Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thurs., 5/31/12 Devotion (Ps. 86:5, 15)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 86:5 & 15, which says this:

"For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. . . . But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth."

What sane person could not love this God? His nature is generous, kind, benevolent, and overflowing with grace. We are all fallen sin-ners; and yet God holds out the golden scepter of forgiveness and re-demption to us. Any who see these words (of Ps. 86) and yet end up in hell, have only themselves to blame for their foolishness.

Let us but come to Jesus today: forsaking all our idols, and clinging only to Him. He will not disappoint us. His grace is greater than our most ingrained sin, and our most aggravating troubles.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have undone yourselves, and undone yourselves, as it were, thousands of times; but God would not allow you to be eternally undone for He loved you with an everlasting love." --Jonathan Edwards, preaching to his church his sermon entitled, "A man may eternally undo himself in one thought"]

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wed., 5/30/12 Devotion (Deut. 3:22)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 3:22, where God spoke these words to Moses (and to all His church):

"You must not fear them, for the LORD your God Himself fights for you."

These words are in reference to God's people conquering kingdoms that were occupying the promised land. The same principle holds to-day: the world, the flesh, and the devil stand in the way of the ad-vancing army of the church--and these enemies put up a pretty good fight, from time to time. But the children of God are not to be afraid of them--and the reason is that "God Himself fights for [us]."

With this perspective, why should we be downcast, discouraged, or disheartened? No one can beat the faithful saints.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In a word, as Christ's Person excels your person, so His obedience infinitely exceeds your disobedience." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tues., 5/29/12 Devotion (Ps. 84:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 84:10, wherein we read these words:

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

Even the humblest baptized newborn, being a member of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, is more exalted and noble than the most af-fluent, proud, and self-sufficient unbeliever (or hypocrite). One
day in God's house is better than a thousand in a "paradise" of sin and lust.

What do *we* prefer? Those outside Christ want anything but Him. Those in Christ want nothing but Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If God should make more worlds for [a re-deemed soul], yet if He does not give Himself to it [the redeemed soul], it would not be satisfied." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excel-lency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mon., 5/28/12 Devotion (3 Jn. 2)

Happy Memorial Day, USA!

Today's encouragement comes from 3 John, v. 2, where we read these words:

"Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers."

Notice that the Apostle John here is concerned not only for the spirit-ual well-being of the churchmen to whom he writes--but to their *physical* "prosperity" as well. Too many professing Christians neglect and abuse their bodies--to the dishonor of God, the compromise of their witness, and the detriment of their own overall happiness.

Let us recognize that we have a stewardship from God--to care for our bodies, as well as our souls. Who wants to follow someone who wears his sin on his belt (so to speak)?

[Puritan quote of the day: "Zeal, encountering difficulty, is embolden-ed by opposition and tramples upon danger." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/25-27/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We GET to go back to church! Here is TW, from his "The Beatitudes" book. . . .

"Great is the honour we bring to Christ and the gospel by suffering. It was an honour to Caesar that he had such soldiers as were able to fight with hunger and cold and endure hardship in their marches. It is an honour to Christ that He has such listed under Him as will leave all for Him. It proclaims Him to be a good Master when His servants will wear his uniform though it be sullied with disgrace and lined with blood. Paul's iron chain made the gospel wear a golden chain. Tertul-lian says of the saints in his time that they took their sufferings more kindly than if they had had deliverance. Oh, what a glory was this to the truth, when they would embrace it in the flame! And as the saints' sufferings adorn the gospel, so they propagate it. Basil says, the zeal and constancy of the martyrs in the primitive times made some of the heathens to be Christianized. 'The Church is founded in blood and by blood it increases.' The showers of blood have ever made the church fruitful. Paul's being bound made the truth more enlarged (Php. 1:13). The gospel has always flourished in the ashes of martyrs.

"Consider who it is that we have engaged ourselves to in baptism. There we took our press-money. We solemnly vowed that we would be true to Christ's interest and fight it out under His banner to the death. And how often have we in the blessed supper taken the oath of alleg-iance to Jesus Christ that we would be His servants and that death should not part us! Now if when being called to it, we refuse to suffer persecution for His name, Christ will bring our baptism as an indict-ment against us. Christ is called 'the Captain of our salvation' (Heb. 2:10). We have listed ourselves by name under this Captain. Now if, for fear, we shall fly from our colours, it is perjury in the highest de-gree, and how shall we be able to look Christ in the face another day? That oath which is not kept inviolably shall be punished infallibly. Where does the 'flying roll' of curses light, but in the house of him that 'swears falsely' (Zech. 5:4)?"

