Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thurs., 1/31/13 Devotion (Gen. 32:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 32:1 & 2a, where we read these words:

"So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, 'This is God's camp.' . . . "

Jacob felt alone and vulnerable. Soon, he would be meeting his (pre-viously very angry) brother Esau. But God's angels "met" him. Jacob encountered these angels while he was simply walking with the Lord. When Jacob saw the angels, he deduced that this must be a special place--so he called it "God's camp."

As we Christian churchmen walk with Christ today--even perhaps while we may be feeling a bit "isolated"--let us remember that there are more with us than against us, (cf. 2 Ki. 6:16). When God opens our eyes to this fact, we may enjoy it, and "set up camp" for awhile.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Is it not comfortable being in heaven? He that enjoys much of God in this life carries heaven about him."
--Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wed., 1/30/13 Devotion (Esth. 7:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Esther 7:10, where we read these words:

"So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mor-decai. Then the king's wrath subsided."

The Lord Jesus was hung on a cross, paying for the sins of all God's elect church. The cross (death and hell) had been prepared for our sins--not for the pristine and perfect Son of God. Through the Mes-siah's substitutionary death on our behalf, "The King's [God's] wrath subsided" against us.

The redemptive benefits of Jesus' sacrifice of His life on the cross only affect those who are atoned for by Him. In this sense, it is believers *especially* who put Him there--because of our sins. Let us marvel at God's grace and love, in Christ!

[Puritan quote of the day: "What is it to enjoy good health, a brave estate, and not to enjoy God?" --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divin-ity"]

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tues., 1/29/13 Devotion (Gen. 30:2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 30:2a, where we read these few words:

"And Jacob's anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, 'Am I in the place of God . . . ?' "

Sometimes we foolishly expect of human beings (fallen ones, none-theless) what only God can do and provide. When people "idolize" other mortals, they are, in essence, saying, "You are my god; now act like it." When sinners fail us, we sometimes blame them for not being able to carry-out what they were never created to perform (in the first place).

Only the true God, as He is known in Jesus Christ, can satisfy us; and do what no one else can do--namely, give us life, happiness, and pur-pose.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The heart of man is deceitful above all things, a bundle of deceit; and man himself is a proud creature, and very apt to have high conceits of himself." --Christopher Love, in, "The Mortified Christian"]

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mon., 1/28/13 Devotion (Esth. 5:2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Esther 5:2a, which says this:

"And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand." (ESV)

When God sees the church, the bride of Christ, approach the throne of grace in prayer, He is pleased to hold out the golden scepter of His love, mercy, and grace. All of this is because Jesus shed His precious blood for His people.

Do we need to approach the throne of God today? Let us not come empty-handed. Let us bring, in the arms of faith, the Savior of our souls, the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," (Jn. 1:29). No other offering will be accepted.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A child of God keeps two books always by him: one to write his sins in, so that he may be humble; the other to write his mercies in, so that he may be thankful." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/25-27/13 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--The Lord's Day is fast approaching! God be praised. Here are some helpful words, as we prepare for the Sunday Sabbath. This comes from Thomas Watson's "Assurance" treatise:

"He who loves God will be at pains to get to Him. What pains the merchant takes, what hazards he runs, to have a rich return from the Indies! Jacob loved Rachel, and he could endure the heat by day, and the frost by night, that he might enjoy her. A soul that loves God will take any pains for the fruition of Him. 'My soul follows hard after God,' (Psalm 63:8). It is the weight which sets the clock going. It is much in prayer, weeping, fasting; it strives as in agony that he may obtain Him whom his soul loves. Plutarch reports of the Gauls, an ancient people of France, that after they had tasted the sweet wine of Italy, they never rested till they had arrived at that country. He who is in love with God, never rests till he has a part in Him. 'I sought him whom my soul loves,' (Song of Sol. 3:2). How can they say they love God, who are not industrious in the use of means to obtain Him?"

