Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thurs., 8/23/12 Devotion (Ps. 31:14-15a)

Today's encouragement comes from David's Holy Spirit-inspired words of Psalm 31:14 & 15a:

"But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in Your hand . . . "

Are we confused today about how to pray, or how to live? If so, here is a good and simple place to start. God is pleased with faith, no mat-ter what the rest of our lives lack. He also likes to be "owned" by His faithful churchmen--so we ought to pray, "You are *my* God." If we are concerned about our future, or that of those we care for, it is helpful to recognize that our times are in God's hands.

Life is not all that complicated. Let us unclutter our souls; and love Christ today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The gospel stands in no need of external evidences of its truth and divinity. It carries its own light and evidence with it." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Wisdom of God"]

Wed., 8/22/12 Devotion (Ps. 30:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 30:3, where we read these words:

"O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit."

The regenerated soul is a resurrected soul. It has everlasting life, and will never die. No matter what the world, the flesh, or the devil throws at this supernaturally-charged heart, it is not enough to sink it again (into despair, or hell).

Justification leads to sanctification. It is the process of becoming more like Jesus that often causes us to feel like we are headed for the pit again. But, if we are sincere churchmen, we need never fear act-ually falling into it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you grieve [God's] Spirit in heaven, He will sadden your spirit on earth." --Christopher Love, in, "The Deject-ed Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tues., 8/21/12 Devotion (Rom. 11:33)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 11:33, where Paul wrote these words:

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"

Everything, without exception, that God has done, does, or will ever do is good. Everything that has ever occurred, in the entire history of creation, is designed to further His glory and the welfare of Christ's church. Do we believe this? If so, it is because we are willing to ac-cept the wonder and amazement of Rom. 11:33--and we share in Paul's astonishment of how good and amazing God is.

Let us believe way beyond the puny purview of the teensy terrain we see with the eyes of our flesh. God is better than we could ever imag-ine Him to be.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As He is God, all things are His own, and He has a right to dispose of them according to His own pleasure."
--Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Sovereignty of God"]

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mon., 8/20/12 Devotion (Jer. 49:38a)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 49:38a, where we read these words:

"I [the Lord] will set My throne in Elam . . . "

What a strange place for God to "set [His] throne"--Elam, an ancient pagan power east of Babylon. This is a good reminder of the fact that nothing is outside of the Lord's sovereignty: He is king everywhere--in heaven, and on earth. No devil, no sinners, no evil can overthrow Him; and God remains on His throne at all times, in every situation.

Having said that, it is true that there is a "positive" reign of Christ (in His church), and a "negative" reign of Christ (in His judgment of wick-edness). The same Sovereign is in control--it is just that in one case God grants forgiveness and imputed righteousness (from Christ); and in the other case He exercises His prerogative as a Just Judge (in con-demnation).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Praise God for every smile, and rejoice in the least." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/17-19/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday. We GET to go back to church again! In or-der to help us get ready, here is Martin Luther, from his wonderful preface to his "Galatians" commentary. . . .

"Seeing, then, that sin has no place here, there can be no anguish of conscience, no fear, no heaviness. That is why St. John says, 'Anyone born of God does not continue to sin,' (1 John 5:18). But if there is any fear or grief of conscience, it is a sign that this righteousness has been withdrawn, that grace is hidden, and that Christ is darkened and out of sight. But where Christ is truly visible, there must be full and perfect joy in the Lord, and the conscience is at peace and thinks, 'Al-though I am a sinner by the law and under the condemnation of the law, I still do not despair and do not die, because Christ lives, and He is my righteousness and my everlasting life.' In that righteousness and life I have no sin, no fear, no sting of conscience, no worry about death. I am indeed a sinner, as far as this present life and righteous-ness are concerned, as I am a child of Adam; where the law accuses me, death reigns over me and wants to ultimately devour me. But I have another righteousness and live above this life—Christ the Son of God, who knows no sin or death but is righteousness and eternal life. By Him, this body of mine that is dead will be raised up again and de-livered from the bondage of the law and sin and will be sanctified to-gether with my spirit."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thurs., 8/16/12 Devotion (Jer. 44:18)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 44:18, where we read these words:

"But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine."

