Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tues., 12/31/13 Devotion (Rev. 22:17)

Happy New Year!

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 religion (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 together here, inviting us to come to Jesus: the "Spirit," the Church ("Bride"), and the Word (the preached Scripture itself). If we take any one of these bless-ed provisions away, we not only cannot come to Jesus, we do not pos-sess 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"]

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mon., 12/30/13 Devotion (2 Chron. 35:21)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 35:21, where we read these words:

"But he [the king of Egypt] sent messengers to him [King Josiah of Judah], saying, 'What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.' "

This is a rather odd case (above). The great and godly Josiah does not believe the words of the pagan pharaoh of Egypt, and it ends up cost-ing him (Josiah) his life. God can and does sometimes employ even the heathen for His own purposes. Those who are in the church cove-nant should be aware of this, and we should be loathe to assume that the Lord cannot (on occasion) speak through them, (those outside the covenant).

Josiah ends up dying in the (unnecessary) battle he insisted on having with Egypt. Let us not "meddle" where we do not belong. In all things, let us be sure to seek God's guidance.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Though [David] found God present with him in exile, yet there is a sweeter presence of Him in His ordinances."
--Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/27-29/13 Devotion

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

"Let us contemplate the excellencies of God. He is the ‘God of glory,’ (Ps. 29:3). He is full of orient beauty--in comparison of whom both an-gels and men are but as the ‘small dust of the balance.’ He is the ‘God of love,’ (2 Cor. 13:11). God triumphs in acts of mercy. Well may this encourage us in our approaches to Him who delights to display the banner of free grace to sinners. If we should hear of a person of honour who was of a lovely disposition, obliging all that came to him by acts of kindness and civility, it would make us ambitiously desirous to ingrati-ate ourselves with him and to obtain his acquaintance. God is the most sovereign good, the wonder of love, ready to diffuse the silver streams of His bounty to indigent creatures. This, if anything, will make us will-ing to draw near to Him and acquiesce in Him as the centre of felicity.

"If we would draw near to God, let us study our own wants. Let us con-sider in what need we stand for God and that we cannot be happy with-out Him. The prodigal never drew near to his father, until he began to be in want, (Lk. 15:17). A proud sinner, who was never convinced of his want, minds not to come near God; he [thinks he has] a stock of his own to live upon . . . "

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tues., 12/24/13 Devotion (2 Chron. 29:5b)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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

" . . . Sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place."

Chapter 29 of 2 Chronicles gives the model for restoration of the world, following years of apostasy and sin. The doors of the church are repair-ed and opened; the ministers are gathered and consecrated to the Lord; and the people come, contribute, and worship (according to God's own design).

But one of the first necessities is the carrying out of the "rubbish from the holy place," (see above). Let the church officers among us do all that we can, to rid the church and her worship of all the man-made clut-ter that has deprived the God of heaven of His rightful due. But before we do that, let us cleanse our own hearts, in the purifying blood of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Tell me, saints, is it not a more sweet, com-fortable, and delightful thing to look more upon one another's graces than upon one another's infirmities?" --Thomas Brooks, in, "United we Stand"]

Monday, December 23, 2013

Mon., 12/23/13 Devotion (Jn. 13:1b)

Today's encouragement comes from John 13:1b, where we read these words:

" . . . Having loved His own who were in the world, He [Christ] loved them to the end."

This is a beautiful phrase. The Lord Jesus loves His churchmen who are yet "in the world," viz. down here, where it is tough, and where sin and the fall still assault us. This is because the church is "His own." He possesses us, by virtue of His redemption of our souls. And Christ loves us "to the end." He does not give up on us, just because we stumble around, and fail a lot of times.

Is this not a grand and glorious Savior that we serve!? Even as He was anticipating His most grievous suffering (on the cross), He was thinking of His church, and serving us. Let all His people love Christ in sincer-ity; and may we find our peace only in Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "And in the dispensing of the gospel, espe-cially in the preaching and unfolding of the Word, the riches of God in Christ are unfolded . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/20-22/13 Devotion

What could be better than Christmas? The Lord's Day! Wahoo! In order to get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Christian Soldier"; or, "Taking Heaven by Storm":

"The second duty of religion wherein we must provoke ourselves, is, in HEARING OF THE WORD. We may bring our bodies to the word with ease, but not our hearts--without offering violence to ourselves. When we come to the word preached, we come to a business of the highest importance, therefore we should stir up ourselves and hear with the greatest devotion. Constantine the emperor was noted for his reverent attention to the word. Luke 19:48 [says]: 'All the people were very at-tentive to hear Him [Jesus].' In the Greek it is 'they hung upon His lip.' When the word is dispensed, we are to lift up the everlasting doors of our hearts that the King of glory may enter in."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thurs., 12/19/13 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 fulfilled perfectly and exclusively in our Lord Jesus Christ. The Son of God came from heaven, "planted" Him-self in the fallen earth, and has spread out over all the globe (through the extension of His church--as she preaches the gospel of grace).

