Monday, December 31, 2012

Mon., 12/31/12 Devotion (Rev. 22:17)

Happy New Year, everyone!

Today's encouragement comes from Revelation 22:17, where we read these words:

"And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely."

In this one little verse, in the very last chapter of the Bible, we have God's perfect formula for evangelism, and living the Christian faith (in general). And that is, simply "Coming" to Christ, by grace through faith--with nothing else in our hands (as payment for our sins).

And note that God's three mighty forces are all at work here, inviting us to come to Jesus: the "[Holy] Spirit," the Church ("Bride"), and
the Word (the preached Scripture itself). If we take any one of these blessed provisions away, we not only cannot come to Jesus, we do not possess Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When God shines in the use of means, then the soul is, as it were, in heaven." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/28-30/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday, God's holy day. Let us be sure to keep the commandment, and worship the Lord. In order to encourage us in this, here are some good words from Jonathan Edwards, taken from his sermon entitled, "Christians a Chosen Generation":

"Christians are of so different a nature and temper from the rest of the world. The truly godly are very different in their disposition from others. They hate those things that the rest of the world loves, and love those things for which the rest of the world has no relish, inso-much that others are ready to wonder that they should place any hap-piness in a strict observance of the self-denying duties of religion. They wonder what delight they can take in spending so much time in meditation and prayer, and that they do not place happiness in those things which themselves do. 1 Peter 4:4: 'Wherein they think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speak-ing evil of you.' But the reason is that they are of a different race, and so drive different dispositions."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thurs., 12/27/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 32:1)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 32:1, which says this (concerning Hezekiah and the people of Judah):

"After these deeds of [Hezekiah's] faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah; he encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them over to himself."

How odd. Hezekiah had just effected some of the most thoroughgoing God-honoring reforms of all time, and "after these deeds of faithful-ness," a foreign invader is on his doorstep. Let us beware of anyone who tells us that if we do certain religious things, or follow certain patterns, definite (positive) results will inevitably follow. (They are usually trying to sell us something.)

The truth is that God's providences are mysterious, and hard to under-stand. We may truly honor God; and He may see it best to immediate-ly send us some fresh trouble. But on this we can stand: The Lord knows what is best for His children.

[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"]

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wed., 12/26/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 31:20-21)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 31:20 & 21, where we read these words:

"Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the LORD his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered."

Hezekiah's reforms, mentioned in this chapter, had been significant. He had the idol worship places torn down, the clergy restored and re-organized, and the worship of the true God re-instituted in Judah. Be-cause of his good example, the house of God began to thrive again. Hezekiah was given by God a good heart--and the king's actions re-flected this, in his zealous conviction.

The result was that Hezekiah "prospered." His troubles and enemies did not go away, as we will see in the very first verse of the next chapter--but the king was safe in God, and his life was abundantly blessed. Let us follow this same pattern, through our faith in Jesus.

[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"]

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mon., 12/24/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 29:5b)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 29:5b, where we read these words:

" . . . and carry out the rubbish from the holy place."

What a great command (above), given by King Hezekiah, to the Le-vites. God would *still* have us, His true and redeemed churchmen, "carry out the rubbish" from the "holy place." First of all, may all Christ's faithful clergy do all they can, to expunge the church and its worship from all the rubbish that has clogged the sanctuary (as it were). (Let us go back to the gospel.)

And secondarily, let all God's people cleanse their hearts, by grace through faith in Jesus' blood atonement. His blood washes away all our sin. What a good time for us to do so--at this blessed season.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is the desire of a holy person to be cleansed, not only from public, but also from private and secret sins." --Obadiah Sedgwick, in, "The Anatomy of Secret Sins"]

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/21-23/12 Devotion

Praise the Lord--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Ten Commandments" book:

"Each Sabbath may be the last we shall ever keep. We may go from the place of hearing to the place of judging--and shall not we give reverend attention to the word? Did we think when we come into God's house 'Perhaps this will be the last time that ever God will counsel us about our souls'; and before another sermon death's alarm will sound in our ears; with what attention and devotion should we feel, and our affections would be all on fire in hearing!

"You must give an account for every sermon you hear. 'Give an account of your stewardship,' (Lk. 16:2). So will God say, 'Give an account of your hearing. Have you been affected with the word? Have you profit-ed by it?' How can we give a good account, if we have been distracted in hearing, and have not taken notice of what has been said to us? The judge to whom we must give an account is God. Were we to give account to man, we might falsify accounts; but we must give an ac-count to God. . . . "

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thurs., 12/20/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 24:18)

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

"Therefore they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass."

It is sad when professing Christians leave Christ, His church, His gos-pel, His word, His Sabbath, His worship, and all His means of grace--to go worship rocks, sticks, and pieces of dirt. But such is the ten-dency of the fallen human heart.

Was there any hope for these (mentioned above), who had so devalu-ed their souls with idolatry? There *was* hope: but it called for faith and repentance. May we who are the beneficiaries of so much grace in Christ not show ingratitude by leaving God, but rather humbly cling to Him (in Jesus).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ makes us wise to ponder and weigh things, and to rank and order them accordingly . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

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

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

"Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the LORD."

This OT Messianic prophecy is perfectly fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ. The Son of God came from heaven, planted Himself in the fal-len earth, and has spread out over all the globe (through the exten-sion of His church--as she preaches the gospel of grace).

That exact same pattern is the one for all true Christian churchmen to follow: be grounded (by grace through faith) in Jesus, be faithful members of His body, and from there bear fruit (which is the expan-sion of His kingdom [church]).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Can Christ forget Himself? We are His full-ness, as He is ours." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tues., 12/18/12 Devotion (Jn. 8:24b)

Today's encouragement comes from John 8:24b, where we find our Lord Jesus saying this:

" . . . For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

Jesus is speaking to very religious people here. It is interesting that He does *not* say, "If you don't straighten-up your acts you will
die . . . "; or, "If you don't do enough good deeds you will die . . . "; or, "If you aren't more religious you will die . . . " Instead, Christ de-mands one thing (only): believing that He (Jesus) is the Son of God--or else we will die in our sins.

Why is this so hard for us sinners to grasp? The gospel is so simple that self-righteous people find it highly offensive. Jesus' blood atonement virtually *excludes* anything that we could add to it, via works or self-sacrifice, etc. This gospel brings God glory, and us good, (but we get no credit for our salvation).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Zeal makes the blood rise when God's honor is impeached. . . . He who zealously loves his friend cannot bear to hear him spoken against and be silent." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mon., 12/17/12 Devotion (Jn. 7:12a, 43)

Today's encouragement comes from John 7:12a & 43, where we read these words:

"And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him [Jesus]. . . . So there was a division among the people because of Him."

Our Lord Jesus Christ is *the* most controversial Person to ever exist. To this day, He divides people from one another--when He wrenches His children away from their sin, their idols, and whatever else ails them. Christ is also the Great Unifier: but the *only* people He posi-tively brings together are His faithful churchmen.

The Redeemer has no interest in satisfying anyone but His Father, and, through His Spirit, His church. Because of this, those who wish to deal with Christ on any terms other than saving faith find themselves flabbergasted, confused, and in disarray. May we be "one" with Christ, as we find ourselves "in" Him, by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A child of God makes his estate [viz. all that he owns] a golden clasp to bind his heart faster to God, a foot-stool to raise him up higher towards heaven." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/14-16/12 Devotion

Ya-hoo--Sunday is almost here! We get to worship God, corporately! In order to help get us ready for church, here is the incomparable Thom-as Watson, from his work entitled, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God":

"And as Christ makes the way for us into the Holy of Holies by His in-carnation: so by His crucifixion, He died to make God and us friends. The divine law being infringed, God's justice was provoked, and satis-faction was demanded, before we could approach to God in an amic-able way. Now here Christ as our Priest shed His blood for our sins, and so made the atonement, (Col. 1:20): 'Having made peace through the blood of His cross.' As Joseph being so great at court, made way for all his brethren to draw near into the king's presence,
(Gen. 47:2)--so Jesus Christ is our Joseph, who makes the way for us by His blood, that we may now come near into God's presence. Through Christ, God is pleased with us; He holds forth the golden scepter, that we may draw near, and touch the top of the scepter."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thurs., 12/13/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 15:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 15:7, where we read these words:

"But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!"

Judah's prophet Oded spoke these words (above) to the faithful, re-forming King Asa. Sometimes, we need to be encouraged to be strong--especially when we are engaged in difficult, unpopular, and counter-cultural labors. Asa would soon be dismantling more idolatry in Judah, and he needed God's (and His prophet's) helpful words.

