Monday, December 31, 2012

Mon., 12/31/12 Devotion (Rev. 22:17)

Happy New Year, everyone!

Today's encouragement comes from Revelation 22:17, where we read these words:

"And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely."

In this one little verse, in the very last chapter of the Bible, we have God's perfect formula for evangelism, and living the Christian faith (in general). And that is, simply "Coming" to Christ, by grace through faith--with nothing else in our hands (as payment for our sins).

And note that God's three mighty forces are all at work here, inviting us to come to Jesus: the "[Holy] Spirit," the Church ("Bride"), and
the Word (the preached Scripture itself). If we take any one of these blessed provisions away, we not only cannot come to Jesus, we do not possess Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When God shines in the use of means, then the soul is, as it were, in heaven." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Friday, December 28, 2012

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

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday, God's holy day. Let us be sure to keep the commandment, and worship the Lord. In order to encourage us in this, here are some good words from Jonathan Edwards, taken from his sermon entitled, "Christians a Chosen Generation":

"Christians are of so different a nature and temper from the rest of the world. The truly godly are very different in their disposition from others. They hate those things that the rest of the world loves, and love those things for which the rest of the world has no relish, inso-much that others are ready to wonder that they should place any hap-piness in a strict observance of the self-denying duties of religion. They wonder what delight they can take in spending so much time in meditation and prayer, and that they do not place happiness in those things which themselves do. 1 Peter 4:4: 'Wherein they think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speak-ing evil of you.' But the reason is that they are of a different race, and so drive different dispositions."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thurs., 12/27/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 32:1)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 32:1, which says this (concerning Hezekiah and the people of Judah):

"After these deeds of [Hezekiah's] faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah; he encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them over to himself."

How odd. Hezekiah had just effected some of the most thoroughgoing God-honoring reforms of all time, and "after these deeds of faithful-ness," a foreign invader is on his doorstep. Let us beware of anyone who tells us that if we do certain religious things, or follow certain patterns, definite (positive) results will inevitably follow. (They are usually trying to sell us something.)

The truth is that God's providences are mysterious, and hard to under-stand. We may truly honor God; and He may see it best to immediate-ly send us some fresh trouble. But on this we can stand: The Lord knows what is best for His children.

[Puritan quote of the day: "They have armies on their side, and strength and powers of the world on their side; but we have truth and God on our side!" --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wed., 12/26/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 31:20-21)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 31:20 & 21, where we read these words:

"Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the LORD his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered."

Hezekiah's reforms, mentioned in this chapter, had been significant. He had the idol worship places torn down, the clergy restored and re-organized, and the worship of the true God re-instituted in Judah. Be-cause of his good example, the house of God began to thrive again. Hezekiah was given by God a good heart--and the king's actions re-flected this, in his zealous conviction.

The result was that Hezekiah "prospered." His troubles and enemies did not go away, as we will see in the very first verse of the next chapter--but the king was safe in God, and his life was abundantly blessed. Let us follow this same pattern, through our faith in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If the church is beautiful beyond all other of the children of men, how beautiful is Jesus Christ, from whom the church derives all its comeliness?" --Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mon., 12/24/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 29:5b)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 29:5b, where we read these words:

" . . . and carry out the rubbish from the holy place."

What a great command (above), given by King Hezekiah, to the Le-vites. God would *still* have us, His true and redeemed churchmen, "carry out the rubbish" from the "holy place." First of all, may all Christ's faithful clergy do all they can, to expunge the church and its worship from all the rubbish that has clogged the sanctuary (as it were). (Let us go back to the gospel.)