Basically, that exact same pattern is the one for all true churchmen to follow today (and in every age): to be grounded (by grace through faith) in Jesus; to be faithful members of His body; and from there to bear much fruit (which is the expansion 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"]

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wed., 12/18/13 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 demands 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 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"]

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tues., 12/17/13 Devotion (2 Chron. 20:12b, c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 20:12b & c, where we read these words:

" . . . For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."

What a candid saying, "Nor do we know what to do." This is how we often feel, when we are faced with overwhelming forces that are array-ed against us, and that are threatening our peace and security. Jeho-shaphat, the godly king of Judah who uttered this prayer (above), actu-ally *did* know that he was to trust the Lord, and rest in Him, etc.--but he did not know how this was to *practically* manifest itself (in such a stressful situation).

So it may be for some of us churchmen today. What are we to do, es-pecially when we "do not know what to do"? In v. 17 of this same chap-ter, the people simply "stood still." In v. 22, they sang praises to God. The result: the Lord gave them a big victory. He still does this for His church today!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sin feeds the sinner with delightful objects and then makes him mortgage his soul." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mon., 12/16/13 Devotion (Jn. 6:66-68)

Today's encouragement comes from the wonderful interchange be-tween Christ and His disciples, as it is found in John 6:66-68:

"From that time many of [Christ's] disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?' But Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.' "

This is a very poignant scene in the ministry of the Messiah. After in-tentionally paring-down the numbers of His "disciples" (among the mul-titude) by teaching them that they would have to ingest Him into their beings, and that God alone could draw them to Himself, etc.--the Lord Jesus is left with just a few remaining hearty souls, (one of whom was Judas, who, of course, was not faithful).

Peter's confession, representing the true church throughout all ages, is not only brilliantly insightful, but it was also eminently practical: there is nowhere else to go, in this world, but to Jesus--unless one prefers hell.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When the Word comes to any place, the kingdom of heaven is said to come. . . . and Christ rules in it by the preaching of the gospel." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remis-sion"]

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/13-15/13 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is fast approaching. In order to help prepare us for the church's worship of Almighty God, here is Thomas Watson, from his "Heaven Taken by Storm" book:

"When this blessed [Sabbath] day approaches, we must lift up our heart in thankfulness to God, that He has put another price into our hands for gaining heavenly wisdom. These are our spiritual harvest-days. Now the wind of God's Spirit blows upon the sails of our affec-tions, and we may be much further on in our heavenly voyage. Chris-tian, lift up your heart to God in thankfulness, that He has given you another golden season, and be sure you improve it. It may be the last. Seasons of grace are not like the tide; if a man misses one tide, he may have another. . . .

"This day approaching, we must in the morning dress and fit our souls for the receiving of the Word. The people of Israel must wash their gar-ments before the law was delivered to them. Our hearts must be wash-ed by prayer and repentance, since the oracles of God are about to be delivered to us."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thurs., 12/12/13 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 is certainly 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"]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wed., 12/11/13 Devotion (Jn. 1:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from John 1:14a, where we read these amazing words:

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . "

This word "Flesh" is very strong. It connotes a sense of the Son of God fully entering into our fallenness and its resulting misery, etc.--yet, of course, with no sin of His own (either original or actual). The histor-ical fact of the incarnation of the God-Man has *perpetual* power. Just because the flesh-bound Messiah today is in heaven, this does not mean that He is not *just as* present and active in His church today (as He was in the days of His bodily earthly sojourn).

Therefore, in this joyous Advent season, let all God's churchmen re-member that the One who "became flesh" for us is *still* with us. He has made His church "bone of His bone," etc., (cf. Eph. 5:30).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The happiness of man consists in commun-ion with God and conformity to Him." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tues., 12/10/13 Devotion (Lk. 24:5b)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 24:5b, where we read these words, spoken by the angels at Jesus' empty tomb:

" . . . Why do you seek the living among the dead?"

This is still a germane question for us, today. How often do we seek "Christ" among dead things: bad theology, superstition, and putrid forms of false religion? The Living One, Jesus, is *just* that: the *Liv-ing* One. He has conquered death--even the death of every faithful churchman. Therefore, let us find Him where He *is*, and not where He is not.

Jesus lives in the highest heaven, in His risen and glorified body; but He also lives in the humblest hearts of His churchmen, through His re-siding Spirit. He also lives in His church, and He may be found there every Sunday. Therefore, let us seek Jesus where He is. He will never turn away anyone who sincerely desires Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God has reserved us to these glorious times, better than our forefathers ever saw." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glo-rious Freedom"]

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mon., 12/9/13 Devotion (Lk. 23:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 23:12, where we read these words:

"That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other."

Have you ever considered that the devil does quite well at holding his forces together? (God's people could learn a lesson from this fact. We ought to be infinitely *more* united around Jesus, and His church's doctrine, than Satan and his followers are, around their hatred for Christ.)