What are we doing for Christ? Does it rile people up? Does this mean we should stop? No. Let us do our ministry faithfully; and perform it with as little offense as possible; but let us discharge it with a firm and unswerving commitment to our Redeemer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Job the sufferer was more renowned than Alexander the conqueror." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wed., 12/12/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 13:8a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 13:8a, where we read these words:

"And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD, which is in the hand of the sons of David . . . "

Judah's king Abijah is here warning Israel's idolatrous king Jeroboam, that it is futile to fight against the Lord and His church. Jeroboam (the bad guy) had twice the number of soldiers as Abijah (the good guy) had; and yet God gave Abijah a great and resounding victory, (see v. 15 ff.).

The church may be way outnumbered by the world (there is no doubt about that)--but the church has Jesus, the Great "Son of David" on her side. Therefore, we should take encouragement; and fight the battles of our Lord--knowing that He is our victorious Captain.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer [that] fetched the angel." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tues., 12/11/10 Devotion (2 Chron. 12:12)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 12:12, which says this:

"When he [King Rehoboam] humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned from him, so as not to destroy him completely; and things also went well in Judah."

It is amazing, what a little (but genuine) humility will do for any one of us. God was about ready to "clean Rehoboam's clock" for his idolat-ry--but when the prophet came and rebuked him, he (the king) re-pented. God seems to be practically unable to look on a contrite soul with anything but grace, mercy, and divine pity.

This is the glory of the faithful churched Christian: he or she can come to God in Christ alone--which is the ultimate expression of sincere hu-mility. No works are trusted in, nor alleged self-righteousness--only the righteousness of the Savior (plus nothing).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Are your sins high as heaven? The mercies of God are above the heavens." --Isaac Ambrose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mon., 12/10/12 Devotion (Lk. 24:27)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 24:27, where we find these words:

"And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He [Christ] expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."

Why did Jesus employ the Scriptures (only), when He was teaching His disciples all things concerning Himself? Why did He not use tradition, councils, and the opinions of ancient church leaders? Because those sources were not inspired of God--they had no authority over His dis-ciples' consciences.

Let us be sure we garner what we are going to know about God from the Holy Scriptures. This will require the ministry of the church, to be sure--but your ministers, if they are faithful, will be seeking to preach the Christ revealed to us in His resurrection and His Holy Book.

[Puritan quote of the day: "None can better discover Satan's sleights and policies, than those who have been long in the fencing-school of temptation." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/7-9/12 Devotion

Wahoo! Sunday's almost here. Here is Thomas Watson, from "All Things for Good," or, "A Divine Cordial":

"The word preached works for good. It is a savour of life, it is a soul transforming word. It assimilates the heart into Christ's likeness; it produces assurance. 'Our gospel came to you not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance,' (1 Thess. 1:5). It is the chariot of salvation.

"Prayer works for good. Prayer is the bellows of the affection; it blows up holy desires and ardours of soul. Prayer has power with God. It is a key that unlocks the treasury of God's mercy. Prayer keeps the heart open to God, and shut to sin; it assuages the intemperate hearts and swellings of lust. It was Luther's counsel to a friend, when he perceiv-ed a temptation begin to arise, to betake himself to prayer. Prayer is the Christian's gun, which he discharges against his enemies. Prayer is the sovereign medicine of the soul. Prayer sanctifies every mercy (1 Tim. 4:5). It is the dispeller of sorrow: by venting the grief it eases the heart. When Hannah had prayed, 'She went away, and was no more sad,' (1 Sam. 1:18). And if it has these rare effects, then it works for good."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thurs., 12/6/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 6:18a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 6:18a, where we read these words:

"But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? . . . "

Solomon's question, asked during his prayer of the dedication of the temple, was fully and finally answered when Jesus Christ came to earth in the incarnation, (which we celebrate at Christmas). Indeed, God *does* dwell with people on earth, even today--in and through the glorious Son of God who is the Head of His church.

Whatever struggle or difficulty we may be facing today may be much eased by the faithful reflection of our souls on this blessed truth: that God is with us, here and now, in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Lord, let the [magnet] of Your Spirit draw my heart upward. Lord, dig the earth out of my heart; teach me how to possess the world, and not love it; how to hold it in my hand, and not let it get into my heart." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Com-mandments"]

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wed., 12/5/12 Devotion (Lk. 19:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 19:5, where we read these words:

"And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him [Zac-chaeus], and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.' "

This is the only place in the Gospels where I can recall that the Son of God actually "looked up" at any man. Zacchaeus, the once-proud, swindling tax collector, is now humbled, and honored (by Christ's pre-sence in his heart, and his house).

Zacchaeus' conversion was thorough. He was a new man. From now on, the former-cheater would now always "look up" at the blessed Savior, and give Him all the glory and honor. May we do the same.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Surely, did the devil know how much bene-fit accrues to the saints by temptation, he would forbear to tempt."
--Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tues., 12/4/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 3:8a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 3:8a, where we read these words:

"And he [Solomon] made the Most Holy Place. . . . "

What a remarkable statement (above). A fallen man, a sinner, would make the most holy place--the very pattern of what exists in heaven?! God honors us, by giving us such amazing privileges. Think of it: Mary, a fallen soul, bears the sinless Christ child. We, depraved sinners (in ourselves), become the vessels of the blessed Holy Spirit, (see 2 Cor. 4:7).

The redeemed church--even now--is nestled in the very bosom of the Holy Trinity, in that God's children are *in* the Son of God, who is now both God and man. Do we need "self-esteem"? Here is where to find it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not how much we do, but how much we love." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mon., 12/3/12 Devotion (1 Jn. 2:2a)

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

"And He [Christ] Himself is the propitiation for our sins . . . "

"Propitiation" means atonement, sacrifice, satisfaction. Jesus Christ Himself, plus nothing, is the "propitiation" for the sins of all God's elect church, who will be saved in time and space. Our works are not our propitiation. Our efforts are not. Our "working together with God" is not.

Christ *alone* Himself satisfies God's wrath against sin; and He (Jesus) bore the punishment for the redeemed. Therefore, let us forever put away all false and God-dishonoring "gospels" of works; and let us re-joice in the fact that we have a real and blessed Savior.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God] gave His only begotten Son to be a propitiation for our sin, and accepted His suffering instead of ours."
--John Shower, in, "God's Thoughts and Ways are Above ours"]

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/30-12/2/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. He is dealing with Justification below. . . .

"What is meant by justification?

"It is 'verbum forense,' a word borrowed from law-courts, wherein a person arraigned is pronounced righteous, and is openly absolved. God, in justifying a person, pronounces him to be righteous, and looks upon him as if he had not sinned.

"What is the source of justification?

"The 'causa,' the inward impellant motive or ground of justification, is the free grace of God: 'Being justified freely by His [God's] grace.' Ambrose expounds this, as, 'not of the grace wrought within us, but the free grace of God.' The first wheel that sets all the rest running is the love and favour of God; as a king freely pardons a delinquent. God does not justify us because we are worthy, but by justifying us makes us worthy.

"What is the ground, or that by which a sinner is justified?

"The ground of our justification is Christ's satisfaction made to His Father. If it be asked, 'How can it stand with God's justice and holi-ness to pronounce us innocent when we are guilty?'--the answer is, that Christ having made satisfaction for our fault, God may, in equity and justice, pronounce us righteous. It is a just thing for a creditor to discharge a debtor of the debt, when a satisfaction is made by the surety.

"But how was Christ's satisfaction meritorious, and so sufficient to justify?

"In respect of the divine nature. As He was man He suffered, as God He satisfied. By Christ's death and merits, God's justice is more abun-dantly satisfied than if we had suffered the pains of hell forever."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thurs., 11/29/12 Devotion (Mic. 4:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Micah 4:5, where we read these words:

"For all people walk each in the name of his god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever."

Many idolaters worship their false gods with more fervor, intentional-ity and devotion, than the children of light worship the True God. Let this not be the case with any of us. May we do all we can to assure that the God of grace and glory receives more homage (in our own realms), than Satan could ever dream of.

After all: what is the devil's "reward" to his followers? Misery in this world, and an eternity in flames. What does the True God do for His sincere churchmen? He gives us everything we need (and *really* want) in this world, as well as in the one to come.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If we love God, our hearts ache for the dis-honor done to God by wicked men." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wed., 11/28/12 Devotion (Lk. 12:1b)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 12:1b, where we find the Savior saying these words:

" . . . He [Christ] began to say to His disciples first of all, 'Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.' "

Our Redeemer prioritized this teaching (re. the pharisees and their hypocrisy) because He knew that it could, and would destroy His fol-lowers if it was not addressed head-on. The pharisees' "leaven," (or teaching) is dangerous, because it seeks to seduce the soul into smug self-righteousness.

Christ's worst opponents (by far) were the pharisees--the very ones who were the most religious and devout. Jesus reserved His harshest words for them; and He warns us (even today) to watch out for their poison, (which, like the snakes the Lord compared them to, comes from their lips).

