Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thurs., 5/30/13 Devotion (Isa. 31:4b)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 31:4b, where we read these words:

" . . . So the LORD of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion and for its hill."

Here is something that is wonderful to keep in mind--even when horrible things are happening in the world--that God always "come[s] down" to "fight" for His church, His "Mt. Zion." And when the Lord goes to war for His people--His enemies have no hope of victory.

Are we citizens of "Mt. Zion"? In other words, are we sincere believers who are covenantally-bound to a local church, that is properly and duly-constituted under Christ? Is the gospel preached there? Are the sacra-ments properly administered there? Is there discipline there? If so, then be assured of this blessed fact: God is fighting for *you*.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The purpose of Christ's coming was to de-stroy the works of the devil, both for us and in us . . . " --Richard Sib-bes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wed., 5/29/13 Devotion (Ps. 84:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 84:10, wherein we read these words:

"For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [anywhere else]. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness."

Even the humblest baptized newborn--being a member of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ--is more exalted and noble than the most afflu-ent, proud, and self-sufficient unbeliever (or hypocrite). One day in God's house is better than a thousand in a "paradise" of sin and lust.

What do *we* prefer? Those outside Christ want anything but Him. Those in Christ want nothing but Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If God should make more worlds for [a re-deemed soul], yet if He does not give Himself to it [the redeemed soul], it would not be satisfied." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excel-lency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tues., 5/28/13 Devotion (3 Jn. 2)

Today's encouragement comes from 3 John, v. 2, where we read these words:

"Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers."

This is a sweet verse (above). It reminds Christian churchmen that God is concerned about *all* facets of our being, (and not just one or two of them). The soul is the most important part of any person--and it is to get first attention; but, after it is thriving, God would have our bod-ies and every other part of our lives prosper, too.

Does this mean that sick believers are under God's displeasure? No, not at all. We cannot know the Lord's providences for His individual people; but we can know this: that *we* ought to desire, and pray for health and wellness at every level: so that the church and the gospel spread and grow--in and through the saints--to all the world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Have you forgotten the years of the right hand [viz. the extreme blessings] of the Most High?" --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mon., 5/27/13 Devotion (2 Jn. 2)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 John, v. 2, where we read these words:

" . . . Because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us for-ever . . . "

Truth is on hard times these days. For anyone to claim to own it is thought ridiculous. But truth is unavoidable. Even when foolish people deny truth's existence, they are, in making that very claim, *assuming* its existence, (though the content of their statement is patently false).

Not only do true Christians *presently* possess the truth--they will, ac-cording to the verse above, own it "forever." This is because the truth is found in Christ, who eternally always has been, and always will be the perfect Personification of it (Truth). (In this regard, see Jn. 14:6.)

[Puritan quote of the day: "To follow God fully is to follow Him as the highest good . . . " --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/24-26/13 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to help us get ready for church, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Ten Command-ments":

"The grand reason for changing the Jewish Sabbath to the Lord's Day is that it puts us in mind of the 'Mystery of our redemption by Christ.' The reason why God instituted the old Sabbath was to be a memorial of the creation; but He has now brought the first day of the week in its room in memory of a more glorious work than creation, which is re-demption. Great was the work of creation, but greater was the work of redemption. As it was said, 'The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former,' (Hag. 2:9). So the glory of the redemption was greater than the glory of the creation.

"Great wisdom was seen in making us, but more miraculous wisdom in saving us. Great power was seen in bringing us out of nothing, but greater power in helping us when we were worse than nothing. It cost more to redeem than to create us. In creation it was but speaking a word (Psa. 148:5); in redeeming there was shedding of blood (1 Pet. 1:19). Creation was the work of God's fingers, (Psa. 8:3), redemption was the work of His arm, (Luke 1:51). In creation, God gave us our-selves; in the redemption, He gave us Himself. By creation, we have life in Adam; by redemption, we have life in Christ, (Col. 3:3). By crea-tion, we had a right to an earthly paradise: by redemption, we have a title to a heavenly kingdom. Christ might well change the seventh day of the week into the first, as it puts us in mind of our redemption, which is a more glorious work than creation."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thurs., 5/23/13 Devotion (1 Jn. 2:8b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 2:8b, where we read these words:

" . . . Because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is al-ready shining."

