Friday, March 30, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/30-4/1/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church again. In order to get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, teaching on God's Pro-
vidence, from his book, "A Body of Divinity." . . .

"Divine providence is irresistible. There is no standing in the way of God's providence to hinder it. When God's time was come for Joseph's release, the prison could hold him no longer. 'The king sent and loos-
ed him,' (Psa 105:20). When God would indulge the Jews with liberty in their religion, Cyrus, by a providence, puts forth a proclamation to encourage the Jews to go and build their temple at Jerusalem, and worship God, (Ezra 1:2, 3). If God will shield and protect Jeremiah's person in captivity, the very king of Babylon shall nurse up the pro-
phet, and give charge concerning him that he wants nothing, (Jer 39:12).

"God is to be trusted when His providences seem to run contrary to His promises. God promised to give David the crown, to make him king; but providence ran contrary to His promise. David was pursued by Saul, and was in danger of his life, but all this while it was David's duty to trust God. Please observe, that the Lord by cross providences often brings to pass His promise. God promised Paul the lives of all that were with him in the ship; but the providence of God seemed to run quite contrary to His promise--for the winds blew, the ship split and broke in pieces. Thus God fulfilled His promise; upon the broken pieces of the ship they all came safe to shore. Trust God when provi-
dences seem to run quite contrary to promises."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thurs., 3/29/12 Devotion (Prov. 16:20b)

Today's encouragement comes from Proverbs 16:20b, where we read these words:

" . . . And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he."

Why is the person who trusts in the Lord happy? Because he or she has everything to gain, and nothing to lose. This soul puts all his stock in Jesus; and he knows that this investment cannot fail. The church-
man who trusts in the Lord loses only his sin; but he gains the whole world.

Do we *really* want to be happy, (or, are we just pretending we want to be happy)? Most people find their "happiness" in misery. But if we are serious about our life's happiness--then we must trust in Christ (for all things).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ has taken away the venom and sting of the saints' sufferings: there is no wrath in their cup. Our suffer-
ings Christ can make sweet." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divin-

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wed., 3/28/12 Devotion (Php. 2:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Philippians 2:14, where Paul wrote these words:

"Do all things without complaining and disputing . . . "

Complaining (grumbling), and disputing (arguing) come naturally to the fallen children of Adam. Do any parents ever have to train their children to complain or dispute? It comes easily to all of us, in our sin-
ful conditions.

But grace transforms us from being grumblers and arguers, to being helpful and thankful. Paul will go on, and say that the genuineness of our Christian testimonies are directly linked to the godly attitude we are to have when we do anything, (see vv. 15-16). Today, let us trust Christ to give us supernatural grace to be grateful, not disgruntled.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is not one of us who does not have many mercies if we could just see them. But, because we do not have all that we desire, we lose the comfort of that which we have."
--Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tues., 3/27/12 Devotion (Php. 1:21)

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

"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

The Apostle Paul's words here are highly-illuminating to us in the church today. Christ is to be our life. If anything else holds that place, we are practicing idolatry. If we could come to understand the nature of all things, we would clearly see that Jesus is the end all of every-
thing. Without Him, life is basically boring and mundane. With Him, everything makes sense; and life is exciting.

For the redeemed Christian dying is an added bonus. Instead of it tak-
ing anything away from us--we simply get a nearer and clearer vision of Christ. In this regard, the true churchman has it made. As we live here, we have Jesus; as we die--we only get a more intimate walk with Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is no greater sign of a rotten heart than a fundamental unsteadfastness in the covenant of God." --Rich-
ard Steele, in, "The Character of an Upright Man"]

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mon., 3/26/12 Devotion (Jn. 16:33)

Today's encouragement comes from John 16:33, where our Lord Jesus said this:

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

Notice that the churched Christian's peace is in Christ. It may never be found in the "world," or in anything other than Christ. Our union with Jesus causes us to be able to be genuinely cheerful, even as we are going through very difficult hardships.

All of this is because our Savior has "overcome the world." The world no longer has controlling power over us (who are in Christ). We, in Jesus, have also "overcome" it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Begin with simple things, for all truth be-
gins with simple things. A man can never write good cursive till he has first learned his letters." --Robert Harris, in, "The Way to True Happi-

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/23-25/12 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! We get to go back to church again! In order to help us get ready, here are the words of Thomas Watson re. Justification, from his book, "A Body of Divinity." . . .