[Puritan quote of the day: "God does not bring His people into trou-bles, and leave them there." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tues., 11/27/12 Devotion (Lk. 11:37)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 11:37, where we read these words:

"And as He [Jesus] spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat."

Our Lord Jesus had some pretty sumptuous meals during His incarna-tional ministry on earth. The pharisees--though short on humility--were typically long on show (and abundance). What do we learn from Christ's willingness to eat, even with a pharisee? That the gospel is to go to *all* sorts of people--particularly those in the very *worst* spir-itual conditions (as was the case with the pharisees).

The dinner conversation turned a bit gnarly, as we see in vv. 39 ff., but even there our Redeemer was doing his guest a favor, by exposing his sin, and directing him to Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "So let us seriously and fruitfully consider what excellent times the Lord has set us in, and respond thankfully and obediently." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mon., 11/26/12 Devotion (Jon. 4:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Jonah 4:6, where we read these words:

"And the LORD God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant."

To his credit, Jonah was "grateful for the plant"; but it would soon be evident that Jonah's thankfulness was piecemeal. When God removed the plant, Jonah became very peevish and childish. When God refused to give Jonah a divine fireworks display, by blowing up Nineveh, it displeased the prophet greatly.

True gratitude that honors God is universal and uniform. This does not mean that we Christians will always get it right; but it does mean that we are to set our hearts on being grateful to God for all things, be they "good" or "evil."

[Puritan quote of the day: "As the sun rises by degrees till it comes to shine in glory, so it was with the Sun of Righteousness [Christ]. He re-vealed Himself in the church little by little." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 23, 2012

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

Yee-haw, Sunday is almost here! To get us ready for the one day in the week we need to be in church, here is a short (but sweet) snippet from Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book:

"All believers are alike justified. Justification does not apply to some more than to others. Though there are degrees in grace, yet not in justification; one is not justified more than another; the weakest be-liever is as perfectly justified as the strongest; Mary Magdalene is as much justified as the Virgin Mary. This may be a cordial [comfort] to a weak believer. Though you have but a drachm [small bit] of faith, you are as truly justified as he who is of the highest stature in Christ."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thurs., 11/22/12 Devotion (1 Chron. 17:2)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy the American Puritan holiday.

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 17:2, where we read these words:

"Then Nathan said to David, 'Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.' "

Sincere churched Christians, who are saved by grace through faith in Christ, are not under law--they are under grace, (see Rom. 6:14). Therefore, they are free to do whatever they want to--because every-thing they desire to do will be in accord with the God they love. They love this God because He has forgiven them their sins (through the blood of Christ).

It does not so much matter to God *what* we do--so long as it is something we desire from the heart. If we love Jesus first and fore-most, then we are free to do everything that is in our hearts.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now it is only faith that shows a man the end and the issue of all his troubles." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wed., 11/21/12 Devotion (1 Chron. 16:26)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 16:26, where we read these words:

"For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens."

Here is a succinct creed, that aids in our basic understanding of life. There are idols, and there is the covenant God, the LORD. We either worship God in covenant; or we worship idols, in rebellion, ignorance, and/or general stupidity.

If God made the heavens, and He did--should we not trust Him? After all, Jesus came from heaven, to earth, in the incarnation--so as to bring His elect church to glory (in His resurrection). Let us praise Him for this!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ took our flesh that He might make the human nature appear lovely to God, and the divine nature appear lovely to man." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tues., 11/20/12 Devotion (Lk. 4:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 4:20, where we read these words:

"Then He [Jesus] closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him."

In this world, the only time the people of God can *collectively* gaze upon Jesus intently is in church on Sunday. In today's text (above), the Lord Jesus Christ is keeping the old Sabbath. The citizens of Nazareth are, too. They have heard the Word of God read (by Christ), and now the Messiah is about to expound on it. As He does so, the congregants are locked-in on the Redeemer.

This is a good pattern for all who would be Christ's followers today. Let *us* "fix our eyes on Jesus," (as per Heb. 12:2a). Then, upon leav-ing church, let us love and follow the Savior, (rather than seek to throw Him off the cliff, as the Nazarenes had hoped to do--[in v. 29]).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is called grace. He is the grace of God clothed with man's nature." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Free-dom"]

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mon., 11/19/12 Devotion (Lk. 3:19-20)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 3:19 & 20, where we read these words:

"But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by [John the Baptist] concern-ing Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Her-od had done, also added this, above all, that he shut John up in pris-on."

This is a fascinating passage of Scripture. Herod was basically a typ-ical bad guy. He was ruthless, cruel, immoral, vicious, and violent. And yet the very *worst* thing he ever did, according to the Bible it-self, was to lock John the Baptist up in prison. Why was this more ne-farious than Herod's public incest, for instance? Because by silencing John he was hindering the gospel proclamation of the church.

Let us keep that in mind as we evaluate various individuals, be they public officials, or people in the neighborhood. Someone may go to a deeper hell over unrepented-of disdain for the clergy's ministry, than they would over gross and brazen immorality.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For if it were not the Spirit that persuaded the soul when the minister speaks, alas! all ministerial persuasions are to no purpose." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 16, 2012

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

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here! Here is Thomas Watson, from "All Things for Good," to help us get ready for the church's Sabbath wor-ship:

"The Word is the instrumental cause of our conversion, the Spirit is the efficient [cause]. The ministers of God are only the pipes and organs; it is the Spirit blowing in them, that effectually changes the heart. 'While Peter spoke, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word,' (Acts 10:44). It is not the farmer's industry in ploughing and sowing, that will make the ground fruitful, without the early and lat-ter rain. So it is not the seed of the Word that will effectually con-vert, unless the Spirit put forth His sweet influence, and drops as rain upon the heart. Therefore the aid of God's Spirit is to be implored, that He would put forth His powerful voice, and awaken us out of the grave of unbelief."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thurs., 11/15/12 Devotion (1 Chron. 5:20b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 5:20b, which says this:

" . . . For [the Israelites] cried out to God in the battle. He [God] heeded their prayer, because they put their trust in Him."

Here is a practical way for all sincere Christians to live. We are in a battle everyday. The struggle is inevitable. In the midst of it, we cry out to God (or pray). The Lord hears us, answers our prayer, and de-livers us. Why? Because we are good people? No; but because (by grace) we put our "trust in Him."

Today, let us take the war to the devil. Let us put him on the defen-sive. But we must not enter the fray without faith. Let us employ faith in Christ by crying out to God for help. He *will* hear every one of our heartfelt petitions.

[Puritan quote of the day: "They who will not confess their sin as Da-vid did, that they may be pardoned, shall confess their sin as Achan did, that they may be stoned." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wed., 11/14/12 Devotion (Ps. 146:3-4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 146:3 & 4, where we read these words:

"Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish."

This is a good word for us today, is it not? We Christians should not get too worked-up over politics, or political affairs--since there is no ultimacy in human rule, or permanency of nations. In the end, it all works out for the church's good, and the glory of God.

Let all true Christians trust in the Lord; let us pray; and let us act re-sponsibly. Our political enemies may seem strong to us--but it is our flesh that is our biggest concern. Let us not sacrifice our character for anything.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The new nature which is in sincere believ-ers inclines them unto action suitable to that nature; sloth is exceed-ingly opposite unto religion." --Nathaniel Vincent, in, "A Discourse concerning Love"]

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tues., 11/13/12 Devotion (Heb. 8:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 8:12, which says this:

" ' . . . For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.' "

Here, the writer of the book of Hebrews is quoting from the great New Covenant passage, from Jer., ch. 31. And what a citation! In Christ, God will "be merciful to [our] unrighteousness," and our "sins and lawless deeds [He] will remember no more." These are amazing and wonderful promises, but they only apply to those who trust in Jesus alone for their salvation.

Let all faithful churched Christians marvel at the fact that God has forgiven the sins of His people. And let this liberty of heart, spirit, and conscience propel us into active lives of love for such a wonderful God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "This is the greatest slavery in the world, for a man to have no acquaintance with that which is contrary to his corrupt disposition." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mon., 11/12/12 Devotion (Ps. 144:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 144:1 & 2a, where we read these words:

"Blessed be the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle--my lovingkindness and my fortress . . . "

Life as a faithful churchman is a spiritually military existence. Chris-tians are soldiers; and the church is an army. Our weapons are spirit-ual, and so, for the most part, are our enemies. Jesus, our Great Captain, has already won the war for us. Our mission is a "mopping-up" operation, designed to make us more like Christ (through the struggles of sanctification).

