Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tues., 1/31/12 Devotion (Gen. 32:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 32:1, where we read these words:

"So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him."

Sometimes, as we believers are simply walking "on [our] way," the "angels of God meet [us]." Jacob was not doing anything particularly "spiritual" or "religious"--he was merely going about his business. The angels' meeting with Jacob did not portend easy days ahead. As a matter of fact, in this very chapter Jacob would have to face his long-estranged brother Esau. But there can be no doubt but that the angels assisted him (Jacob).

As the church walks through the world today--looking forward to the next Sunday--let us recognize our particular need to be "met" by God's "angels." Some of them are in human flesh. Others of them are celes-
tial. All of them will point us to Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Is it not comfortable being in heaven? He that enjoys much of God in this life carries heaven about him."
--Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mon., 1/30/12 Devotion (Gen. 31:16b)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 31:16b, where we read these words:

" . . . whatever God has said to you, do it."

These words (above) of Jacob's wives, to him, are pretty good. How encouraging is it, when other believers urge us on in our holy faith, and the demands it puts on us? This is especially true, when what we are called upon to do, by God, is not easy, and it grates against our natural tendencies.

Let all the faithful church be found saying to one another: "Whatever God has said to you, do it." And what is it that God would have us al-
ways do? To be united to Jesus, by grace through faith. When this is the case, we can do anything the Lord calls upon us to do. When this is not happening, we can do nothing of any eternal value whatsoever.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What is it to enjoy good health, a brave estate, and not to enjoy God?" --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divin-

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/27-29/12 Devotion

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

"Where do we draw near to God?

"Answer: In the use of His ordinances. In the word we draw near to His Holy Oracle; in the sacrament we draw near to His table. In the one we hear His voice; in the other we have His kiss. Besides, we also in a special manner draw near to God in prayer. Prayer is the soul's private converse and fellowship with God. Prayer whispers in God's ears, Psalm 18:6: 'My prayer came before Him, even into His ears.' In prayer we draw so near to God that we 'take hold of Him,' (Isaiah 64:7). God draws near to us by His Spirit, and we draw near to Him in prayer.

"The 'modus,' or manner of our drawing near to God. God's special res-
idence is in Heaven and we draw near to God, not by the feet of our bodies, but with our souls. The affections are the feet of the soul; by these we move towards God. David drew near to God in his desires, Psalm 73:25: 'There is none upon earth that I desire beside You.' He did shoot his heart into Heaven by pious prayers. Spirits may have fel-
lowship at a distance."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thurs., 1/26/12 Devotion (Acts 26:25)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 26:25, where Paul said this:

"I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason."

The Spirit-led words of God's apostles, ministers, and faithful people are not those of madmen, or lunatics. An unbelieving world thinks of us that way because our words seem "otherworldly" to them, viz., we talk about a crucified and resurrected Savior, of repentance, and of the kingdom [church] of God. The actual fact is that the gospel is "more real," or "more objectively true" than anything a person could ever conceive of with the use of a fallen reason alone.

It is just that the gospel is a *higher* and nobler "truth and reason" than can be apprehended by the flesh. It can only be understood, be-
lieved, and applied by the work of the blessed Holy Spirit, using the Word of God (preached and read).

[Puritan quote of the day: "As wise and learned as you are, take heed to yourselves lest [Satan] outwit you. The devil is a greater scholar than you, and a nimbler disputant." --Richard Baxter, in, "The Re-
formed Pastor"]

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wed., 1/25/12 Devotion (Gen. 26:18)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 26:18, where we read these great words:

"And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them."

In every generation God calls His church to once-again "re-dig" the wells of the waters of life, which our "fathers" had employed and en-
joyed. The "Philistines" are always roaming about, seeking to "stop them up" with the "earth" of the world--but they are never fully-able to eradicate the existence of these good and heavenly blessings.

Jesus, as found in His gospel of grace, is the Personification of the Water of Life. May we, even today, be busy by faith "digging again" into His Person, His love, and His mercy.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Where else can we now go but to Jesus, the ever-living Head of the whole church . . . who sends all gospel ministers, and on whom they universally depend?" --Jonathan Ed-
wards, in his sermon, "The Sorrows of the Bereaved Spread before Jesus"]

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tues., 1/24/12 Devotion (Acts 24:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 24:14, where we read these words of the Apostle Paul:

"But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets."

