Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wed., 10/31/12 Devotion (2 Ki. 13:4)

Happy Reformation Day, everybody!

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 13:4, where we read these verses:

"So Jehoahaz pleaded with the LORD, and the LORD listened to him; for He [God] saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them."

Jehoahaz was not a great guy, (see v. 2)--and yet God not only listen-ed to his prayer, but delivered him from his enemies. We sincere churched Christians are in the same boat. We still struggle with sin, and yet God answers our heartfelt petitions, and saves us from our violent foes.

Let us be thankful that God does not look at the sin of our hearts, but (rather) at the perfection of His Son (in whom every true Christian is found). There is not only safety in Jesus; there is hope and victory in Him, too.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints. Oh, bless the Lord, all you HIs saints. He who is mighty has done great things for you." --Richard Alleine, in, "Heaven Opened"]

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tues., 10/30/12 Devotion (2 Tim. 2:15)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 2:15, where Paul wrote these words:

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

The apostle's admonition to ministers (above), applies in principal to all faithful churchmen. Just as the pastor is to set the standard with the excellent and faithful preaching and teaching of the word of
God--so all the church is to apply it (the word) by seeking to be faith-ful and good in whatever vocation God has called them to.

One day it will be wonderful to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant," (see Matt. 25:21). This will apply as much to diligent Chris-tian candlestick makers, as it will to the church's faithful clergy.

[Puritan quote of the day: "This is all the hurt the devil does. When he foils a saint by temptation, he cures him of his careless neglect; he makes him watch and pray more." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mon., 10/29/12 Devotion (2 Tim. 1:6-7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 1:6 & 7, where we read these words of Paul, to the minister Timothy:

"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

The good spiritual gifts God gives us, His ministers and parishioners, can sometimes settle, and become somewhat "dormant." When this happens, we lose our edge, our courage, and our zeal. Just as some-times we have to "stoke" the coals in a fireplace to revive the flame--so we must do the same thing with the gifts resident in our souls.

Let us remember this: in a fallen world even good things tend to grav-itate downward. It is our responsibility to refresh God's graces in us, from Lord's Day to Lord's Day, (and then throughout the week).

[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"]

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/26-28/12 Devotion

Sunday IS coming! Yippee. Here is some brilliant genius from Thomas Watson, as it is found in his profound work, entitled, "The Art of Di-vine Contentment." Pastor Watson is dealing with Paul's assertion, as it is found in Php. 4:11:

"This word, 'I have learned,' is a word that imports difficulty; it shows how hard it was for the apostle came by contentment of mind; it was not bred in nature. St. Paul did not come naturally by it, but he had learned it. It cost him many a prayer and tear; it was taught him by the Spirit.

"Whence our doctrine: GOOD THINGS ARE HARD TO COME BY. The business of religion is not so facile [easy] as most do imagine. 'I have learned,' says St. Paul. Indeed you need not teach a man to sin; this is natural, (Ps. 58:3)--and therefore facile. It comes as water out of a spring. It is an easy thing to be wicked. Hell will be taken without storm; but matters of religion [viz. true Christianity] must be learned. To cut the flesh is easy, but to prick a vein, and not to cut an artery, is hard. The trade of sin needs not to be learned, but the art of divine contentment is not achieved without holy industry: 'I have learned.' "

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thurs., 10/25/12 Devotion (Dan. 10:19a)

Today's encouragement comes from Daniel 10:19a, where we read these words:

"And he said, 'O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!' "

Are we servants of the Lord? Do we desire to put our lives at His feet everyday? If so, let us be encouraged by these words. God tenderly loves His ministers and His laymen who are called by His Name. Dan-iel, who was being addressed in the verses above, had been very weak and heavy-hearted. These words encouraged him, and strengthened him.

One touch from Christ--one word from His mouth--is enough to over-come whatever weariness or exhaustion we feel. Let us know that God loves His churchmen more than we could ever know.

[Puritan quote of the day: "However rugged or hard our path in fol-lowing the Lord may seem to the flesh . . . yet where there is a spiritual eye, the way of holiness appears exceedingly lovely and beautiful." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wed., 10/24/12 Devotion (Ps. 118:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Ps. 118:5, where we read these words:

"I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place."