And secondarily, let all God's people cleanse their hearts, by grace through faith in Jesus' blood atonement. His blood washes away all our sin. What a good time for us to do so--at this blessed season.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is the desire of a holy person to be cleansed, not only from public, but also from private and secret sins." --Obadiah Sedgwick, in, "The Anatomy of Secret Sins"]

Friday, December 21, 2012

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

Praise the Lord--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Ten Commandments" book:

"Each Sabbath may be the last we shall ever keep. We may go from the place of hearing to the place of judging--and shall not we give reverend attention to the word? Did we think when we come into God's house 'Perhaps this will be the last time that ever God will counsel us about our souls'; and before another sermon death's alarm will sound in our ears; with what attention and devotion should we feel, and our affections would be all on fire in hearing!

"You must give an account for every sermon you hear. 'Give an account of your stewardship,' (Lk. 16:2). So will God say, 'Give an account of your hearing. Have you been affected with the word? Have you profit-ed by it?' How can we give a good account, if we have been distracted in hearing, and have not taken notice of what has been said to us? The judge to whom we must give an account is God. Were we to give account to man, we might falsify accounts; but we must give an ac-count to God. . . . "

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thurs., 12/20/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 24:18)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 24:18, where we read these words:

"Therefore they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass."

It is sad when professing Christians leave Christ, His church, His gos-pel, His word, His Sabbath, His worship, and all His means of grace--to go worship rocks, sticks, and pieces of dirt. But such is the ten-dency of the fallen human heart.

Was there any hope for these (mentioned above), who had so devalu-ed their souls with idolatry? There *was* hope: but it called for faith and repentance. May we who are the beneficiaries of so much grace in Christ not show ingratitude by leaving God, but rather humbly cling to Him (in Jesus).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ makes us wise to ponder and weigh things, and to rank and order them accordingly . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wed., 12/19/12 Devotion (Zech. 6:12b)

Today's encouragement comes from Zechariah 6:12b, where we read these words:

"Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the LORD."

This OT Messianic prophecy is perfectly fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ. The Son of God came from heaven, planted Himself in the fal-len earth, and has spread out over all the globe (through the exten-sion of His church--as she preaches the gospel of grace).

That exact same pattern is the one for all true Christian churchmen to follow: be grounded (by grace through faith) in Jesus, be faithful members of His body, and from there bear fruit (which is the expan-sion of His kingdom [church]).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Can Christ forget Himself? We are His full-ness, as He is ours." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tues., 12/18/12 Devotion (Jn. 8:24b)

Today's encouragement comes from John 8:24b, where we find our Lord Jesus saying this:

" . . . For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

Jesus is speaking to very religious people here. It is interesting that He does *not* say, "If you don't straighten-up your acts you will
die . . . "; or, "If you don't do enough good deeds you will die . . . "; or, "If you aren't more religious you will die . . . " Instead, Christ de-mands one thing (only): believing that He (Jesus) is the Son of God--or else we will die in our sins.

Why is this so hard for us sinners to grasp? The gospel is so simple that self-righteous people find it highly offensive. Jesus' blood atonement virtually *excludes* anything that we could add to it, via works or self-sacrifice, etc. This gospel brings God glory, and us good, (but we get no credit for our salvation).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Zeal makes the blood rise when God's honor is impeached. . . . He who zealously loves his friend cannot bear to hear him spoken against and be silent." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mon., 12/17/12 Devotion (Jn. 7:12a, 43)

Today's encouragement comes from John 7:12a & 43, where we read these words:

"And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him [Jesus]. . . . So there was a division among the people because of Him."

Our Lord Jesus Christ is *the* most controversial Person to ever exist. To this day, He divides people from one another--when He wrenches His children away from their sin, their idols, and whatever else ails them. Christ is also the Great Unifier: but the *only* people He posi-tively brings together are His faithful churchmen.