Ever since Christ's first advent, with His glorious resurrection from the dead, His ascension into heaven, and His pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the New Covenant church, God's light has been advancing, and the world's and the devil's darkness has been on the retreat.

Does this always *appear* to us to be the case, from our limited (and emotion-laden) perspectives? No. But it is always better to trust the word of God itself, rather than our own feelings. Since God has clearly said that the "darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining," let us, His faithful church, believe Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Pray as we are able, hear as we are able, strive as we are able, do as we are able, according to the measure of grace received." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wed., 5/22/13 Devotion (1 Jn. 1:10)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 1:10, where we read these words:

"If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him [God] a liar, and His word is not in us."

Sin is an insidious thing. If we acknowledge it, we must confess it and repent of it. If we do not acknowledge it, we sin even worse (by pre-tending it does not exist). The best thing to do, in confessing sin, is to be as honest with God as we possibly can be. This requires God's as-sistance.

Confession of sin usually has these two temptations attached to it: 1) to say things to God that we do not really mean (just to ease our con-science); or, 2) to confess things to God which (in themselves) are really not sin at all. Again: the key is candor. May the Lord help us know our hearts well enough, in order to make good confession to Him.

[Puritan quote of the week: "The eyes of our souls cannot be towards Him [God] unless He has cast a gracious look upon us first." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tues., 5/21/13 Devotion (2 Pet. 3:14a)

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

"Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace . . . "

The Lord is pleased to find us "in peace." This seems like a tall order today (or during any epoch of history). But we have a responsibility to be "in peace." If our hearts are fundamentally and basically "churned up" all the time--it is evidence that we are not "in peace."

True Christian churchmen have the winds of trouble blow against their souls, (much like a tree sways in the breeze)--but his or her heart is anchored in Christ (much like how an oak tree has a huge root sys-tem). That "rootage" is the peace that is spoken of here, and in other places in the Scriptures. Let us be found to be in Christ, the "Prince of Peace."

[Puritan quote of the day: "A child of God thinks he has enough in that he has God with him . . . " --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mon., 5/20/13 Devotion (Ps. 73:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 73:17, where we read these words:

" . . . Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end."

Asaph, the writer of this Psalm, was frustrated, because he could not understand why the wicked seemed to prosper. But, once he (Asaph) came "into the sanctuary of God" everything began to make sense to him. This is an important and universal principle that the Lord insists upon: until or unless we are His church, worshipping Him on His day, we can expect no illumination or understanding.

Sunday, church, and worship give form and function to our Christian lives. Let us enter God's sanctuary Lord's Day to Lord's Day, and enjoy the fulfillment that He pours out upon us there, in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Under this gracious (New) Covenant, sincer-ity is perfection." --Richard Sibbes, in "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/17-19/13 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is almost here!  In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "A Plea to the Godly" book:

"A righteous man is of a more excellent birth. Alexander the Great feigned himself to be son to Jupiter. Every good Christian is high-born; he is born of God, and that is more than to come from princes and be of the royal blood. David thought it no small honor to be the king's son-in-law, (1 Samuel 18:18). Oh, what an infinite honor is it to be regener-ated by the Spirit and enrolled among the first-born of heaven! The righteous man derives his pedigree from the ancient of days, (Daniel 7:9). He gives the fairest nameplate, the eagle and the lion; he is near akin to the Lion of the tribe of Judah, (Isaiah 40:31)."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thurs., 5/16/13 Devotion (1 Pet. 3:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 3:8, where we read these words:

"Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous . . . "

Sometimes, in the midst of all the struggle and spiritual warfare that is going on in us, and amongst us, we tend to forget some of the most basic tenets of Christianity. Peter is telling the church here to remem-ber to love one another.

