Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tues., 4/30/13 Devotion (Heb. 5:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 5:8, which says this:

"Though He [Christ] was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered."

Our Lord Jesus Christ has been where we are--yet without sin. Still, His sufferings on our behalf were much more severe and difficult, than any-thing God asks us to endure. We also, like our Savior, "learn obedi-ence by the things which [we] suffer."

Therefore, it is wisest for us to look to the lovely end result, rather than the present unpleasantries, when we go through hardships and trials. The goal of Christlikeness is certainly worth whatever it requires. Christ made it all the way to the end of His ministry. By grace, all His church will, as well.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God set His love from eternity upon this and that person, as particularly as if there were no other chosen than he."
--Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Knowing Christ"]

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mon., 4/29/13 Devotion (Num. 6:23-26)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 6:23b-26, where we read these words:

"Say to them: 'The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.' "

This famous benediction today only applies to those who sincerely love the Lord Jesus Christ, as they are gathered as His church. And what a wonderful pronouncement it is: we are given the assurance of God's favor, His protection, and His provision.

If we are faithful churched Christians, then we should look less upon our own failings, and our sense of unworthiness; and look more upon Christ, who is determined to bless us. Let us recognize that the Lord does not bless perfect people; He only blesses redeemed sinners.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ gives to those who come to Him such comfort and pleasure as are enough to make them forget all their for-mer labor and travail." --Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Knowing Christ"]

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/26-28/13 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! As we prepare for church worship, may these words of Jonathan Edwards, from his sermon entitled, "A Warning to Professors of Religion," bless our hearts:

"When we are in attendance on the ordinances of divine worship, we are in the special presence of God. When persons come and attend on the ordinances of God, they are said to come before God, and to come into His presence. Jer. 7:10: 'Come and stand before Me, in this house which is called by My Name.'  Ps. 100:2: 'Come before His presence with singing.'

"In diving ordinances, people have immediate [interaction] with God, either in applying to Him (as in prayer and singing praises), or in receiv-ing from Him, waiting solemnly and immediately on Him for spiritual good (as in hearing the Word), or in both applying to God and receiving from Him (as in the sacraments [baptism and the Lord's Supper])."

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thurs., 4/25/13 Devotion (Ps. 36:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 36:8, where these great words are found:

"They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures."

God is not against our pleasure. In fact, He wants us to enjoy a lot of it. The true Christian churchman must go through many trials; but this in no way diminishes the fact that he or she enjoys the greatest, and most satisfying delights. A professing believer who always hangs one's head is telling the world that he or she does not have a very good God.

If we do not fully avail ourselves of Jesus and His provisions as met-ed-out in and through His church, we will know nothing of what David speaks above.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Get contentment into the sling of your heart, and with this sacred stone you may both defy the world and conquer it." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wed., 4/24/13 Devotion (Num. 1:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 1:1a, which says this:

"Now the LORD spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the tab-ernacle of meeting, on the first day of the second month . . . "

Maybe some of us feel like we are in the "Wilderness of Sinai"--having been wandering around for years, with no apparent direction. If so, and assuming that we are faithful in Christ and His church, we should not despair. Like Moses, we also have the "tabernacle of meeting." We are privileged to bring our sacrifice of praise to the Triune God every Lord's Day, the first day of the week. Nothing in the world is greater than this.

Jesus, the anchor of our souls, will keep us tethered to Himself, no matter how difficult things may get here. God still speaks to His chil-dren today. Let us be sure to hear His voice.

[Puritan quote of the day: "But plain dealers will always be approved in the end; and the time is at hand when you will confess that they were your best friends." --Richard Baxter, in the dedication of "The Reformed Pastor"]

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tues., 4/23/13 Devotion (Ps. 34:18)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 34:18, where we read these words:

"The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit."

There is a time and place for everything; and it is always suitable to have a humbled soul. Even in the greatest joys and loftiest experienc-es of God's grace in the Lord Jesus Christ--it is lovely when the chil-dren of God have a real sense of grief (over sin). This is what our Sav-ior meant when He said "blessed are those who mourn," (in Matt. 5:4a).

