Friday, September 28, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/28-30/12 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. . . .

"God loves a humble soul. It is not our high birth, but our low hearts that God delights in. A humble spirit is in God's view: 'To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit,' (Isa. 66:2). A humble heart is God's palace: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit,' (Isa. 57:15). Great personages, besides their houses of state, have lesser houses which upon occasion they retreat to. Besides God's house of state in heaven, He has the humble soul for His retiring house, where He takes up His rest, and solaces Himself. Let Italy boast that it is, for pleasure, the garden of the world. A humble heart glories in this, that it is the presence chamber of the great King."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thurs., 9/27/12 Devotion (Gal. 3:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 3:7, where the Apostle Paul wrote these words:

"Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abra-ham."

Do we understand the Biblical teaching that neither the unbelieving Jews, nor the Muslims (nor any any other unbelievers for that matter) are the true children of Abraham? Having said that, many of both Jewish and Arab descent *are* children of Abraham--but this has no-thing to do with their race, lineage, or ethnicity. Instead, it has everything to do with their faith in Jesus.

Do we have sincere faith in the Messiah? Then we also are sons and daughters of Abraham. Let us believe God through the Lord Jesus Christ, just like our father Abraham did.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Hypocrites are not practitioners; they are all head and no feet; they do not walk in Christ (Col. 2:6). Their knowledge is informing, but not transforming . . . " --Thomas Watson, in his sermon entitled, "Christ's Loveliness"]

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wed., 9/26/12 Devotion (Gal. 2:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's great epistle to the Gala-tians, ch. 2, vv. 4 & 5:

"And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you."

Let us notice several things about these verses: 1) the devil sometimes infiltrates God's church; 2) Satan's tools are very religious Pharisee-type, "law" people; 3) their intent is to steal away the true believers' joy and freedom in Jesus; 4) God's children owe these wolves in sheep's clothing NO allegiance or submission whatsoever; and 5) the gospel's veracity in our lives hinges on our clinging to Christ, and re-sisting the devil.

Are we happy and liberated in Jesus? Let us guard ourselves. There are plenty who would seek to deprive us of these precious benefits.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Wicked men make pardoning grace a means of presumption; but pardoning grace rightly applied is the most genuine way to break and trouble the soul." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tues., 9/25/12 Devotion (Ps. 77:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 77:3a, where we read these words:

"I remembered God, and was troubled . . . "

This is unusual phraseology (above); but it is not irreverent, nor God-dishonoring. Remember: the Holy Spirit inspired the psalmist to write this. How is it possible for a faith-filled churchman to "Remember God, and [be] troubled"?

In the case of this author, he called to mind both the hard times *and* the deliverances that the Lord brought to him (in his past). Still, in the end, his faith held up, and he found comfort in the faithful and gentle shepherding God demonstrated toward His church (see v. 20). Let us have this outlook too--no matter where the Lord leads us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do you fear the Lord? He will open His secret to you, even that which He has hidden and kept secret from all the world, namely the secret of His covenant and your concern there-in." --John Bunyan, in, "The Fear of God"]

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mon., 9/24/12 Devotion (2 Cor. 13:11c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 13:11c, where we read these words:

" . . . And the God of love and peace will be with you."

Even the world relishes the idea of a God of "love and peace." Their "love and peace" god, however, is not the Lord of heaven and earth, who saves sinners and judges all men (according to His perfect and holy standard). Unbelievers' idea of "love and peace" is really more like, "lust, and leave me alone."

But Paul's statement above *does* apply to the redeemed church. The True God of "love and peace" *is* with us; and we particularly *experi-ence* these blessed attributes of His (love and peace), as we are ma-turing, united, and secure (as the Body of Christ), [see the earlier parts of v. 13].

[Puritan quote of the day: "If temptations arise from natural causes, then natural means, as medicines, are to be used and applied, and people would do well to be persuaded thereunto." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/21-23/12 Devotion

Sunday is almost here! Wahoo! We get to go to church, and worship as the covenant community of God. Here is Thomas Watson, from, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart." (With the real threat of the devil's politic-ians winning again in Nov., let Watson's quote encourage us.) . . .

