Friday, August 23, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/23-25/13 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday!  Here is Richard Sibbes, from his, "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .

"Truth is truth, and error, error, and that which is unlawful is unlawful, whether men think so or not. God has put an eternal difference be-tween light and darkness, good and ill, which no creature's conceit can alter; and therefore no man's judgment is the measure of things further than it agrees to truth stamped upon things themselves by God. For this reason, because a wise man's judgment agrees to the truth of things, a wise man may in some sense be said to be the measure of things, and the judgment of one holy wise man to be preferred before a thousand others. Such men usually are immovable as the sun in its course, because they think, and speak and live by rule. A Joshua and his house will serve God (Josh. 24:15), whatsoever others do, and will run a course contrary to the world, because their judgments lead them a contrary way. . . .

"Satan, 'the prince of this world', is judged by the gospel, and the Spirit accompanying it. His impostures are discovered, his enterprises laid open. Therefore when the gospel was spread the oracles ceased, Satan fell from heaven like lightning (Luke 10:18). Men were translated out of his kingdom into Christ's. Where prevailing is by lies, discovery is victory: 'they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men,' (2 Tim. 3:9). So that manifestation of error gives a stop to it, for none will willingly be deceived. Let truth have full scope with-out check or restraint, and let Satan and his instruments do their worst, they shall not prevail, as Jerome says of the Pelagians in his time: 'The discovery of your opinions is the vanquishing of them, your blas-phemies appear at the first blush.' "

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thurs., 8/22/13 Devotion (1 Sam. 14:45b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 14:45b, where we read these interesting words:

"As the LORD lives, not one hair of his [Jonathan's] head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day."

The people of Israel are (here, above) saving Jonathan, Saul's son, from Saul's plan to kill him. The words they use in their defense of Jon-athan are interesting: "he has worked with God this day." There is a legitimate sense in which Christians "work with God"--not only in the world, conquering His foes; but even in the sanctification process, whereby the new man in Christ "cooperates" with the Spirit's work of growth in grace. Nonetheless, we NEVER work for our salvation, or right standing with God. That comes through faith in Christ (alone).

In the proper sense, may all believers be found to be "working with God" today, as we fully trust in our blessed Redeemer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We cannot of ourselves think a good thought (2 Cor. 3:5), but the Spirit elevates and fixes the heart on God." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wed., 8/21/13 Devotion (Rom. 11:33)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 11:33, where Paul wrote these words:

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"

Everything, without exception, that God has done, does, or will ever do is good. Everything that has ever occurred, in the entire history of cre-ation, is designed to further His glory and the welfare of Christ's church. Do we believe these truths? If so, it is because we are willing to accept the wonder and amazement of Rom. 11:33--and we share in Paul's astonishment of how good and amazing God is.

Let us believe way beyond the puny purview of the teensy terrain we see with the eyes of our flesh. God is better than we could ever imag-ine Him to be.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As He is God, all things are His own, and He has a right to dispose of them according to His own pleasure."
--Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Sovereignty of God"]

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tues., 8/20/13 Devotion (Rom. 10:2-3)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 10:2 & 3, where Paul wrote these words:

"For I bear them [the unbelieving Jews] witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God."

Do we understand that a lot of religious fanatics go to hell? In today's text, the problem was not passion, but it was misplaced trust. The Jewish people that Paul is referring to (above) were all for justification (even with God), but they wanted it on their own terms: namely, through keeping the law.

What is "the righteousness of God" referred to above? It is that right-eousness that is gained through faith in Christ (and not through works). Abraham had that kind of righteousness; and everyone else who ends up in heaven has it too.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A Christian conquers, even when he is con-quered." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mon., 8/19/13 Devotion (Rom. 9:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 9:20, where we read these words:

"But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' "

Though God would have His own sincere children be very gut-wrench-ingly candid with Him, and tell Him everything in their hearts, and lay everything bare before Him--the Lord does *not* entertain complaints about *why* He has made people in one way or another.

Even when it comes to His sovereign election, (which is the immediate context of Rom. 9:20), we are not allowed to "reply against God." Of course, no one cares whether they please God, or not, until they are regenerated (born again). Therefore, it is especially ill-suited for God's redeemed people to quarrel with the Lord, as to why He elects some, and not others.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Without Christ's Spirit the soul is in confu-sion, without beauty and form . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/16-18/13 Devotion

Yippee! Sunday is ALMOST here. All God's children GET to go to church. In order to help prepare us for this amazing privilege, here is the remarkable Thomas Watson, from his, "All Things for Good" book:

"Let us then ascribe the whole work of grace to the pleasure of God's will. God did not choose us because we were worthy, but by choosing us He makes us worthy. Proud men are apt to assume and arrogate too much to themselves, in being sharers with God. While many cry out against church sacrilege, they are in the meantime guilty of a far greater sacrilege, in robbing God of His glory, while they go to set the crown of salvation upon their own head. But we must resolve all into God's purpose. The signs of salvation are in the saints, but the cause of salvation is in God.

