Friday, March 29, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/29-31/13 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday--Easter Sunday, no less--is *just about* here!  In order to get us ready for the church's Sabbath worship of God, here is the in-comparable Thomas Watson, from "A Divine Cordial," (or, "All things for Good"):

"We love a saint, though he has many personal failings. There is no perfection here. In some, rash anger prevails; in some, inconstancy; in some, too much love of the world. A saint in this life is like gold in the ore, much dross of infirmity cleaves to him, yet we love him for the grace that is in him. A saint is like a fair face with a scar: we love the beautiful face of holiness, though there be a scar in it. The best emer-ald has its blemishes, the brightest stars their twinklings, and the best of the saints have their failings. You that cannot love another because of his infirmities, how would you have God love you?"

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thurs., 3/28/13 Devotion (Prov. 15:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Proverbs 15:3, where we find these words:

"The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good."

This doctrine of the Lord's omnipresence (God-is-in-every-place) is good.  When we know we are being watched, we are especially careful to behave ourselves well.  When we think no one sees us, we are in-clined to loosen up on our behavior.

It is a form of atheism, to act contrary to the omnipresence of God. We should live in the knowledge that nothing--not even our deepest and most innermost thoughts--escape The Lord's perfect view.  With this in mind, are we not glad that we are saved by faith in Christ, and not by our own allegedly "sufficient" deeds?

[Puritan quote of the day: "Those who preach Christ most and them-selves least are likeliest to enlarge the church of God."  --Nathaniel Vincent, in, "A Discourse concerning Love"]

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wed., 3/27/13 Devotion (Php. 1:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Philippians 1:6, where Paul wrote these words:

"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."

We may not think that we are making much progress in our holy Christian faith. In fact, we may feel like we are actually moving backwards, and not forwards at all. But, in reality, all those who are in Christ advance ahead with Him. It is good for us to have no confi-dence at all in our flesh. Sometimes "failure" is the best way to learn this lesson.

But this is no reason not to have unbridled confidence in Christ. He is the only One who can propel us to a certain, and glorious end. What God has started in us, His church, He will certainly finish.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We must fight on our knees by prayer. Prayer whips the devil. The arrow of prayer, put into the bow of the promise and shot with the hand of faith, pierces the old serpent."
--Thomas Watson, in, "The Fight of Faith Crowned"]

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tues., 3/26/13 Devotion (Jn. 16:33)

Today's encouragement comes from John 16:33, where our Lord Jesus said this:

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have over-come the world."

Notice that the Christian churchman's peace is entirely experienced in Jesus Christ. It may never be found in the "world," or in anything other than Christ. Our union with Jesus causes us to be able to be genuinely cheerful, even as we are going through very difficult hardships.

All of this is because our Savior has "overcome the world." The world no longer has any controlling power over us (who are in Christ). In Jesus all true believers have also "overcome" it (the world).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Begin with simple things, for all truth be-gins with simple things. A man can never write good cursive till he has first learned his letters." --Robert Harris, in, "The Way to True Happi-ness"]

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mon., 3/25/13 Devotion (Eph. 5:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 5:6, where the Apostle Paul wrote these words:

"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience." (ESV)

The "these things" the Apostle is referring to are Satan's twin towers of deceit: immorality and idolatry--just mentioned in the previous verses. Paul's world, like ours, believed that God "overlooked" these things; and that a person could be perfectly "religious," and still carry on with immorality and idolatry (which are always linked, in the Bible).