What made Herod and Pilate like each other? Not their affinity for Jeru-salem's restaurants. Instead, they stood arm-in-arm in opposition to the stated Kingship of Jesus. This is why even today we find Christian hypocrites "in bed" with Muslims, atheists, perverts, and all other un-believers. They are united in their resistance to our unconquerable Sov-ereign, Christ the Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The work and business of ministers of the gospel is, as it were, that of servants: to wash and cleanse the souls of men; for this is done by the preaching of the Word, which is their main business." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "Christ the Example of Ministers"]

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/6-8/13 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday!  Here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Ten Commandments" book:

"We keep the Sabbath Day holy, by 'consecrating and dedicating' this day to the 'service of the High God.' It is good to rest on the Sabbath Day from the works of our calling; but if we rest from labor and do no more, the ox and the ass keep the Sabbath as well as we; for they rest from labor. We must dedicate the day to God; we must not only 'keep a Sabbath,' but 'sanctify' a Sabbath. Sabbath-sanctification consists in two things: (1) Solemn preparation for it. If a prince were to come to your house, what preparation would you make for his entertainment! You would sweep the house, wash the floor, adorn the room with the richest tapestry and hangings, that there might be something suitable to the state and dignity of so great a person.

"On the blessed Sabbath, God intends to have sweet communion with you; He seems to say to you, as Christ to Zacchaeus, 'Make haste and come down, for this day I must abide at your house,' (Luke 19:5). Now, what preparation should you make for entertaining this King of glory? When Saturday evening approaches, sound a retreat; call your minds off from the world and summon your thoughts together, to think of the great work of the approaching day. Purge out all unclean affec-tions, which may indispose you for the work of the Sabbath. Evening preparation will be like the tuning of an instrument, it will fit the heart better for the duties of the ensuing Sabbath."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thurs., 12/5/13 Devotion (1 Jn. 4:17)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 4:17, where we read these amazing words:

"Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have bold-ness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world."

This is a remarkable verse (above). The love God has for His church-men who trust in Jesus alone is so profound that it totally chases-out any fear of the great Judgment Day. On top of this, John teaches us here that this is at least partly because [quote], "As He [Christ] is, so are we in *this* world." (In other words, as Christ is free and glorified in heaven; so is the true church on earth.)

Faithful churched Christians who sincerely trust Jesus Christ alone have no reason to fear death, or judgment. For them to do so is a great affront to God the Father. After all, He has already poured out all His wrath on His Son. There is no more left for us, the children of God.

[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"]

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wed., 12/4/13 Devotion (Lk. 18:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 18:1, where we read these words:

"Then He [Jesus] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart . . . "

What is it about prayer, that God so earnestly enjoins it on us? Mostly, prayer is designed to keep us in *contact* with God. If all was well with us all the time, we would grow remiss in prayer, and very independent of the Lord. It may well be that our Heavenly Father delays answering some of our prayers solely because He wants us still coming back to Him.

If we weary in prayer, and give up on it--it is the same thing (practical-ly-speaking) on giving up on one's belief in Christ. That is a serious matter. May we keep praying to God, all the while leaving our requests in His capable, sovereign, and holy hands.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A man full of grace has Christ in his heart, and the world under his feet; grace humbles, yet elevates." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon entitled, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tues., 12/3/13 Devotion (Nah. 1:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Nahum 1:15, where we read these words:

"Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good tidings, who proclaims peace! O Judah, keep your appointed feasts, perform your vows. For the wicked one shall no more pass through you; he is utterly cut off."

Nahum is proclaiming the gospel message of Christ's grace here. He is also instructing the church to persevere, even under the hardships (of the then) Assyrian oppression. The prophet is assuring the people of God that the enemy will be "cut off," that he will not continue to suc-ceed against them.

This is a good pattern for us today, as well. The foes of the church are certainly afoot, but the gospel is still proclaimed. God will exalt His Son in His church; and He will overthrow all of His enemies (in His time).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Keep conscience clear and clean from se-cret sins. With what face can we go to a friend to whom we have given any secret affront? And will you be so bold as to come before the God of heaven when He knows you maintain some secret sin in your hearts?" --Samuel Lee, in, "Secret Prayer Successfully Managed"]

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mon., 12/2/13 Devotion (Lk. 16:31)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 16:31, where we read these words:

"But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, nei-ther will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "

No one was ever converted to the True Religion on the basis of be-holding miracles--even the great one of Jesus' bodily resurrection. In-stead, all those who are ever justified are so on the basis of the great miracle of regeneration (or new birth). No one believes the Bible, either, until or unless the Holy Spirit gives them Christ's righteousness (and the subsequent new nature in Him).