"If it be God's purpose that saves, then it is not free will. The Pelagians are strenuous asserters of free will. They tell us that a man has an in-nate power to effect his own conversion; but this text [Eph. 1:11] con-futes it. Our calling is 'according to God's purpose.' The Scripture plucks up the root of free will. 'It is not of him that wills,' (Rom. 9:16). All depends upon the purpose of God. When the prisoner is cast at the bar, there is no saving him, unless the king has a purpose to save him. God's purpose is His prerogative royal."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thurs., 8/15/13 Devotion (1 Sam. 5:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 5:3a, where we read these words:

"And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD."

This account (above) is part of the story of when the Philistines put the ark of the Lord in the temple of their false god Dagon. While the two ob-jects were set there next to each other, Dagon fell down from his ped-estal, and had to give homage to the Lord (through the ark's presence). The poor idol could do nothing, except collapse, and break off its head and hands (see v. 4).

So it is with all idols (or false gods)--be they the primitive type of the Philistines; or the "sophisticated" style of false believers: they all end up having to fall down and give honor to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God. Let us be thankful for this fact; and let us be sure to abhor all our own idols.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is, I say, natural to think, but it is not nat-ural to think of God; this is proper to a saint." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wed., 8/14/13 Devotion (Rom. 4:2-3)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 4:2 & 3, where we read these amazing words:

"For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' "

Religious people often like to boast (at least within themselves) about how good they are. But Abraham knew better. He understood that his faithful deeds--like being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac--were not the *cause* of his right standing with God, but were, rather, the *results* of his being justified by faith.

There is nothing more despicable in the world, or in the eyes of God, than a self-, or works-righteousness person. These people despise and disdain the work of Christ, and believe themselves good enough to sat-isfy an absolutely holy God. On the judgment day, *only* those clothed with Jesus' righteousness, apprehended by faith alone, will stand.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Every man is as his God is. If you would know whether a man is a godly man or not, you must inquire what his god is like." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "A truly Godly man prefers God before all others"]

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tues., 8/13/13 Devotion (Rom. 3:28)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 3:28, where Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote these words:

"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law."

How much of our own righteousness do we have? If we answer by say-ing that we have *any* at all, then we are in deep trouble, and we have blasphemously denigrated the atonement of Christ. There is not one thing we can do to procure our right standing with God, outside of be-lieving that Jesus Christ Himself has *fully* (and not partly) accom-plished this for us.

The Fall has left us all with the accursed sense that we still somehow possess Adam's initial "righteousness."  The fact is, it is completely gone. If we are going to be justified at all, it must be done in and through Christ alone, apprehended by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Heaven is ours already, only we strive till we have full possession." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mon., 8/12/13 Devotion (1 Sam. 2:30c)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 2:30c, where we read these words:

" . . . For those who honor Me [the Lord] I will honor, and those who de-spise Me shall be lightly esteemed."

The Lord cannot be "outdone." If anyone is willing, by grace through faith in Christ alone, to "honor" Him, God will more than "return the favor." On the flip side: those who treat the Lord with disdain will be "lightly esteemed." (And to be "lightly esteemed" by God is *not* a good thing.)

How do we honor God? Only one thing pleases Him, and that is faith in Christ. (See Heb. 11:6 for vivid proof of this.) Sincere faith will, inevit-ably, lead to a life of love for God, which results in obedience, begin-ning with Sunday (Sabbath) observance, church membership, and true worship.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Morality shoots short of heaven. It is only nature refined. A moral man is but old Adam dressed in fine clothes."
--Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/9-11/13 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is *almost* here. We get to go to church! In order to help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Ten Com-mandments" book:

"Meditating on a Lord's Day morning on Christ's love, would kindle love in our hearts to Him. How can we look on His bleeding and dying for us and our hearts not be warmed with love to Him? Love is the soul of re-ligion, the purest affection. It is not rivers of oil, but sparks of love that Christ values. And sure, as David said, 'While I was musing the fire burned,' (Ps. 39:3); so, while we are musing of Christ's love in redeem-ing us, the fire of our love will burn towards Him. Then the Christian is in a blessed Sabbath-frame, when, like a seraphim, he is burning in love to Christ."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thurs., 8/8/13 Devotion (Ruth 1:16)

Today's encouragement comes from Ruth 1:16, where we read these words:

"But Ruth said: 'Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from fol-lowing after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.' "

Ruth's statement to Naomi (above) is an ideal pattern for all sincere Christians. We are to ask God to permanently accept us (in Jesus), to allow us to follow Him all the way to heaven, to go through whatever circumstances He would choose for us (good or bad), to abide with Him, to make His church our own family, and to be bound perpetually to Him (in faith).

