Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wed., 2/29/12 Devotion (1 Cor. 13:8a)

Today's encouragement comes from the few, but powerful words of 1 Corinthians 13:8a, where we read this:

"Love never fails. . . . "

Why does love never fail? Because love is the best barometer of the heart. It always exposes the truth; and everyone--without exception--is subject to its scrutiny. This is one of the reasons God insists that we love Him. Without sincere love for God, none of our other "services" rendered to Him mean anything--(in fact, they become abominable to Him).

The real important question for us today is, "Who (or what) do we love the *most*?" If Christ is not at the top, then we should face the fact that we are idolaters. The Lord would have us love other people, and even some things--but these must be subordinate to love for Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that frets will be willing to do evil; fretting Jonah was sinning Jonah, (Jon. 4:9)." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tues., 2/28/12 Devotion (Ex. 12:13b)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 12:13b, where we read these words:

" . . . And when I see the blood, I will pass over you . . . "

The angel of death still stalks all those who are out of covenant with Christ (and His church). But those redeemed souls whose hearts are sprinkled by the blood of Jesus are safe--God passes over them, while He executes judgment on others.

It is not our "righteousness," our religiosity, our civility, nor our moral-
ity that causes God to pass over us, and spare us from judgment, hell, and damnation. Instead, it is only the blood righteousness of the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," (Jn. 1:29b). This righteousness of Christ is imputed to the hearts of sinners, by grace through faith in Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Make it your main business, your chief study, your greatest care, to 'make your calling and election sure,' says the apostle." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mon., 2/27/12 Devotion (1 Cor. 14:33)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 14:33, where we read these words:

"For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints."

Very sadly, there is a lot of confusion in a lot of churches today, (as there always has been, to one degree or another). But none of this confusion is from God. The Lord has laid-out enough content doctrine, theology, knowledge, and understanding in the Scriptures for faithful pastors and elders to quite sufficiently lead the flocks into fields of clarity, plenty, and peace.

But the problem is not with God--it is with sinful men who craft their own gospels, and who spurn the only true one. Let us, by grace, sin-
cerely cling to Jesus, and enjoy by faith the benefits of life in cove-
nant (church).

[Puritan quote of the day: "To have grace, and to be sure that we have grace, is glory upon the throne, it is heaven on this side [of] heaven." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/24-26/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday again! We *get* to go back to church! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. Here, he is talking about "Peace." . . .

"True peace flows from union with Christ. The graft must first be in-
oculated into the tree before it can receive sap or nourishment from it; so we must first be ingrafted into Christ, before we can receive peace from Him. Have we faith? By holiness we are made like Christ; by believing we are made one with Christ, and being in Christ we have peace, (John 16:33).

"True peace flows from subjection to Christ. Where Christ gives peace, there He sets up His government in the heart. 'Of His govern-
ment and peace there shall be no end,' (Isa 9:7). Christ is called 'a priest upon His throne,' (Zech 6:13). Christ as a priest makes peace; but He will be a priest upon His throne--He brings the heart in sub-
jection to Him. If Christ be our peace, He is our Prince, (Isa 9:6). Whenever Christ pacifies the conscience, He subdues the lust.

"True peace is after trouble. First, God lets loose a spirit of bondage. He convinces and humbles the soul; then He speaks peace. Many say they have peace, but is this peace before a storm, or after it? True peace is after trouble. First there was the earthquake, and then the fire, and then the still small voice, (1 Kings 19:12). You who never had any legal bruisings, may suspect your peace. God pours the golden oil of peace into broken hearts."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thurs., 2/23/12 Devotion (Lk. 9:56a)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 9:56a, where Jesus said this, especially to His disciples James and John:

"For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them."

James and his brother John (who later was known as the "disciple of love") wanted to call down fire on some Samaritans who did not wel-
come them--("just as Elijah did"--v. 54). But the Messiah reminds them that He came, not "to destroy men's lives, but to save them."

It is a temptation for God's people to desire, not the salvation of sin-
ners, but the destruction of the same. But would we have wanted God to look on we ourselves that way? Undoubtedly not. Let us develop more compassion and patience; and let us remember that Jesus came to call sinners (not righteous people) to repentance, (cf. Lk. 5:32).

[Puritan quote of the day: "God sometimes shows His sovereignty by showing mercy to the chief of sinners, on those who have been mur-
derers, profaners, and blasphemers." --Jonathan Edwards, in his ser-
mon, "God's Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men"]

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wed., 2/22/12 Devotion (Lk. 8:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 8:1, which says this:

"Now it came to pass, afterward, that [Jesus] went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him."