Therefore, let us not be surprised at the recalcitrant blindness and re-bellion of unbelievers, who simply *will* not believe. The truth is they *cannot* believe, until God sovereignly calls them. Let us ask the Lord to do this for all our lost friends.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now Christ and the church are all one. They make but one mystical body. The church is the queen, and Christ is the King." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/29-12/1/13 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his incomparable book, "A Body of Di-vinity":

"See in this, as in a transparent glass, the love of Christ to the elect. He came to redeem them; and died intentionally for them. Were it not great love for a king's son to pay a great sum of money to redeem a captive? But that he should be content to be a prisoner in his stead, and die for his ransom; this were matter of wonder. Jesus Christ has done all this, He has written His love in characters of blood. It had been much for Christ to speak a good word to His Father for us, but He knew that was not enough to redeem us. Though a word speaking made a world, yet it would not redeem a sinner. 'Without shedding of blood there is no remission,' (Heb 9:22)."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thurs., 11/28/13 Devotion (Lk. 12:1b)

Happy Thanksgiving!

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 hy-pocrisy) because He knew that it could, and would destroy His follow-ers if it was not addressed head-on. The pharisees' "leaven," (or teach-ing) 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 troubles, and leave them there." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wed., 11/27/13 Devotion (Lk. 11:37)

Happy Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, (that great American, and Puritan holiday)!

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 11:37, fittingly, in this sea-son.  There, we read these words:

"And as [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 first ad-vent on earth. The pharisees--though short on humility--were typically long on show (and abundance). What do we learn from Christ's willing-ness to eat, even with a pharisee? That the gospel is to go to *all* sorts of people--particularly those in the very *worst* spiritual condi-tions (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"]

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tues., 11/26/13 Devotion (Lk. 10:21a)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 10:21a, where we read these few words:

"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth . . . ' "

Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself often thanked His Heavenly Father for the various blessings and mercies that were wrought during the time of the Messiah's first advent. All genuine Spirit-filled Christian living rend-ers thanksgiving to God. There is almost nothing more wretched and disgusting, than a thankless, graceless person.

In this Thanksgiving Week, marking the one great American Puritan holiday, let us follow not only our excellent Pilgrim spiritual fathers; but even much more, our Lord, King, Savior, and Head of the church, the Lord Jesus--by giving heartfelt and sincere thanks to God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justification admits of no degrees. No, not in heaven--you are not more justified there than you are here. You are now as perfectly justified as ever and as accepted of Christ as ever."
--Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mon., 11/25/13 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 dis-pleased the prophet greatly.

True gratitude that honors God is universal and uniform. This does not mean that we churchmen 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, "Glo-rious Freedom"]

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/22-24/13 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is almost here. In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Lord's Prayer" book:

"If all be a gift, then it is not a debt, and we cannot say to God as that creditor who said, 'Pay me what you owe,' (Matt. 18:28). Who can make God a debtor, or do any act that is obliging and meritorious? Whatever we receive from God is a gift; we can give nothing to Him but what He has given to us. 'All things come from You, and of Your own have we given to You, ' (1 Chron. 29:14).

"David and his people offered to the building of God's house gold and silver, but they offered nothing but what God had given them. 'Of Your own have we given You.' If we love God, it is He that has given us a heart to love Him. If we praise Him, He both gives us the organ of tongue, and puts it in tune. If we give alms to others, He has given alms to us first, so that we may say, 'We offer, O Lord, of Your own to You.' Is all a gift, how absurd, then, is the doctrine of merit? . . . We cannot deserve a bit of bread, much less a crown of glory. If all be a gift, then merit is exploded, and shut out of doors."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thurs., 11/21/13 Devotion (Lk. 5:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 5:8, where we read these words:

"When Simon Peter saw it [the miraculous catch of fish], he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!' "

Here is an irony: Peter knows himself to be a sinner, so he implores his Redeemer to "depart from [him]." Thankfully, Christ did *not* do as Peter suggested. If our Savior "departed" from us every time we sin-ned, we would never have Him near us, ever.

True humility--which Peter was to learn more fully later--is not in seek-ing Christ's "departure" because of the commission of sins. Rather, it is begging His abiding with us, despite them. Peter does do three things very well here: he worships Christ, he confesses his sinfulness, and he calls Jesus "Lord."

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are no sins God's people are more subject to than unbelief and impatience." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wed., 11/20/13 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 up-on Jesus intently is in church on Sunday. In today's text (above), the Lord 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 leaving church, let us love and follow the Savior, (rather than seek to throw Him off the cliff, as the Nazarenes had hoped to do).

[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"]

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tues., 11/19/13 Devotion (1 Chron. 14:12)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 14:12, where we read these words:

"And when they [the Philistines] left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire."

In my opinion, this is one of the funniest verses in all the Bible. The doltish Philistines lug their gods onto the battlefield, as they seek to take on David and the Israelites--and just as soon as they get routed, the Philistines abandon their gods. What good are gods like that? They are nothing but a burden.

David did the right thing with the Philistine false gods: he burned them up. May we be just as ruthless with our abominable idols, too. They may appear to be a bit more "sophisticated" than the Philistine gods, but they are just as despicable.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Affliction does that which the Word many times will not, it 'opens the ear to discipline,' (Job 36:10)." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mon., 11/18/13 Devotion (Lk. 2:10-11)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 2:10 & 11, where we read these great words:

"Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.' "

These familiar Advent season words are applicable to the church, and to the world all the time. When we are given to fear, let us remember that overwhelming joy has been given to us--and not only to us, but to "All people." But this heavenly comfort and consolation has a Name, Christ, who is "born to [us]" in time and space.