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thurs., 5/24/12 Devotion (1 Jn. 3:8b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 3:8b, where the apostle wrote these words:

"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might de-stroy the works of the devil."

If the devil had not done his best to foul up the world--especially by tempting human beings to sin--there would have been no reason for the Son of God to appear, as a Redeemer. Though sin is to be abomin-ated in all its forms, it is still the case that it made the way for God to demonstrate the full gamut of His wonderful characteristics--in-cluding love, forgiveness, atonement, mercy, grace, righteousness, justification, and patience.

Has the devil left some of his work on us? Let us be encouraged: Christ is in the sanctification process of destroying it, and building us up, in our growing love for Him.

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wed., 5/23/12 Devotion (Ps. 77:13)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 77:13, where Asaph wrote these words:

"Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God?"

God always operates from His sanctuary. The Old Covenant sanctuary was a type of heaven, (cf. Heb. 8:4-5). In the heavenly sanctuary to-day, the Son of God intercedes for His saints by virtue of His atoning death, (cf. Heb. 7:25). The gathered church in Sunday worship consti-tutes the place of God's sanctuary, (cf. 1 Pet. 2:4-5). And finally, the individual hearts of the regenerate are also the place of His sanctu-ary, (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16).

*From* God's sanctuary goes forth praise of Christ, and the evangelism of the world. Let us be thankful that the true God is the God of the sanctuary: the place of worship and rest.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Here is a pillar of support to every soul who has broken off sin and espoused holiness. This is an undoubted evidence that you are a true child of God." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Mischief of Sin"]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tues., 5/22/12 Devotion (1 Jn. 1:10)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 1:10, where we read these words:

"If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him [God] a liar, and His word is not in us."

Sin is an insidious thing. If we acknowledge it, we must confess it and repent of it. If we do not acknowledge it, we sin even worse (by pre-tending it does not exist). The best thing to do, in confessing sin, is to be as honest with God as we possibly can be. This requires God's as-sistance.

Confession of sin usually has these two temptations attached to it: 1) to say things to God that we do not really mean (just to ease our con-science); or, 2) to confess things to God which (in themselves) are really not sin at all. Again: the key is candor. May the Lord help us know our hearts well enough, in order to make good confession to Him.

[Puritan quote of the week: "The eyes of our souls cannot be towards Him [God] unless He has cast a gracious look upon us first." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mon., 5/21/12 Devotion (Ps. 74:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 74:20, where we read these words:

"Have respect to the covenant; for the dark places of the earth are full of the haunts of cruelty."

This is a neat verse; and it really hit me this morning, as I read it. (I'm not sure I ever took note of it before.) The saints are to ask God to keep the covenant of grace ever before Him--as this covenant is sealed in Jesus' blood atonement of His church. One of the reasons for this need is that "the dark places of the earth are full of the haunts of cruelty."

We do not need to look far, to see the truth of the psalmist's concern. Our culture is proud of its dark haunts of cruelty. And yet, the church is still always secure, because God is infinitely stronger than all His enemies, (no matter how much fuss they make).

[Puritan quote of the day: "A child of God thinks he has enough in that he has God with him . . . " --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/18-20/12 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday!! Here is TW, from his, "A Plea for the Godly" book. . . .

"A righteous man has more excellent freedom [than an unbeliever]. 'And I will walk at liberty,' (Psalm 119:45). Another is capable of civil freedom; he may be a Roman born, but he is still enslaved to his lusts. But a righteous person is God's freeman, (1 Corinthians 7:22). His neck is out of the devil's yoke. He is 'free from the law of sin,' (Ro-mans 8:2). He has God's free Spirit, (Psalm 51:12), which makes him free and cheerful in his obedience. The will is not compelled but changed. A regenerate person is drawn indeed by the Spirit, but sweetly, as one is drawn into a garden of spices by the fragrance of their smell. He is drawn to Christ as one is drawn with another's beauty. He is free; a righteous soul chooses the ways of God, (Psalm 119:30), and what greater act of freedom is there than an act of choice? And a saint cannot have his spiritual freedom taken from him. While be suffers in prison, his conscience is most free. In short, he is made free to enjoy 'the innumerable company of angels,' (Hebrews 12:22).

