Friday, November 30, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/30-12/2/12 Devotion

Wahoo--it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. He is dealing with Justification below. . . .

"What is meant by justification?

"It is 'verbum forense,' 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 'causa,' the inward impellant motive or ground of justification, is the free grace of God: 'Being justified freely by His [God's] 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. 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 holi-ness 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 discharge a debtor of the debt, when a satisfaction is made by the surety.

"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 forever."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thurs., 11/29/12 Devotion (Mic. 4:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Micah 4:5, where we read these words:

"For all people walk each in the name of his god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever."

Many idolaters worship their false gods with more fervor, intentional-ity and devotion, than the children of light worship the True God. Let this not be the case with any of us. May we do all we can to assure that the God of grace and glory receives more homage (in our own realms), than Satan could ever dream of.

After all: what is the devil's "reward" to his followers? Misery in this world, and an eternity in flames. What does the True God do for His sincere churchmen? He gives us everything we need (and *really* want) in this world, as well as in the one to come.

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wed., 11/28/12 Devotion (Lk. 12:1b)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 12:1b, where we find the Savior saying these words:

" . . . He [Christ] began to say to His disciples first of all, 'Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.' "

Our Redeemer prioritized this teaching (re. the pharisees and their hypocrisy) because He knew that it could, and would destroy His fol-lowers if it was not addressed head-on. The pharisees' "leaven," (or teaching) is dangerous, because it seeks to seduce the soul into smug self-righteousness.

Christ's worst opponents (by far) were the pharisees--the very ones who were the most religious and devout. Jesus reserved His harshest words for them; and He warns us (even today) to watch out for their poison, (which, like the snakes the Lord compared them to, comes from their lips).

[Puritan quote of the day: "God does not bring His people into trou-bles, and leave them there." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tues., 11/27/12 Devotion (Lk. 11:37)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 11:37, where we read these words:

"And as He [Jesus] spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat."

Our Lord Jesus had some pretty sumptuous meals during His incarna-tional ministry on earth. The pharisees--though short on humility--were typically long on show (and abundance). What do we learn from Christ's willingness to eat, even with a pharisee? That the gospel is to go to *all* sorts of people--particularly those in the very *worst* spir-itual conditions (as was the case with the pharisees).

The dinner conversation turned a bit gnarly, as we see in vv. 39 ff., but even there our Redeemer was doing his guest a favor, by exposing his sin, and directing him to Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "So let us seriously and fruitfully consider what excellent times the Lord has set us in, and respond thankfully and obediently." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mon., 11/26/12 Devotion (Jon. 4:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Jonah 4:6, where we read these words:

"And the LORD God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant."

To his credit, Jonah was "grateful for the plant"; but it would soon be evident that Jonah's thankfulness was piecemeal. When God removed the plant, Jonah became very peevish and childish. When God refused to give Jonah a divine fireworks display, by blowing up Nineveh, it displeased the prophet greatly.

True gratitude that honors God is universal and uniform. This does not mean that we Christians will always get it right; but it does mean that we are to set our hearts on being grateful to God for all things, be they "good" or "evil."

[Puritan quote of the day: "As the sun rises by degrees till it comes to shine in glory, so it was with the Sun of Righteousness [Christ]. He re-vealed Himself in the church little by little." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/23-25/12 Devotion

Yee-haw, Sunday is almost here! To get us ready for the one day in the week we need to be in church, here is a short (but sweet) snippet from Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book:

"All believers are alike justified. Justification does not apply to some more than to others. Though there are degrees in grace, yet not in justification; one is not justified more than another; the weakest be-liever is as perfectly justified as the strongest; Mary Magdalene is as much justified as the Virgin Mary. This may be a cordial [comfort] to a weak believer. Though you have but a drachm [small bit] of faith, you are as truly justified as he who is of the highest stature in Christ."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thurs., 11/22/12 Devotion (1 Chron. 17:2)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy the American Puritan holiday.