This verse (above) is interesting for a few reasons. One, is that Paul avers that his then-current worship of God was according to the New Covenant Christianity that had now utterly and completely fulfilled and superseded the ceremonial forms (of the Old Covenant). And, secondly, Paul affirms that his New Covenant worship is in complete accord with the scriptures of the Old Testament ("believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets").

Therefore, we, who make up the faithful New Covenant church today, should never feel defensive about our worship of Christ--even in the far-less-formal modes in which we do it. Our worship is true, so long as Jesus is at the heart of it, and it is according to God's word.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We have through Christ and by the Spirit not only freedom from what is ill, but advancement to all that is com-
forting and graciously good." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mon., 1/23/12 Devotion (Gen. 24:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from words Abraham spoke to his ser-
vant, as they are found in Genesis 24:3a:

"And I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth . . . "

That the Lord is the God of heaven is relatively easy to understand and accept. After all, heaven is a pristine place, free of sin, tumult, and imperfection. But it is this statement that the Lord is the "God of the earth" that causes us to pause, and wonder. Earth is the place of the Fall, of sin, of suffering, and of rebellion. But it is also the place where the Son of God was miraculously conceived and born; and where He gave His life, and was resurrected. It is the place of Christ's militant church.

Let all the faithful believers be thankful that the Triune God dwells, not only in heaven, but on the earth (with us, here and now).

[Puritan quote of the day: "But this is the immediate principle that moved [Paul]: his strong, intense love for his glorious Lord and Mas-
ter." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Character of Paul an Example to Christians"]

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/20-22/12 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! We GET to go back to church. In order to get us ready for God's holy day, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God" treatise. . . .

"And as Christ makes way for us into the Holy of Holies by His incarna-
tion: so by His crucifixion, He died to make God and us friends. The divine law being infringed, God's justice was provoked, and satisfac-
tion demanded, before we could approach to God in an amicable 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, that makes the way for us by His blood, that we may now come near into God's presence. Through Christ, God is pleas-
ed with us; He holds forth the golden scepter, that we may draw near, and touch the top of the scepter."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thurs., 1/19/12 Devotion (Acts 19:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 19:15, where we read these words:

"And the evil spirit answered and said, 'Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?' "

This verse (above) is almost a comical section of the NT. The demons were used to being expelled by the Lord Jesus Christ, by the Apostle Paul, and by all the legitimately God-called ministers of the church--but here, the evil spirit is not going to take orders from some reli-
gious pretender, who sought to exercise power he did not rightly pos-

So it is for all the true church today: the demons are subject to us (Lk. 10:17). But, for all of those outside of sincere faith in Christ, the dev-
il runs roughshod over them (Acts 19:16). Let us who know Jesus em-
ploy our authority with discretion, and for the good of others (in the church first, but also in the world).

[Puritan quote of the day: "God intermixes mercy with affliction. He steeps His sword of justice in the oil of mercy. There was no night so dark but Israel had a pillar of fire in it." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wed., 1/18/12 Devotion (Acts 18:8b)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 18:8b, where we read these words:

" . . . And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were bap-

What a beautiful phrase this is (above). People in Corinth were noto-
riously immoral and corrupt, (much like our own culture today). And yet God saved "many" of them. Note the lovely progression: they "heard" the gospel of grace in the Lord Jesus Christ; they "believed" it; and then they were "baptized" into Christ and His church.

Is there hope for the nations of the world today--including ours? Of course there is. But this exact pattern (as above) must be followed: preaching, hearing, faith, baptism, and church membership and life.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Joy, courage, and zeal, being smiled upon by faith, are made invincible and unconquerable." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tues., 1/17/12 Devotion (Acts 17:23)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 17:23, which says this:

" . . . for as I [Paul] was passing through and considering the objects of your [the Athenians'] worship, I even found an altar with this in-
scription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you wor-
ship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you . . . "

This is an interesting verse (above) for a number of reasons. One of them is that Paul actually affirms that the Athenians *were* indeed--in their own inadequate way--"worshipping" the *True* Deity, when they honored "The Unknown God." But, more-importantly, the Apostle introduces the Athenians to the One and Only God through his preach-
ing (or proclamation).

So it is that we also live in a day in which sinners worship a whole host of idols, (cf. v. 16 of Acts, ch. 17). Some of those with whom we deal would want to be sure not to "leave out" a "god," (even the True God). Let us take advantage of any opportunity we have to speak of Jesus to them--for only in Him do they (or we) have access to the only God who made heaven and earth.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You cannot gratify Satan more, nor injure yourselves more, than by living without assurance [of God's favor in Christ]." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mon., 1/16/12 Devotion (Gen. 17:3)

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

"Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying . . . "

This little verse (above) contains a sweet principle: the churchman humbles himself before God; and the Lord speaks to him (or her). Our hearts are in a good frame to hear from God when we are empty of ourselves, and full of appreciation and thankfulness for Christ.