I wonder if we believers sometimes forget that the gospel of Christ's kingdom is one of "glad tidings." We bear our crosses, endure suffer-
ings and afflictions, and go through the furnace of purification (re-
pentance)--and this does not seem to be such a happy prospect.

But, indeed, these things *are* part and parcel of the gladness of soul and body that Jesus brings to His church. Renewed cleansing, and fo-
cused determination lead to a great degree of divine joy--unknown by and unparalleled by anything in the world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God has made man's emptiness and misery, his low, lost, and ruined state into which he sank by the fall, an oc-
casion of the greater advancement of His own glory." --Jonathan Ed-
wards, in his sermon, "God Glorified in Man's Dependence"]

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tues., 2/21/12 Devotion (Lk. 7:48)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 7:48, where we read these words:

"Then He [Jesus] said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' "

There are no more blessed words spoken to the soul, by Christ, than these. This woman's life would never be the same again. She would never have the wrath of God abiding over her again; and her love for and devotion to the Lord would always be driven--not by works--but by this stupendously-wonderful fact (that she had been forgiven).

This woman would continue to sin every day for the rest of her life on earth; but she would never look on her sins in the same way. Instead of relishing them, she would disdain them--out of love for God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "According to the measure of your faith, so will the measure of your love be." --Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mon., 2/20/12 Devotion (Lk. 6:19)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 6:19, where we read these words:

"And the whole multitude sought to touch Him [Jesus], for power went out from Him and healed them all."

Jesus Christ is unquestionably and undoubtedly, by far and away, the most amazing Person alive today, or who has ever lived. As church-
men, our challenge is not so much to make people interested in Him, as much as it is to simply help them get a "glimpse" of Him. Once this happens, by divine grace, they are "hooked," (as it were).

For all of us: let us see that we must have "contact" with Jesus today, if we are to have any healing of our souls, minds, hearts, or spirits.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Have you not thought sometimes, at [hear-
ing] a sermon, the minister has spoken to none but you, and that some or other has told the minister what you have said, what you have done, what you have thought? --Thomas Shepard, in, "The Sin-
cere Convert"]

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/17-19/12 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday. We *get* to go back to church again, on The Lord's Day. In order to help us get ready, here is Thom-
as Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"Jesus Christ is the glorious purchaser of our redemption. The doctrine of redemption by Jesus Christ is a glorious doctrine; it is the marrow and quintessence of the gospel, in which all a Christian's comfort lies. Great was the work of creation, but greater the work of redemption. It cost more to redeem us than to make us; in the one there was but the speaking of a word, in the other the shedding of blood. The crea-
tion was but the work of God's fingers, (Psa 8:3); redemption is the work of His arm, (Luke 1:51). 'Having obtained eternal redemption for us,' (Heb 9:12). Christ's purchasing redemption for us implies that our sins mortgaged and sold us. Had there not been some kind of mortgaging there had been no need of redemption. When we were thus mortgaged, and sold by sin, Christ purchased our redemption. He had the best right to redeem us, for He is our kinsman. The Hebrew word for Redeemer, 'Goel,' signifies a kinsman, one that is near in blood. In the old law the nearest kinsman was to redeem his brother's land, (Ruth 4:4). Thus Christ being near akin to us, 'Flesh of our flesh,' is the fittest to redeem us."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thurs., 2/16/12 Devotion (Lk. 2:49)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 2:49, where we read these words:

"And He [Jesus] said to them [Mary and Joseph], 'Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?' "

Sometimes the last place we look for someone, is the place we should have checked out first. Poor Mary and Joseph had searched for Jesus for three days in Jerusalem. Finally, they decided to see if He was in the temple. And when they did, they found Him.

Let us be about our "Father's business." For every Christian, this means being found in church on Sunday. But, from there, it takes the various forms of our several callings in life.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Theology is the daughter not of time, but of eternity." --John Owen, in, "Biblical Theology"]

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wed., 2/15/12 Devotion (Lk. 1:79)

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

" . . . To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

Do our souls sometimes feel like they are in darkness, and the shadow of death? Do we find ourselves in turmoil, and struggle? If so, let us recognize that this is not abnormal in a fallen world. What *is* extra-
ordinary is the "light" of Christ, and the "peace" He gives us--even while we are in anguish of soul.