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thurs., 1/24/13 Devotion (Acts 24:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 24:14, which says finds Paul saying this:

"But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets." (ESV)

This is a pretty bold statement made by a former super-strict phari-see, regarding the comprehensive primacy of the New Covenant church's worship and life. Whatever Paul still performed--in reference to the old temple and the old forms--it was done, not out of the vitals of true worship, but as a civil nod to a passe, eclipsed system. He viewed NT worship as the genuine fulfillment of the law and the pro-phets.

May we do the same as Paul; and have his attitude. To lose God's wor-ship, is to lose our souls.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God] calls upon us from time to time in HIs Word. He is calling us by His written Word and by His preached Word from Sabbath to Sabbath." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "It is Well for us that God is Not as we are"]

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wed., 1/23/13 Devotion (Gen. 24:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 24:3a, where we read these words:

"And I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth . . . "

I like this phrase: "The God of heaven and the God of the earth." I want to focus on the "earth" part. Are we ever tempted to think that God runs heaven; but that the devil, or maybe sinners own the earth? If we are, our theology is not very good. The truth is that God is the supreme governor of everything: the earth, (as well as heaven).

The Lord put earth under man's feet; and we are His vice-regents, to rule and tend it. But, in the most supreme sense, the Lord is "God of the earth." Let the church be thankful for this; and let us commit our-selves to serving our Christ very well while we are here.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Whoever is set up on earth, they are set up by our Lord. 'By Me,' says He, 'kings reign, and princes decree jus-
tice.' " --John Bunyan, in, "All Loves Excelling"]

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tues., 1/22/13 Devotion (Matt. 22:29)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 22:29, which says this:

"Jesus answered and said to them, 'You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.' "

The sure way to error is through ignorance. There are two particular areas of theology about which we cannot afford to be ignorant: the Scriptures, and the power of God. When we do not know the Bible, we are easy prey to the world's and the devil's false gospels. When we do not know the power of God, we think we have something to do with our salvation.

God has given His church the means of grace. In and through them, let us learn, know, and live the gospel of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Believing in Christ is the great thing that God presses upon sinners throughout the Scripture, as all know that know anything of Scripture." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Precious Remedies against Satan's Devices"]

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mon., 1/21/13 Devotion (Gen. 22:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 22:1a, where we read these words:

"Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abra-
ham . . . "

Are we believers in the Lord Jesus Christ? If so, then we are the spir-itual and covenantal children of Abraham, Biblically-speaking. This also means that, even as Abraham's faith was tested, ours will be, as well. The "trying" of faith is to show forth the sincerity, the reality, and the value of it.

Are God's tests sometimes difficult? Undoubtedly, they are. God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his beloved son of the promise. Abraham was willing to do this, not because he wanted to, but because he trusted God and believed that He (the Lord) knew what was best. May this be our attitude as well.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Grace shall never be idle where the love of God is strong." --Obadiah Sedgwick, in, "Christ's Counsel to His Lan-guishing Church"]

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/18-20/13 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is ALMOST here! In order to help prepare us for our Sabbath worship of the Triune God on the Lord's Day, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his wonderful book, "A Body of Divinity":

"Go to Christ's blood for peace. Some go to fetch their peace from their own righteousness, not Christ's. They go for peace to their holy life, not Christ's death. If conscience be troubled, they strive to quiet it with their duties. This is not the right way to peace. Duties must not be neglected, nor yet idolized. Look to the blood of sprinkling, (Heb. 12:24). That blood of Christ which pacified God, must pacify conscience. Christ's blood being sucked in by faith, gives peace. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,' (Rom. 5:1): No balm to cure a wounded conscience, but the blood of Christ."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thurs., 1/17/13 Devotion (Gen. 18:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 18:14a, where we read these words:

"Is anything too hard for the LORD? . . . "

This question (above) is to be answered in the negative. This does not mean that God *will* do anything we ask Him to do; but it *does* mean He *can* do anything He is pleased to do (that would be consis-tent with His nature, and for the church's good). There *are* things even God cannot do (that we can), like sin. But this does not detract from His greatness, but rather only enhances it.

