Monday, September 30, 2013

Mon., 9/30/13 Devotion (Gal. 6:9-10)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 6:9 & 10, where Paul wrote these words:

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."

Perseverance is difficult. Anyone who believes that he or she will en-dure to the end in one's own strength, has already failed before even getting started. Many who embark on the journey of faith with earnest zeal, fall away. Why? Largely because they did not count the cost (Lk. 14:28); but much of it is from not understanding the nature of the trek.

Let us look to the Captain of our souls, Jesus (Heb. 12:2); and be en-couraged by the promise that we will reap a rich harvest if we perse-vere--in both this world, and in the one to come.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you love anything, love something better than yourself; and that only is Christ, who is altogether lovely." --Thom-as Watson, in his sermon entitled, "Christ's Loveliness"]

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/27-29/13 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here! As we prepare to worship God in church on His day, here are good words from Thomas Watson's, "All Things for Good":

"Christ is in heaven . . . and He prays for all believers as well as He did for the apostles. 'Neither pray I for these alone but for all them that shall believe in Me,' (John 17:20). When a Christian is weak, and can hardly pray for himself, Jesus Christ is praying for him; and He prays for three things. First, that the saints may be kept from sin (John 17:15): 'I pray that You would keep them from the evil.' We live in the world as in a pest house; Christ prays that His saints may not be in-fected with the contagious evil of the times. Second, for His people’s progress in holiness. 'Sanctify them,' (John 17:17). Let them have constant supplies of the Spirit, and be anointed with fresh oil. Third, for their glorification: 'Father, I will that those which You have given Me, be with Me where I am,' (John 17:24). Christ is not content till the saints are in His arms. This prayer, which He made on earth, is the copy and pattern of His prayer in heaven. What a comfort is this; when Satan is tempting, Christ is praying! This works for good."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thurs., 9/26/13 Devotion (Gal. 2:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's great epistle to the Gala-tians, ch. 2, vv. 4 & 5:

"And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might contin-ue with you."

Notice several things about these verses: 1) the devil sometimes infil-trates God's church; 2) Satan's tools are very religious Pharisee-type, "law" people; 3) their intent is to steal away the true believers' joy and freedom in Jesus; 4) God's children owe these wolves in sheep's clothing NO allegiance or submission whatsoever; and 5) the gospel's veracity in our lives hinges on our clinging to Christ, and resisting the devil.

Are we happy and liberated in Jesus? Let us guard ourselves. There are plenty of religious people who seek to deprive us of these precious benefits.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Wicked men make pardoning grace a means of presumption; but pardoning grace rightly applied is the most genuine way to break and trouble the soul." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wed., 9/25/13 Devotion (Ps. 77:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 77:3a, where we read these words:

"I remembered God, and was troubled . . . "

This is unusual phraseology (above); but it is not irreverent, nor God-dishonoring. Remember: the Holy Spirit inspired the psalmist to write this. How is it possible for a faith-filled Christian to "Remember God, and [yet be] troubled"?

In the case of this author, he called to mind both the hard times *and* the deliverances that the Lord brought to him (in his past). Still, in the end, his faith held up, and he found comfort in the faithful and gentle shepherding God demonstrated toward His church (see v. 20). Let us have this outlook too--no matter where the Lord leads us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do you fear the Lord? He will open His se-cret to you, even that which He has hidden and kept secret from all the world, namely the secret of His covenant and your concern therein."
--John Bunyan, in, "The Fear of God"]

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tues., 9/24/13 Devotion (2 Cor. 13:11c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 13:11c, where we read these words:

" . . . And the God of love and peace will be with you."

Even the world relishes the idea of a God of "love and peace." Their "love and peace" god, however, is not the Lord of heaven and earth, who saves sinners and judges all men (according to His perfect and holy standard). Unbelievers' idea of "love and peace" is really more like, "lust, and leave me alone."

But Paul's statement above *does* apply to the redeemed church. The True God of "love and peace" *is* with us; and we particularly *experi-ence* these blessed attributes of His (love and peace), as we are ma-turing, united, and secure (as the Body of Christ), [see the earlier parts of v. 13].

