God who created all things, and has re-created His saints in the image of Jesus; and on the other hand, we end up bowing down to things infinitely lower than ourselves. Let us all recognize the key and critical import-
ance of staying in God's "house," the holy church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As there was but one ark to save the world from drowning, so there is but one Jesus to save sinners from damn-
ing." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mon., 12/19/11 Devotion (Zech. 6:12b)

Today's encouragement comes from Zechariah 6:12b, where we read these words:

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: 'Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the LORD.' "

Jesus is the "Branch." Ever since His resurrection, and the pouring-out of the blessed Holy Spirit (at Pentecost), His gospel and church have been "branch[ing] out" all over the globe. The Lord Jesus is "build[ing] the temple" every Lord's Day, as He edifies His church; and, indeed everyday, as He abides with each individual believer.

Let us be thankful for the work of the "Branch"; and let us derive all of our nourishment and fruitfulness from Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: " 'Israel sighed by reason of their bondage,' (Ex. 2:23); but sinners are willing to be slaves, they will not take their freedom; they kiss their fetters." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/16-18/11 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church! In order to help get us ready, here is the Puritan pastor Jeremiah Bur-
roughs, from his, "Gospel Remission" book. . . .

"When God comes to pardon sin, it is such a mercy as comes from the fountain of God's everlasting love. Other mercies do not. Where this is not present, you cannot have evidence of God's eternal love. If God gives you health of body, good voyages at sea, and good [success] in respect of the world, you cannot draw arguments from hence that God bears eternal love to your soul. But when He comes to pardon your sins, it is a certain evidence that God has set His love on you from all eternity.

"If there were a chain let down from heaven and you could take hold but of one link that would certainly bring you there, both ends would come together. In Romans 8:30, there is a chain of many links let down, and if you can catch hold of the link of justification, you may certainly catch hold of predestination, for all hang together. If you are justified, then know for certain that you are a predestined man or woman whom God has set His heart upon from all eternity to do good. And this is a great happiness for a poor creature while he lives in this world, to know that God has set His heart upon him from all eternity to do him good. And, indeed, we can never be at rest until we come to this."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thurs., 12/15/11 Devotion (Jn. 5:6)

Today's encouragement comes from John 5:6, where we read these words:

"When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, 'Do you want to be made well?' "

At first glance Christ's question (above) to the lame man seems out of place. After all, doesn't everyone want to be "made well"? Actually, no; and this is why Jesus inquired of the infirm person. A lot of people are comfortable with their maladies--especially as it relates to a life of sin. They literally do *not* "want" to be made well.

It is actually a blessing to desire good things--and health and well-being are some of them. it is one thing to be unwell (in whatever way this may be); but it is quite another thing to be content to be in that state. God would have us desire Christ, wholeness, and all good things--as His beloved church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sometimes persons live in ways of sin and are not sensible of it because they are blinded by common custom and the examples of others." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Ne-
cessity of Self-Examination"]

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wed., 12/14/11 Devotion (Jn. 4:22)

Today's encouragement comes from John 4:22, where we find our Lord Jesus saying these words:

"You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews."

This is a very bold and highly politically-incorrect assertion the Mes-
siah makes here. He is basically teaching that all who worship false gods (or concoctions of the true God--as was the case with the Samar-
itans to whom Jesus said these words) were blind in their devotion, and did not know their deity. Then, Christ has the audacity to affirm that "salvation is of the Jews." It does not come from any other eth-
nicity--because the Person of salvation (Jesus) came from the Jews.

Do we have this kind of courage; or are we reduced to saying stupid things like, "All roads lead to heaven"? Let us follow our Master's lead; and let us do it with love and grace, as His holy church.

[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"]

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/2-4/11 Devotion

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


"This also shows that those are misled that make Christ to be only righteousness to us and not sanctification, except by imputation, whereas it is a great part of our happiness to be under such a Lord, who was not only born for us, and given to us, but has the government likewise upon His shoulder (Isa. 9:6, 7). He is our Sanctifier as well as our Saviour, our Saviour as well by the effectual power of his Spirit from the power of sin as by the merit of His death from the guilt thereof; provided these things are remembered:

"1. The first and chief ground of our comfort is that Christ as a priest offered Himself as a sacrifice to His Father for us. The guilty soul flies first to Christ crucified, made a curse for us. Thence it is that Christ has right to govern us; thence it is that He gives us His Spirit as our guide to lead us home.

"2. In the course of our life, after we are in a state of grace, if we are overtaken with any sin, we must remember to have recourse first to Christ's mercy to pardon us, and then to the promise of His Spirit to govern us.

"3. And when we feel ourselves cold in affection and duty, the best way is to warm ourselves at this fire of His love and mercy in giving Himself for us.

"4. Again, remember this, that Christ rules us by a spirit of love, from a sense of His love, whereby His commandments are easy to us. He leads us by his free Spirit, a Spirit of liberty. His subjects are volun-
teers. The constraint that He lays upon His subjects is that of love. He draws us sweetly with the cords of love. Yet remember also that He draws us strongly by a Spirit of power, for it is not sufficient that we have motives and encouragements to love and obey Christ from that love of His, whereby He gave Himself for us to justify us; but Christ's Spirit must likewise subdue our hearts, and sanctify them to love Him, without which all motives would be ineffectual."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thurs., 12/1/11 Devotion (Mic. 6:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Micah 6:8, where we read these great words:

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD re-
quire of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"

Sometimes the Christian life can be made to seem so busy and clutter-
ed: "Be sure to pray; be sure to read your Bible; be sure to evangelize; be sure to serve others, etc." And though all these things are good (obviously), sometimes we just need to relax and say, "Just *what* is it that You want me to *be* and *do*, Lord?"

Today's Micah text (above) pretty much answers that question. God wants us to live in Jesus, by faith. When we do this, we *will* do "justly," "love mercy," and "walk humbly with our God." Let's concen-
trate on Christ today. He will make us what He wants us (His church) to be.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is infinitely greater than kings. He is universal King of heaven and earth, the absolute Sovereign of all things." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Warnings of Scrip-