"[Application of the benefits of Justification]: Comfort to the justi-
fied. (1.) It is comfort in case of failings. Alas! how defective are the godly! they come short in every duty; but though believers should be humbled under their defects, they should not despond. They are not to be justified by their duties or graces, but by the righteousness of Christ. Their duties are mixed with sin, but that righteousness which justifies them is a perfect righteousness.

"(2.) Comfort in case of hard censures. The world censures the people of God as proud and hypocritical, and the troublers of Israel; but though men censure and condemn the godly, yet God has justified them, and as He has now justified them, so at the day of judgment He will openly justify them, and pronounce them righteous before men and angels. God is so just and holy a judge, that having once justified His people he will never condemn them. Pilate justified Christ, saying, 'I find no fault in Him'; yet after this he condemned Him; but God having publicly justified His saints, He will never con-
demn them; for 'whom He justified, them He also glorified.' "

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mon., 3/12/12 Devotion (Ex. 23:1a, 2a, 3)

Today's encouragement comes from the words of Exodus 23:1a, 2a, & 3:

"You shall not circulate a false report. . . . You shall not follow a crowd to do evil . . . You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute."

Let us take notice of how our default sinful reaction is always to do these things (mentioned above). The world expects us to slander, mindlessly follow, and to be politically-correct. It takes a conscious effort to offset this propensity; and this is successful only with the help and power of the Holy Spirit.

Let us not go down the stream with so many, who are on their way to perdition. Instead, let us swim against the tide, by the grace of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The power that is given to the church is given for edification, not destruction." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/9-11/12 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday again! We get the supremely-high privilege of going back to church!! In order to help us get ready, here is Thom-
as Watson, from his, "The Art of Divine Contenment" book. . . .

"[Divine contentment] shows how a Christian may come to lead a com-
fortable life, even a heaven upon earth--be the times what they will: by Christian contentment. The comfort of life does not rest in having much; it is Christ's maxim, 'Man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses,' (Lk. 12:15)--but it is in being content-
ed. . . . Contentment lies within a man, in the heart; and the way to be comfortable, is not by having our barns filled, but our minds quiet. 'The contented man,' says Seneca, 'is the happy man.'

"Discontent is a fretting humor, which dries the brains, wastes the spirits, corrodes and eats out the comfort of life . . . A drop or two of vinegar will sour a whole glass of wine. Let a man have the affluence and confluence of worldly comforts, a drop or two of discontent will embitter and poison all.

"Comfort depends upon contentment; Jacob went about limping, when the sinew upon the hollow of his thigh shrank: so, when the sinew of contentment begins to shrink, we go limping along in our comforts. Contentment is as necessary to keep the life comfortable, as oil is necessary to keep the lamp burning; the clouds of discontent do often drop the showers of tears.

"Would we have comfort in our lives? We may have it if we will: a Christian may carve out what condition he will to himself. Why do you complain of your troubles? It is not trouble that troubles, but discon-
tent. It is not the water outside the ship, but the water that gets in-
side, which drowns it. It is not outward affliction that can make the life of a Christian sad; a contented mind would sail above these waters--but when there is a leak of discontent open, and trouble gets into the heart, then it is disquieted and sinks. Do therefore as the mariners, pump the water out, and stop the spiritual leak in the soul, and no trouble can hurt you."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thurs., 3/8/12 Devotion (Ex. 19:8b, 9b)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 19:8b & 9b, where we read these words:

" . . . So Moses brought back the words of the people to the
LORD. . . . So Moses told the words of the people to the LORD."

We might be thinking, "Why did God have Moses do this? The Lord could hear what the people said--nothing escapes Him; He knows all things." True, but The LORD is a covenant God. In other words, He op-
erates with His people through a Mediator (ultimately Jesus). When God deals with the rest of the world, He does not employ a Mediator; but when He communes with His church, He does.