Note (above) that God Himself "trains" us for warfare, so that we will be good and effective soldiers. And notice (as well) that warfare and love are not contraries (in a world full of the admixture of the fall of Adam and the redemption of Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The greatest men in the world are holy men. They are above all others, and without usurpation they pass censure on the state of other men, even the greatest of them."
--Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/9-11/12 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday's almost here! In order to help prepare the church for holy worship, here are some good words from Thomas Watson, from his, "All Things for Good" masterpiece:

"See then what an encouragement here is to become godly. All things shall work for good. Oh, that this may induce the world to fall in love with [the true] religion! Can there be a greater magnet to piety? Can anything more prevail with us to be good, than this; all things shall work for our good? Religion is the true philosopher's stone that turns everything into gold. Take the sourest part of religion, the suffering part, and there is comfort in it. God sweetens suffering with joy; He candies our wormwood with sugar. Oh, how may this bribe us to god-liness! 'Acquaint now yourself with God, and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto you,' (Job 22:21). No man did ever come off a loser by his acquaintance with God. By this, good shall come unto you, abundance of good, the sweet distillations of grace, the hidden man-na, yea, everything shall work for good. Oh, then get acquaintance with God, espouse His interest."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thurs., 11/8/12 Devotion (Heb. 3:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 3:14, where we read these words:

"For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end."

Starting a race is the easy part. Finishing it is the hard part. Many people start off on the Christian path, but do not persevere. What is the key to crossing the finish line? Holding onto Christ, by faith, (or, with "confidence"). Those who are sincerely and really grafted into Jesus will indeed hold out to the end of their lives--but it will only happen by their actually persevering.

God has given His church means of grace. Genuine faith employs them all the way to heaven.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who does not know the evil of sin as fully as he ought cannot hate it as much as he should." --Nathaniel Vincent, in, "A Discourse concerning Love"]

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wed., 11/7/12 Devotion (Ps. 138:7a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 138:7a, where we read these words:

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me . . . "

We ought to be encouraged by this little Holy Spirit-inspired phrase. The knowledge and certainty of God's personal "revival" (in this world) is enough to carry us through the difficult times we have to traverse down here. Faith says, "I know deliverance is coming, and I will be very happy then. Because of this, I will praise You, God, *now*, even before it arrives."

Are we children of God? If so, we are guaranteed these two things: trouble, and revival. Without trouble, we would never adequately ap-preciate revival.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Joseph dreamed of the preferment and honor he would have above his brethren, but dreamed not of being sold into Egypt, nor of his imprisonment there." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tues., 11/6/12 Devotion (Ps. 135:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 135:6, where we read these words:

"Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places."

The truth of this verse (above) cuts both ways, from our experiential point of view. At once, we are glad that our God is strong, and that He is sovereign. But, on the other hand, some of the things He allows to happen do not always please us, (and they may even go counter to our explicit and fervent prayers).

But, in the end, we realize that we are better off trusting the Lord in all situations; and that leaving the governance of the church and the world in *His* holy hands is the only way to go. God knows all things--and that, with perfection. He knows what will most benefit Christ's church. Let us love and praise our King, the One who does *all* things well.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are two sorts of wicked persons in the world: one sort count it their heaven and happiness to domineer over others. . . . The other sort will sell their liberty, their reason, and everything for even a poor thing, so they may get anything that they value in the world." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mon., 11/5/12 Devotion (2 Ki. 18:22)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 18:22, where we read these words:

" 'But if you say to me, "We trust in the LORD our God," is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, "You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem" '?"

Usually, less religion is better than more. Here, the Assyrian intimid-ator of Judah thinks that Hezekiah, the good king of Judah, had done *wrong* by removing the high places and altars. In fact, Hezekiah had done well in so doing.

God would rather have us in church on Sunday, trusting in Christ's blood atonement alone for our salvation (plus nothing)--than have us religiously and self-righteously punishing and torturing ourselves with the flesh's efforts to appease His wrath.

[Puritan quote of the day: "How many sweet stories of love and grace may you read in this little book, the Bible?" --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, November 2, 2012

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

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! So as to help prepare us for the Lord's Day's church worship, here are some good words from the great Jonathan Edwards, as they are taken from his sermon entitled, "God Glorified in Man's Dependence":

"The grace of God in bestowing this gift [of grace] is most free. God was under no obligation to bestow it. He might have rejected fallen man as He did the fallen angels. We never did anything to merit it; it was given while we were yet enemies, and before we had so much as repented. It was from the love of God, who saw no excellency in us to attract it; and it was without expectation of ever being requited for it. And it is from mere grace that the benefits of Christ are applied to such and such particular persons. Those who are called and sanctified are to attribute it to the good pleasure of God's goodness alone, by which they are distinguished. He is sovereign, and has mercy on who He will have mercy."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thurs., 11/1/12 Devotion (Ps. 121:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 121:2, where we read these words:

"My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."

On the face of it, this is a rather audacious statement for anyone to make: "*My* help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." But the sincere Christian has not only the right, but even the responsi-bility to assert such a claim. God's making of heaven and earth was a pretty significant accomplishment; but His making of even one re-deemed believer from the slime pit of fallen humanity, is infinitely *more* remarkable.

Why would such a powerful God allow His servants to have any need for "help" at all? So as to keep us near to Him; and to remind us that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, (2 Cor. 12:9a).

[Puritan quote of the day: "God calls for no more from you than He is willing to give unto you." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wed., 10/31/12 Devotion (2 Ki. 13:4)

Happy Reformation Day, everybody!

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 13:4, where we read these verses:

"So Jehoahaz pleaded with the LORD, and the LORD listened to him; for He [God] saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them."

Jehoahaz was not a great guy, (see v. 2)--and yet God not only listen-ed to his prayer, but delivered him from his enemies. We sincere churched Christians are in the same boat. We still struggle with sin, and yet God answers our heartfelt petitions, and saves us from our violent foes.

Let us be thankful that God does not look at the sin of our hearts, but (rather) at the perfection of His Son (in whom every true Christian is found). There is not only safety in Jesus; there is hope and victory in Him, too.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints. Oh, bless the Lord, all you HIs saints. He who is mighty has done great things for you." --Richard Alleine, in, "Heaven Opened"]

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tues., 10/30/12 Devotion (2 Tim. 2:15)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 2:15, where Paul wrote these words:

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

The apostle's admonition to ministers (above), applies in principal to all faithful churchmen. Just as the pastor is to set the standard with the excellent and faithful preaching and teaching of the word of
God--so all the church is to apply it (the word) by seeking to be faith-ful and good in whatever vocation God has called them to.

One day it will be wonderful to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant," (see Matt. 25:21). This will apply as much to diligent Chris-tian candlestick makers, as it will to the church's faithful clergy.

[Puritan quote of the day: "This is all the hurt the devil does. When he foils a saint by temptation, he cures him of his careless neglect; he makes him watch and pray more." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mon., 10/29/12 Devotion (2 Tim. 1:6-7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 1:6 & 7, where we read these words of Paul, to the minister Timothy:

"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

The good spiritual gifts God gives us, His ministers and parishioners, can sometimes settle, and become somewhat "dormant." When this happens, we lose our edge, our courage, and our zeal. Just as some-times we have to "stoke" the coals in a fireplace to revive the flame--so we must do the same thing with the gifts resident in our souls.

Let us remember this: in a fallen world even good things tend to grav-itate downward. It is our responsibility to refresh God's graces in us, from Lord's Day to Lord's Day, (and then throughout the week).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Observe the happy condition of every child of God. All things work for his good, the best and worst things."
--Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/26-28/12 Devotion

Sunday IS coming! Yippee. Here is some brilliant genius from Thomas Watson, as it is found in his profound work, entitled, "The Art of Di-vine Contentment." Pastor Watson is dealing with Paul's assertion, as it is found in Php. 4:11:

"This word, 'I have learned,' is a word that imports difficulty; it shows how hard it was for the apostle came by contentment of mind; it was not bred in nature. St. Paul did not come naturally by it, but he had learned it. It cost him many a prayer and tear; it was taught him by the Spirit.

"Whence our doctrine: GOOD THINGS ARE HARD TO COME BY. The business of religion is not so facile [easy] as most do imagine. 'I have learned,' says St. Paul. Indeed you need not teach a man to sin; this is natural, (Ps. 58:3)--and therefore facile. It comes as water out of a spring. It is an easy thing to be wicked. Hell will be taken without storm; but matters of religion [viz. true Christianity] must be learned. To cut the flesh is easy, but to prick a vein, and not to cut an artery, is hard. The trade of sin needs not to be learned, but the art of divine contentment is not achieved without holy industry: 'I have learned.' "

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thurs., 10/25/12 Devotion (Dan. 10:19a)

Today's encouragement comes from Daniel 10:19a, where we read these words:

"And he said, 'O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!' "

Are we servants of the Lord? Do we desire to put our lives at His feet everyday? If so, let us be encouraged by these words. God tenderly loves His ministers and His laymen who are called by His Name. Dan-iel, who was being addressed in the verses above, had been very weak and heavy-hearted. These words encouraged him, and strengthened him.