Why is it blessed to mourn? Because divine comfort follows it, (Matt. 5:4b). There is no sweeter feeling, than that based on the knowledge that one's sins are forgiven (in the blood atonement of Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Even in the worst time the prophets mingled sweet comfort for the hidden remnant of faithful people." --Richard Sib-bes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mon., 4/22/13 Devotion (Lev. 26:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 26:8, where we read these words:

"Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you."

Among the many blessings that come to those who keep the covenant is this one: that a few of God's churched children would chase a whole bunch of His enemies.  This is kind of lovely.  After all, only a very small percentage of humankind (the faithful church) has any real im-pact on the most important aspects of what happens in the world.

By grace, let us be among the few, who, because of our union with Christ, make all the difference.  God never sought to overwhelm the world purely with numbers.  He delights to take it through His choice and chosen instruments.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is a Being infinitely lovely, because He has infinite excellency and beauty."   --Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Knowing Christ"]

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/19-21/13 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday!  Here is Thomas Watson, on the true Christian's peace. This comes from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"How shall we know that ours is a true peace?

"(1.) True peace flows from union with Christ. The graft or scion must first be inoculated into the tree before it can receive sap or nourishment from it; so we must first be ingrafted into Christ, before we can receive peace from Him. Have we faith? By holiness we are made like Christ; by believing we are made one with Christ, and being in Christ we have peace, (John 16:33).

"(2.) True peace flows from subjection to Christ. Where Christ gives peace, there He sets up His government in the heart: 'Of His govern-ment and peace there shall be no end,’ (Isa. 9:7). Christ is called, 'A priest upon His throne,’ (Zech. 6:13). Christ as a priest makes peace; but He will be a priest upon His throne--He brings the heart in subjec-tion to Him. If Christ be our peace, He is our Prince, (Isa. 9:6). When-ever Christ pacifies the conscience, He subdues the lust.

"(3.) True peace is after trouble. First, God lets loose a spirit of bond-age. He convinces and humbles the soul; then He speaks peace. Many say they have peace, but is this peace before a storm, or after it? True peace is after trouble. First there was the earthquake, and then the fire, and then the still small voice, (1 Kings 19:12). God pours the golden oil of peace into broken hearts."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thurs., 4/18/13 Devotion (Ps. 28:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 28:1, where David wrote these words:

"To You I will cry, O LORD my Rock: do not be silent to me, lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit."

God wants us, His children, to make urgent pleas to Him; and to ask Him to hear our prayers, and respond to them. It could seem odd to us who believe that God is sovereign, and knows all things, and does all things well, that He would want us to ask Him to "not be silent" to us.

But such is the personal nature of the God that we serve through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He expects us to be honest with Him; and for us to address the world, and even our prayers to Him, with heart-felt realism, (and not a sanctified "stoicism").

[Puritan quote of the day: "When you read in the historical parts of Scripture an account of the sins of which others have been guilty, re-flect on yourselves as you go along, and inquire whether you do not in some degree live in the same or like practices." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Necessity of Self-Examination"]

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wed., 4/17/13 Devotion (Ps. 27:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 27:1, where David wrote these great words:

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"

Life contains many fearful moments, events, and even people. But the Christian believer need not be overwhelmed by these. And the way we overcome the fear of man, is through our greater fear of God. It was only because the Lord *was* David's "light and salvation," and "the strength of [his] life"--that he was able to conquer subordinate "fears."

Are we feeling unsettled today? Let us recognize that Christ is our love, and our fear. With this perspective, we cannot be intimidated.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When the times are troublesome, a good conscience makes it calm. If the conscience is clear, so what if the days are cloudy?" --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Content-ment"]

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tues., 4/16/13 Devotion (Ps. 25:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 25:10, where we read these words:

"All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies."

Are we faithful by grace to our Savior, and do we demonstrate this through church covenant (baptismal) steadfastness? If so, then God is also faithful to us--and He will lead us in paths of "mercy and truth." Our faithfulness is not a result of our own goodness; instead, it is the fruit of God's gift to us of genuine and real faith in Christ.