We have no access to God without Jesus. No one comes to God "direct-
ly." He may *only* be approached through a Perfect Intercessor (Jesus). Moses (here in Ex. 19) is a "type" of Christ. Outside of our Lord Jesus Christ there is virtually no way to the True God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "This [true] God is joy in sadness, light in darkness, life in death, heaven in hell." --Thomas Shepard, in, "The Sincere Convert"]

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wed., 3/7/12 Devotion (2 Cor. 6:1)

Today's encouragement comes from the words of Paul, as they are found in 2 Corinthians 6:1:

"We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to re-
ceive the grace of God in vain."

How is the grace of God received "in vain"--even potentially by us, sin-
cere Christians? It is "received in vain" when we forget that our right-
eousness is all wrapped up in Jesus. The previous verse, (2 Cor. 5:21), had taught us imputed righteousness and substitutionary atonement. But our flesh continually recoils at such marvels, and seeks to regain its perverse "credibility" (even with God).

So, when we cease to look to Jesus alone for our redemption, (and we gaze upon ourselves or something else), we receive the grace of God "in vain." Is Christ our righteousness? Then let us look no further.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is never really absent from such as love Him, but He may seem to be so sometimes." --Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tues., 3/6/12 Devotion (Lk. 20:38a)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 20:38a, where we read these words, uttered by Christ:

"For He [God] is not the God of the dead but of the living . . . "

Most people we will meet, work with, or speak to today are walking dead souls. They have no life, because they do not possess the Author of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ. These people exist, they can breathe air--but they are not alive in the most real and profound sense. The Lord is not their God, because they are dead. The true God is *only* the God of the living.

If we are alive in Christ today as His church, then these three princip-
al truths will guide us, (and they will be no burden to us): 1) we will continue to believe in Jesus; 2) we will love Him; and 3) we will wit-
ness (spread) His life everywhere we can.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Oh, how empty and insignificant are all other things without God!" --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Drawing Near to God"]

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mon., 3/5/12 Devotion (2 Cor. 4:10)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 4:10, where we read these words:

" . . . always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body."

One of the best things about Christian suffering is that it does so much good for ourselves and the rest of the church. Believers are united to Jesus Christ. The church is His metaphorical and mystical "body." To be joined to Christ means that we are bonded to Him in both His death *and* His resurrection. Without being "crucified with" Christ, we cannot be "raised with" Him.

Therefore, let us look upon our most difficult heart-struggles today with a different eye, the eye of faith. What hurts now, helps ourselves and others now, (in ways that we cannot fully understand). And, if we are willing to suffer *with* Jesus, we will also enjoy and experience His glory, too, (cf. Rom. 8:17).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Since Christ is thus comfortably set out to us, let us not believe Satan's representations of Him." --Richard Sib-
bes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/2-4/12 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. We *get* to go back to church! In order to get ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his "A Body of Divinity" book. TW is referring to Sanctification here. . . .

"Sanctification is a progressive thing. It is growing; it is compared to seed which grows: first the blade springs up, then the ear, then the ripe corn in the ear--such as are already sanctified may be more sanc-
tified, (2 Cor 7:1). Justification does not admit of degrees; a believer cannot be more elected or justified than he is--but he may be more sanctified than he is. Sanctification is still increasing, like the morn-
ing sun, which grows brighter to the full meridian. Knowledge is said to increase, and faith to increase, (Col 1:10; 2 Cor 10:15). A Christian is continually adding a cubit to his spiritual stature. It is not with us as it was with Christ, who received the Spirit without measure; for Christ could not be more holy than He was. We have the Spirit only in mea-
sure, and may be still augmenting our grace; as Apelles, when he had drawn a picture, would be still mending it with his pencil. The image of God is drawn but imperfectly in us, therefore we must be still mending it, and drawing it in more lively colors. Sanctification is pro-
gressive; if it does not grow, it is because it does not live. Thus you see the nature of sanctification."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thurs., 3/1/12 Devotion (Lk. 15:32)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 15:32, where we read these words:

"It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found."

There are some very appropriate times to rejoice, and celebrate. At the top of this list is the salvation of a soul. The older brother (in this "Prodigal Son" narrative) refused to party with his father, because he (the older son) could not accept the concept of grace and forgiveness. He was all about works, and self-righteousness.

May we be very glad when God calls sinners to Himself, through the gospel of Christ; and may we renew our own love to and amazement at God (who does such wonderful things).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Love to Jesus Christ and believing in Jesus Christ fills the souls with joy and glory in this life." --Christopher Love, in his sermon on Gal. 5:17]