One touch from Christ--one word from His mouth--is enough to over-come whatever weariness or exhaustion we feel. Let us know that God loves His churchmen more than we could ever know.

[Puritan quote of the day: "However rugged or hard our path in fol-lowing the Lord may seem to the flesh . . . yet where there is a spiritual eye, the way of holiness appears exceedingly lovely and beautiful." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wed., 10/24/12 Devotion (Ps. 118:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Ps. 118:5, where we read these words:

"I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place."

One of the reasons our good God allows us, His beloved churchmen, to find ourselves in trouble, is so that we will call upon Him in prayer. If we never had any needs, we would quickly forget about God, and live as if He did not exist. When it pleases the Lord, He sets us in a "broad place"--a situation of relative calm and comfort.

Let us not despair in distress. Instead, let us call on the Lord. He is very pleased to rescue His children who acknowledge that He (the Lord) alone can really help us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Despair is an exceedingly vile and con-temptible sin." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Grac-ious Spirit"]

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tues., 10/23/12 Devotion (1 Tim. 1:15)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 1:15, where we read these amazing words of Paul:

"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."

If we are sinners, and we know ourselves to be such--then there is real hope for us. Christ did not come to earth to save good people, (because there *are no* "good people"). Jesus did not come here to make people nice, nor civil, nor easy to get along with. Instead, He came to redeem real sinners from their real sin.

Who are the "chief" of these sinners, according to Paul? Not the slimy abortionists and drug-dealers (as vile as they are)--but rather the re-ligious pharisees, the theological "know-it-alls" who think they are better than God Himself. Paul was turned from one of those, into a true minister of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a Christian's duty to triumph, not only over the world, but over Satan." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mon., 10/22/12 Devotion (1 Thess. 3:3)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 3:3, where we find these words:

"But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one."

Are these not comforting words? When it is all said and done, God's faithful work in His regenerate churchmen accomplishes the goals of creating a settled faith and a secured saint. Sometimes, when we are going through the midst of the fires of afflictions, and wrestlings with the devil--we think that these blessings are too elusive. But the Lord brings them to pass, in His sovereign grace, and His perfect time.

Let us be thankful that we have such a good God. Let us think about those whose "gods" leave them in the slime of sin and the gutters of despair; and let us be glad that the Lord has been so good to our souls.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When God calls a man by His grace, he cannot but come." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/19-21/12 Devotion

Can you believe it--another Sunday is almost here?! God has 52 holy days a year--and they're all on Sunday. In order to prepare you for church, here is Thomas Watson, from "All Things for Good." . . .

"If you do not love God, you will love something else, either the world or sin; and are those worthy of your love? Is it not better to love God than these? It is better to love God than the world, as appears in the following particulars. . . .

"If you set your love on worldly things, they will not satisfy. You may as well satisfy your body with air, as your soul with earth. . . . Is it not better to love God? He will give you that which shall satisfy. . . . If you love worldly things, they cannot remove trouble of mind. If there be a thorn in the conscience, all the world cannot pluck it out.
. . . But if you love God, He can give you peace when nothing else can; He can turn the 'Shadow of death into the morning,' (Amos 5:8). He can apply Christ's blood to refresh your soul; He can whisper His love by the Spirit, and with one smile scatter all your fears and dis-quiets."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thurs., 10/18/12 Devotion (1 Ki. 21:3)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Kings 21:3, where we read these words:

"But Naboth said to Ahab, 'The LORD forbid that I should give the in-heritance of my fathers to you!' "

When true believers sin, they give some of the priceless treasure of the covenant of God's grace to the devil, the world, and their own sinful flesh. Naboth refused even his earthly king what was rightfully his [Naboth's], by divine bestowment. Naboth would not bow to pres-sure, or convention; but rather took his place with the true church of God.

How about us? Are we zealous to retain what God has given us, so that we will be fruitful and productive in the world; or are we willing to sell what is precious to God's enemies?

[Puritan quote of the day: "[Improper religious] toleration is the grave of reformation. . . . By toleration we adopt other men's sins and make them our own." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Christ's Loveliness"]

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wed., 10/17/12 Devotion (1 Thess. 3:3a)

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

" . . . that no one should be shaken by these afflictions . . . "

Afflictions and tribulations definitely come to the faithful church-men--but our faith is not to be "shaken" by them. Our hearts, our minds, and our composure may be shaken by them--but not our faith. In the end, our faith is to be strengthened and purified by troubles and trials.

The previous verse, (1 Thess. 3:2), finds Paul sending a minister (Timothy) to help establish the faith of the church in Thessalonica. God still does that today, in that none of us can (or were ever meant to) make it on our own.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If we love God, we have all winds blowing for us, everything in the world shall conspire for our good." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tues., 10/16/12 Devotion (1 Thess. 2:18b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 2:18b, where we read these few words:

" . . . but Satan hindered us."

Even true believers have to admit that, from time to time, Satan gets his "licks" in on us. Does God *allow* this to happen? Yes. Is it under God's direct supervision and sovereignty? Yes. But does this lessen the fact that sometimes we feel the cold and clammy hand of the devil on our hearts? No.

This struggle with Satan is one of the hardest parts of living the Chris-tian life down here. We must always keep in mind that God has a pur-pose for allowing the devil to sometimes seem to prevail; and we must also remember that Christ has completely crushed the snake's head, in His glorious resurrection from the dead.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not duty, but love to duty, God looks at. It is not how much we do, but how much we love." --Thomas Wat-son, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mon., 10/15/12 Devotion (1 Ki. 18:21a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Kings 18:21a, where we read these words:

"And Elijah came to all the people, and said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him. . . . ' "

I like this perspective, put out by Elijah. Even today this principle ap-plies. All people worship some deity (alleged, or true). "Let the best [God] win," as the saying goes. Is the Muslim god the true one? Then all should worship him (or it). Is the atheists' god the true one? Then we should bow down to it. Is the secularists' god true? Let all men honor it (or her, or whatever). Is the God of the True Christian Reli-gion the only Real Deity? Then, let all men worship Him.

It turns out that the Holy Trinity *is* the one and only God. We know this--among other reasons--primarily by the resurrection of the Son of God, who lives and reigns today. He can withstand all pretenders to His throne. Let us worship Him, and not fear fake gods.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are the greatest reasons in the world to be a Christian . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/12-14/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God." . . .

"Why we must draw near to God. . . .

"Because He is our Maker: 'In Him we live.' He has given us bodies; they are His curious 'needlework,' (Psa. 139:15). And as He has made the cabinet, so He has put the jewel in it, the precious soul; and surely if we have our being from Him, we cannot breathe without Him. There is good reason we should draw near to God in a way of homage and observance.

"God is our Benefactor; He crowns us with a variety of blessings: He gives health and estate; every bite of bread we eat is given to us by the hand of Divine bounty. Is there not great reason we should draw near to Him who feeds us? Give a beast hay and he will follow you all the field over. Not to draw near to Him who is our Benefactor, is worse than brutish.

"God is the 'Summum Bonum,' the chief good. There's enough in God to satisfy the immense desire of the angels. He is 'omnimode dulcis,' the quintessence of sweetness. In Him perfections are centered. He has rivers of pleasure where the soul shall bathe itself forever with in-finite delight, (Psa. 36:36). So that here is ground sufficient for our drawing near to God; He is the chief good. Everything desires to ap-proach to its happiness."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wed., 10/10/12 Devotion (Php. 4:6-7)

Today's encouragement comes from Philippians 4:6 & 7, where Paul wrote these precious words:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Notice, first of all, that this promise is *not* made for just any pro-fessing Christian. It is only made for those who already are in Christ, by virtue of their being secured in Him through their union with Him by faith (as they are now members of His church). But, for the sincere churchman, this promise is indeed sweet. The Philippians knew what it meant, to live in a fortified (Roman) city. The true believer knows what it means to be secure, in Jesus.

But sometimes, because of manifest trouble, that serenity is shaken. When this happens, let us turn to God in prayer. He will then give us Christ's peace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let the baptized keep their baptismal vows of fighting against sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh." --Isaac Am-brose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tues., 10/9/12 Devotion (Ps. 93:12-13)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 93:12 & 13, where we read these words:

"Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O LORD, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked."

This is a comforting text, especially in the tumultuous political clim-ate of these days, wherein those who are so adamantly opposed to Christ, His church, and His gospel are flaunting their wares with im-pudence and shamelessness. These things tend to make the people of God be afraid, and to begin to wring their hands in anxiety.