The Redeemer has no interest in satisfying anyone but His Father, and, through His Spirit, His church. Because of this, those who wish to deal with Christ on any terms other than saving faith find themselves flabbergasted, confused, and in disarray. May we be "one" with Christ, as we find ourselves "in" Him, by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A child of God makes his estate [viz. all that he owns] a golden clasp to bind his heart faster to God, a foot-stool to raise him up higher towards heaven." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Friday, December 14, 2012

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

Ya-hoo--Sunday is almost here! We get to worship God, corporately! In order to help get us ready for church, here is the incomparable Thom-as Watson, from his work entitled, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God":

"And as Christ makes the way for us into the Holy of Holies by His in-carnation: so by His crucifixion, He died to make God and us friends. The divine law being infringed, God's justice was provoked, and satis-faction was demanded, before we could approach to God in an amic-able way. Now here Christ as our Priest shed His blood for our sins, and so made the atonement, (Col. 1:20): 'Having made peace through the blood of His cross.' As Joseph being so great at court, made way for all his brethren to draw near into the king's presence,
(Gen. 47:2)--so Jesus Christ is our Joseph, who makes the way for us by His blood, that we may now come near into God's presence. Through Christ, God is pleased with us; He holds forth the golden scepter, that we may draw near, and touch the top of the scepter."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thurs., 12/13/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 15:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 15:7, where we read these words:

"But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!"

Judah's prophet Oded spoke these words (above) to the faithful, re-forming King Asa. Sometimes, we need to be encouraged to be strong--especially when we are engaged in difficult, unpopular, and counter-cultural labors. Asa would soon be dismantling more idolatry in Judah, and he needed God's (and His prophet's) helpful words.

What are we doing for Christ? Does it rile people up? Does this mean we should stop? No. Let us do our ministry faithfully; and perform it with as little offense as possible; but let us discharge it with a firm and unswerving commitment to our Redeemer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Job the sufferer was more renowned than Alexander the conqueror." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wed., 12/12/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 13:8a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 13:8a, where we read these words:

"And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD, which is in the hand of the sons of David . . . "

Judah's king Abijah is here warning Israel's idolatrous king Jeroboam, that it is futile to fight against the Lord and His church. Jeroboam (the bad guy) had twice the number of soldiers as Abijah (the good guy) had; and yet God gave Abijah a great and resounding victory, (see v. 15 ff.).

The church may be way outnumbered by the world (there is no doubt about that)--but the church has Jesus, the Great "Son of David" on her side. Therefore, we should take encouragement; and fight the battles of our Lord--knowing that He is our victorious Captain.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer [that] fetched the angel." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tues., 12/11/10 Devotion (2 Chron. 12:12)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 12:12, which says this:

"When he [King Rehoboam] humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned from him, so as not to destroy him completely; and things also went well in Judah."

It is amazing, what a little (but genuine) humility will do for any one of us. God was about ready to "clean Rehoboam's clock" for his idolat-ry--but when the prophet came and rebuked him, he (the king) re-pented. God seems to be practically unable to look on a contrite soul with anything but grace, mercy, and divine pity.

This is the glory of the faithful churched Christian: he or she can come to God in Christ alone--which is the ultimate expression of sincere hu-mility. No works are trusted in, nor alleged self-righteousness--only the righteousness of the Savior (plus nothing).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Are your sins high as heaven? The mercies of God are above the heavens." --Isaac Ambrose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mon., 12/10/12 Devotion (Lk. 24:27)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 24:27, where we find these words:

"And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He [Christ] expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."

Why did Jesus employ the Scriptures (only), when He was teaching His disciples all things concerning Himself? Why did He not use tradition, councils, and the opinions of ancient church leaders? Because those sources were not inspired of God--they had no authority over His dis-ciples' consciences.

Let us be sure we garner what we are going to know about God from the Holy Scriptures. This will require the ministry of the church, to be sure--but your ministers, if they are faithful, will be seeking to preach the Christ revealed to us in His resurrection and His Holy Book.