[Puritan quote of the day: "If temptations arise from natural causes, then natural means, as medicines, are to be used and applied, and people would do well to be persuaded thereunto." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mon., 9/23/13 Devotion (2 Cor. 12:8-9a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 12:8 & 9a, where Paul wrote these words:

"Concerning this [thorn in the flesh] I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' "

The very thing we typically believe hinders our service and love for God--is often the very thing that most powerfully forwards it. Paul loathed his thorn, whatever (or whoever) it was--and yet it had the ef-fect of "deflating" him, so that he thought little of himself, and much of Christ.

Though it is undoubtedly very difficult, let us begin to think in this counter-cultural and counter-intuitive way as well; and let us thank God for the hardest trials we face--even those things that are likely to never change, in this world. Doing so, gives us victory (in Christ) over them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ does not bid us (says Augustine) learn of Him to work miracles, to open the eyes of the blind, to raise the dead, but He would have us learn of Him to be meek." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/20-22/13 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is almost here! What an honor: to be in the church's worship on the Lord's Day!

Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Art of Divine Contentment" book:

"[This doctrine] shows how a Christian may come to lead a comfortable life, even a heaven upon earth, be the times what they will: by Chris-tian contentment. The comfort of life does not [consist] in having much. It is Christ’s maxim, 'Man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses,' (Lu. 12. 15)--but it is in being content-ed. Is not the bee as well contented with feeding on the dew, or suck-ing from a flower, as the ox that grazes on the mountains? Content-ment lies within a man, in the heart; and the way to be comfortable, is not by having our barns filled, but our minds quiet. The contented man, said Seneca, is the happy man.

"Discontent is a fretting humour, which dries the brains, wastes the spirits, corrodes and eats out the comfort of life. A drop or two of vine-gar will sour a whole glass of wine. Let a man have the affluence and confluence of worldly comforts, a drop or two of discontent will embitter and poison all."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thurs., 9/19/13 Devotion (2 Sam. 15:26b)

Today's encouragement comes from David's lips, as his words are recorded in 2 Samuel 15:26b:

" . . . Here I am, let Him [God] do to me as seems good to Him."

David's attitude is a good one. He was being humbled by God, while the treacherous Absalom schemed to take away his throne. One gets the sense that, though David knew he deserved rough treatment from God (because of his murder and adultery, etc.)--he expected the Lord would be merciful and gracious to him, nonetheless.

And indeed God's kindness is what David received, in the end. Can *we* say, "Here I am, let God do to me as seems good to Him"? If we are truly in Christ, we can; and we need not fear a thing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There may be as much work done in one hour as in ten times as much time when the heart is not prepared for it [work]." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "Gospel Worship"]

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wed., 9/18/13 Devotion (2 Cor. 7:4c, 5c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 7:4c & 5c, where we read these words:

" . . . I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. . . . Outside were conflicts, inside were fears."

It is helpful for us to read of the Apostle Paul's experiences. We can see (above) that even he, the stalwart of faith and strength, was "fear-ful" at times. But even more than this, he could find a way (in Christ) to be "joyful" in "tribulation."

Every true believer is capable of enduring a whole lot more than he or she could ever imagine that he or she could. There is valor within that will never come to the fore unless it is put through the fire (of afflic-tions). Still, none of us look forward to these conflicts. The only thing we like is the Christlike character that develops in us (which brings us much peace, stability, and happiness).

[Puritan quote of the day: "People [become] distracted from coming to God by their own self-imposed spiritual disciplines." --John Owen, in "Sin and Temptation"]

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tues., 9/17/13 Devotion (Ps. 66:12b, c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 66:12b & c, where we read these words:

" . . . We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment."

As we are sincere believing Christians, saved by grace through faith in Christ (alone), then this much is certain: we will go through some very difficult times in this life. But this much is also a sure thing: we will be brought through them, to even higher levels of faith, character-devel-opment, joy, and fulfillment.

But no one gets the "good stuff" without first traversing some pretty dark valleys. Therefore, let us learn now, in advance, that God is good, and that Jesus is worth possessing no matter what. Then, staring into hard circumstances will not be so bad, since we *know* we will benefit on the other end.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If the thing we desire is good for us, we shall have it. If it is not good, then not having it is good for us. Resting satisfied with this promise gives contentment. --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mon., 9/16/13 Devotion (2 Cor. 5:17)

Today's encouragement comes from the familiar and lovely words of 2 Corinthians 5:17, which say this:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

Newness is a good thing. For the believing churchman, all past sins are forgiven--covered by the blood of Jesus; and the present and the future is brighter (than the past). People outside of Jesus also want "newness," and seek it all the time. But they remain in their "ancient" sins: the sin they shared in Adam; and the sins they have committed along the paths of their lives.