But this psalm (above) teaches us that the faithful churchman is really safe in Christ, even as the storm of adversity churns over their heads (as it does everyone else's, as well). So long as we do not cast off our faith in Jesus, we will come through every crisis on the other end, safe and sound.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have the favor of God, this doctrine [of encouragement] teaches you that you need not be afraid of ene-mies; for whoever is your enemy, God looks upon as His enemy."
--Jonathan Edwards, in one of his great sermons]

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mon., 10/8/12 Devotion (Ps. 92:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 92:13 & 14, where we read these great words:

"Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing . . . "

Where are we "planted" most in this world? Are we *most* invested in our business, our civic concerns, and/or our family and home? If so, then we will be eventually uprooted by the storms of life on a fallen planet. Only those who are firmly ingrafted into Christ and His church are able to withstand the forces set against them. On top of this, they are also able to remain "fruitful" all the way to their last breath.

Let us love who and what God Himself loves: Christ and His church. As we do so, we are invincible--no matter what the world, the flesh, or the devil shoot at us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "No matter what storms I meet with, I know where to put in for harbor. He who has God to be his God is so well contented with his condition that he does not much care whether he has anything else." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Con-tentment"]

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/5-7/12 Devotion

Yippee. Sunday, the Lord's Day, is ALMOST here. To help get us ready for the church's worship of God, here is Thomas Watson, in, "A Divine Cordial," or, "All Things for Good":

"It may be asked, 'How do afflictions make us happy?' We reply that, being sanctified, they bring us nearer to God. The moon in the full is furthest off from the sun: so are many further off from God in the full moon of prosperity; afflictions bring them nearer to God. The magnet of mercy does not draw us so near to God as the cords of affliction. When Absalom set Joab's corn on fire, then he came running to Absa-lom (2 Sam. 14:30). When God sets our worldly comforts on fire, then we run to Him, and make our peace with Him. When the prodigal was pinched with want, then he returned home to his father (Luke 15:13). When the dove could not find any rest for the sole of her foot, then she flew to the ark. When God brings a deluge of affliction upon us, then we fly to the ark of Christ. Thus affliction makes us happy, in bringing us nearer to God. Faith can make use of the waters of afflic-tion, to swim faster to Christ."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thurs., 10/4/12 Devotion (Ezek. 37:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 37:4 & 5, where these words are found:

"Again He [God] said to me, 'Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, "O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.' " ' "

Let us behold the amazing power of the preached word (of the gospel of Christ's grace). God brings life to the valley of dry bones through the agency of His proclaimed (prophesied) word. What an odd way to get the job done. We would have expected almost anything other than this.

Today, as it has always been, there are many false and futile substi-tutes for preaching, all claiming to be able to make dry bones live. Let us not fall for any of them. Let us (rather) listen to the word of God, as it is proclaimed in the church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who thinks anything less than God will suffice [for satisfaction in life] does not understand the soul; and he who wants anything more than God does not understand God." --Rich-ard Alleine, in, "Heaven Opened"]

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wed., 10/3/12 Devotion (Ps. 86:9)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 86:9, where David wrote these words:

"All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name."

When we read verses like these, in the Psalms, or the rest of the Bible, do we believe them? Let us read this verse; and then check out the news of the day. Does it seem likely to us that God's word will prevail? Actually, it ought to. This promise (above) has already been fulfilled, in the establishment of the universal New Covenant church. Is there a lot more "ground" to cover? Yes, there is. But, by God's grace, it will happen.

So, let us not be discouraged. It is Satan's ways, to dishearten the people of God. It is God's ways, to embolden them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The object of divine love is God. God is good, and good is amiable. God is all good; and there is none good but one, and that is God." --Richard Alleine, in, "Heaven Opened"]

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tues., 10/2/12 Devotion (Eph. 2:8-9)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 2:8 & 9, where we find these remarkable words:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of your-selves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

What?! We are not saved by what we do?! We are not redeemed by be-ing good?! You mean, God is not impressed with our self-righteous-ness?! Indeed, not. The elect church is saved by grace through faith in Christ. Otherwise, we could "boast" of our works, and hold God hos-tage, and claim some credit for our salvation.

Let all the redeemed of the Lord affirm the gospel truth of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Every other "gos-pel" stinks to high heaven.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To be rich in goods and rich in goodness is a happy condition." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mon., 10/1/12 Devotion (Ps. 84:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 84. After extolling the beauty of the church; and noting his hunger and thirst for God, the psalmist penned these words, in v. 10:

"For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [elsewhere]. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness."

One hour of blessed communion of the soul with the God of heaven, makes years of mundaneness of life and affliction of heart all worth while. The vital union of the saint with Christ--particularly in the church's Sunday worship services--is so wonderful, that it tends to "obliterate" all memories of suffering and grief.

What are we struggling with today? Let us not despair, and let us not give up. Instead, let us seek the Lord. When He meets us in His "courts," our hearts will be abundantly comforted, blessed, and strengthened.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is in the ship of His church; do not fear sinking. The church's anchor is cast in heaven. Do we not think that God loves His church, and takes as much care of it as we can?"
--Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/28-30/12 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! We GET to go back to church again! In or-der to help us get ready here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Pic-ture of a Godly Man" book. . . .

"God loves a humble soul. It is not our high birth, but our low hearts that God delights in. A humble spirit is in God's view: 'To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit,' (Isa. 66:2). A humble heart is God's palace: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit,' (Isa. 57:15). Great personages, besides their houses of state, have lesser houses which upon occasion they retreat to. Besides God's house of state in heaven, He has the humble soul for His retiring house, where He takes up His rest, and solaces Himself. Let Italy boast that it is, for pleasure, the garden of the world. A humble heart glories in this, that it is the presence chamber of the great King."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thurs., 9/27/12 Devotion (Gal. 3:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 3:7, where the Apostle Paul wrote these words:

"Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abra-ham."

Do we understand the Biblical teaching that neither the unbelieving Jews, nor the Muslims (nor any any other unbelievers for that matter) are the true children of Abraham? Having said that, many of both Jewish and Arab descent *are* children of Abraham--but this has no-thing to do with their race, lineage, or ethnicity. Instead, it has everything to do with their faith in Jesus.

Do we have sincere faith in the Messiah? Then we also are sons and daughters of Abraham. Let us believe God through the Lord Jesus Christ, just like our father Abraham did.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Hypocrites are not practitioners; they are all head and no feet; they do not walk in Christ (Col. 2:6). Their knowledge is informing, but not transforming . . . " --Thomas Watson, in his sermon entitled, "Christ's Loveliness"]

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wed., 9/26/12 Devotion (Gal. 2:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's great epistle to the Gala-tians, ch. 2, vv. 4 & 5:

"And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you."

Let us notice several things about these verses: 1) the devil sometimes infiltrates God's church; 2) Satan's tools are very religious Pharisee-type, "law" people; 3) their intent is to steal away the true believers' joy and freedom in Jesus; 4) God's children owe these wolves in sheep's clothing NO allegiance or submission whatsoever; and 5) the gospel's veracity in our lives hinges on our clinging to Christ, and re-sisting the devil.

Are we happy and liberated in Jesus? Let us guard ourselves. There are plenty who would seek to deprive us of these precious benefits.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Wicked men make pardoning grace a means of presumption; but pardoning grace rightly applied is the most genuine way to break and trouble the soul." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tues., 9/25/12 Devotion (Ps. 77:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 77:3a, where we read these words:

"I remembered God, and was troubled . . . "

This is unusual phraseology (above); but it is not irreverent, nor God-dishonoring. Remember: the Holy Spirit inspired the psalmist to write this. How is it possible for a faith-filled churchman to "Remember God, and [be] troubled"?

In the case of this author, he called to mind both the hard times *and* the deliverances that the Lord brought to him (in his past). Still, in the end, his faith held up, and he found comfort in the faithful and gentle shepherding God demonstrated toward His church (see v. 20). Let us have this outlook too--no matter where the Lord leads us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do you fear the Lord? He will open His secret to you, even that which He has hidden and kept secret from all the world, namely the secret of His covenant and your concern there-in." --John Bunyan, in, "The Fear of God"]

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mon., 9/24/12 Devotion (2 Cor. 13:11c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 13:11c, where we read these words:

" . . . And the God of love and peace will be with you."

Even the world relishes the idea of a God of "love and peace." Their "love and peace" god, however, is not the Lord of heaven and earth, who saves sinners and judges all men (according to His perfect and holy standard). Unbelievers' idea of "love and peace" is really more like, "lust, and leave me alone."

But Paul's statement above *does* apply to the redeemed church. The True God of "love and peace" *is* with us; and we particularly *experi-ence* these blessed attributes of His (love and peace), as we are ma-turing, united, and secure (as the Body of Christ), [see the earlier parts of v. 13].