A major reason people commit idolatry is because of a serious mis-understanding of the source of blessing. Jeremiah had condemned this idolatrous worship of Ishtar, "the queen of heaven"--but the people wouldn't risk the truth of the prophet's words, as over against an al-leged stock of provision (coming from the worship of the false god-dess).

It is always wiser for us to choose to worship the true God (through Christ alone), and to get by with hardly anything, and end up in heav-en--than to commit idolatry, have our "needs" met, and end up in hell.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The happiness of angels as well as of men consists very much in beholding the glory of God." --Jonathan Ed-wards, in his sermon, "The Wisdom of God"]

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wed., 8/15/12 Devotion (Rom. 5:3-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 5:3-5, where Paul wrote these words:

"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tri-bulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was giv-en to us."

"Glory in tribulations"? Is the apostle Paul saying this just to put a "spiritual" spin on the believers' hardships? No. The maturing church-man comes to recognize the peculiar value of trials and difficulties--especially when the end result is realized--which is hope, anointed with love.

Let us be good stewards of the heart-shaking troubles that come into our souls. Let us recognize that the faithful Christian cannot be hurt by them; and let us ask God to use them for our good.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God chooses broken vessels to pour com-fort into that they may diffuse it unto others." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tues., 8/14/12 Devotion (1 Sam. 4:3b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 4:3b, where we read these words:

"Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies."

These words of the Israelites (above) clearly demonstrated that they were trusting more in superstition (and the *things* of the Lord), rather than in the God of the true religion Himself, (with His "things" being the means of His grace).

The Lord is not impressed with our devotion to show, at the expense of our sincere faith in His Son. Let us appreciate all God's gifts, but never at the cost of failing to love the Giver of these kindnesses.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In a spiritual sense, the godly seek great things for themselves, and it is their glory to do so." --Jeremiah Bur-roughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mon., 8/13/12 Devotion (1 Sam. 3:18b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 3:18b, where we read these words:

"And he [Eli] said, 'It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.' "

Eli had received bad news, regarding how God was going to handle his rebellious house--and yet Eli's response is one of faith and submission. It is always best for us, that God does "what seems good to Him," even if it means chastisement for us.

What are we going through today? Can we also say, "It is the Lord--let Him do what seems good to Him"? If we can, we are blessed people, indeed.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The devil is the most sullen spirit there is, and yet the most proud." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/10-12/12 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it is almost Sunday! We GET to go back to church again. What an honor. In order to help us get ready for the Lord's Day, here is Martin Luther, from his preface to his "Galatians" commen-
tary. . . .

"Just as the earth does not generate rain and cannot of itself work to produce it, but receives it by the mere gift of God from above, so this heavenly righteousness is given us by God without our working for or deserving it. See, then, how much the earth is able by itself to do in getting showers of rain to make it fruitful; that much, and no more, are we able to do by our own strength and works in winning this heav-enly and eternal righteousness. We shall never be able to attain it un-less God himself bestows it on us, imputing it to us by His gift beyond words. The greatest wisdom of Christians, then, is to have nothing to do with the law and works and the whole of active righteousness, es-pecially when the conscience wrestles with God's judgment. On the other hand, the quintessence of wisdom among those who are not among God's people is to know and earnestly follow the law and ac-tive righteousness."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thurs., 8/9/12 Devotion (Acts 27:31)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 27:31, where we read these words:

"Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, 'Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.' "

What Paul says (above) regarding the merchant ship he and many others were sailing on, God would say to all professing Christians: "Unless you stay in the ship (of Christ as His church), you cannot be saved." Why would anybody want to "jump ship"? Because of persecu-tion, trial, fiery furnaces of affliction, cowardice, etc.

The good ship of Jesus sails over the sea of judgment today, as Noah's ark did in the book of Genesis. Let all God's true children stay faithful in Christ and His church--and enjoy the ride, even when it gets bumpy.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Not one of all [God's] true soldiers was ever left to perish on the field of battle." --Thomas Jones, in the pre-face of Isaac Ambrose's, "The Christian Warrior"]

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wed., 8/8/12 Devotion (Ps. 9:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 9:1, where David, under the Holy Spirit's inspiration, wrote this:

"I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works."