"A righteous man has more excellent food [than an unbeliever]. Car-nal men feed only on earthly provision; the righteous feeds on heav-enly. He tastes how sweet the Lord is, (Psalm 34:8). He feeds on God's love; this is the hidden manna. He eats Christ's flesh, which not only begets life, (John 6:33), but prevents death. 'This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die,' (John 6:50)--that is, not die the second death. Other bread may nauseate or cause bloating, but there is no excess here. We cannot eat too much of the Bread of Life. We cannot have too much of Christ, as one cannot have too much of health. Oh, what excellent food is this! God Himself is in this cheer!"

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thurs., 5/17/12 Devotion (1 Pet. 4:19)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 4:19, where we read these words:

"Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator."

Suffering is never fun; but it is good for the saints. It has a cleansing effect on our souls; and it draws us back to Christ. If we are going to suffer, let us do so for doing good, or for insisting on God's ways. Committing our souls to God means that we do what is right, and leave the consequences and results with the Lord.

It is interesting that Peter refers to God as a faithful "Creator," at the end of this verse--rather than a Redeemer. God's creation covers everything in the universe: those things that positively affect our obe-dience, and those things that "negatively" affect it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Satan tempts to sin under a pretense of re-ligion. He is most to be feared when he transforms himself into an angel of light." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wed., 5/16/12 Devotion (1 Pet. 2:9)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 2:9, where the apostle wrote these words:

"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, [God's] own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."

Note the high and lofty appellations (names) given the children (church) of God--all taken from the Old Testament. Sometimes we may not feel like a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, etc.--but this does not change the reality of who and what God says His people are.

The purpose of this great divine pedigree is proclamation of praise, which is the best form of evangelism. If God has called us out of the darkness of sin, into the light of saving grace, then we have a lot to say, in the praise of the Lord Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The vessel is first seasoned before wine is poured into it: the vessels of mercy are first seasoned with affliction, and then the wine of glory is poured in." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mon., 5/14/12 Devotion (Ps. 65:9a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 65:9a, where we read these words:

"You [God] visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water . . . "

Are we ever tempted to think of God as "stingy," or, as One from whom getting anything is very difficult? This is the devil's doctrine. The Scripture's teaching is that the Lord is exceedingly generous with *all* His creatures. The church gets the cream of His bounty, in Christ; but even unbelievers benefit from His abundant created provision.

Let us think of our God as He truly is: One who is extraordinarily kind and generous. Then, let us seek His best things, in the Lord Jesus Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[Ministers] must, therefore, keep close to the ancient simplicity of the Christian faith, and the foundation and center of catholic unity." --Richard Baxter, in, "The Reformed Pastor"]

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/11-13/12 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! We GET to go back to church again! In or-der to help us get ready, here is Pastor Thomas Watson, as he eluci-dates the great doctrine of Justification, as he wrote of it in his clas-sic book, "A Body of Divinity." . . .

"What is meant by justification?

"It is 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 cause, the inward impellant motive or ground of justification, is the free grace of God: 'being justified freely by His 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. Justification is a blessing spun out of the heart of free grace. 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 holiness 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 dis-charge a debtor of the debt, when a satisfaction is made by the sure-ty.

"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 for ever."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thurs., 5/10/12 Devotion (Ps. 56:3-4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 56, vv. 3 & 4, where David wrote these words:

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?"

God's children are, from time-to-time, afraid. David had his problems; and undoubtedly, we have ours. It is precisely at the exact moment of fear, however, that we are most able to strengthen ourselves in God's grace, and trust Him. This trust, then, has the effect of turning fear away from us. After that, a renewed sense of confidence arises in our hearts, which allows us to say, "What can flesh do to me?"

Let us not be undone by fear. Instead, we should turn it on its head; and use it for our own advantage. Let us see it as a fresh opportunity to trust God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Purity of heart is the jewel which is hung only upon the elect. As chastity distinguishes a virtuous woman from a harlot, so the true saint is distinguished from the hypocrite by his heart-purity." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wed., 5/9/12 Devotion (Ps. 55:16)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 55:16, where we read these words:

"As for me, I will call upon God, and the LORD shall save me."

David makes a personal assertion and declaration here. No matter what other people choose to do with their troubles--he, for one, will bring his difficulties to the Lord. David believed that simply "calling upon God" would be enough to secure Divine assistance. This is why he wrote, "The Lord shall save me."

May all God's sincere and very imperfect Christian churchmen call up-on Him, in trouble or in pleasure. Let us recognize that the Lord is good; and that He alone is able to meet our deepest needs.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Those who would annihilate the ministry try to pull the stars out of Christ's hand." --Thomas Watson, in his ser-mon, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tues., 5/8/12 Devotion (Heb. 13:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 13:6, where we read these words:

"So we may boldly say: 'The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?' "

Because God is with His churched children; and because He will never forsake them; and because He is sufficient to meet all our needs (so that we need not covet what others have)--we may make the state-ment (above), and exude that kind of confidence.