Therefore, it matters not so much what we face today, as much as it does the One we direct our faces to (in faith). If we would but look to Jesus today, and simply ask for His help--surely we will share in the joy of His incarnation and atonement (of sinners).

[Puritan quote of the day: "And by the Spirit we have the beginnings of these [liberties] in this world, too. For, what is peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost? Is it not the beginnings of heaven . . . ?" --Rich-ard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/15-17/13 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here! To help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from "The Art of Divine Contentment":

"The humble man is the contented man; if his estate be low, his heart is lower than his estate, therefore be content. If his esteem in the world be low, he that is little in his own eyes will not be much troubled to be little in the eyes of others. He has a meaner opinion of himself, than others can have of him. The humble man studies his own unworthi-ness; he looks upon himself as 'less than the least of God's mercies,' (Gen. 32:10); and then a little will content him. He cries out with Paul, that he is the chief of sinners, (1 Tim. 1:15). Therefore do not murmur, but admire. He does not say his comforts are small, but his sins are great. He thinks it is mercy he is out of hell, therefore he is contented. He does not go to carve out a more happy condition to himself; he knows the worst piece God cuts him is better than he deserves."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thurs., 11/14/13 Devotion (Heb. 9:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 9:12, where we read these words:

"Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood [Christ] entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal re-demption."

Jesus Christ did not resort to anything short of the shedding of His own precious blood, to procure the atonement (for His elect church) that would perfectly assuage the righteous wrath of God. Jesus bore all the hell, damnation, and torment that the redeemed would have had to shoulder themselves. Now, because of His finished work, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Rom. 8:1).

This ultimate sacrifice occurred once--never to be repeated again, (as the inferior sacrifices had to be in the Old Covenant). If we are children of grace, let us marvel that our Lord is such a God of love.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Never wonder, then, or be offended to see so many fall off from God. Few men have choice spirits." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wed., 11/13/13 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 law-less deeds [He] will remember no more." These are amazing and won-derful promises, but they only apply to those who trust in Jesus alone for their salvation.

Let all faithful churchmen 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 cor-rupt disposition." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tues., 11/12/13 Devotion (Ps. 144:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 144:15, where we read these words:

"Happy are the people who are in such a state; happy are the people whose God is the LORD!"

What "state" does the psalmist (David) have in mind, here? The state of temporal bliss, made possible through God's divine protection from His (and our) enemies. This is clear, from the verses that precede v. 15 (above). This doctrine is interesting, because sometimes we are hesitant to ascribe "happiness" to things pertaining to *this* life. But that type of religious outlook is more akin to Buddhism, than it is to authentic Christianity.

The church, "whose God is the Lord," is a blessed community. Not only do we have all the riches of glory, to be enjoyed in heaven--but we already have all the abundance of grace (in all its perfection in Jesus), to be relished here on earth.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Proud innocence is worse than humble sin, and I would rather see a man tainted with many sins, if he is humbled for them and strives against them, than another puffed up and bragging to others of his freedom from gross and notorious enormities." --Rich-ard Harris, in, "The Way to True Happiness"]

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mon., 11/11/13 Devotion (Ps. 143:8a, c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 143:8a & c, where we read these words:

"Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning . . . Cause me to know the way in which I should walk . . . "

We need to "hear" from God every morning, so that we know how to live (throughout the rest of the day). How do we "hear" from God? We wake up, and greet Him in prayer. The Lord then, through His Spirit, communicates with our spirits. How? In several ways: among them, He may bring to our remembrance what we heard from the pulpit the pre-vious Lord's Day, and/or He may communicate to us through His scrip-ture (which we should try to read everyday).

And notice: we need to hear God's "lovingkindness" in the AM. Why? Because we desperately need His encouragement (especially at that critical time).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Spirit of God is a victorious Spirit, free-ing the soul from base fears of any creature." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/8-11/13 Devotion

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

"Let us contemplate the excellencies of God. He is the ‘God of glory,’ (Ps. 29:3). He is full of orient beauty--in comparison of whom both angels and men are but as the ‘small dust of the balance.’ He is the ‘God of love,’ (2 Cor. 13:11). God triumphs in acts of mercy. Well may this encourage us in our approaches to Him who delights to display the banner of free grace to sinners. If we should hear of a person of honour who was of a lovely disposition, obliging all that came to him by acts of kindness and civility, it would make us ambitiously desirous to ingra-tiate ourselves with him and to obtain his acquaintance. God is the most sovereign good, the wonder of love, ready to diffuse the silver streams of His bounty to indigent creatures. This, if anything, will make us willing to draw near to Him and acquiesce in Him as the centre of felicity.