Instead, God's "wrath" falls on those who persist in these sins. This punishment is a reference to personal wrath in *this* life; and eternal fire in the world to come. The only remedy for this is genuine faith leading to true repentance. Faith in Jesus' blood and righteousness (and no one else's) is absolutely necessary.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The same Hebrew word for sin signifies rebellion. Now, can the Lord endure to be thus saucily confronted by proud dust?" --Thomas Watson, in, "The Mischief of Sin"]

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/22-24/13 Devotion

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

"The Preacher: Jesus Christ. The best of preachers. 'He went up.' He in whom there was a combination of virtues, a constellation of beauties. He whose lips were not only sweet as the honeycomb, but did drop as the honeycomb. His words, an oracle; His works, a miracle; His life, a pattern; His death, a sacrifice. 'He went up into a mountain and taught.' Jesus Christ was every way ennobled and qualified for the work of the ministry.

"Christ was an intelligent preacher. He had 'the Spirit without mea-sure,' (John 3:34); and knew how to speak a word in due season, when to humble, when to comfort. We cannot know all the faces of our hearers. Christ knew the hearts of His hearers. He understood what doctrine would best suit them, as the [farmer] can tell what sort of grain is proper for such-and-such a soil."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thurs., 3/21/13 Devotion (Eph. 1:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's Holy Spirit-inspired words of Ephesians 1:5:

"Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will."

Have we ever heartily (like Paul) thanked God for the gracious doc-trines of predestination and election? Without this sovereign work of God no one would ever be saved, and we would all be forever bound to sin, death, and hell. Those who exalt human "free will" over the powerful gospel of Christ despise God, and His grace.

Let us recognize this humbling truth: unless the Lord had first come to us, in His mercy--there is no way, ever, that we would have come to Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church is a distinct race that originally came form God. Other men are of the earth--they are of earthly deri-vation, the posterity of men--but the church is the posterity of God."
--Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "Christians a Chosen Generation"]

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wed., 3/20/13 Devotion (Gal. 6:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 6:14, which says this:

"But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

When it is all said and done, the one thing we must always do is cling to Christ (and receive His blood atonement accomplished on the cross). On Sunday we will celebrate--on the New Covenant Sabbath--the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Without Christ's death, the resurrection would be meaningless. And without the resurrection, the cross would be empty and void. But, to the praise of God, the church has *both* wonders to admire: that the Son of God would die for unworthy sinners; and that He would come out of the tomb for the justification of believers.

[Puritan quote of the day: "True believers are saved even though they lack assurance." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tues., 3/19/13 Devotion (Gal. 5:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 5:1, where we read these words:

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."

The glorious freedom that the children of God enjoy is a priceless treasure. This is why the world, the flesh, and the devil are constantly seeking to steal it from us. Gospel liberty must be zealously guarded, maintained, and emboldened--otherwise, the "gospels" of works, self, and law will infiltrate the soul, and destroy all our joy.

The Galatians had heard the gospel of grace from Paul. They initially embraced it. Later, they heard a gospel of law, and they began to be-lieve it. Paul's words throughout the book were designed to bring them back to Christ. May we find our souls resting in Jesus' righteous-ness alone, today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Full assurance is 'optimum maximum,' the best and greatest mercy; and therefore God will only give it to His best and dearest friends." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mon., 3/18/13 Devotion (Ex. 29:43)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 29:43, where we read these words:

"And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory."

God meets with people in His "tabernacle," or "sanctuary." Our Lord Jesus Christ has, in His resurrected and glorified body, already "enter-ed" this realm in heaven (cf. Heb. 9:12 & 24). Now, because the God-Man has finished His work, and poured out His Spirit on His New Cove-nant Church, the sanctuary is greatly expanded, all over the face of the earth.

God dwells in heaven, in humble hearts, and in holy Sabbath convoca-tions. Let us be sure to avail ourselves of our access to Him, in and through Christ--and let us be careful to always approach Him by grace through faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that is most tender of God's honor, shall find by experience that God is most mindful of his comfort."
--Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/15-17/13 Devotion

Wahoo--it is almost Sunday again! We *get* to go back to church! In order to help prepare us for the Lord's Day, here is some good doctrine from Jonathan Edwards, from his sermon entitled, "God Does What He Pleases" . . .