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 17:2, where we read these words:

"Then Nathan said to David, 'Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.' "

Sincere churched Christians, who are saved by grace through faith in Christ, are not under law--they are under grace, (see Rom. 6:14). Therefore, they are free to do whatever they want to--because every-thing they desire to do will be in accord with the God they love. They love this God because He has forgiven them their sins (through the blood of Christ).

It does not so much matter to God *what* we do--so long as it is something we desire from the heart. If we love Jesus first and fore-most, then we are free to do everything that is in our hearts.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now it is only faith that shows a man the end and the issue of all his troubles." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wed., 11/21/12 Devotion (1 Chron. 16:26)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 16:26, where we read these words:

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

Here is a succinct creed, that aids in our basic understanding of life. There are idols, and there is the covenant God, the LORD. We either worship God in covenant; or we worship idols, in rebellion, ignorance, and/or general stupidity.

If God made the heavens, and He did--should we not trust Him? After all, Jesus came from heaven, to earth, in the incarnation--so as to bring His elect church to glory (in His resurrection). Let us praise Him for this!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ took our flesh that He might make the human nature appear lovely to God, and the divine nature appear lovely to man." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tues., 11/20/12 Devotion (Lk. 4:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 4:20, where we read these words:

"Then He [Jesus] closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him."

In this world, the only time the people of God can *collectively* gaze upon Jesus intently is in church on Sunday. In today's text (above), the Lord Jesus Christ is keeping the old Sabbath. The citizens of Nazareth are, too. They have heard the Word of God read (by Christ), and now the Messiah is about to expound on it. As He does so, the congregants are locked-in on the Redeemer.

This is a good pattern for all who would be Christ's followers today. Let *us* "fix our eyes on Jesus," (as per Heb. 12:2a). Then, upon leav-ing church, let us love and follow the Savior, (rather than seek to throw Him off the cliff, as the Nazarenes had hoped to do--[in v. 29]).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is called grace. He is the grace of God clothed with man's nature." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Free-dom"]

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mon., 11/19/12 Devotion (Lk. 3:19-20)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 3:19 & 20, where we read these words:

"But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by [John the Baptist] concern-ing Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Her-od had done, also added this, above all, that he shut John up in pris-on."

This is a fascinating passage of Scripture. Herod was basically a typ-ical bad guy. He was ruthless, cruel, immoral, vicious, and violent. And yet the very *worst* thing he ever did, according to the Bible it-self, was to lock John the Baptist up in prison. Why was this more ne-farious than Herod's public incest, for instance? Because by silencing John he was hindering the gospel proclamation of the church.

Let us keep that in mind as we evaluate various individuals, be they public officials, or people in the neighborhood. Someone may go to a deeper hell over unrepented-of disdain for the clergy's ministry, than they would over gross and brazen immorality.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For if it were not the Spirit that persuaded the soul when the minister speaks, alas! all ministerial persuasions are to no purpose." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/16-18/12 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here! Here is Thomas Watson, from "All Things for Good," to help us get ready for the church's Sabbath wor-ship:

"The Word is the instrumental cause of our conversion, the Spirit is the efficient [cause]. The ministers of God are only the pipes and organs; it is the Spirit blowing in them, that effectually changes the heart. 'While Peter spoke, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word,' (Acts 10:44). It is not the farmer's industry in ploughing and sowing, that will make the ground fruitful, without the early and lat-ter rain. So it is not the seed of the Word that will effectually con-vert, unless the Spirit put forth His sweet influence, and drops as rain upon the heart. Therefore the aid of God's Spirit is to be implored, that He would put forth His powerful voice, and awaken us out of the grave of unbelief."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thurs., 11/15/12 Devotion (1 Chron. 5:20b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 5:20b, which says this:

" . . . For [the Israelites] cried out to God in the battle. He [God] heeded their prayer, because they put their trust in Him."