"If we would draw near to God, let us study our own wants. Let us con-sider in what need we stand for God and that we cannot be happy with-out Him. The prodigal never drew near to his father, until he began to be in want, (Lk. 15:17). A proud sinner, who was never convinced of his want, minds not to come near God; he [thinks he has] a stock of his own to live upon . . . "

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thurs., 11/7/13 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 should 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 are having presently. Faith says, "I know deliverance is coming, and I will be very happy then. Because of this, I will praise You *now*, even before it arrives."

Are we the churched children of God through faith in Jesus?  If so, then we are guaranteed these two things: trouble, and revival. Without trouble, we would never adequately appreciate revival.

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wed., 11/6/13 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 even go counter to our ex-plicit 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 every-thing for even a poor thing, so they may get anything that they value in the world." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tues., 11/5/13 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’?"

This verse (above) records the words of the Assyrian official, who was seeking to taunt and discourage the people of Jerusalem, during Heze-kiah's reign. What is intriguing, is that he thought Hezekiah (who was a very faithful believer in the Lord) had *dishonored* God, by his (Hezeki-ah's) tearing down of "high places" and "altars."

In the True Religion, less is more. And even though there were fewer places for people to be religious--the ground was laid for them to be ac-tually faithful and obedient (to God), through Hezekiah's reforms. Let us be less-impressed by pomp and circumstance; and more committed to God's truth.

[Puritan quote of the day: " 'Yes, I know, Satan, that Christ loves me, because you tell me that He hates me.' " --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mon., 11/4/13 Devotion (Titus 3:3-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Titus 3:3-5.  There, the apostle wrote these words to his fellow minister:

"For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serv-ing various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the wash-ing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit."

Observe where we are, outside of Christ: totally lost, and self-right-eous. See what happens when God's love appears on the scene of our hearts: we are regenerated, washed, and renewed. What role did our "works of righteousness" have in this process? None. What role did the God's mercy have in this process? Everything.

Do we see why God despises self-righteousness? May we treasure the Gift of Jesus; and loathe our own vile claims of "righteousness."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Many men in opposing sin are like the Frenchmen in battle . . . if they meet with a good repulse from the ene-my, then their courage is cooled and daunted and no men are more cowardly and fearful than they." --Christopher Love, in, "The Mortified Christian"]

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/1-3/13 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. We *get* to go to church! In order to help get us ready, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his excellent book, "A Body of Divinity":

"The doctrine of redemption by Jesus Christ is a glorious doctrine. It is the marrow and quintessence of the gospel, in which all a Christian’s comfort lies. Great was the work of creation, but greater the work of re-demption. It cost more to redeem us than to make us. In the one there was but the speaking of a word, in the other the shedding of blood. The creation was but the work of God’s fingers, (Psa. 8:3). Redemption is the work of His arm, (Luke 1:51). 'Having obtained eternal redemption for us,’ (Heb. 9:12).

"Christ's purchasing redemption for us implies that our sins mortgaged and sold us. Had there not been some kind of mortgaging there had been no need of redemption. When we were thus mortgaged, and sold by sin, Christ purchased our redemption. He had the best right to re-deem us, for He is our kinsman. The Hebrew word for 'Redeemer,' 'Goel,' signifies a kinsman, one that is near in blood. In the old law the nearest kinsman was to redeem his brother’s land, (Ruth 4:4). Thus Christ being near akin to us, 'Flesh of our flesh,’ is the fittest to redeem us."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thurs., 10/31/13 Devotion (2 Tim. 3:14)

Happy Reformation Day!

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 3:14, where we read these words:

"But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them . . . "

As we come to a clearer and clearer understanding of the gospel--we must "continue" in it (that greater light). The blessed knowledge that regenerated Christians are truly righteous in God's sight--not because of our own alleged righteousness--but because of the imputed right-eousness of Christ (received by faith alone), becomes for us a great comfort.

Let us never move away from our lifeline, our happiness, and our power supply. Let us "continue" in the gospel, knowing that we received it (ul-tiimately) by divine revelation from God Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For want of hearts full of love [for God, men have heads full of error." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wed., 10/30/13 Devotion (2 Tim. 2:1)

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

"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

This is a precious verse. What are we to be "strong" in? The "grace that is in Christ Jesus." What is this grace? It is sufficient grace--that is more than able to meet our specific, everyday and eternal needs. How are we "strong" in this grace? By faith. When we believe God, that He will answer our prayers, and help us in our needs--it greatly honors Him.

The thing to avoid, is the idea that we need to "get our acts together" *before* we can be strong in Christ's grace. The truth is that this simple faith, whereby we appropriate to our hearts the Lord Jesus Himself *causes* us to "get our acts together." Are we weak today? Let us put our faith in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For from our neglect of prayer comes that deadness of spirit, that worldly-mindedness and unaptness to pray, to hear the Word, and to keep the Sabbath." --John Preston, in his ser-mon entitled, "The Saint's Daily Exercise"]

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tues., 10/29/13 Devotion (2 Tim. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, where Paul wrote these words:

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

To fear from time to time in a fallen world is natural and to be expect-ed. But God does not give His children a "*spirit* of fear." Instead, His Spirit working in us effects energy, grace, and sanity. None of this is to deny that even the best of churchmen fail to live up to our potential and our resources (in Christ); but the point is that we should be more and more *governed* by the Spirit that is from God.