If we are in Christ (and therefore in covenant with God) let us take comfort from the fact that our Father will only direct us into what is ulti-mately good for us, and also what is truly best for us. Let us persevere to the end--we will not regret doing so.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The best men are severe to themselves, [but] tender over others." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mon., 4/15/13 Devotion (1 Tim. 4:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 4:4 & 5, where we read these words:

"For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."

For those faithful Christians in the church, nothing God made can be (in itself) bad.  For those outside Christ and the church, everything God created might be twisted to be made sinful.  God would have His chil-dren enjoy everything He has created, so long as we do not make idols of His those things.

Hyper-religion, and human religion seek to "out-God" God, by demand-ing things of people that the Lord Himself does not require.  Let us be concerned to live in grace, and to obey God's real commandments; without being disturbed by the hypocrisy of false religion.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Love knows that the least evils are contrary to the greatest good."   --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/12-14/13 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from, "The Art of Divine Contentment":

"Be content, by virtue of a decree. Whatever our condition be, God the umpire of the world has from everlasting decreed that condition for us; and by His providence ordered all things thereunto. Let a Christian often think with himself, 'Who has placed me here, whether I am in a high sphere, or in a lower?' Not chance or fortune, as the purblind heathens imagined; no, it is the wise God that has by His providence fixed me in this orb. We must act that scene which God would have us. . . .

"God's providence is that helm which turns about the whole ship of the universe. Say then, as holy David, 'I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because You, Lord, did it,' (Ps. 39:9). God's providence, which is nothing else but the carrying on of His decree, should be a counter-poise against discontent. God has set us in our station, and He has done it in wisdom. We fancy such a condition of life is good for us; whereas if we were our own carvers, we should often cut the worst piece. . . . "

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thurs., 4/11/13 Devotion (Ps. 18:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 18:1 & 2, where we read these words:

"I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

When God does something overtly good for us--then, all of a sudden we are awakened from our spiritual slumber, and we give Him heartfelt praise and thanks. We then feel a bit ashamed, that we failed to praise God in the same way when the "sun wasn't shining," so to speak.

But such is life. We are so overrun by our feelings and emotions, that it is hard for us to be rational in our faith walk. As we grow in grace, let us always thank God for all things--because, in Jesus, the church is *always* supremely blessed.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Are your greatest sufferings comparable to the least spark of grace or beam of glory revealed in you or to you?"
--Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wed., 4/10/13 Devotion (2 Thess. 2:16-17)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 2:16 & 17, where we read these words:

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work."

In order for any of us to be effective Christians, we need to have a base of comfort (or security). Without this, we will never endeavor to act on our faith (through God-honoring deeds and words). This is why the Apostle Paul encourages the believers to know that they are loved by God; and that they have received hope and grace in Christ.

If we are in Christ today, we are in a blessed position--whether we feel like we are, or not.  May God make His face shine on us today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A holy despair in ourselves is the ground of true hope." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tues., 4/9/13 Devotion (Ps. 16:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 16:6, where we read these words:

"The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good in-heritance."

Why is the regenerate Christian churchman *so* blessed, in *this* world. For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that his or her sins are forgiven, and this leads to a quieted conscience. The redeemed soul is the only one that can, with integrity, get a good night's sleep.

Being given Jesus is quite enough--since He is infinitely greater than all created things put together.  But, when we get Christ, we are also given His church, His ordinances, and His means of grace. What more could we want? If we are in Christ today, let us offer a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving to God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Insofar as we are now praising God and glorifying Him for His mercy and love in Christ, we are in heaven before our time." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mon., 4/8/13 Devotion (1 Thess. 5:5)

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

"You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness."

Notice that Paul tells the faithful Thessalonian churchmen gathered on that 1st century Sunday morning when this epistle was read to them, that they were *all* "sons of light and sons of the day." This included the young and the old.  We may be quite sure that all of them--just like is true of us today--did not often *feel* like "sons of light," because of the continuous struggle with sin, temptation, and various imperfections.