"God promised that He would give the heathen to Christ for His inher-itance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession. He promised that the Christian church would be as a grain of mustard seed; though very small at first, it would become as a great tree and the gates of hell would never prevail against it--and He has accomp-lished it, however difficult. By means of the ministry of a few fisher-men, He spread the gospel over the most considerable nations of the world against all the opposition that kings, the gates of hell, the sin of ignorance, and the pride, the spite, and the malice of the world could make against it. And this was done because nothing is too hard for God and because He does whatever He will."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thurs., 3/14/13 Devotion (2 Cor. 13:8)

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

"For we can do nothing against the truth, but [only] for the truth."

Those Christian churchmen who are faithful in their rightful callings: be they as apostles (which are no more); or as ministers; or as other church officers; or as believing parishioners--cannot do anything "against the truth," but only "for" it.

How is this possible? Does this not seem preposterous? It *is* possible, and true because of the superintending work of God Himself, keeping His children in the fold, and in the faith. If we live by faith today, loving Christ--then let us do what we will. Whatever we do will please God (because of Jesus' sacrifice); and it will forward the truth of the gospel.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Peter at one time believes and walks, at another time he doubts and sinks, (Matt. 14:30)." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wed., 3/13/13 Devotion (Job 42:1-3)

Today's encouragement comes from Job 42:1-3, where we read these words:

"Then Job answered the LORD and said: 'I know that You can do every-thing, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, "Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?" Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.' "

There are things about ourselves that we (ourselves) do not under-stand, which have a powerful impact on us. There are many things about God, and His providences towards us that we simply cannot grasp. But the key is to really and sincerely believe in the One who *does* fully comprehend all of these things: the Triune God.

When we are able to do this (through Christ), then we may live com-fortably in Jesus; and we may accept, without a need to untangle it, what God has meted out to us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Because faith looks at Christ in every duty, it touches the hem of His garment; and through Christ, both the per-son and the offering are accepted, (Eph. 1:6)." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Lord's Prayer"]

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tues., 3/12/13 Devotion (Ex. 23:30)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 23:30, where we read these words:

"Little by little I will drive them [the Canaanites, et. al.] out from be-fore you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land."

Sanctification is a bit-by-bit process. Whereas justification is an in-stantaneous, one time event--wherein we are regenerated from death to life--sanctification is progressive. We would not want all of Christ's sanctifying blessings in one fell swoop. To so receive them would be to try to drink from a fire hose. Instead, God metes out His growth in His children a piece at a time.

Let us be satisfied with this arrangement; and recognize that it is actually quite merciful. It is good for us to have to learn to fight and defeat a few "Canaanites" every once in a while. If the whole land were forever cleared of them, we might well grow complacent.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If is one mercy for God to love the soul, and another mercy for God to assure the soul of His love." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Friday, March 1, 2013

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

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! In order to prepare us for church, here is Thomas Watson, from, "All Things for Good":

"The Lord does not tie Himself to a particular way, or use the same order with all. He comes sometimes in a still small voice. Such as have had godly parents, and have sat under the warm sunshine of re-ligious education, often do not know how or when they were called. The Lord did secretly and gradually instil grace into their hearts, as the dew falls unnoticed in drops. They know by the heavenly effects that they are called, but the time or manner they know not. The hand moves on the clock, but they do not perceive when it moves.

"Thus God deals with some. Others are more stubborn and knotty sin-ners, and God comes to them in a rough wind. He uses more wedges of the law to break their hearts; He deeply humbles them, and shows them they are damned without Christ. Then having plowed up the fallow ground of their hearts by humiliation, He sows the seed of consolation. He presents Christ and mercy to them, and draws their wills, not only to accept Christ, but passionately to desire, and faith-fully to rest upon Him. Thus He wrought upon Paul, and called him from a persecutor to a preacher. This call, though it is more visible than the other, yet is not more real. God's method in calling sinners may vary, but the effect is still the same."