Today, let all of us who are known by God, through His grace to us in giving us faith in Jesus--humble ourselves before the Lord, and listen to His voice. If we were in church yesterday; and if we heard the gos-
pel preached to us by Christ's ministers--then we are also in a position to hear from our Savior throughout this week.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You cannot gratify Satan more, nor injure yourselves more, than by living without assurance [of God's favor in Christ]." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/13-15/12 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! We GET to go back to church. In order to help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Spiritual Watch" treatise. . . .

"Keep your heart when you are ALONE. It was Satan's subtlety to set upon Eve, when she was alone and less able to resist. He is like a cun-
ning suitor who woos the daughter, when her parents are away from home. The devil breaks through the hedge commonly, where it is weakest. I confess that privacy and retirement is good; if a Christian had a fruitful heart, what sweet thoughts he might have of God when he is alone, (Psalm 139:17)! But, alas, by reason of innate corruption, how many vain, proud, impure thoughts will steal into our hearts when we are most secluded from the world! The fowls will be eating at the sacrifice; the devil will he shooting in his fireballs and, when we least suspect him, will be tempting us to deliver up the castle of our heart to him.

"Keep your heart when you are in COMPANY. Vain company is the bait by which Satan is angling for the heart. Under the Law, he who touch-
ed a dead body was unclean, (Numbers 5:2). The heart is apt to be defiled by being among those who are dead in sin; it is easy to catch a disease when in company."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thurs., 1/12/12 Devotion (Acts 12:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 12:5, where we read these words:

"Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church."

In the New Testament, whenever we find instances like this one (above), where the church is praying earnestly--it almost always is related to the spread of the gospel. Here, the believers are praying for Peter, so that he would be released from prison, and be able to continue his special work of "unlocking" the gospel to all kinds of people groups.

Let the church offer prayers today for all kinds of causes--but let us never forget our priorities. As Paul wrote, "The word of God is not chained" (2 Tim. 2:9b)--and part of the reason for this is because the body of Christ prays for the gospel's proliferation, and for those who are especially called to proclaim it (the gospel).

[Puritan quote of the day: "[Christ] would not have needed to stoop so low to save angels as humans." --John Bunyan, in, "All Loves Excel-

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wed., 1/11/12 Devotion (Acts 11:18)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 11:18, where we read these words:

"When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, 'Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.' "

The giving of the gospel to the Gentiles was such a dramatic event in redemptive history that some people used to the Old Covenant way found it almost impossible to believe. But, once the ultimate Jew (Peter) told his fellow-Jewish Christians what God had done among the Gentiles, the believing Jews also rejoiced.

Let us not be limiting the Lord's power to save in our own thinking. We may look at someone, or some group of people, and say, "God would never [or even could never] save them." The fact that many Gentiles entered the church in the first century is a great encourage-
ment to us with regard to what the Lord can do among people today (in the twenty-first century).

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the heathen have had some religion, because they had some conscience to trouble them." --Thomas Shep-
ard, in, "The Sincere Convert"]

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tues., 1/10/12 Devotion (Ezra 10:2b)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezra 10:2b, where we read these words:

" . . . yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this."

These words (above) are extremely encouraging. They are spoken in the midst of some serious sinning done by the covenant people of God, (in that many of them had taken pagan wives). When we apply this text to our own day, it may still be said that, "yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of [all our foolishness and unfaithfulness]." Today, many of the Lord's people do not worship Him according to God's word. In many cases, the Lord's Day is not kept. And, in some instanc-
es, whole church denominations have gone "belly-up," caving into the world's and the devil's "gospels."

STILL, "even in spite of this" "there is hope in Israel [viz. the church]." Why? Because Christ is still on His throne; and He may well-yet greatly revive His church, and bring her to wonderful expressions of glory (as He has in the past).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ suffered that which the damned in hell do not suffer. For they do not see the hateful nature of sin."
--Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "The Justice of God"]

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mon., 1/9/12 Devotion (Jude 3b-4)

Today's encouragement comes from Jude 3b & 4a, where these words are found:

"I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnest-
ly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For cer-
tain men have crept in unnoticed . . . "

Earnest contention for the true religion is necessary, because, just as soon as the regenerated saints let up, the Pharisees and hypocrites are right there (to seek to replace God's gospel with their own perver-
sions). The Christian warrior never lets up, he keeps pressing on, pushing down the gates of hell, and putting the enemies of God to flight.