Nonetheless, they still *were* "sons of light" in Christ, even as we faithful churched Christians are today, as well. And why? Because Jesus, the True and Perfect Light was in and among them (as He is us). His Person makes us children of light.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing in the world so glorious as a grown Christian."   --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/5-7/13 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is *almost* here!  In order to help us all get ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book entitled, "The Beati-tudes":

"To do God's will is for our benefit. It promotes our own self-interest. As if a king commands a subject to dig in a mine of gold, and gives him all the gold he had dug out, God bids us do His will, and that is for our good. 'And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to keep the commandments of the Lord, which I command you this day for your good?,' (Deut. 10:13). It is God's will that we should repent, and this is for our good; for repent-ance ushers in remission. 'Repent, that your sins may be blotted out,' (Acts 3:19). It is God's will that we should believe; and why is it, but that we should be crowned with salvation? 'He that believes, shall be saved,' (Mark 16:16). What God wills, is not so much our duty, as our privilege; He bids us obey His voice, and it is greatly for our good. 'Obey my voice, and I will be your God,' (Jer. 7:23). I will not only give you My angels to be your guard, but Myself to be your portion; My Spirit shall be yours to sanctify you; My love shall be yours to comfort you; My mercy shall be yours to save you; 'I will be your God.' "

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thurs., 4/4/13 Devotion (Ps. 7:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 7:1, where David wrote these great words:

"O LORD my God, in You I put my trust; save me from all those who persecute me; and deliver me."

God is very pleased when we trust Him--when we put our faith in Him (through Christ).  Are any of our lives in shambles right now?  This is not evidence, necessarily, of God's displeasure.  Perhaps, rather, it is the Lord's means by which to cause us to really rely on Him.

Down here, we *will* have trouble. We *will* need to be "delivered." The only question is this: who will we trust, to set our souls free? Let us trust in Christ. He will never fail us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do I lack bread?  I have Christ, the Bread of Life.  Am I under defilement?  His blood is like the trees of the sanctu-ary: not only for meat, but for medicine." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wed., 4/3/13 Devotion (Ps. 6:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 6:2, where David wrote these heart-felt words:

"Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled."

It is a great blessing when we are brought to "the end" of ourselves. To be made to have to "feel" the true religion is no small favor (from God). Oftentimes, the only way this can happen is through trial, tribulation, and even failure. The believer who now realizes that he or she has no resources in oneself, is suddenly in a position to experience a life of grace (in Christ).

Are we weak today? Let us go to the only One who can give us strength. He will heal us, and have mercy on us, in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A true Christian grows in beauty. Grace is the best complexion of the soul. It is, at the first planting, like Rachel: fair to look upon, but, the more it lives, the more it sends forth its rays of beauty."   --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tues., 4/2/13 Devotion (Ps. 3:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 3:6, where we read these words:

"I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set them-selves against me all around."

David wrote these words as he was fleeing from Absalom.  A believer with this much confidence surely trusts in the Lord.  There is no way anyone could adequately protect himself from "ten thousands of peo-ple."  Only God can set that kind of shield around the heart and soul of His beloved churchman.

When we trust in Christ, truly and wholeheartedly--we correspondingly lose our fear of man.  This is a faith that pleases God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is better to go with difficulty to heaven than with ease to hell."   --Thomas Watson, in the preface to "The Doc-trine of Repentance"]

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mon., 4/1/13 Devotion (Col. 2:8a, 9-10a)

Today's encouragement comes from Colossians 2:8a, & 9-10a, which says this:

"Beware lest anyone cheat you . . . For in [Christ] dwells all the full-ness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him . . . "

The free lives of redeemed Christian churchmen must always be zeal-ously guarded.  People devoid of grace--in particular, religious people devoid of saving grace--are always seeking to "cheat" the saints of their rightful inheritance in Christ.  They desire to bring us down to their level; and to see us enslaved to rules and regulations, just like they are.

The answer to this pressure is self-understanding, which is based in Christ-understanding.  The faithful believer is "complete" in Christ.  He or she needs nothing more.  Since God's "fullness" is in Jesus, we do not need look to any other beings for salvation or its benefits.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's prayer takes away the sins of our prayers."   --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]