Are we facing some impossible situation today? Let us lay it before God. He is able to deliver us. If we are faithful churched Christians, the promises in the Word of God are ours to enjoy; they are the "chil-dren's bread."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Before we can know this love of Christ . . . we must necessarily know the nature of sin." --John Bunyan, in, "All Loves Excelling"]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wed., 1/16/13 Devotion (Gen. 17:1)

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

"When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blame-less. . . . ' "

How is a person to be "blameless" before God? Does this mean that he or she will never sin again? No. Abram (later Abraham) was blameless in the Object of his faith (the Lord Jesus Christ). Blamelessness in the Bible implies sincerity and wholeheartedness--not sinless perfection (nor trying real hard in the flesh's efforts).

As Abraham "walked" with God, he gained more and more confidence all the time. The same is true for every sincere churched Christian to-day.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When do you expect that it will be more likely that you should be awakened and wrought upon than now?"
--Jonathan Edwards, from his sermon, "Pressing into the Kingdom of God"]

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tues., 1/15/13 Devotion (Gen. 16:13a)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 16:13a, where we read these words:

"Then she [Hagar] called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees . . . "

Sometimes people try to convince themselves that God does *not* see everything that happens. Whenever we sin, we are imagining that a Holy God somehow is not aware of it. But the fact is, that the Lord is cognizant--all at one time, and with total comprehension--of *every-thing* that occurs in the entire universe. This includes full knowledge of every single thought we have in our hearts and minds.

This truth may cause us to tremble a bit. But then, we also remember that the Lord sees our sincere faith in His Son; and, on the basis of Jesus' work, He forgives all the sins of His faithful church. Let us be ever-grateful for this!

[Puritan quote of the day: "You cannot gratify Satan more, nor injure yourselves more, than by living without assurance [of God's favor in Christ]." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mon., 1/14/13 Devotion (Acts 14:21)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 14:21, where we read these words:

"And when they [Paul and Barnabas] had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch . . . "

One of the neat things to note here (above) is that disciples are, like Instant Oatmeal, "ready-made." The simple preaching of the gospel "made" disciples (even as this verse teaches). These new believers were then placed into the church (two verses later, in v. 23); and they began to be built up in their faith, under the watchful eye of church elders.

What do we learn from this? That the gospel preached "makes" dis-ciples; and that they cannot continue to persevere on their own--they need the ministry of the church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There may be true faith where there is much doubting." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices"]

Friday, January 11, 2013

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

Wahoo--Sunday is *almost* here! In order to prepare us for church, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his work, entitled, "The Doc-trine of Repentance":

"Our sins are worse than the sins of the devils. The lapsed angels never sinned against Christ's blood. Christ died not for them. The medicine of His merit was never intended to heal them. But we have affronted and disparaged His blood by unbelief.

"The devils never sinned against God's patience. As soon as they apo-statised, they were damned. God never waited for the angels, but we have spent upon the stock of God's patience. He has pitied our weak-ness, borne with our forwardness. His Spirit has been repulsed, yet has still importuned us and will take no denial. Our conduct has been so provoking as to have tired not only the patience of a Moses but of all the angels. We have put God to it, and made Him weary of repenting (Jer. 15.6).

"The devils never sinned against example. They were the first that sinned and were made the first example. We have seen the angels, those morning stars, fall from their glorious orb; we have seen the old world drowned, Sodom burned, yet have ventured upon sin. How des-perate is that thief who robs in the very place where his fellow hangs in chains. And surely, if we have out-sinned the devils, it may well put us to the blush."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thurs., 1/10/13 Devotion (Gen. 11:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 11:5, which says this:

"But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built."

The tower of Babel, and the city surrounding it, was man's effort to establish a society without God. It was a perverse imitation of the Lord's ideal, that of a community, centered not around a man-honor-ing structure, but a God-centered worship.