One of the reasons our good God allows us, His beloved churchmen, to find ourselves in trouble, is so that we will call upon Him in prayer. If we never had any needs, we would quickly forget about God, and live as if He did not exist. When it pleases the Lord, He sets us in a "broad place"--a situation of relative calm and comfort.

Let us not despair in distress. Instead, let us call on the Lord. He is very pleased to rescue His children who acknowledge that He (the Lord) alone can really help us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Despair is an exceedingly vile and con-temptible sin." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Grac-ious Spirit"]

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tues., 10/23/12 Devotion (1 Tim. 1:15)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 1:15, where we read these amazing words of Paul:

"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."

If we are sinners, and we know ourselves to be such--then there is real hope for us. Christ did not come to earth to save good people, (because there *are no* "good people"). Jesus did not come here to make people nice, nor civil, nor easy to get along with. Instead, He came to redeem real sinners from their real sin.

Who are the "chief" of these sinners, according to Paul? Not the slimy abortionists and drug-dealers (as vile as they are)--but rather the re-ligious pharisees, the theological "know-it-alls" who think they are better than God Himself. Paul was turned from one of those, into a true minister of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a Christian's duty to triumph, not only over the world, but over Satan." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mon., 10/22/12 Devotion (1 Thess. 3:3)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 3:3, where we find these words:

"But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one."

Are these not comforting words? When it is all said and done, God's faithful work in His regenerate churchmen accomplishes the goals of creating a settled faith and a secured saint. Sometimes, when we are going through the midst of the fires of afflictions, and wrestlings with the devil--we think that these blessings are too elusive. But the Lord brings them to pass, in His sovereign grace, and His perfect time.

Let us be thankful that we have such a good God. Let us think about those whose "gods" leave them in the slime of sin and the gutters of despair; and let us be glad that the Lord has been so good to our souls.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When God calls a man by His grace, he cannot but come." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/19-21/12 Devotion

Can you believe it--another Sunday is almost here?! God has 52 holy days a year--and they're all on Sunday. In order to prepare you for church, here is Thomas Watson, from "All Things for Good." . . .

"If you do not love God, you will love something else, either the world or sin; and are those worthy of your love? Is it not better to love God than these? It is better to love God than the world, as appears in the following particulars. . . .

"If you set your love on worldly things, they will not satisfy. You may as well satisfy your body with air, as your soul with earth. . . . Is it not better to love God? He will give you that which shall satisfy. . . . If you love worldly things, they cannot remove trouble of mind. If there be a thorn in the conscience, all the world cannot pluck it out.
. . . But if you love God, He can give you peace when nothing else can; He can turn the 'Shadow of death into the morning,' (Amos 5:8). He can apply Christ's blood to refresh your soul; He can whisper His love by the Spirit, and with one smile scatter all your fears and dis-quiets."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thurs., 10/18/12 Devotion (1 Ki. 21:3)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Kings 21:3, where we read these words:

"But Naboth said to Ahab, 'The LORD forbid that I should give the in-heritance of my fathers to you!' "

When true believers sin, they give some of the priceless treasure of the covenant of God's grace to the devil, the world, and their own sinful flesh. Naboth refused even his earthly king what was rightfully his [Naboth's], by divine bestowment. Naboth would not bow to pres-sure, or convention; but rather took his place with the true church of God.

How about us? Are we zealous to retain what God has given us, so that we will be fruitful and productive in the world; or are we willing to sell what is precious to God's enemies?

[Puritan quote of the day: "[Improper religious] toleration is the grave of reformation. . . . By toleration we adopt other men's sins and make them our own." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Christ's Loveliness"]

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wed., 10/17/12 Devotion (1 Thess. 3:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 3:3a, where we read these words:

" . . . that no one should be shaken by these afflictions . . . "

Afflictions and tribulations definitely come to the faithful church-men--but our faith is not to be "shaken" by them. Our hearts, our minds, and our composure may be shaken by them--but not our faith. In the end, our faith is to be strengthened and purified by troubles and trials.

The previous verse, (1 Thess. 3:2), finds Paul sending a minister (Timothy) to help establish the faith of the church in Thessalonica. God still does that today, in that none of us can (or were ever meant to) make it on our own.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If we love God, we have all winds blowing for us, everything in the world shall conspire for our good." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tues., 10/16/12 Devotion (1 Thess. 2:18b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 2:18b, where we read these few words:

" . . . but Satan hindered us."