Here is a practical way for all sincere Christians to live. We are in a battle everyday. The struggle is inevitable. In the midst of it, we cry out to God (or pray). The Lord hears us, answers our prayer, and de-livers us. Why? Because we are good people? No; but because (by grace) we put our "trust in Him."

Today, let us take the war to the devil. Let us put him on the defen-sive. But we must not enter the fray without faith. Let us employ faith in Christ by crying out to God for help. He *will* hear every one of our heartfelt petitions.

[Puritan quote of the day: "They who will not confess their sin as Da-vid did, that they may be pardoned, shall confess their sin as Achan did, that they may be stoned." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wed., 11/14/12 Devotion (Ps. 146:3-4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 146:3 & 4, where we read these words:

"Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish."

This is a good word for us today, is it not? We Christians should not get too worked-up over politics, or political affairs--since there is no ultimacy in human rule, or permanency of nations. In the end, it all works out for the church's good, and the glory of God.

Let all true Christians trust in the Lord; let us pray; and let us act re-sponsibly. Our political enemies may seem strong to us--but it is our flesh that is our biggest concern. Let us not sacrifice our character for anything.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The new nature which is in sincere believ-ers inclines them unto action suitable to that nature; sloth is exceed-ingly opposite unto religion." --Nathaniel Vincent, in, "A Discourse concerning Love"]

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tues., 11/13/12 Devotion (Heb. 8:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 8:12, which says this:

" ' . . . For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.' "

Here, the writer of the book of Hebrews is quoting from the great New Covenant passage, from Jer., ch. 31. And what a citation! In Christ, God will "be merciful to [our] unrighteousness," and our "sins and lawless deeds [He] will remember no more." These are amazing and wonderful promises, but they only apply to those who trust in Jesus alone for their salvation.

Let all faithful churched Christians marvel at the fact that God has forgiven the sins of His people. And let this liberty of heart, spirit, and conscience propel us into active lives of love for such a wonderful God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "This is the greatest slavery in the world, for a man to have no acquaintance with that which is contrary to his corrupt disposition." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mon., 11/12/12 Devotion (Ps. 144:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 144:1 & 2a, where we read these words:

"Blessed be the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle--my lovingkindness and my fortress . . . "

Life as a faithful churchman is a spiritually military existence. Chris-tians are soldiers; and the church is an army. Our weapons are spirit-ual, and so, for the most part, are our enemies. Jesus, our Great Captain, has already won the war for us. Our mission is a "mopping-up" operation, designed to make us more like Christ (through the struggles of sanctification).

Note (above) that God Himself "trains" us for warfare, so that we will be good and effective soldiers. And notice (as well) that warfare and love are not contraries (in a world full of the admixture of the fall of Adam and the redemption of Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The greatest men in the world are holy men. They are above all others, and without usurpation they pass censure on the state of other men, even the greatest of them."
--Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/9-11/12 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday's almost here! In order to help prepare the church for holy worship, here are some good words from Thomas Watson, from his, "All Things for Good" masterpiece:

"See then what an encouragement here is to become godly. All things shall work for good. Oh, that this may induce the world to fall in love with [the true] religion! Can there be a greater magnet to piety? Can anything more prevail with us to be good, than this; all things shall work for our good? Religion is the true philosopher's stone that turns everything into gold. Take the sourest part of religion, the suffering part, and there is comfort in it. God sweetens suffering with joy; He candies our wormwood with sugar. Oh, how may this bribe us to god-liness! 'Acquaint now yourself with God, and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto you,' (Job 22:21). No man did ever come off a loser by his acquaintance with God. By this, good shall come unto you, abundance of good, the sweet distillations of grace, the hidden man-na, yea, everything shall work for good. Oh, then get acquaintance with God, espouse His interest."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thurs., 11/8/12 Devotion (Heb. 3:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 3:14, where we read these words:

"For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end."

Starting a race is the easy part. Finishing it is the hard part. Many people start off on the Christian path, but do not persevere. What is the key to crossing the finish line? Holding onto Christ, by faith, (or, with "confidence"). Those who are sincerely and really grafted into Jesus will indeed hold out to the end of their lives--but it will only happen by their actually persevering.

