Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thurs., 2/28/13 Devotion (Ex. 12:13b)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 12:13b, where we read these words:

" . . . And when I see the blood, I will pass over you . . . "

The angel of death still stalks all those who are out of covenant with Christ (and His church). But those redeemed souls whose hearts are sprinkled by the blood of Jesus are safe--God passes over them, while He executes judgment on others.

It is not our "righteousness," our religiosity, our civility, nor our moral-ity that causes God to pass over us, and spare us from judgment, hell, and damnation. Instead, it is only the blood righteousness of the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," (Jn. 1:29b). This righteousness is imputed to the hearts of sinners, by grace through faith in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Make it your main business, your chief study, your greatest care, to 'make your calling and election sure,' says the apostle." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wed., 2/27/13 Devotion (1 Cor. 14:33)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 14:33, where we read these words:

"For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints."

Very sadly, there is a lot of confusion in a lot of churches today, (as there always has been, to one degree or another). But none of this confusion is from God. The Lord has laid-out enough content doctrine, theology, knowledge, and understanding in the Scriptures for faithful pastors and elders to quite sufficiently lead the flocks into fields of plenty and peace in Jesus Christ.

The problem is not with God; rather it is with sinful men who craft their own gospels, and who spurn the only true one. Let us, by grace, sincerely cling to Jesus, and enjoy by faith the benefits of a sane and well-ordered life in the covenant community of the church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To have grace, and to be sure that we have grace, is glory upon the throne, it is heaven on this side [of] heaven." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tues., 2/26/13 Devotion (1 Cor. 13:8a)

Today's encouragement comes from the few, but powerful words of 1 Corinthians 13:8a, where we read this:

"Love never fails. . . . "

Why does love never fail? Because love is the best barometer of the heart. It always exposes the truth; and everyone--without exception--is subject to its scrutiny. This is one of the reasons God insists that we love Him. Without sincere love for God, none of our other "services" rendered to Him mean anything--(in fact, they become repulsive to Him).

The real important question for us today is, "Who (or what) do we love the *most*?" If Christ is not at the top, then we should face the fact that we are idolaters. The Lord would have us love other people, and even some things--but these must be subordinate to love for Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that frets will be willing to do evil; fretting Jonah was sinning Jonah, (Jon. 4:9)." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mon., 2/25/13 Devotion (Job 25:4a)

Today's encouragement comes from Job 25:4a, where we read these words:

"How then can man be righteous before God? . . . "

This is a really good question, asked by Bildad the Shuhite. Sinners cannot do enough good works, to be made righteous before God. (We would have to do *every* good work possible, without exception, and without imperfection.) Fake gods and false religions cannot make us righteous before God. Being "better than average," or, "better than the other guy" certainly will not work--since God demands perfection, and absolute holiness.

There is only one way we may be made righteous before God: through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ being applied to our souls by grace through faith in Him (Christ), plus nothing. There you have it, Bildad, that is how a sinner can be made righteous before God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who sees Jesus Christ sees all the glory of paradise." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Saint's Desire to be with Christ"]

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/22-24/13 Devotion

Yippee--another Sunday is *almost* here! Wahoo. In order to help us get ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "A Godly Man's Picture":

"Faith and fear go hand in hand. When the soul looks at God's holi-ness, he fears. When he looks at God's promises, he believes. A godly man trembles, yet trusts. Fear preserves reverence, faith preserves cheerfulness. Fear keeps the soul from lightness, faith keeps it from overmuch sadness. By this we may know whether we walk with God, if we walk 'in the fear of God.'

"We are fearful of infringing His laws, and forfeiting His love. It is a brand set upon sinners: 'There is no fear of God before their eyes,' (Rom. 3:18). The godly fear and do not offend, (Psa. 4:4). The wick-ed offend and do not fear, (Jer. 5:23, 24). Careless and dissolute [evil] walking will soon estrange God from us and make Him weary of our company: 'What communion has light with darkness?,' (2 Cor. 6:14)."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thurs., 2/21/13 Devotion (Lk. 7:48)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 7:48, where we read these words:

"Then He [Jesus] said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' "

There are no more blessed words spoken to any soul, by Christ, than these. This woman's life would never be the same again. She would never have the wrath of God abiding over her again; and her love for and devotion to the Lord would always be driven--not by works or law--but by this stupendously-wonderful fact (that she had been for-given).

This woman would continue to sin in various ways every day for the rest of her days on earth; but she would never look on her sins in the same way. Instead of relishing them, she would disdain them--out of love for God. May the same be said for all of us who are in Christ to-day.

[Puritan quote of the day: "According to the measure of your faith, so will the measure of your love be." --Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wed., 2/20/13 Devotion (Ex. 3:7-8a)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 3:7 & 8a, where God said this to Moses:

"I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them . . . "

It is heartening to know that God sees the troubles of His church on earth, that He hears our prayers, and that He is well-acquainted with our griefs. But this would mean little, if He did not "come down" to "deliver" us. God did come down, ultimately, in Jesus Christ's incarna-tion.