Even true believers have to admit that, from time to time, Satan gets his "licks" in on us. Does God *allow* this to happen? Yes. Is it under God's direct supervision and sovereignty? Yes. But does this lessen the fact that sometimes we feel the cold and clammy hand of the devil on our hearts? No.

This struggle with Satan is one of the hardest parts of living the Chris-tian life down here. We must always keep in mind that God has a pur-pose for allowing the devil to sometimes seem to prevail; and we must also remember that Christ has completely crushed the snake's head, in His glorious resurrection from the dead.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not duty, but love to duty, God looks at. It is not how much we do, but how much we love." --Thomas Wat-son, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mon., 10/15/12 Devotion (1 Ki. 18:21a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Kings 18:21a, where we read these words:

"And Elijah came to all the people, and said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him. . . . ' "

I like this perspective, put out by Elijah. Even today this principle ap-plies. All people worship some deity (alleged, or true). "Let the best [God] win," as the saying goes. Is the Muslim god the true one? Then all should worship him (or it). Is the atheists' god the true one? Then we should bow down to it. Is the secularists' god true? Let all men honor it (or her, or whatever). Is the God of the True Christian Reli-gion the only Real Deity? Then, let all men worship Him.

It turns out that the Holy Trinity *is* the one and only God. We know this--among other reasons--primarily by the resurrection of the Son of God, who lives and reigns today. He can withstand all pretenders to His throne. Let us worship Him, and not fear fake gods.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are the greatest reasons in the world to be a Christian . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/12-14/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God." . . .

"Why we must draw near to God. . . .

"Because He is our Maker: 'In Him we live.' He has given us bodies; they are His curious 'needlework,' (Psa. 139:15). And as He has made the cabinet, so He has put the jewel in it, the precious soul; and surely if we have our being from Him, we cannot breathe without Him. There is good reason we should draw near to God in a way of homage and observance.

"God is our Benefactor; He crowns us with a variety of blessings: He gives health and estate; every bite of bread we eat is given to us by the hand of Divine bounty. Is there not great reason we should draw near to Him who feeds us? Give a beast hay and he will follow you all the field over. Not to draw near to Him who is our Benefactor, is worse than brutish.

"God is the 'Summum Bonum,' the chief good. There's enough in God to satisfy the immense desire of the angels. He is 'omnimode dulcis,' the quintessence of sweetness. In Him perfections are centered. He has rivers of pleasure where the soul shall bathe itself forever with in-finite delight, (Psa. 36:36). So that here is ground sufficient for our drawing near to God; He is the chief good. Everything desires to ap-proach to its happiness."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wed., 10/10/12 Devotion (Php. 4:6-7)

Today's encouragement comes from Philippians 4:6 & 7, where Paul wrote these precious words:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Notice, first of all, that this promise is *not* made for just any pro-fessing Christian. It is only made for those who already are in Christ, by virtue of their being secured in Him through their union with Him by faith (as they are now members of His church). But, for the sincere churchman, this promise is indeed sweet. The Philippians knew what it meant, to live in a fortified (Roman) city. The true believer knows what it means to be secure, in Jesus.

But sometimes, because of manifest trouble, that serenity is shaken. When this happens, let us turn to God in prayer. He will then give us Christ's peace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let the baptized keep their baptismal vows of fighting against sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh." --Isaac Am-brose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tues., 10/9/12 Devotion (Ps. 93:12-13)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 93:12 & 13, where we read these words:

"Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O LORD, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked."

This is a comforting text, especially in the tumultuous political clim-ate of these days, wherein those who are so adamantly opposed to Christ, His church, and His gospel are flaunting their wares with im-pudence and shamelessness. These things tend to make the people of God be afraid, and to begin to wring their hands in anxiety.

But this psalm (above) teaches us that the faithful churchman is really safe in Christ, even as the storm of adversity churns over their heads (as it does everyone else's, as well). So long as we do not cast off our faith in Jesus, we will come through every crisis on the other end, safe and sound.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have the favor of God, this doctrine [of encouragement] teaches you that you need not be afraid of ene-mies; for whoever is your enemy, God looks upon as His enemy."
--Jonathan Edwards, in one of his great sermons]

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mon., 10/8/12 Devotion (Ps. 92:13-14)

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

Where are we "planted" most in this world? Are we *most* invested in our business, our civic concerns, and/or our family and home? If so, then we will be eventually uprooted by the storms of life on a fallen planet. Only those who are firmly ingrafted into Christ and His church are able to withstand the forces set against them. On top of this, they are also able to remain "fruitful" all the way to their last breath.

