Friday, June 29, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/29-7/1/12 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday again! We *get* to go back to church!!!
In order to help set our minds aright, here are the amazing words of Martin Luther, from his phenomenal "Galatians Commentary." . . .

"There is yet another righteousness that is above all these—namely, the righteousness of faith, or Christian righteousness, which we must carefully distinguish from the other sorts mentioned above, for they are quite contrary to this righteousness, both because they flow out of the laws of rulers, the traditions of the church, and the commands of God, and also because they consist in our works and may be perform-ed by us either by our natural strength or else by God's gift. For these kinds of righteousness are also from God's gift, just as are other good things that we enjoy.

"But this most excellent righteousness—that of faith, I mean—which God imputes to us through Christ, without works—is neither political nor ceremonial, nor is it the righteousness of God's law, nor does it consist in works. It is quite the opposite; that is to say, it is passive whereas the others are active. We do nothing in this matter; we give nothing to God but simply receive and allow someone else to work in us—that is, God. Therefore, it seems to me that this righteousness of faith, or Christian righteousness, can well be called passive righteous-ness."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thurs., 6/28/12 Devotion (Deut. 33:26-27a)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 33:26 & 27a, where we read these words:

"There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides the heavens to help you, and in His excellency on the clouds. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."

What great love and provision the Lord God gives His beloved church! She is aided on every side; and she has God Himself, with all His "ex-cellencies" and strength, to support her. This God is incomparable; and He is eternal. He is also active--seen in His riding the heavens, to help us.

May all the Lord's children draw encouragement from the fact that their Father in heaven loves them so much. May they know the com-forts that come from God's abiding with us here (in Jesus).

[Puritan quote of the day: "One subtle artifice of Satan is to bait his hook with religion." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godli-ness"]

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wed., 6/27/12 Devotion (Matt. 7:29)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 7:29, where we read these words:

" . . . for He [Jesus] taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."

All truly-called church ministers of the gospel ought to preach and teach "with all authority," as per this verse above, and Titus 2:15. Christ and His pastors (and elders) are the only ones on the earth vested with the authority to teach the world the truth about all things--particularly those things that relate to the gospel of grace.

The scribes were weak, vacillating, and tentative. Jesus was strong, certain, and sure. Encourage your pastors to preach to you with un-bridled authority and love. It is to the advantage of all people that the gospel goes forth clearly and boldly.

[Puritan quote of the day: "But yet the greater instruments the Lord raises up for His glory, the greater service He calls them unto, the greater things may we hope He intends for His church." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tues., 6/26/12 Devotion (Matt. 6:33)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 6:33, where we read these words:

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

People would get everything they needed, if they would first seek that which they refuse to look for (in their natural state): namely, Christ, in the context of His true church. All worry is a result of misplaced priorities. In Matt. 6, we are told not to worry about what we wear, or eat, etc. The Messiah promises us that, if we seek Him and His kingdom, these things will all be added to us.

God is not cruel with us--He is kind to us. He knows the needs of His children; but He loves us enough to remind us of our greater (and more profound need): to seek Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We should not look at our services to God only as duties enjoined, but as high privileges, as dignities put upon us that we should glory in His service." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mon., 6/25/12 Devotion (Deut. 30:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 30:14, which says this:

"But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it."

The availability or nearness of God is never the problem--despite the false claims of some people. The real issue is our hearts' sinful and fallen unwillingness to receive Christ's Person and God's gifts. The gos-pel is received by faith--and faith is simply believing what God said to be true, and accepting Christ as a free gift of grace.

All who are in hell were as close to heaven as their own mouths, and hearts. All they ever had to do was to eat freely of the feast the Lord put before them (Isa. 55:1). There are no works, and no self-right-eousnesses added to this equation--and that is the reason proud sin-ners reject God's goods.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a great honor to be a servant of the blessed God, and to be acknowledged so by God Himself." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mon., 6/11/12 Devotion (Isa. 43:10b)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 43:10b, where we read these words:

"Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me."

Sometimes children ask, "Who made God?" No one made God, because God is in a unique category of existence--"necessary" existence--that no other reality shares with Him. But the germane point of the Scrip-ture's teaching about God's eternality is not just to have interesting philosophical knowledge--instead, it is a spur for us to trust Him.

Let us humbly accept the obvious fact that a God exists; and then let us go much further, and believe His gospel of grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A repenting person fears and sins not; a graceless person sins and fears not." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doc-trine of Repentance"]

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/8-10/11 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church again! In order to help us get ready, here is the great English Puritan pastor Thomas Watson, from his, "A Picture of a Godly Man" book. This is a really fantastic section. . . .