Christians may need to suffer more than most people; but we also have a surpassing glory that more than compensates for it: and that is our blessed life in Jesus.  Let us love Him today; and enjoy Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Happiness and rest are what all men pur-sue. But the things of the world, wherein most men seek it, can never afford it. They are laboring and spending themselves in vain." --Jona-than Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "The Peace which Christ
Gives . . . "]

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/13-15/13 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 "A Body of Divin-ity" book:

"Adore the infinite wisdom and goodness of God that found out a way to justify us by 'rich grace and precious blood.' We were all involved in guilt; none of us could plead,'not guilty'; and being guilty, we lay under a sentence of death. Now that the Judge Himself should find out a way to justify us, and the creditor Himself contrive a way to have the debt paid, and not distress the debtor, [it] should fill us with wonder and love. The angels admire the mystery of free grace in this new way of justifying and saving lost man, (1 Pet. 1:12); and should not we, who are nearly concerned in it, and on whom the benefit is devolved, cry out with the apostle, 'O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!'?"

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thurs., 9/12/13 Devotion (Ps. 56:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 56:3, where David wrote these words:

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You."

David was honest enough to admit that at some times he was "afraid." His resolve here, by grace, was to turn his fear into an opportunity to exercise his faith in Christ. This is a very wise thing to do. Is there anything we can do, to prevent fearful events from coming into our lives? No. But we can make the best of them, by trusting God, through them.

After all, it is relatively "easy" to get on with life, when everything is go-ing smoothly. The challenge is when things do not accord with what we conceive of as our "comfort zone." *That* is the time for us to demon-strate our genuine faith in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What Satan did in tempting man to fall is made an occasion of the contrary to what he intended in that it gave occasion for God to glorify Himself all the more, and gives occasion for the elect being brought to higher happiness." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Wisdom of God"]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wed., 9/11/13 Devotion (1 Cor. 16:2)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 16:2, which says this:

"On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come."

Sunday is not only the day of worship and rest--it is also the day when we offer our resources to God (during the worship service). More good is done by the "widow's mite" placed in the faithful church's offering plate on the Lord's Day, than is done by billions of dollars being given away by unbelievers throughout the rest of the week.

It is a privilege to give to Christ, through His church. God does not need anything from us; but He honors us by providing us the opportun-ity to "co-labor" with Him in the furtherance of the preaching of the gos-pel of grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Take heed that you do not rest in external purity, but seek purity of heart in the ways of God's appointment.  Seek it in a constant and diligent attendance on all God's ordinances [means of Grace]." --Jonathan Edwards, in, "Altogether Lovely"]

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tues., 9/10/13 Devotion (1 Cor. 15:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 15:1 & 2a, where we read these words:

"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved . . . "

The reiteration (or repeating) of the gospel message is very important. Paul does that here, with the Corinthian church. He had *already* "preached" it to them; now he once again "declares" it to them. The Corinthian believers had both forgotten the gospel message, and it had been misrepresented to them (by the false apostles).

And so it is with us, the church today. We also need to hear, over and over, from Lord's Day to Lord's Day, the glorious good news: that Jesus lives; and that we live in Him--by grace through faith. Let us never tire of hearing of the grace of God. It should be new and fresh to us everyday.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When a man is humbled, truly humbled, the object of his grief or sorrow or trouble is sin itself, as a dishonor done unto God." --William Bridge, in "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mon., 9/9/13 Devotion (1 Cor. 14:4)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 14:40, where we read these words:

"Let all things be done decently and in order."

Paul ends the 14th chapter of 1 Corinthians with these words (above). Earlier, he had given specific instructions about Sunday church wor-ship in the congregation (in Corinth). Though much of that particular de-tail is now abrogated, in that God's full written revelation is completed--all of it was to be done, "decently and in order."

The Lord is in no way a "kill-joy"; and His insistence on dignity and de-corum in His worship is not designed to dishearten us. Instead, the ex-act opposite is true. God provides structure and order, so that in the church--particularly in Sunday worship--we have a practical "anchor," since we have to deal with a disordered, sinful, and insane world (the rest of the week).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Flesh and blood may have its fears and dis-quiets, but grace checks them." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Di-vine Contentment"]