Sometimes, life is just downright difficult. There is an answer, how-
ever--and it is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are saved by grace through faith in Him, then let us comfort ourselves with the know-
ledge that God does indeed love us, and that His designs toward us are all for our good and betterment.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Make it your earnest request to God, that He will give you a heart to love Him." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tues., 2/14/12 Devotion (1 Cor. 1:2)

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

"To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours . . . "

These are remarkable words (above) when we consider who it was to whom Paul wrote them. The Corinthian church was rent by schism, pride, heresy, and immorality. Still, in opening his epistle, the Apos-
tle refers to *all* of them (who were still yet in the outward covenant of the church) as "sanctified," and as those "called to be saints."

Now, if after Paul's corrections of the Corinthian errors (mentioned above), the people left the church, or had to be excommunicated from it--then, they no longer had the privileged appellation of "saint," and "sanctified." But, if they repented, and showed themselves to be true--then it all the more applied to them, and their assurance of grace in Christ was increased even further.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Souls that are big in hope, will not be long without sweet assurance." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mon., 2/13/12 Devotion (Rom. 16:1)

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

"I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea . . . "

This (above) is a wonderful thing to be said about a person. First, the great Apostle Paul "commends" Phoebe. He refers to her as a "sister," a part of a great covenantal family. Phoebe was a "servant of the church." Her life was valuable, and well-spent. Furthermore, Phoebe was a "servant" of a particular church--the one in "Cenchrea." She did not content herself with her association with the "invisible" church. Instead, she was committed to a local one--as all faithful Christians are.

Godly women have always been exalted in Biblical Christianity. Their roles are critical. The church cannot prosper or thrive without them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ does His church more good now that He is in heaven . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/10-12/12 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. We *get* to go back to church. Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. He is discussing the Being of God here. . . .

"Seeing there is a God, let us firmly believe this great article of our Creed. What religion can there be in men, if they do not believe a Deity? 'He that comes to God must believe that He is.' To worship God, and pray to Him, and not believe there is a God, is to put a high scorn and contempt upon Him. Believe that God is the only true God: such a God as He has revealed Himself in His Word, 'A lover of right-
eousness, and hater of wickedness,' (Psa 45:7). The real belief of a Deity gives life to all religious worship. The more we believe the truth and infiniteness of God the more holy and angelic we are in our lives. Whether we are alone, or in company, God sees us; He is the heart-searcher. The belief of this would make us live always under God's eye--Psa 16:10: 'I have set the Lord always before me.'

"The belief of a Deity would be a bridle to sin, and a spur to duty; it would add wings to prayer, and oil to the lamp of our devotion. The belief of a Deity would cause dependence upon God in all our straits and exigencies--Gen 17:1: 'I am God all-sufficient'--a God that can supply all your wants, scatter all your fears, resolve all your doubts, conquer all your temptations. The arm of God's power can never be shrunk; He can create mercy for us, and therefore can help, and not be beholden to the creature. Did we believe there is a God, we should so depend on His providence as not to use any indirect means. We should not run ourselves into sin to rid ourselves out of trouble. . . . When men run to sinful shifts, is it not because they do not believe there is a God, or that He is all-sufficient?"

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thurs., 2/9/12 Devotion (Rom. 12:11)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 12:11, where we read these words:

" . . . not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord . . . "

Paul would have all of us churchmen remain energized in our living for Christ, and our ministry in His church and the world. Sometimes we can become a bit slack in our zeal; and even remiss in our duties. This situation is understandable; but ultimately, it is not excusable. So long as we possess Jesus, by faith; the Holy Spirit (as a result of our faith); the church (as the community of faith); and the Sabbath (as the day of rest that we all need)--we will be fine.

When all these dynamics are in place we will always have our souls and spirits "re-lit" by the grace of God; and we will never really "burn out." "Burn-out" is for the world--those who know no Savior or Sab-
bath. It is not the lot of the redeemed.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Grace is necessary for a Christian; others things are but inconveniences." --Christopher Love, in his sermon, "Uses of Instruction and Trial"]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wed., 2/8/12 Devotion (Gen. 41:42)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 41:42, where we read these words:

"Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph's hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck."

Jacob, Joseph's father, had put a beautiful robe on his favored son (Joseph). Potiphar's wife, seeking to set Joseph up, had kept his gar-
ment as alleged evidence of wrongdoing. In prison, Joseph wore clothing unworthy of the pharaoh's audience. But now, the king of Egypt puts royal attire on Joseph.