[Puritan quote of the day: "If temptations arise from natural causes, then natural means, as medicines, are to be used and applied, and people would do well to be persuaded thereunto." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/21-23/12 Devotion

Sunday is almost here! Wahoo! We get to go to church, and worship as the covenant community of God. Here is Thomas Watson, from, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart." (With the real threat of the devil's politic-ians winning again in Nov., let Watson's quote encourage us.) . . .

"If things go badly in church or state, take heed of charging God with folly; do not censure but admire. All things are seen by God. There is not any thing that stirs in the world, but God has a design in it, for the good of His church. He carries on His designs by men's designs. All things are unveiled to the eye of providence. God is never at a stand: He knows when to deliver, and how to deliver. . . .

"God delivers sometimes in that way in which we think He will de-stroy. It might seem strange, when He would deliver Israel, He stirred up the hearts of the Egyptians to hate them. Could this be a likely way? Yet by this means was deliverance ushered in. So now the hearts of many are stirred up to hate the people of God, to hate the cove-nant; but God can make use of their power and rage, as once He did of the High Priest's malice, and Judas' treason, for our greater advant-age. There was no way for Jonah to be saved, but to be swallowed up; he sails safe to land in the whale's belly. God brings His people many times to shore upon the broken pieces of the ship. God can make the enemies do His work. He does sometimes play His own game by their hand. Well then may we cry out with the apostle; 'O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!' God will not make us privy of His counsel, His path is in the deep. If we cannot see a reason of His proceedings; let us censure our own shal-lowness, not His depth."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thurs., 9/20/12 Devotion (2 Cor. 9:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 9:8, where Paul wrote these words:

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, al-ways having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work."

This promise is made to the cheerful, generous giver. Note how grace encompasses even the issues of money, and things. And see as well that God is not stingy, nor miserly with His church children. Instead, He is lavish and bountiful with them--so that they might be in a good position to continually bless others in need.

The divine "pipeline" is full. The only thing that "clogs" it is our sin. Let us live in the fullness of Christ today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What is the heavenly treasure the worse for being brought in an earthen vessel or the better when handed to us by an angel?" --Ralph Venning, in his sermon, "The New Command-ment Renewed"]

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wed., 9/19/12 Devotion (2 Sam. 15:26b)

Today's encouragement comes from David's lips, as his words are re-corded in 2 Samuel 15:26b:

" . . . Here I am, let Him [God] do to me as seems good to Him."

David's attitude is a good one. He was being humbled by God, while the treacherous Absalom schemed to take away his throne. One gets the sense that, though David knew he deserved rough treatment from God (because of his murder and adultery, etc.)--he expected the Lord would be merciful and gracious to him, nonetheless.

And indeed God's kindness is what David received, in the end. Can *we* say, "Here I am, let God do to me as seems good to Him"? If we are truly in Christ, we can; and we need not fear a thing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There may be as much work done in one hour as in ten times as much time when the heart is not prepared for it [work]." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Worship"]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tues., 9/18/12 Devotion (2 Cor. 7:4c, 5c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 7:4c & 5c, where we read these words:

" . . . I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. . . . Outside were conflicts, inside were fears."

I found it helpful to read of the Apostle Paul's difficult experiences. We can see (above) that even he, the stalwart of faith and strength, was "fearful" at times. But even more than this, Paul could find a way (in Christ) to be "joyful" in "tribulation."

Every true believer is capable of enduring a whole lot more than he or she could ever imagine that he or she could. There is valor within that will never come to the fore unless it is put through the fire (of afflic-tions). Still, none of us look forward to these conflicts. The only thing we like is the Christlike character that develops in us (which brings us much peace, stability, and happiness).

[Puritan quote of the day: "People [become] distracted from coming to God by their own self-imposed spiritual disciplines." --John Owen, in, "Sin and Temptation"]

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mon., 9/17/12 Devotion (Ps. 66:12b, c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 66:12b & c, where we read these words:

" . . . We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment."

If we are sincere believing churchmen, saved by grace through faith in Christ (alone), then this much is certain: we will go through some very difficult times in this life. But this much is also a sure thing: we will be brought through them, to even higher levels of faith, charac-ter-development, joy, and fulfillment.

But no one gets the "good stuff" without first traversing some pretty dark valleys. Therefore, let us learn now, in advance, that God is good, and that Jesus is worth possessing no matter what. Then, as we stare into hard circumstances it will not be so bad, since we *know* we will benefit on the other end.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If the thing we desire is good for us, we shall have it. If it is not good, then not having it is good for us. Rest-ing satisfied with this promise gives contentment." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/14-16/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We GET to go back to church again. In or-der to help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "Happiness of Drawing Close to God" book. . . .

"To draw near to God is our peace. The only thing which breaks our peace is, when we do not keep close to God. But what harmony, yea Heaven is in the soul when it draws nigh to God! Psalm 119:165: 'Great peace have they which love Your law.' This peace, like pearl in broth, is cordial. David drew nigh to God, for he was 'ever with him,' (Psalm 139:17). And this made his pillow soft when he went to sleep, Psalm 4:8: 'I will lay me down in peace.' As the honey, dew falls upon the leaf: O that sweet serenity which drops as honey upon the soul while it is drawing nigh to God! How comfortable it is to draw near to the sun! And how sweet is it to approach nigh to the Sun of Right-eousness.

"To draw near to God is our riches. It is good drawing near to a gold mine. If we draw near to God, He will enrich us with promises, and divine consolations. He will enrich us with the 'pearl of great price,' (Mk. 13:46). He will reward us as a king, yea as a God. He will make over His land and jewels to us. He will give us the spring flowers of joy here, and the harvest of glory hereafter."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thurs., 9/13/12 Devotion (2 Sam. 8:6b, 14b)

Today's encouragement comes from a collation of 2 Samuel 8, vv. 6b & 14b, where we read this refrain:

"The LORD preserved David wherever he went. . . . And the LORD pre-served David wherever he went."

The Holy Spirit is certainly making a point here. David, the man sub-ject to lots of dangers in his military exploits, and in his being the target of many scheming enemies--is preserved by the God who loved him. So it is with every faithful churchman: the way may be tough, the cross is always hard; but the Lord is good, tender, loving, gentle, and sweet.

Let us not lose heart, if we belong to Christ. Our victory is sure; and our safety is sealed by God Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Our victory will be further realized as the new man immediately springs to action, and cheerfully fights against lust the moment it appears." --John Owen, in, "The Mortification of Sin"]

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wed., 9/12/11 Devotion (Ps. 56:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 56:3, where David wrote these words:

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You."

David was honest enough to admit that at some times he was "afraid." His resolve here, by grace, is to turn his fear into an opportunity to exercise his faith in Christ. This is a very wise thing to do. Is there anything we can do, to prevent fearful events from coming into our lives? No. But we can make the best of them, by trusting God, through them.

After all, it is relatively "easy" to get on with life, when everything is going smoothly. The challenge is when things do not accord with what we conceive of as our "comfort zone." *That* is the time for us to de-monstrate genuine faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What Satan did in tempting man to fall is made an occasion of the contrary to what he intended in that it gave occasion for God to glorify Himself all the more, and gives occasion for the elect being brought to higher happiness." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Wisdom of God"]

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tues., 9/11/12 Devotion (1 Cor. 16:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 16:13 & 14, where Paul wrote these words:

"Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love."

These are such neat words (above). The Christian churchman is to be *both* dogmatically immovable in his or her commitment to Christ, and also gracious and generous in all his or her ways.

Only the work of the Holy Spirit could ever accomplish this. Regular sinners are sometimes able to be stubbornly-bound to what they be-lieve--but they cannot be loving in their actions. Or, they are able to be civilly-kind to others, but they have no basis of solid doctrine (on which they stand). Let us who are in Christ be both firmly-planted *and* tender-hearted.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Luther said, 'I had utterly despaired had Christ not been head of the church.' " --John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mon., 9/10/12 Devotion (Ps. 53:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 53, v. 6, where we read these words:

"Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When God brings back the captivity of His people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad."

David's prayer here (above) is one of wanting God to come down to His people, His church, and revive them (her). There is great hope in his words. David had languished under unjust treatment (at the hands of Saul); but David knew that his God would eventually deliver him (in His own good time).

Let all the faithful church today take great comfort in our real and living hope in Jesus. No matter what it is that troubles us, its days are numbered. "The salvation of Israel" *has* "come out of Zion," in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "That which begins not with prayer seldom ends with comfort." --John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thurs., 8/23/12 Devotion (Ps. 31:14-15a)

Today's encouragement comes from David's Holy Spirit-inspired words of Psalm 31:14 & 15a:

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

Are we confused today about how to pray, or how to live? If so, here is a good and simple place to start. God is pleased with faith, no mat-ter what the rest of our lives lack. He also likes to be "owned" by His faithful churchmen--so we ought to pray, "You are *my* God." If we are concerned about our future, or that of those we care for, it is helpful to recognize that our times are in God's hands.