All of us--even the most mature amongst us--are weak in many ways, and are given to all kinds of sins, failings, and annoyances. God would have us be gracious and patient with one another. After all: the Lord has treated us with *ultimate* kindness in Christ, even though we de-serve none of it. Let us show those in His church forbearance and gentleness.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us pray that God will preserve pure or-dinances and powerful preaching among us. Idolatry came in at first by the want of good preaching." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Com-mandments"]

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wed., 5/15/13 Devotion (1 Pet. 3:14b-15a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 3:14b & 15a, where we read these words:

" 'And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.' But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts . . . "

Threats and trouble are an important part of every sincere Christian churchman's life. The immediate answer to them, is the sanctification of the Lord God in our hearts. This may seem a bit odd. Instead of re-prisal, or fear--the proper response is a renewal of our faith.

With this attitude and approach, the true believer is invincible. After all, her or she has God fighting for him or her.  With this kind of Ally, who needs to be much concerned about foes?

[Puritan quote of the day: "We [ministers] must be serious, earnest, and zealous in every part of our work. Our work requires greater skill, and especially greater life and zeal than any of us bring to it." --Richard Baxter, in "The Reformed Pastor"]

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tues., 5/14/13 Devotion (1 Pet. 1:7c-8a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 1:7c & 8a, where we read these words:

" . . . Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. . . . "

Is it possible to love Someone we have not seen? For that matter, is it possible to believe in the existence of Someone (God), whom we have not seen? Indeed, the answer to these questions is, "Yes."  How do we know that Jesus Christ exists; and that we can love Him? Through credible witnesses. The ultimate Witness is the Holy Spirit Himself.

If we sincerely love the God we have not seen with the eyes of our bodies, we are blessed. Christ said as much, in Jn. 20:29. The great-est realities are unseen ones. Even atheists must employ these things, in order to deny them. Let us love the Christ who is more *with* us, than we are with ourselves.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Compare sin with hell, and you shall see that sin is worse." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mon., 5/13/13 Devotion (Ps. 62:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 62:5, which says this:

"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him."

Though the saints can and do need each other in the church; and though we are all dependent (to some extent) on people in the world that we do not (and never will) know--still, in the end, it is God *alone* that we *must* have. Without Him, our lives are worthless and miser-able. With Him, everything else comes into proper focus.

Sometimes Christians have to "wait" for Christ. This is not because He is too busy for us, or that He does not care for us--but it is because this is one of the ways God develops faith, balance, and grace in His children.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you would be rid of Satan from coming in-to your quarters, fall you upon his." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/10-12/13 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is *almost* here!  In order to get us ready for church, here is the great TW, from, "A Body of Divinity":

"What are the several species or kinds of Peace?

"Peace, in Scripture, is compared to a river which parts itself into two silver streams, (Isa. 66:12).

"1. There is an external peace, and that is, (a.): Economical, or peace in a family. (b.): Political, or peace in the state. Peace is the nurse of plenty. 'He makes peace in your borders, and fills you with the finest of the wheat,’ (Psa. 147:14). How pleasant it is when the waters of blood begin to assuage, and we can see the windows of our ark open, and the dove returning with an olive branch of peace! (c.): Ecclesiastical, or peace in the church. As unity in Trinity is the greatest mystery in heav-en, unity in truth is the greatest mercy on earth. Peace ecclesiastical stands in opposition to schism and persecution."

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thurs., 5/9/13 Devotion (Ps. 55:16)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 55:16, where we read these words:

"As for me, I will call upon God, and the LORD shall save me."

David makes a personal assertion here. No matter what other people choose to do with their troubles--he, at least, will bring his to the Lord. David believed that simply "calling upon God" would be enough to se-cure His help. This is why he wrote, "The Lord shall save me."

May all God's Christian churchmen call upon Him, in trouble or in plea-sure. Let us recognize that the Lord is good; and that He alone is able to meet all of our needs--be they profound or mundane.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Those who would annihilate the ministry try to pull the stars out of Christ's hand."   --Thomas Watson, in his ser-mon, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wed., 5/8/13 Devotion (Heb. 13:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 13:6, where we read these words:

"So we may boldly say: 'The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?' "

Because God is with His precious children; and because the Lord will never forsake them; and because He is sufficient to meet all our needs (so that we need not covet what others have)--we may make the state-ment (above), and exude that kind of confidence.