"If things go badly in church or state, take heed of charging God with folly; do not censure but admire. All things are seen by God. There is not any thing that stirs in the world, but God has a design in it, for the good of His church. He carries on His designs by men's designs. All things are unveiled to the eye of providence. God is never at a stand: He knows when to deliver, and how to deliver. . . .

"God delivers sometimes in that way in which we think He will de-stroy. It might seem strange, when He would deliver Israel, He stirred up the hearts of the Egyptians to hate them. Could this be a likely way? Yet by this means was deliverance ushered in. So now the hearts of many are stirred up to hate the people of God, to hate the cove-nant; but God can make use of their power and rage, as once He did of the High Priest's malice, and Judas' treason, for our greater advant-age. There was no way for Jonah to be saved, but to be swallowed up; he sails safe to land in the whale's belly. God brings His people many times to shore upon the broken pieces of the ship. God can make the enemies do His work. He does sometimes play His own game by their hand. Well then may we cry out with the apostle; 'O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!' God will not make us privy of His counsel, His path is in the deep. If we cannot see a reason of His proceedings; let us censure our own shal-lowness, not His depth."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thurs., 9/20/12 Devotion (2 Cor. 9:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 9:8, where Paul wrote these words:

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, al-ways having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work."

This promise is made to the cheerful, generous giver. Note how grace encompasses even the issues of money, and things. And see as well that God is not stingy, nor miserly with His church children. Instead, He is lavish and bountiful with them--so that they might be in a good position to continually bless others in need.

The divine "pipeline" is full. The only thing that "clogs" it is our sin. Let us live in the fullness of Christ today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What is the heavenly treasure the worse for being brought in an earthen vessel or the better when handed to us by an angel?" --Ralph Venning, in his sermon, "The New Command-ment Renewed"]

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wed., 9/19/12 Devotion (2 Sam. 15:26b)

Today's encouragement comes from David's lips, as his words are re-corded in 2 Samuel 15:26b:

" . . . Here I am, let Him [God] do to me as seems good to Him."

David's attitude is a good one. He was being humbled by God, while the treacherous Absalom schemed to take away his throne. One gets the sense that, though David knew he deserved rough treatment from God (because of his murder and adultery, etc.)--he expected the Lord would be merciful and gracious to him, nonetheless.

And indeed God's kindness is what David received, in the end. Can *we* say, "Here I am, let God do to me as seems good to Him"? If we are truly in Christ, we can; and we need not fear a thing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There may be as much work done in one hour as in ten times as much time when the heart is not prepared for it [work]." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Worship"]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tues., 9/18/12 Devotion (2 Cor. 7:4c, 5c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 7:4c & 5c, where we read these words:

" . . . I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. . . . Outside were conflicts, inside were fears."

I found it helpful to read of the Apostle Paul's difficult experiences. We can see (above) that even he, the stalwart of faith and strength, was "fearful" at times. But even more than this, Paul could find a way (in Christ) to be "joyful" in "tribulation."

Every true believer is capable of enduring a whole lot more than he or she could ever imagine that he or she could. There is valor within that will never come to the fore unless it is put through the fire (of afflic-tions). Still, none of us look forward to these conflicts. The only thing we like is the Christlike character that develops in us (which brings us much peace, stability, and happiness).

[Puritan quote of the day: "People [become] distracted from coming to God by their own self-imposed spiritual disciplines." --John Owen, in, "Sin and Temptation"]

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mon., 9/17/12 Devotion (Ps. 66:12b, c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 66:12b & c, where we read these words:

" . . . We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment."

If we are sincere believing churchmen, saved by grace through faith in Christ (alone), then this much is certain: we will go through some very difficult times in this life. But this much is also a sure thing: we will be brought through them, to even higher levels of faith, charac-ter-development, joy, and fulfillment.

But no one gets the "good stuff" without first traversing some pretty dark valleys. Therefore, let us learn now, in advance, that God is good, and that Jesus is worth possessing no matter what. Then, as we stare into hard circumstances it will not be so bad, since we *know* we will benefit on the other end.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If the thing we desire is good for us, we shall have it. If it is not good, then not having it is good for us. Rest-ing satisfied with this promise gives contentment." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/14-16/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! We GET to go back to church again. In or-der to help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "Happiness of Drawing Close to God" book. . . .