God has given His church means of grace. Genuine faith employs them all the way to heaven.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who does not know the evil of sin as fully as he ought cannot hate it as much as he should." --Nathaniel Vincent, in, "A Discourse concerning Love"]

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wed., 11/7/12 Devotion (Ps. 138:7a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 138:7a, where we read these words:

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me . . . "

We ought to be encouraged by this little Holy Spirit-inspired phrase. The knowledge and certainty of God's personal "revival" (in this world) is enough to carry us through the difficult times we have to traverse down here. Faith says, "I know deliverance is coming, and I will be very happy then. Because of this, I will praise You, God, *now*, even before it arrives."

Are we children of God? If so, we are guaranteed these two things: trouble, and revival. Without trouble, we would never adequately ap-preciate revival.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Joseph dreamed of the preferment and honor he would have above his brethren, but dreamed not of being sold into Egypt, nor of his imprisonment there." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tues., 11/6/12 Devotion (Ps. 135:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 135:6, where we read these words:

"Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places."

The truth of this verse (above) cuts both ways, from our experiential point of view. At once, we are glad that our God is strong, and that He is sovereign. But, on the other hand, some of the things He allows to happen do not always please us, (and they may even go counter to our explicit and fervent prayers).

But, in the end, we realize that we are better off trusting the Lord in all situations; and that leaving the governance of the church and the world in *His* holy hands is the only way to go. God knows all things--and that, with perfection. He knows what will most benefit Christ's church. Let us love and praise our King, the One who does *all* things well.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are two sorts of wicked persons in the world: one sort count it their heaven and happiness to domineer over others. . . . The other sort will sell their liberty, their reason, and everything for even a poor thing, so they may get anything that they value in the world." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mon., 11/5/12 Devotion (2 Ki. 18:22)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 18:22, where we read these words:

" 'But if you say to me, "We trust in the LORD our God," is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, "You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem" '?"

Usually, less religion is better than more. Here, the Assyrian intimid-ator of Judah thinks that Hezekiah, the good king of Judah, had done *wrong* by removing the high places and altars. In fact, Hezekiah had done well in so doing.

God would rather have us in church on Sunday, trusting in Christ's blood atonement alone for our salvation (plus nothing)--than have us religiously and self-righteously punishing and torturing ourselves with the flesh's efforts to appease His wrath.

[Puritan quote of the day: "How many sweet stories of love and grace may you read in this little book, the Bible?" --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/2-4/12 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! So as to help prepare us for the Lord's Day's church worship, here are some good words from the great Jonathan Edwards, as they are taken from his sermon entitled, "God Glorified in Man's Dependence":

"The grace of God in bestowing this gift [of grace] is most free. God was under no obligation to bestow it. He might have rejected fallen man as He did the fallen angels. We never did anything to merit it; it was given while we were yet enemies, and before we had so much as repented. It was from the love of God, who saw no excellency in us to attract it; and it was without expectation of ever being requited for it. And it is from mere grace that the benefits of Christ are applied to such and such particular persons. Those who are called and sanctified are to attribute it to the good pleasure of God's goodness alone, by which they are distinguished. He is sovereign, and has mercy on who He will have mercy."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thurs., 11/1/12 Devotion (Ps. 121:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 121:2, where we read these words:

"My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."

On the face of it, this is a rather audacious statement for anyone to make: "*My* help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." But the sincere Christian has not only the right, but even the responsi-bility to assert such a claim. God's making of heaven and earth was a pretty significant accomplishment; but His making of even one re-deemed believer from the slime pit of fallen humanity, is infinitely *more* remarkable.

Why would such a powerful God allow His servants to have any need for "help" at all? So as to keep us near to Him; and to remind us that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, (2 Cor. 12:9a).

[Puritan quote of the day: "God calls for no more from you than He is willing to give unto you." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]