Let us love who and what God Himself loves: Christ and His church. As we do so, we are invincible--no matter what the world, the flesh, or the devil shoot at us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "No matter what storms I meet with, I know where to put in for harbor. He who has God to be his God is so well contented with his condition that he does not much care whether he has anything else." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Con-tentment"]

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/5-7/12 Devotion

Yippee. Sunday, the Lord's Day, is ALMOST here. To help get us ready for the church's worship of God, here is Thomas Watson, in, "A Divine Cordial," or, "All Things for Good":

"It may be asked, 'How do afflictions make us happy?' We reply that, being sanctified, they bring us nearer to God. The moon in the full is furthest off from the sun: so are many further off from God in the full moon of prosperity; afflictions bring them nearer to God. The magnet of mercy does not draw us so near to God as the cords of affliction. When Absalom set Joab's corn on fire, then he came running to Absa-lom (2 Sam. 14:30). When God sets our worldly comforts on fire, then we run to Him, and make our peace with Him. When the prodigal was pinched with want, then he returned home to his father (Luke 15:13). When the dove could not find any rest for the sole of her foot, then she flew to the ark. When God brings a deluge of affliction upon us, then we fly to the ark of Christ. Thus affliction makes us happy, in bringing us nearer to God. Faith can make use of the waters of afflic-tion, to swim faster to Christ."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thurs., 10/4/12 Devotion (Ezek. 37:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 37:4 & 5, where these words are found:

"Again He [God] said to me, 'Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, "O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.' " ' "

Let us behold the amazing power of the preached word (of the gospel of Christ's grace). God brings life to the valley of dry bones through the agency of His proclaimed (prophesied) word. What an odd way to get the job done. We would have expected almost anything other than this.

Today, as it has always been, there are many false and futile substi-tutes for preaching, all claiming to be able to make dry bones live. Let us not fall for any of them. Let us (rather) listen to the word of God, as it is proclaimed in the church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who thinks anything less than God will suffice [for satisfaction in life] does not understand the soul; and he who wants anything more than God does not understand God." --Rich-ard Alleine, in, "Heaven Opened"]

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wed., 10/3/12 Devotion (Ps. 86:9)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 86:9, where David wrote these words:

"All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name."

When we read verses like these, in the Psalms, or the rest of the Bible, do we believe them? Let us read this verse; and then check out the news of the day. Does it seem likely to us that God's word will prevail? Actually, it ought to. This promise (above) has already been fulfilled, in the establishment of the universal New Covenant church. Is there a lot more "ground" to cover? Yes, there is. But, by God's grace, it will happen.

So, let us not be discouraged. It is Satan's ways, to dishearten the people of God. It is God's ways, to embolden them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The object of divine love is God. God is good, and good is amiable. God is all good; and there is none good but one, and that is God." --Richard Alleine, in, "Heaven Opened"]

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tues., 10/2/12 Devotion (Eph. 2:8-9)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 2:8 & 9, where we find these remarkable words:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of your-selves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

What?! We are not saved by what we do?! We are not redeemed by be-ing good?! You mean, God is not impressed with our self-righteous-ness?! Indeed, not. The elect church is saved by grace through faith in Christ. Otherwise, we could "boast" of our works, and hold God hos-tage, and claim some credit for our salvation.

Let all the redeemed of the Lord affirm the gospel truth of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Every other "gos-pel" stinks to high heaven.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To be rich in goods and rich in goodness is a happy condition." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mon., 10/1/12 Devotion (Ps. 84:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 84. After extolling the beauty of the church; and noting his hunger and thirst for God, the psalmist penned these words, in v. 10:

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

One hour of blessed communion of the soul with the God of heaven, makes years of mundaneness of life and affliction of heart all worth while. The vital union of the saint with Christ--particularly in the church's Sunday worship services--is so wonderful, that it tends to "obliterate" all memories of suffering and grief.

What are we struggling with today? Let us not despair, and let us not give up. Instead, let us seek the Lord. When He meets us in His "courts," our hearts will be abundantly comforted, blessed, and strengthened.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is in the ship of His church; do not fear sinking. The church's anchor is cast in heaven. Do we not think that God loves His church, and takes as much care of it as we can?"
--Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]