"To draw near to God is our peace. The only thing which breaks our peace is, when we do not keep close to God. But what harmony, yea Heaven is in the soul when it draws nigh to God! Psalm 119:165: 'Great peace have they which love Your law.' This peace, like pearl in broth, is cordial. David drew nigh to God, for he was 'ever with him,' (Psalm 139:17). And this made his pillow soft when he went to sleep, Psalm 4:8: 'I will lay me down in peace.' As the honey, dew falls upon the leaf: O that sweet serenity which drops as honey upon the soul while it is drawing nigh to God! How comfortable it is to draw near to the sun! And how sweet is it to approach nigh to the Sun of Right-eousness.

"To draw near to God is our riches. It is good drawing near to a gold mine. If we draw near to God, He will enrich us with promises, and divine consolations. He will enrich us with the 'pearl of great price,' (Mk. 13:46). He will reward us as a king, yea as a God. He will make over His land and jewels to us. He will give us the spring flowers of joy here, and the harvest of glory hereafter."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thurs., 9/13/12 Devotion (2 Sam. 8:6b, 14b)

Today's encouragement comes from a collation of 2 Samuel 8, vv. 6b & 14b, where we read this refrain:

"The LORD preserved David wherever he went. . . . And the LORD pre-served David wherever he went."

The Holy Spirit is certainly making a point here. David, the man sub-ject to lots of dangers in his military exploits, and in his being the target of many scheming enemies--is preserved by the God who loved him. So it is with every faithful churchman: the way may be tough, the cross is always hard; but the Lord is good, tender, loving, gentle, and sweet.

Let us not lose heart, if we belong to Christ. Our victory is sure; and our safety is sealed by God Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Our victory will be further realized as the new man immediately springs to action, and cheerfully fights against lust the moment it appears." --John Owen, in, "The Mortification of Sin"]

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wed., 9/12/11 Devotion (Ps. 56:3)

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

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You."

David was honest enough to admit that at some times he was "afraid." His resolve here, by grace, is to turn his fear into an opportunity to exercise his faith in Christ. This is a very wise thing to do. Is there anything we can do, to prevent fearful events from coming into our lives? No. But we can make the best of them, by trusting God, through them.

After all, it is relatively "easy" to get on with life, when everything is going smoothly. The challenge is when things do not accord with what we conceive of as our "comfort zone." *That* is the time for us to de-monstrate genuine faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What Satan did in tempting man to fall is made an occasion of the contrary to what he intended in that it gave occasion for God to glorify Himself all the more, and gives occasion for the elect being brought to higher happiness." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Wisdom of God"]

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tues., 9/11/12 Devotion (1 Cor. 16:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 16:13 & 14, where Paul wrote these words:

"Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love."

These are such neat words (above). The Christian churchman is to be *both* dogmatically immovable in his or her commitment to Christ, and also gracious and generous in all his or her ways.

Only the work of the Holy Spirit could ever accomplish this. Regular sinners are sometimes able to be stubbornly-bound to what they be-lieve--but they cannot be loving in their actions. Or, they are able to be civilly-kind to others, but they have no basis of solid doctrine (on which they stand). Let us who are in Christ be both firmly-planted *and* tender-hearted.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Luther said, 'I had utterly despaired had Christ not been head of the church.' " --John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mon., 9/10/12 Devotion (Ps. 53:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 53, v. 6, where we read these words:

"Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When God brings back the captivity of His people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad."

David's prayer here (above) is one of wanting God to come down to His people, His church, and revive them (her). There is great hope in his words. David had languished under unjust treatment (at the hands of Saul); but David knew that his God would eventually deliver him (in His own good time).

Let all the faithful church today take great comfort in our real and living hope in Jesus. No matter what it is that troubles us, its days are numbered. "The salvation of Israel" *has* "come out of Zion," in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "That which begins not with prayer seldom ends with comfort." --John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]