Practically-speaking, this will mean that instead of cowering before fearful specters of the future, we begin to face them head-on, in ad-vance--believing that our God is going before us, to give us the victory (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "If God thought it fit that Adam in innocence should not be alone, but should have a helper, much more now in a state of defection since the fall do we need others' help as well as our own." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mon., 10/28/13 Devotion (Ps. 119:86c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:86c, where we read these few words:

" . . . Help me!"

Sometimes the best prayers are the simplest ones. God is not con-cerned about flowery oratory in prayer. He would rather hear a few syllables of gut-wrenching honesty, than a whole bunch of religious babble (or proud utterances).

Do we need help today? Let us ask Christ for it. Let us be as specific as we can be, for our own soul's well-being; but let us not for a moment think that the Lord cannot figure out what we are trying to say--espe-cially if we are having a hard time getting the words out. Prayer is im-portant--but it is not a magical genie coming out of a bottle, and God does not hold us to any particular formulas.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is no such thing as any inordinate-ness in holy affections; there is no such thing as excess in longings after the discoveries of the beauty of Christ Jesus . . . Men may be as covetous as they please (if I may so speak) after spiritual riches . . . " --Jonathan Edwards, in one of his sermons]

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/25-27/13 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his elucidation of the second petition ("Thy Kingdom Come") of The Lord's Prayer (which is also the title of his book):

"Here is comfort to those who are the subjects of the King of heaven. God will put forth all the royal power for their help and comfort. (1) The King of heaven will plead their cause. 'I will plead your cause, and take vengeance for you,' (Jer 51:36). (2) He will protect his people. He sets an invisible guard about them. 'I will be unto her a wall of fire round about,' (Zech 2:5). A wall, that is defensive; a wall of fire, that is offen-sive. (3) When it may be for the good of His people, he will raise up deliverance to them. 'The Lord saved them by a great deliverance,' (1 Chron 11:14). God reigning as a king, can save any way; even by con-temptible means, as the blowing of the trumpets, and blazing of lamps, (Judges 7:20). By contrary means; as when He made the sea a wall to Israel, and the waters were a means to keep them from drowning. The fish's belly was a ship in which Jonah sailed safe to shore. God will never want ways of saving His people; rather than fail, their very ene-mies shall do his work, (2 Chron 20:23). He sets Ammon and Mount Seir one against another. As God will deliver His people from temporal danger, so from spiritual danger, as from sin, and from hell. 'Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come,' (1 Thess 1:10)."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thurs., 10/24/13 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 God allows His beloved churchmen to find them-selves in trouble, is so that they 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, we should call on the Lord. He is very pleased to rescue His children who acknowledge that He (God) alone can really help them.

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wed., 10/23/13 Devotion (Ps. 116:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 116:1, where we read these words:

"I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplica-tions."

Among many other reasons, here is a good one for us to love God: He hears the prayers of His faithful churchmen (saints). What prayers does God "hear," in the covenantal sense? (After all, He knows the things religionists all over the world are babbling out all the time.) God hears prayers that are made through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But even these prayers should be sincere and earnest. God hears prayers that come from the heart. He answers those people who *real-ly* want to be heard. God does not hear prayers offered from self-,
law-, or works-righteousness; but He does hear those that are "soak-ed," as it were, in the blood righteousness of Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Although to true religion there must indeed be something else besides affection, yet true religion consists so much in the affections that there can be no true religion without them." --Jon-athan Edwards, in, "A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections"]

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tues., 10/22/13 Devotion (Ps. 115:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 115:3, which says this:

"But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases."

This is a great verse on the sovereignty of God: the doctrine that the Lord does what He wants to, and that He is not beholden to anyone or anything. But I think we have to admit that sometimes we (even among the true church) do not always like the things the sovereign God allows to happen. After all, there are a lot of "negative" events that occur in our world (and even to ourselves).

What is the sincere and serious Christian to do about this? That is a really good question. We are to trust that the Maker of all things, and the Redeemer of His people understands and directs *all* things ac-cording to a great plan of His, (that He alone can and does fully com-prehend). We are to believe that God has His church's best interests in mind always; and that everything He does ultimately accrues for the church's good and His glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have heaven while you are on earth when you have a contented spirit; yea, in some regards it is better than heaven." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Rare Jewel of Christian Con-tentment"]

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mon., 10/21/13 Devotion (Ps. 112:6b-7)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 112:6b & 7, where we read these words:

" . . . The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD."

Whereas the memory of the wicked "rots," (Prov. 10:7); God's redeem-ed churchmen leave a blessed and enduring legacy and heritage. On top of this, those who are in Jesus, and who enjoy His righteousness are not "afraid of evil tidings." Instead, their hearts are "steadfast, trusting in the Lord."