[Puritan quote of the day: "None can better discover Satan's sleights and policies, than those who have been long in the fencing-school of temptation." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/7-9/12 Devotion

Wahoo! Sunday's almost here. Here is Thomas Watson, from "All Things for Good," or, "A Divine Cordial":

"The word preached works for good. It is a savour of life, it is a soul transforming word. It assimilates the heart into Christ's likeness; it produces assurance. 'Our gospel came to you not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance,' (1 Thess. 1:5). It is the chariot of salvation.

"Prayer works for good. Prayer is the bellows of the affection; it blows up holy desires and ardours of soul. Prayer has power with God. It is a key that unlocks the treasury of God's mercy. Prayer keeps the heart open to God, and shut to sin; it assuages the intemperate hearts and swellings of lust. It was Luther's counsel to a friend, when he perceiv-ed a temptation begin to arise, to betake himself to prayer. Prayer is the Christian's gun, which he discharges against his enemies. Prayer is the sovereign medicine of the soul. Prayer sanctifies every mercy (1 Tim. 4:5). It is the dispeller of sorrow: by venting the grief it eases the heart. When Hannah had prayed, 'She went away, and was no more sad,' (1 Sam. 1:18). And if it has these rare effects, then it works for good."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thurs., 12/6/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 6:18a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 6:18a, where we read these words:

"But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? . . . "

Solomon's question, asked during his prayer of the dedication of the temple, was fully and finally answered when Jesus Christ came to earth in the incarnation, (which we celebrate at Christmas). Indeed, God *does* dwell with people on earth, even today--in and through the glorious Son of God who is the Head of His church.

Whatever struggle or difficulty we may be facing today may be much eased by the faithful reflection of our souls on this blessed truth: that God is with us, here and now, in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Lord, let the [magnet] of Your Spirit draw my heart upward. Lord, dig the earth out of my heart; teach me how to possess the world, and not love it; how to hold it in my hand, and not let it get into my heart." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Com-mandments"]

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wed., 12/5/12 Devotion (Lk. 19:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 19:5, where we read these words:

"And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him [Zac-chaeus], and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.' "

This is the only place in the Gospels where I can recall that the Son of God actually "looked up" at any man. Zacchaeus, the once-proud, swindling tax collector, is now humbled, and honored (by Christ's pre-sence in his heart, and his house).

Zacchaeus' conversion was thorough. He was a new man. From now on, the former-cheater would now always "look up" at the blessed Savior, and give Him all the glory and honor. May we do the same.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Surely, did the devil know how much bene-fit accrues to the saints by temptation, he would forbear to tempt."
--Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tues., 12/4/12 Devotion (2 Chron. 3:8a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 3:8a, where we read these words:

"And he [Solomon] made the Most Holy Place. . . . "

What a remarkable statement (above). A fallen man, a sinner, would make the most holy place--the very pattern of what exists in heaven?! God honors us, by giving us such amazing privileges. Think of it: Mary, a fallen soul, bears the sinless Christ child. We, depraved sinners (in ourselves), become the vessels of the blessed Holy Spirit, (see 2 Cor. 4:7).

The redeemed church--even now--is nestled in the very bosom of the Holy Trinity, in that God's children are *in* the Son of God, who is now both God and man. Do we need "self-esteem"? Here is where to find it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not how much we do, but how much we love." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mon., 12/3/12 Devotion (1 Jn. 2:2a)

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

"And He [Christ] Himself is the propitiation for our sins . . . "

"Propitiation" means atonement, sacrifice, satisfaction. Jesus Christ Himself, plus nothing, is the "propitiation" for the sins of all God's elect church, who will be saved in time and space. Our works are not our propitiation. Our efforts are not. Our "working together with God" is not.

Christ *alone* Himself satisfies God's wrath against sin; and He (Jesus) bore the punishment for the redeemed. Therefore, let us forever put away all false and God-dishonoring "gospels" of works; and let us re-joice in the fact that we have a real and blessed Savior.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God] gave His only begotten Son to be a propitiation for our sin, and accepted His suffering instead of ours."
--John Shower, in, "God's Thoughts and Ways are Above ours"]