The Lord's confusing of the languages, accomplished in Gen., ch. 11, was actually an act of mercy and grace. Had man stuck together, they would have all descended, as a congealed ball of humanity, into hell. Only in the New Covenant do the languages of the world get sorted out, and "un-confused" in the universal church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Unity in faith and discipline is a mercy we cannot prize enough. This is that which God has promised (Jer. 32:39), and which we should pursue (Zech. 8:18-23)." --Thomas Wat-son, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wed., 1/9/13 Devotion (Gen. 9:8-9)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 9:8 & 9, which says this:

"Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: 'And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descend-ants after you.' "

We often hear of God making these "covenants" with His people. Have we ever considered how gracious, merciful, and wonderful this is? If God did not bind Himself to His church, specifically and totally, there would be absolutely no hope at all for any of us, or for any other hu-man being that has ever lived. The reason for this is because we are so wicked in our fallen state, that we would never seek God out.

So, the next time we witness a baptism in a church--let us recognize what is going on. God is making a covenant with that baby (or young person, or adult). This covenant is gracious, because it speaks of the life and death of the Son of God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Acts of sin may be restrained out of fear or design, but a true penitent turns from sin out of a religious principle, namely, love to God." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repent-ance"]

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tues., 1/8/13 Devotion (Acts 8:8)

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

"And there was great joy in that city."

The only time any town, city, state, or nation ever possesses real and solid joy, is when the church brings the gospel of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to it. Here, Philip had brought the good news to Samaria, a largely-despised place, and it [Samaria] gets transformed. As this happens, the citizens are ignited with the joy of the Lord.

The genuineness of Spirit-wrought revival will always be manifested in the culture. It starts in the church, but it is not possible for it to be contained there. Let us pray for the Lord to raise up His pastors and churches, that will bring the life of Jesus to this fallen planet.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Wherever there is truth there will be vic-tory." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mon., 1/7/13 Devotion (Gen. 7:16b)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 7:16b, where we read these words:

" . . . and the LORD shut him [Noah] in [the ark]."

This is a beautiful picture of God Himself sealing one of His own (Noah), in the ark, which represents the Lord Jesus Christ and His holy church. God did not send an angel to shut up the ark, neither did He employ an animal, the wind, or any other aspect of nature.

The Lord knows how to bless and protect His own, even as they sail through the stormy and wind-tossed seas of life in this fallen universe. Are we in Jesus, and His church? If so, then let us bless God for this great privilege, and do all we can to bring glory to His Name.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Want of [or, lack of] love to God is the ground of apostasy." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 1/4-6/13 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to help us get ready for God's wor-ship, here are some good words from Thomas Watson, from his great work, "The Art of Divine Contentment":

"What it is then to learn Christ?

"To learn Christ is to be made like Christ, to have the divine charac-ters of His holiness engraven upon our hearts: 'We all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image,' (2 Cor. 3:18). There is a metamorphosis made; a sinner, viewing Christ's image in the glass of the gospel, is transformed into that image. Never did any man look upon Christ with a spiritual eye, but he went away quite changed. A true saint is a divine landscape picture, where all the rare beauties of Christ are lively portrayed and drawn forth. He has the same spirit, the same judgment, the same will, with Jesus Christ."

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thurs., 1/3/13 Devotion (Matt. 3:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 3:15, where we see these words:

"But Jesus answered and said to him [John the Baptist], 'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he [John] allowed Him."

This is an amazing text. The holy, perfect, and pristine Son of God deigns to be baptized, and to identify Himself fully with His church--and, in the process of doing so, He joins Himself to His ministers, and says, "It is fitting for *us* to fulfill all righteousness."

Let us marvel that God is SO committed to His people, that He not only condescends to them, in sending His precious Son Jesus--but that He (through Christ) also *binds* Himself to them, in holy covenant.

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

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wed., 1/2/13 Devotion (Acts 2:21)

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

"And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

These words above (spoken by Peter) are good news for all of us. Sal-vation is had by those who simply ask for it, and really want it. Re-demption does not require labor, but it does call for earnest desire. Our problem--as fallen sons of Adam--is that we think we have to work for it, or add something to what Jesus has done. Such thoughts are highly God-dishonoring.

Are we in any kind of trouble today? Let us forthrightly call upon the Lord. God is true to His promise--He will not (and cannot) fail to keep His word.

[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"]