Through the Messiah's humanity now, God is always "down here" with His people, by virtue of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in His church. Are we troubled today? Let us look to the God who is as close as our prayer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Such a high degree of courtesy in so great a person as this apostle [Paul] reproves all those professing Christians who, though far below Paul, are not courteous and respectful in their behavior to their neighbors, and especially to their superiors." --Jona-than Edwards, in his sermon, "The Character of Paul an Example to Christians"]

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tues., 2/19/13 Devotion (Ex. 2:24)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 2:24, which says this:

"So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob."

This is an amazing couplet: our groaning, and God's remembering. One of the big reasons the good and perfect God gives even His belov-ed churchmen troubles is so that they will call out (or groan) to Him. This causes the Lord to call to mind His covenant of grace.

The covenant of grace is fulfilled in Jesus Christ's body and blood--given for sinners, who are then brought into His family (church). It is our privilege to be in covenant with God, and to secure His aid at every turn. This covenant does not exempt us from problems--but it does provide us redemption in Christ (which is of ultimate value).

[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"]

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mon., 2/18/13 Devotion (Lk. 4:22c)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 4:22c, where we read these words:

" . . . And they said, 'Is this not Joseph's son?' "

The people that made this statement (above) had just been marveling at how wonderful Christ was. Later in the chapter, they are ready to try to throw the Messiah over the cliff of their town (Nazareth). The problem these folks had was that they thought Jesus was "Joseph's son." They could not conceive of Christ as being the Son of God, (and not of a mere man: Joseph).

Such is the nature of almost all theological heresy: it starts with a mistaken foundation. If Christ was not the Son of God, He would not be sinless. He could also not atone for sinners, since He Himself would have to deal with His own sin nature. Let us recognize Jesus for who He is: the Son--not of Joseph--but of God Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Defilers and profaners of ordinances [viz. preaching and the Lord's Supper], by known and allowed wickedness, provoke God more than the heathen who have no ordinances." --Jona-than Edwards, in his sermon, "A Warning to Professors of Religion"]

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/15-17/13 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is *almost* here. We *get* to go to church! Here is Thomas Watson, from his excellent little book, entitled, "The Doc-trine of Repentance":

"Confession must be sincere.

"Our hearts must go along with our confessions. The hypocrite con-fesses sin but loves it, like a thief who confesses to stolen goods, yet loves stealing. How many confess pride and covetousness with their lips but roll them as honey under their tongue. Augustine said that before his conversion he confessed sin and begged power against it, but his heart whispered within him, 'Not yet, Lord.' He was afraid to leave his sin too soon. A good Christian is more honest. His heart keeps pace with his tongue. He is convinced of the sins he confesses, and abhors the sins he is convinced of."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thurs., 2/14/13 Devotion (1 Cor. 1:30)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 1:30, where Paul wrote these words:

"But of Him [God] you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemp-
tion-- . . . "

Jesus Christ is not only our sole source of justification before God--He is also the means by which we are sanctified more and more into His image. This is important because some people get tempted to believe that they enter the kingdom of God through Christ, but that the rest is up to them. Christian churchmen *do* personally participate in their sanctification, but not (and never) aside from their continued faith in Christ.

If we have anything good to present to God, it is only in and through our Redeemer. And all this is a work of God's sovereign grace in us. Let us live by faith today--it is the only life that pleases God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Souls that are big in hope, will not be long without sweet assurance." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wed., 2/13/13 Devotion (Rom. 16:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 16:1 & 2, where we read these words of the Apostle Paul:

"I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also."

God always puts women before men--and not without good reason: they are made of better "stuff" than men. Phoebe was a servant of her church; and Paul wanted the church in Rome to treat her especially kindly and well.

In the church, women are given more honor than men. But it is also true that men in church, just like women, have immediate access to God through our one Mediator: the Lord Jesus Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We cannot know what sin is unless we know how great the majesty of God is." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Evil of Evils"]

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tues., 2/12/13 Devotion (Gen. 45:8a)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 45:8a, where we read these words:

"So now it was not you who sent me here, but God . . . "

These are the words of Joseph, to his ten brothers who had sold him into slavery in Egypt many years before. Joseph was able to see God's hand in his brothers' evil deed. God used the secondary causation of the brothers' sin to bring about something very good and glorious--though there was much pain and suffering in the meantime.

Are we able to see God's hand at work in our lives--even through the sins of others foisted upon us? If we can see the Lord's providence in all things that happen to us (good and bad), then we are truly blessed Christian churchmen.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Discerning your Father's hand in the crook [trial] will take out much of the bitterness of it, and will sugar the pill to you." --Thomas Boston, in, "The Crook in the Lot"]

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mon., 2/11/13 Devotion (Job 10:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Job 10:12, where Job says this about The Lord:

"You [God] have granted me life and steadfast love, and Your care has preserved my spirit." (ESV)

Sometimes we feel like "throwing in the towel," and quitting the race of faith. Our infirmities, but especially our lack of faith, fuels this devilish notion. God "preserves the spirit" of His saints; and does not allow us to become so overcome, that we cannot continue the fight of faith.