Bold living is not the result of possessing the things of the world (as so many wrongly imagine). Instead, valorous conduct comes about be-cause the God who created the world, and saves His own church, is cherished in the heart.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Prayer crowns God with the honor and glory that is due to His name; and God crowns prayer with assurance and comfort." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tues., 5/7/13 Devotion (Heb. 12:1b-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 12:1b & 2a, where we read these helpful words:

" . . . and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, look-ing unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith . . . "

Here is good counsel for the church today. Let us remember that we are in a race (which is more or less a spiritual "marathon"). We have a goal. That goal is Jesus Himself; and becoming more and more like Him everyday. By faith, let us set our eyes on Him. Let us not worry too much about anything else.

All the distractions will take care of themselves, so long as we keep Christ before us. We will have "wind resistance," fatigue, and lack of breath--but it is all worth it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The heart is that which the devil strives hardest for. Never did he so strive for the body of Moses as he does for the heart of man. In religion the heart is all." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mon., 5/6/13 Devotion (Heb. 11:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 11:6, where we read these great words:

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

This verse (above) is so important. The Lord delights to see our faith in Him over anything else.  Why?  Because it leads to love for Him, (and this issues forth in Spirit-filled obedience). Many religious people think too little of faith. They are convinced that if they do extraordinary spir-itual things, God will somehow be moved to be impressed by them.

But alas, nothing is of any value without faith (in Christ). The next time we face any problem, let us simply say, "Lord, I am going to trust You through this struggle." If we are faith-filled churchmen, the Lord will be pleased with us, because He is perfectly pleased with His Son, in Whom all true Christians are found.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The law is but a dead letter in comparison to the word of the gospel. If you come merely to the law to hear the law preached, and not in a [gospel] way, you may hear it a hundred times and it will never be written in your hearts." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Worship"]

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/3-5/13 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here! So as to help get us ready for the Sab-bath Day, here are good words from the great Thomas Watson, taken from his book, "All Things for Good":

"The mercies of God quicken [make alive]. As they are loadstones [magnets] to love, so they are whetstones to obedience. 'I will walk be-fore the Lord in the land of the living,' (Psalm 116:9). He that takes a review of his blessings, looks upon himself as a person engaged for God. He argues from the sweetness of mercy to the swiftness of duty. He spends and is spent for Christ; he dedicates himself to God. Among the Romans, when one had redeemed another, he was after-wards to serve him. A soul encompassed with mercy is zealously ac-tive in God’s service.

"The mercies of God work compassion to others. A Christian is a tem-poral saviour. He feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, and visits the widow and orphan in their distress; among them he sows the golden seeds of his charity. 'A good man shows favour, and lends,' (Psalm 112:5). Charity drops from him freely, as myrrh from the tree. Thus to the godly, the mercies of God work for good; they are wings to lift them up to heaven."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thurs., 5/2/13 Devotion (Num. 9:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 9:1a, where we read these words:

"Now the LORD spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai . . . "

This little phrase (above) reminds us that God does not desert His church at anytime--not even when we feel like we are in the "wilder-ness." Even then and there the Lord "speaks" to His people. We might be inclined to "expect" God to converse with us when all is well, and we are settled into our faith, our church, and our sense of security very snugly. But do we think the same of Him when all seems dark, aim-less, and unfeeling?

Let true Christians be assured of Christ's love for them--even when they feel like they are wandering around in "the wilderness." Even there, God has ordained a ministry to feed us; and He has not aban-doned us. For this mercy, let us all be thankful.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Show your love to Christ in your vigorous resistance and opposition of Christ's enemies." --Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wed., 5/1/13 Devotion (Heb. 6:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 6:15, where we read these great words:

"And so, after he [Abraham] had patiently endured, he obtained the promise."

The most important practical fruit of sincere and saving faith in Jesus, in this world, is perseverance. Without endurance to the end, nothing else matters. It is not easy to stretch-out all the way to the finish line, and to conclude the race well. But, if we are to please God, and be satisfied in our souls, we must do this (through Christ alone).

So, are we having problems in any aspect of our lives whatsoever? If so, then, let us join our spiritual father (Abraham), and--like him--make it all the way to the finish line. (If we do, we get to enjoy the promises: in this life, and in the one to come.)

[Puritan quote of the day: "If civility were sufficient to salvation, Christ need not have died." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repent-ance"]