Why is this important? Because circumstances of life--be they on a personal, or an international scale--are not to determine how happy, nor how settled we are. Let us fight a good fight of faith, let us run a good race of faith, and let us keep the faith; but at the end of the day let us leave it all in the good and sovereign hands of our faithful God.

[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]

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/18-20/13 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday's almost here. In order to help us believers get ready for the Lord's Day, here is Thomas Watson, from "A Body of Divinity":

"Justification is 'inamissibilis'; it is a fixed permanent thing, it can never be lost. The Arminians hold an apostasy from justification; today justi-fied, tomorrow unjustified; today a Peter, tomorrow a Judas; today a member of Christ, tomorrow a limb of Satan. This is a most uncomfort-able doctrine. Justified persons may fall from degrees of grace, they may leave their first love, they may lose God's favor for a time, but not lose their justification. If they are justified they are elected; and they can no more fall from their justification than from their election. If they are justified they have union with Christ; and can a member of Christ be broken off? If one justified person may fall away from Christ, all may; and so Christ would be a head without a body."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thurs., 10/17/13 Devotion (Dan. 2:44)

Today's encouragement comes from Daniel 2:44, where we read these words:

"And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a king-dom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these king-doms, and it shall stand forever."

Daniel is speaking to Nebuchadnezzar here, and is explaining the king's dream. The "kingdom" that Daniel is referring to here, is the es-tablishment of, and the proliferation of the New Covenant Church, by the Lord Jesus Christ. This kingdom is now in the process of "break-[ing] in[to] pieces" all opposing "kingdoms."

Some of these counterfeit "kingdoms" that are being destroyed arise even among professing, errant Christians. Others of them are wholly and self-proclaimedly "anti-Christian." All of them will fall, at the feet of King Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Many, in a fit of terror, are willing to do or to suffer anything to keep out of hell and go to heaven; but when the fit is over, they will not deny themselves and take up the cross to follow Christ." --Isaac Ambrose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wed., 10/16/13 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, from time to time, that 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 evil one 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 resurrection.

[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 Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tues., 10/15/13 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, fol-low him. . . . ' "

I like this perspective, put forth by Elijah. Even today this principle ap-plies. All people worship some deity (alleged, or true). "Let the best [God] win," should be our attitude. Is the Muslim god the true one? Then all should worship 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 Religion the only Real Deity? Then, all human beings should worship Him.

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

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

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mon., 10/14/13 Devotion (Ezek. 47:8-9a)

Today's encouragement comes from the very interesting, and inspiring 47th chapter of Ezekiel. The prophet starts out showing how Jesus, the water of life, flows from His church to all the world; and then how the Gospel brings healing wherever it goes. Here are the words of vv. 8 & 9a:

"Then he said to me: 'This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live.' "

This prophecy was initially fulfilled at Pentecost, (Acts, ch. 2), when the Gospel exploded onto the whole world--and the church would no longer be headquartered in one place (Jerusalem). But, there is a con-tinuation of Pentecost's glories, everyday, as the Good News of Jesus spreads across the globe--even in our day. Everywhere it goes, it brings healing: salvation to the elect; and temporal good to all. The reason for this is because Christ is life; and wherever He goes, He sets up His church.

Let us bless God that we have something to live for, if we belong to the Lord God. Our lives have meaning and purpose. We are ambassadors of grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Pride of spirit unsubdued will bring men to lie at the feet of others forever (Isa. 66:24). But humiliation of spirit will bring them undoubtedly out from under their feet (Mal. 4:2-3)." --Thom-as Boston, in, "The Crook in the Lot"]

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/11-13/13 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here. In order to prepare us for the church's Sabbath worship of the resurrected Christ, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Ten Commandments" book:

"Obedience must be in and through Christ. ‘He has made us accepted in the Beloved,’ (Eph. 1:6). Not our obedience, but Christ’s merits pro-cure acceptance. In every part of worship we must present Christ to God in the arms of our faith. Unless we serve God thus, in hope and confidence of Christ’s merits, we rather provoke Him than please Him. As, when king Uzziah would offer incense without a priest, God was angry with him, and struck him with leprosy, (2 Chron. 26:20). So, when we do not come to God in and through Christ, we offer up in-cense to Him without a priest, and what can we expect but severe re-bukes?"

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thurs., 10/10/13 Devotion (Php. 4:6-7)

Today's encouragement comes from Philippians 4:6 & 7, where we read these great 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."

Anxiety gives way to peace, when we bring our troubles to Christ, once again assuring ourselves that we are in right relation to God, on the basis of Jesus' work alone (apprehended by faith). A lot of people pray, and are yet not relieved of their anxieties, because they are not trusting in Christ alone. (They add something else to the mix.)

God will never give true and settled peace to anyone, except those who trust in Jesus' blood (plus nothing). Let us be numbered among the few (and the humble), [to work off of a US Marine expression].

[Puritan quote of the day: "Those who converse much with God have shining hearts and shining conversations." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Hope"]