"Question: 'How may a Christian know that he is humble and conse-quently godly?' . . .

"Answer 8: A humble man is willing to have his name and gifts eclips-ed, so that God's glory may be increased. He is content to be outshone by others in gifts and esteem, so that the crown of Christ may shine the brighter. This is the humble man's motto: 'Let me decrease; let Christ increase.' It is his desire that Christ should be exalted, and if this is effected, whoever is the instrument, he rejoices. 'Some preach Christ out of envy,' (Php. 1:15). They preached to take away some of Paul's hearers. 'Well,' says he, 'Christ is preached; and I therein do re-joice,' (v. 18). A humble Christian is content to be laid aside if God has any other tools to work with which may bring Him more glory.

"Answer 9: A humble saint likes that condition which God sees best for him. A proud man complains that he has no more; a humble man won-ders that he has so much: 'I am not worthy of the least of all Your mercies,' (Gen. 32:10). When the heart lies low, it can stoop to a low condition. A Christian looking at his sins wonders that it is no worse with him; he does not say his mercies are small, but his sins are great. He knows that the worst piece God carves him is better than he de-serves; therefore he takes it thankfully upon his knees."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thurs., 6/7/12 Devotion (Ps. 96:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 96:5, where we read these words:

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

This little verse pretty well sums up the faithful Christian churchman's perspective on life. Today, we will meet people who are trusting in their gods: be they drugs, money, allah, or whatever. But these gods are nothing but idols. They cannot help their worshippers. The true and only God "made the heavens."

Let us look at the heavens, and see how vast and lovely they are. Then, let us look to the God of heaven, and fetch Jesus anew and afresh from there, by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A self-seeking heart is always an empty heart, but a gracious heart is fruitful in all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wed., 6/6/12 Devotion (Isa. 38:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 38:17, where we read these neat words:

"Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back."

These are the words of the faithful king Hezekiah, after he was told that God would prolong his life. What I like about this verse is the tension between life in sin and struggle (the law, if you will); and life in grace and peace in Christ (the gospel, if you will).

*That* is precisely where all the regenerate live. We should face this fact head-on; and then we should determine, by grace, to live in faith, not despairing of the difficulties that are sure to be ours down here. In Christ we always gain the victory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Thus it is said of a true godly man that he stirs himself up against the hypocrite, that he holds on his way and grows stronger and stronger (Job 17:8-9)." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tues., 6/5/12 Devotion (Ps. 92:13-14)

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

We just enjoyed our Sabbath worship and rest two days ago. If indeed we *are* "planted in the house of the Lord," then we are primed to live a full life: from at least the moment of our baptisms, till our deaths. Furthermore, we will be "fruitful," not spiritually barren. Our lives will develop more and more Christlikeness all the time.

Where are *we* "planted" today? If it is in any soil other than God's house, we will wither and die.

[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"]

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mon., 6/4/12 Devotion (Isa. 36:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 36:4, where we read these words:

"Then the Rabshakeh said to them, 'Say now to Hezekiah, "Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: 'What confidence is this in which you trust?' " ' "

Do we trust in the Lord? Do we have confidence in Him? If so, then the world will not understand us, nor why we dare put our faith in God. Here, the self-important king of Assyria reckoned himself invincible. "How dare Hezekiah would trust in a God, over me," he thought.

God is *very* pleased by sincere faith in Jesus. No matter what our situation is today, we will do well to put all our faith in Christ, so as to trust God for all things.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is the honor of religion to have such dis-ciples as will own her and stand for her at all times, and that with an undaunted courage." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/1-3/12 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. . . .

"The test of a pilot is seen in a storm; so the test of a Christian is seen in affliction. That man has the right art of navigation who, when the boisterous winds blow from heaven, steers the ship of his soul wisely, and does not dash upon the rock of impatience. A Christian should al-ways maintain decorum, not behaving himself in an unseemly manner or disguising himself with intemperate passion when the hand of God lies upon him. Patience adorns suffering. Affliction in Scripture is compared to a net: 'You brought us into the net,' (Psa. 66:11). Some have escaped the devil's net, yet the Lord allows them to be taken in the net of affliction. But they must not be 'as a wild bull in a net,' (Isa. 51:20), kicking and flinging against their Maker, but lie patiently till God breaks the net and makes a way for their escape."