May our Heavenly Father's fresh supplies of grace, sent by His Holy Spirit, through the mediation of Christ alone enliven and revive us, today!

[Puritan quote of the day: "A Christian should consider, that murmur-ing and discontentedness is below the high dignity which God has put upon him. . . . The meanest [lowest] Christian in the world is a lord of heaven and earth." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment"]

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/8-10/13 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is almost here! In order to help us prepare for the church's worship of God, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Beatitudes":

"Encourage your ministers by praying for them. Their work is great. It is a work that will take up their head and heart, and all little enough. It is a work fitter for angels than men. 'Who is sufficient for these things?,' (2 Corinthians 2:16). Oh pray for them! Christ indeed, when He ascended the mount and was to preach, needed none of the people's prayers for Him. He had a sufficient stock by Him, the divine nature to supply Him, but all His under-officers in the ministry need prayer. If Saint Paul, who abounded in the graces of the Spirit and supernatural revelations, begged prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:25), then surely other ministers need prayer who do not pretend to any such revelations."

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thurs., 2/7/13 Devotion (Mk. 10:35)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 10:35, where we read these words:

"Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to [Jesus], saying, 'Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.' "

I can see the Lord smiling, when these guys approached Him with these words. Actually, Christ never rebuked them for their boldness and audacity. Jesus later explains carefully to them what would be in-volved in the actual answer to their request, should it be granted.

The Lord wants us to be totally honest and passionate in our petitions to Him. Even if they are misdirected, this is no reason to be mealy-mouthed in prayer. Let us come to our Triune God with our real and felt desires, and leave the results with Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing in the world more uneasy than the heart of a wicked man made to listen to spiritual instruc-
tion . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wed., 2/6/13 Devotion (Gen. 39:9b)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 39:9b, where we find these words:

" . . . How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"

These are the words of Joseph, to Potiphar's wife. What is interesting to me about Joseph's response is his reference to sinning against "God." What did Mrs. Potiphar have to do with God? She probably couldn't have cared less (about the LORD). Joseph's speech is actually a form of evangelism of her.

Real sins against human beings translate into ultimate sins against God Himself. Joseph did not so much fear Potiphar, as he did the Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Is there a soul who fears the Lord, who trembles at His presence? To that soul is the word of salvation sent."
--Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Fear"]

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tues., 2/5/13 Devotion (Mk. 8:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 8:15, which says this:

"Then [Jesus] charged them, saying, 'Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.' "

This is an interesting text. Our Redeemer wants us, His church, to "beware" of the teaching of certain elements, which are found in every society, in every place, and in every era (of fallen humanity). The one, Pharisaism, is well-known. It is a hyper-religion, that seeks to be more righteous than God Himself. Essentially, it is self- or law-righteousness. (All false religions are variations on pharisaism.)

"Herod's" doctrine, however, gets much less press. It also is deadly. It is the mantra of political liberalism, characterized by greed, racism, pride, and false forms of civil religion. The Lord Jesus would have us be wary of both of these. Let us be on our guard.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Saul's sparing Agag lost him the kingdom, and your sparing sin will lose you the kingdom of heaven." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Mischief of Sin"]

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mon., 2/4/13 Devotion (Mk. 7:9)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 7:9, where we read these words:

"[Jesus] said to [the scribes and Pharisees], 'All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.' "

Some tradition--even in the very best churches--is totally unavoidable, and may even be very good. The problem comes in when religious sin-ners (even claiming to honor God) exalt their human (non-God-or-dained) traditions *over* the specific commandments of God (as they are found in the Holy Scriptures).

This is why we may, and should, without making any apologies at all, totally disregard *all* serious religious dictates that would be foisted on us--if they cannot be traced directly (or by necessary inference) to the Word of God. In this way let us enjoy our freedom as liberated churchmen!

[Luther quote of the day: "When we willingly and gladly hear the Word preached . . . let us assure ourselves that God, by and with this preaching, sends the Holy Spirit into our hearts." --from "Commentary on Galatians"]

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/1-3/13 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is almost here! So as to help us get ready to worship God in church, here are some good words from Thomas Watson's, "The Godly Man's Picture":

"God loves a humble soul. It is not our high birth, but our low hearts that God delights in. A humble spirit is in God's view: 'to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit,' (Isa. 66:2). A humble heart is God's palace: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit,' (Isa. 57:15). Great personages, besides their houses of state, have lesser houses which upon occasion they retreat to. Besides God's house of state in heaven, He has the humble soul for His retiring house, where He takes up His rest, and solaces Himself. Let Italy boast that it is, for pleasure, the garden of the world. A humble heart glories in this, that it is the pre-sence chamber of the Great King."