Here is a good antidote to fear and fretting. On top of that, it helps the believer get a proper perspective on things. Wholehearted praise of the Lord, and reflection on His good works toward us, has the ef-fect of raising our spirits, and setting our hearts aright.

We may either sink into spiritual lethargy, and eventual despair; or we may sail above the world, by faith, employing (as it were) the wings of eagles, (cf. Isa. 40:31).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christianity will cost you much here and save you forever. Then be a Christian that you may be a conqueror."
--Isaac Ambrose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tues., 8/7/12 Devotion (Ps. 8:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 8:1, where David wrote this:

"O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens!"

No matter how dark and dreary things may be, or seem to be here be-low--God's glory, like the sun, is always shining above, never shrouded over with clouds of sin or misery. But, this truth would be of little com-fort for us, in this life, if the Lord's name was not made to be "ex-cellent" in "all the earth."

How can this be? God's name is excellent here, even in the midst of much sin, because Jesus has come here. He has, in His cross and re-surrection, bridged the gap between heaven and earth, and has "unit-ed" them for the benefit of His faithful church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion! Can we be God's servants and not His soldiers? Is not Christ's church on earth truly militant?" --Isaac Ambrose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mon., 8/6/12 Devotion (Acts 24:16)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's words, found in Acts 24:16:

"This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without of-fense toward God and men."

God's churchmen ought to do everything in their power to faithfully please Christ; and, in so doing, to not unduly offend sinners either. Sometimes this is impossible. Doing what God commands *will*, in some cases, upset people. In this case, it is always best to honor God, and let sinners be in a tizzy about it.

But, having said that, the rule to go by is this: faithfulness to Christ is *always* in *every* human beings' best interest, (even though the un-regenerate do not realize, nor accept this). Let us seek to keep our consciences clean, by walking by faith, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Truth is truth, and error, error, and that which is unlawful is unlawful, whether men think so or not." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/3-5/12 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday again! We *get* to go back to church! In order to help us get ready, here are the phenomenal words of Martin Luther, from his almost-unbelievably great Preface to his "Galatians" commentary. . . .

"Therefore, when I see a person who is bruised enough already being oppressed with the law, terrified with sin, and thirsting for comfort, it is time for me to remove the law and active righteousness from his sight and set before him, by the Gospel, the Christian and passive righteousness. This excludes Moses with his law and offers the promise made in Christ, who came for the afflicted and for sinners. Here we are raised up again and acquire hope; here we are no longer under the law but under grace (see Romans 6:14). How is it that we are not under the law? We live according to the new nature, to which the law does not appertain. As Paul says later on, 'Christ is the end of the law' (Romans 10:4); since He has come, Moses ceases with his law, circum-cision, sacrifices, [etc.]."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thurs., 8/2/12 Devotion (Judg. 16:15b)

Today's encouragement comes from Judges 16:15b, where we read these words:

"How can you say, 'I love you,' when your heart is not with me?"

What Delilah asked Samson makes a good paradigm for what God would ask any who profess faith in Him. What good is it, for us to say we love God, if He does not have our hearts? The heart is everything, when it comes to religion. God is more patient with honest unbeliev-ers, who make no claim to love Him, than He is with hypocrites, who only pretend to (in order to forward their own reputations).

Let us love Christ sincerely, and from the heart. This does not require perfection; but it does require honesty.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Affliction is the saint's badge and mark of honor." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wed., 8/1/12 Devotion (Acts 19:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 19:20, where we read these few words:

"So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed."

It is good for both the church and the world, when the word of God grows mightily, and prevails. When the devil is put on the defensive, and the church advances boldly--real territory is gained, and Christ is glorified.

Let us pray toward this end; and let us live toward this end: that the word of God would grow and prevail. There are only two options: either God's word is advancing, or the world's (devil's) word is making headway. Thank God that we know Christ has the victory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Lord has a special eye upon and loves to dwell with these who are of choice and excellent spirits." --Jere-miah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]