And to think that Ruth was an unclean outsider (in the Old Covenant), just like we are, in our sin and rebellion(!) God received her into His grace, just as He will embrace all believing sinners, even today. Let us be thankful that we serve such a great Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "They seek for heaven in hell that seek for spiritual love in an unchanged heart." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruis-ed Reed"]

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wed., 8/7/13 Devotion (Ps. 7:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 7:1a, where we read these words:

"O LORD my God, in You I put my trust . . . "

This is a succinct creed, and one worthy of our notice, attention, and imitation. David put his trust in the Lord, and not in anyone or anything else. Because of this, God delivered him from his fierce foes (mention-ed throughout this Psalm 7).

Let us put our trust in Christ today. If we do, we will not be disappoint-ed. We may well be assailed and mistreated by those who hate Christ--but we will *not* be put to shame. The Lord will not permit those who trust in His Son to be left to their enemies' devises.

[Puritan quote of the day: "After conversion, the saints have a principle [within them that is] contrary to sin." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Hope"]

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tues., 8/6/13 Devotion (Acts 24:16)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's words, found in Acts 24:16:

"This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without of-fense toward God and men."

God's people ought to do everything in their power to faithfully please Him; and, in so doing, to not unduly offend men either. Sometimes this is impossible. Doing what God commands *will*, in some cases, offend people. In those cases, it is always best to honor God, and let sinners be upset about it.

The rule for the church to go by is this: faithfulness to Christ is *al-ways* in *every* human beings' best interest, (even though the unre-generate do not realize, nor accept this). Let us seek to keep our con-sciences clean, by walking by faith in Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Truth is truth, and error, error, and that which is unlawful is unlawful, whether men think so or not." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mon., 8/5/13 Devotion (Jer. 33:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 33:3, where we read these words:

"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."

Do we really "call" on God, as often as we ought to? Probably not. The Lord is *so* great, that He is worthy of BIG requests. We ought to call on Him to establish His church as the glory of the earth. We should ask Him to give His faithful Christians victory over all His enemies--and to make His people agents of reconciliation and righteousness in the world.

A lot of times we just do not know how to pray. Sometimes, we pray about mundane things. But always, it is good to ask God for signifi-cant, world-changing dynamics, (which exalt Christ and bless His church).

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is never a holy sigh, never a tear shed, which is lost. . . . By prayer we learn to pray." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/2-4/13 Devotion

Sunday IS coming! Yippee. Here is some brilliant genius from Thomas Watson, as it is found in his profound work, entitled, "The Art of Divine Contentment." Pastor Watson is dealing with Paul's assertion, as it is found in Php. 4:11:

"This word, 'I have learned,' is a word that imports difficulty; it shows how hardly the apostle came by contentment of mind; it was not bred in nature. St Paul did not come naturally by it, but he had learned it. It cost him many a prayer and tear, it was taught him by the Spirit. Whence our second doctrine: GOOD THINGS ARE HARD TO COME BY. The business of religion is not so facile [easy] as most do imag-ine. 'I have learned,' says St Paul. Indeed you need not teach a man to sin; this is natural, (Ps. 58. 3)--and therefore facile. It comes as water out of a spring, It is an easy thing to be wicked. Hell will be taken with-out storm; but matters of religion must be learned. To cut the flesh is easy, but to prick a vein, and not to cut an artery, is hard. The trade of sin needs not to be learned, but the art of divine contentment is not achieved without holy industry: 'I have learned.' "

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thurs., 8/1/13 Devotion (Acts 19:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 19:20, where we read these few words:

"So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed."

It is good for both the church and the world, when the word of God grows mightily, and prevails. When the devil is put on the defensive, and the church advances boldly--real territory is gained, and Christ is glorified.

Let us pray toward this end; and let us live toward this end: that the word of God would grow and prevail. There are only two options: either God's word is advancing, or the world's (devil's) word is making head-way. Thank God that we know Christ always has the victory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Lord has a special eye upon and loves to dwell with these who are of choice and excellent spirits." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]