So it is for all of God's children, in this life. God's good intention to crown them is always there. But they have to learn the hard lessons of sin, repentance, and perseverance, before experiencing the resurrect-
ed life, as regal children. (In other words, the cross precedes the re-

[Puritan quote of the day: "Men void of grace are dead; they have breath, yet lack life. They are walking ghosts, (Eph. 2:1)." --Thom-
as Watson, in his sermon, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tues., 2/7/12 Devotion (Mk. 10:50)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 10:50, where we read these words:

"And throwing aside his garment, [blind Bartimaeus] rose and came to Jesus."

This Bartimaeus fellow is a great example of how God wants us to come to Jesus. First of all, he has a big problem: blindness. But the man did not have any trouble speaking, and he was incessantly yelling out for Christ's attention. Bartimaeus was so obnoxious, that those around him told him to shut up. But Jesus specifically called him to come to Him.

The blind man threw off his garment, and came to Christ. Let us throw off our "garments" today, that hinder our coming to the Mes-
siah. Let us cast off sin garments, worry garments, self-importance garments, social-acceptance garments. Whatever it takes: we need to come to Jesus today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let not ministers be either shaken with fear or seduced with flattery." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mon., 2/6/12 Devotion (Gen. 39:2, 23)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 39:2 & 23, which say this:

"The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. . . . The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph's authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it pros-

God is "with" His children, and blesses them, no matter where they are. Joseph was a slave to Potiphar, which was not the most enviable position in the world, and yet God was there with him, strengthening him. Joseph was a prisoner in a dungeon, having done nothing wrong, which is again not a good situation to be in, but God was standing by him, anointing everything he did.

So, let us not so much look at our circumstances, as at the One who put us there. Circumstances are always first in line, to seek to govern our feelings; but faith looks beyond them to the God who is with us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The true God perfectly knows the circum-
stances of everyone who prays to Him throughout the world." --Jona-
than Edwards, in his sermon, "The Most High a Prayer-Hearing God"]

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/3-5/12 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! Here is TW, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"Some say, 'There are many things done in the world which are very disorderly and irregular; and surely God's providence is not in these things.'

"Yes, the things that seem to us irregular, God makes use of to His own glory. Suppose you were in a smith's shop, and should see there several sorts of tools, some crooked, some bowed, others hooked. Would you condemn all these things, because they do not look hand-
some? The smith makes use of them all for doing his work. Thus it is with the providences of God; they seem to us to be very crooked and strange, yet they all carry on God's work. I shall make this clear to you in two particular cases.

"God's people are sometimes low. It seems to be out of order that they who are best should be in the lowest condition. But there is much wis-
dom in this providence, as appears thus: 1. Perhaps the hearts of the godly were lifted up with riches, or with success; now God comes with a humbling providence to afflict them and fleece them. Better is the loss that makes them humble than the success that makes them proud. Again. 2. If the godly were not sometimes afflicted, and suf-
fered an eclipse in their outward comforts, how could their graces be seen, especially their faith and patience? If it were always sunshine we should see no stars; so if we should have always prosperity, it would be hard to see the acting of men's faith. Thus you see God's providences are wise and regular, though to us they seem very strange and crooked."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thurs., 2/2/12 Devotion (Mk. 5:6, 22, 33a)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 5:6, 22, & 33a, where we read these words:

"When [the demon-possessed man] saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. . . . And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw [Jesus], he fell at His feet
. . . But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had hap-
pened to her, came and fell down before [Jesus] . . . "

In this one chapter of Mark's Gospel we find three people all bowing down to, and worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ. One of them is a gen-
tile demoniac; another is a respected citizen (the synagogue ruler), and the last is an average person with a severe medical need. All of them prostrate themselves before the Messiah--desperately imploring His help.

So it is in the world today: everybody requires Jesus. No one is outside of the sphere of what only Christ can provide. Let us remember this today, as we deal with different people--whether they are in the church, or not.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Put your faith into action. It is not having faith, but using faith that brings us into communion with God."
--Robert Harris, in, "The Way to True Happiness"]

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wed., 2/1/12 Devotion (Mk. 4:40-41a)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 4:40 & 41a, where we read these words:

"But [Jesus] said to them [the disciples], 'Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?' And they feared exceedingly . . . "

Here we see two types of fear: one bad (an atheistic fear of nature); and one good (a fear of God, based on what He can do). Fear of man (or danger, etc.) is always accompanied with a lack of sincere and real faith in Christ. Fear of God is a result of real faith in Christ.

This is not to suggest that genuine churched believers might not be "fearful," or "alarmed," from time-to-time. But once we see Who is in the "boat" with us, our hearts are to be stilled and comforted again.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ did not need subjects, He has le-
gions of angels ministering to Him; but in His love He has honored you to make you His subjects." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]