Bold living is not the result of possessing the things of the world (as so many wrongly imagine). Instead, valorous conduct comes about be-cause the God who created the world, and saves His own, is cherished in the heart.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Prayer crowns God with the honor and glory that is due to His name; and God crowns prayer with assurance and comfort." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mon., 5/7/12 Devotion (Ps. 51:1b-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 51, vv. 1b & 2, where we read these words:

"Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin."

What a great prayer (by David). After all, if our sins are forgiven, and if we know (and even sense) this--can there be a greater blessing? Jesus died for sinners. He did not die for self-righteous people who believe they do not need Him. If we are sinners, saved by grace through faith in Christ (plus nothing)--then we are supremely happy.

What are we to do when we feel guilty? Bring the issue to God. If we believe in Jesus' atonement, then let us leave our sin there (at the cross). If we do not believe in Jesus' atonement, then we are lost, and must bear our own sin's punishment (in perdition).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church of Christ is a common hospital, wherein all are in some measure sick of some spiritual disease or other . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/4-6/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to get us ready for church, here is TW, from his, "Body of Divinity" book. Here, Watson is teaching on God's Knowledge of all things. . . .

"[God's Knowledge as bringing] comfort to the church of God in gener-al. If God be a God of knowledge, He sees all the plots of the enemies against Zion, and can make them prove abortive. The wicked are subtle, having borrowed their skill from the old serpent. They dig deep, to hide their counsels from God, but He sees them, and can easily countermand them. The dragon is described with seven heads in Rev 12:3, to show how he plots against the church; but God is de-scribed with seven eyes in Zech 3:9, to show that He sees all the plots and stratagems of the enemies; and when they deal proudly, He can be above them. 'Come,' says Pharaoh, 'let us deal wisely,' (Exod 1:10); but he never played the fool more than when he thought to deal wise-ly. Exod 14:24: 'In the morning watch the Lord looked to the host of the Egyptians by the pillar of fire, and troubled the host.' How may this, like sap in the vine, comfort the church of God in her militant state! The Lord has an eye in all the councils and combinations of the enemy; He sees them in their train, and can blow them up in their own mine."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thurs., 5/3/12 Devotion (Ps. 46:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 46, vv. 1 & 2, where we read these words:

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. There-fore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea . . . "

Nations come and go; but Christ and His church remain forever. In times of national distress and apostasy, it is easy to get nervous and unsettled. The words of this Psalm (above) are comforting to the true saint. What we know and are familiar with may indeed "be removed," and "the mountains [may] be carried into the midst of the seas"--but still our God remains with us, through it all.

In these days of real and palpable "trouble," and great national up-heaval, let us find our strength in the One who is our "very present help." He will sustain us, His church, no matter whatever else befalls us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Whether we have comfort or not, both are for our good." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wed., 5/2/12 Devotion (Heb. 7:16)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 7:16, where we read these words:

"[Christ] has come, not according to the law of a fleshly command-ment, but according to the power of an endless life."

Because Jesus Christ always lives, His church may rest secure in His (Christ's) eternal priesthood. Under the Old Covenant, the priests came and went--as they, like everyone else, died. But now that Jesus has been incarnated, died, and risen from the dead--He is at the right hand of the Father, always making intercession for His church, through His blood atonement for us.

Whereas *all* non-Christian religions and life-philosophies have to de-pend on dead people, who cannot help them at all--the Christian be-liever depends on One who can never die. Let us approach our Messiah with confidence--knowing that He has provided everything for us, and that He has "the power of an endless life."

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is a tender Father, and He would have all the love of His children." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tues., 5/1/12 Devotion (Heb. 6:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 6:15, where we read these great words:

"And so, after he [Abraham] had patiently endured, he obtained the promise."

The most important practical fruit of sincere and saving faith in Jesus, in this world, is perseverance. Without endurance to the end, even love has no credibility. It is not easy to stretch-out all the way to the finish line, and to conclude the race well. But, if we are to please God, and be satisfied in our souls, we must do this.

So, are we finding it difficult to faithfully persist in Christ in any area of our lives today? If so, then let us be like our spiritual father (Abra-ham); and, by grace, put all our trust in Jesus. Just when it seems that our strength is gone--God, in Christ, will carry us all the way through this life, to heaven itself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If civility were sufficient to salvation, Christ need not have died." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Re-pentance"]