The worst of these foes are those who "creep" into the church, and seek to take it captive to their own lusts. Let us fight the good fight of faith today, and never lose heart. No devil or deceiver can over-
come us as we are truly in Christ Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "So it pleased the sovereign God that the angels should have the most glorious discoveries of divine wisdom by His doings towards His church . . . " --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "The Wisdom of God"]

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/6-8/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday again. We GET to go back to church!! Here
is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Lord's Prayer" book. . . .

"What do we pray for in these words, 'Thy will be done'?

"We pray for two things; 1) For active obedience; that we may do God's will actively in what He commands. 2) For passive obedience; that we may submit to God's will patiently in what He inflicts.

"We pray that we may do God's will actively, subscribe to all His com-
mands, believe in Jesus, which is the cardinal grace, and lead holy lives. So Augustine, upon this petition: 'We pray that we may actively obey God's will.' This is the sum of all religion, the two tables epitom-
ized, the doing God's will. 'Thy will be done.' We must know His will before we can do it. Knowledge is the eye which must direct the foot of obedience. At Athens there was an altar set up, 'To the unknown God,' (Acts 17:23). It is as bad to offer the blind to God as the dead. Knowledge is the pillar of fire to give light to practice; but though knowledge is requisite, yet the knowledge of God's will is not enough without doing it. If one had a system of divinity in his head; if he had 'all knowledge,' yet, if obedience were wanting, his knowledge were lame, and would not carry him to heaven, (1 Cor. 13:2). Knowing God's will may make a man admired, but it is doing it that makes him blessed. Knowing God's will without doing it, will not crown us with happiness."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thurs., 1/5/12 Devotion (Ezra 5:11b)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezra 5:11b, where we read these words:

"We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are re-
building the temple that was built many years ago . . . "

These words (above) are a good self-identification and job description for every sincere and genuine believer in Christ. Christians are child-
ren of God, and they are servants of God. The role of every genera-
tion of saints is to "rebuild the temple" of the Lord.

Therefore, let us make Christ, His church, and the spread of His gos-
pel our great delights in this life. We cannot have Jesus without pos-
sessing His values; and we ought to esteem what He places His ulti-
mate worth upon, viz. the salvation of sinners, and their safe haven in the body of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We must indeed be made good trees by faith in Christ's righteousness before we can bring forth any good fruits of holiness." --Thomas Shepard, in, "The Sound Believer"]

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wed., 1/4/12 Devotion (Ezra 4:4-5a)

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

"Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose . . . "

Are we doing anything worthwhile with our lives? If we are, then we are building up the church, the body of Christ. This effort will be fiercely opposed--not only by the devil and his fallen angelic minions, but by wicked men as well.

Nothing truly good or valuable is accomplished in this world without the determined resistance of God's enemies. But let us not be dis-
couraged by this. It is in the fight, and the effort, that we become strong and resolute (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that does not answer his end in respect of usefulness, cannot enjoy his end in respect of happiness." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tues., 1/3/12 Devotion (Gen. 3:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 3:1a, which says this:

"Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made."

It is good for us to remember this (above). Satan, the old snake, is very clever, cunning, sly, and devious. In ourselves, we are absolutely no match for him. The devil has had thousands of years of practice. We are novices, compared to him. But the true saints have many ad-
vantages over the devil--and the greatest is that we are in the Son of God, who crushed the serpent's head, (cf. Gen. 3:15).

Still, even possessing the very mind of Christ, we believers need to be careful and watchful. Our enemy does not rest, in seeking opportun-
ities to trouble our souls. We must not rest, in keeping them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sin feeds the sinner with delightful objects and then makes him mortgage his soul." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, January 2, 2012

Mon., 1/2/12 Devotion (Acts 2:21)

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

"And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

These words above (spoken by Peter) are good news for us, and for all people everywhere. Salvation is had by those who really want it, and simply ask for it. Redemption does not require labor, but it does re-
quire desire. Our problem--as fallen children of Adam--is that we think we have to work for it, or add something to what Jesus has done. Such thoughts are high blasphemy.

Are we in trouble today? Let us earnestly call upon the Lord. God is true to His promise--He will not (and cannot) fail to keep His word.

[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"]