Life is not all that complicated. Let us unclutter our souls; and love Christ today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The gospel stands in no need of external evidences of its truth and divinity. It carries its own light and evidence with it." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Wisdom of God"]

Wed., 8/22/12 Devotion (Ps. 30:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 30:3, where we read these words:

"O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit."

The regenerated soul is a resurrected soul. It has everlasting life, and will never die. No matter what the world, the flesh, or the devil throws at this supernaturally-charged heart, it is not enough to sink it again (into despair, or hell).

Justification leads to sanctification. It is the process of becoming more like Jesus that often causes us to feel like we are headed for the pit again. But, if we are sincere churchmen, we need never fear act-ually falling into it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you grieve [God's] Spirit in heaven, He will sadden your spirit on earth." --Christopher Love, in, "The Deject-ed Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tues., 8/21/12 Devotion (Rom. 11:33)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 11:33, where Paul wrote these words:

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"

Everything, without exception, that God has done, does, or will ever do is good. Everything that has ever occurred, in the entire history of creation, is designed to further His glory and the welfare of Christ's church. Do we believe this? If so, it is because we are willing to ac-cept the wonder and amazement of Rom. 11:33--and we share in Paul's astonishment of how good and amazing God is.

Let us believe way beyond the puny purview of the teensy terrain we see with the eyes of our flesh. God is better than we could ever imag-ine Him to be.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As He is God, all things are His own, and He has a right to dispose of them according to His own pleasure."
--Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Sovereignty of God"]

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mon., 8/20/12 Devotion (Jer. 49:38a)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 49:38a, where we read these words:

"I [the Lord] will set My throne in Elam . . . "

What a strange place for God to "set [His] throne"--Elam, an ancient pagan power east of Babylon. This is a good reminder of the fact that nothing is outside of the Lord's sovereignty: He is king everywhere--in heaven, and on earth. No devil, no sinners, no evil can overthrow Him; and God remains on His throne at all times, in every situation.

Having said that, it is true that there is a "positive" reign of Christ (in His church), and a "negative" reign of Christ (in His judgment of wick-edness). The same Sovereign is in control--it is just that in one case God grants forgiveness and imputed righteousness (from Christ); and in the other case He exercises His prerogative as a Just Judge (in con-demnation).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Praise God for every smile, and rejoice in the least." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/17-19/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday. We GET to go back to church again! In or-der to help us get ready, here is Martin Luther, from his wonderful preface to his "Galatians" commentary. . . .

"Seeing, then, that sin has no place here, there can be no anguish of conscience, no fear, no heaviness. That is why St. John says, 'Anyone born of God does not continue to sin,' (1 John 5:18). But if there is any fear or grief of conscience, it is a sign that this righteousness has been withdrawn, that grace is hidden, and that Christ is darkened and out of sight. But where Christ is truly visible, there must be full and perfect joy in the Lord, and the conscience is at peace and thinks, 'Al-though I am a sinner by the law and under the condemnation of the law, I still do not despair and do not die, because Christ lives, and He is my righteousness and my everlasting life.' In that righteousness and life I have no sin, no fear, no sting of conscience, no worry about death. I am indeed a sinner, as far as this present life and righteous-ness are concerned, as I am a child of Adam; where the law accuses me, death reigns over me and wants to ultimately devour me. But I have another righteousness and live above this life—Christ the Son of God, who knows no sin or death but is righteousness and eternal life. By Him, this body of mine that is dead will be raised up again and de-livered from the bondage of the law and sin and will be sanctified to-gether with my spirit."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thurs., 8/16/12 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. Jeremiah had condemned this idolatrous worship of Ishtar, "the queen of heaven"--but the people wouldn't risk the truth of the prophet's words, as over against an al-leged stock of provision (coming from the worship of the false god-dess).

It is always wiser for us to choose to worship the true God (through Christ alone), and to get by with hardly anything, and end up in heav-en--than to commit idolatry, 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"]

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wed., 8/15/12 Devotion (Rom. 5:3-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 5:3-5, where Paul wrote these words:

"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tri-bulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was giv-en to us."

"Glory in tribulations"? Is the apostle Paul saying this just to put a "spiritual" spin on the believers' hardships? No. The maturing church-man comes to recognize the peculiar value of trials and difficulties--especially when the end result is realized--which is hope, anointed with love.

Let us be good stewards of the heart-shaking troubles that come into our souls. Let us recognize that the faithful Christian cannot be hurt by them; and let us ask God to use them for our good.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God chooses broken vessels to pour com-fort into that they may diffuse it unto others." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tues., 8/14/12 Devotion (1 Sam. 4:3b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 4:3b, where we read these words:

"Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies."

These words of the Israelites (above) clearly demonstrated that they were trusting more in superstition (and the *things* of the Lord), rather than in the God of the true religion Himself, (with His "things" being the means of His grace).

The Lord is not impressed with our devotion to show, at the expense of our sincere faith in His Son. Let us appreciate all God's gifts, but never at the cost of failing to love the Giver of these kindnesses.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In a spiritual sense, the godly seek great things for themselves, and it is their glory to do so." --Jeremiah Bur-roughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mon., 8/13/12 Devotion (1 Sam. 3:18b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 3:18b, where we read these words:

"And he [Eli] said, 'It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.' "

Eli had received bad news, regarding how God was going to handle his rebellious house--and yet Eli's response is one of faith and submission. It is always best for us, that God does "what seems good to Him," even if it means chastisement for us.

What are we going through today? Can we also say, "It is the Lord--let Him do what seems good to Him"? If we can, we are blessed people, indeed.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The devil is the most sullen spirit there is, and yet the most proud." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/10-12/12 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it is almost Sunday! We GET to go back to church again. What an honor. In order to help us get ready for the Lord's Day, here is Martin Luther, from his preface to his "Galatians" commen-
tary. . . .

"Just as the earth does not generate rain and cannot of itself work to produce it, but receives it by the mere gift of God from above, so this heavenly righteousness is given us by God without our working for or deserving it. See, then, how much the earth is able by itself to do in getting showers of rain to make it fruitful; that much, and no more, are we able to do by our own strength and works in winning this heav-enly and eternal righteousness. We shall never be able to attain it un-less God himself bestows it on us, imputing it to us by His gift beyond words. The greatest wisdom of Christians, then, is to have nothing to do with the law and works and the whole of active righteousness, es-pecially when the conscience wrestles with God's judgment. On the other hand, the quintessence of wisdom among those who are not among God's people is to know and earnestly follow the law and ac-tive righteousness."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thurs., 8/9/12 Devotion (Acts 27:31)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 27:31, where we read these words:

"Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, 'Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.' "

What Paul says (above) regarding the merchant ship he and many others were sailing on, God would say to all professing Christians: "Unless you stay in the ship (of Christ as His church), you cannot be saved." Why would anybody want to "jump ship"? Because of persecu-tion, trial, fiery furnaces of affliction, cowardice, etc.

The good ship of Jesus sails over the sea of judgment today, as Noah's ark did in the book of Genesis. Let all God's true children stay faithful in Christ and His church--and enjoy the ride, even when it gets bumpy.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Not one of all [God's] true soldiers was ever left to perish on the field of battle." --Thomas Jones, in the pre-face of Isaac Ambrose's, "The Christian Warrior"]

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wed., 8/8/12 Devotion (Ps. 9:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 9:1, where David, under the Holy Spirit's inspiration, wrote this:

"I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works."

Here is a good antidote to fear and fretting. On top of that, it helps the believer get a proper perspective on things. Wholehearted praise of the Lord, and reflection on His good works toward us, has the ef-fect of raising our spirits, and setting our hearts aright.

We may either sink into spiritual lethargy, and eventual despair; or we may sail above the world, by faith, employing (as it were) the wings of eagles, (cf. Isa. 40:31).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christianity will cost you much here and save you forever. Then be a Christian that you may be a conqueror."
--Isaac Ambrose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tues., 8/7/12 Devotion (Ps. 8:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 8:1, where David wrote this:

"O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens!"

No matter how dark and dreary things may be, or seem to be here be-low--God's glory, like the sun, is always shining above, never shrouded over with clouds of sin or misery. But, this truth would be of little com-fort for us, in this life, if the Lord's name was not made to be "ex-cellent" in "all the earth."

How can this be? God's name is excellent here, even in the midst of much sin, because Jesus has come here. He has, in His cross and re-surrection, bridged the gap between heaven and earth, and has "unit-ed" them for the benefit of His faithful church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion! Can we be God's servants and not His soldiers? Is not Christ's church on earth truly militant?" --Isaac Ambrose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]