Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thurs., 10/31/13 Devotion (2 Tim. 3:14)

Happy Reformation Day!

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

"But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them . . . "

As we come to a clearer and clearer understanding of the gospel--we must "continue" in it (that greater light). The blessed knowledge that regenerated Christians are truly righteous in God's sight--not because of our own alleged righteousness--but because of the imputed right-eousness of Christ (received by faith alone), becomes for us a great comfort.

Let us never move away from our lifeline, our happiness, and our power supply. Let us "continue" in the gospel, knowing that we received it (ul-tiimately) by divine revelation from God Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For want of hearts full of love [for God, men have heads full of error." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wed., 10/30/13 Devotion (2 Tim. 2:1)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 2:1, where we read these words:

"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

This is a precious verse. What are we to be "strong" in? The "grace that is in Christ Jesus." What is this grace? It is sufficient grace--that is more than able to meet our specific, everyday and eternal needs. How are we "strong" in this grace? By faith. When we believe God, that He will answer our prayers, and help us in our needs--it greatly honors Him.

The thing to avoid, is the idea that we need to "get our acts together" *before* we can be strong in Christ's grace. The truth is that this simple faith, whereby we appropriate to our hearts the Lord Jesus Himself *causes* us to "get our acts together." Are we weak today? Let us put our faith in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For from our neglect of prayer comes that deadness of spirit, that worldly-mindedness and unaptness to pray, to hear the Word, and to keep the Sabbath." --John Preston, in his ser-mon entitled, "The Saint's Daily Exercise"]

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tues., 10/29/13 Devotion (2 Tim. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, where Paul wrote these words:

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

To fear from time to time in a fallen world is natural and to be expect-ed. But God does not give His children a "*spirit* of fear." Instead, His Spirit working in us effects energy, grace, and sanity. None of this is to deny that even the best of churchmen fail to live up to our potential and our resources (in Christ); but the point is that we should be more and more *governed* by the Spirit that is from God.

Practically-speaking, this will mean that instead of cowering before fearful specters of the future, we begin to face them head-on, in ad-vance--believing that our God is going before us, to give us the victory (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "If God thought it fit that Adam in innocence should not be alone, but should have a helper, much more now in a state of defection since the fall do we need others' help as well as our own." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mon., 10/28/13 Devotion (Ps. 119:86c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:86c, where we read these few words:

" . . . Help me!"

Sometimes the best prayers are the simplest ones. God is not con-cerned about flowery oratory in prayer. He would rather hear a few syllables of gut-wrenching honesty, than a whole bunch of religious babble (or proud utterances).

Do we need help today? Let us ask Christ for it. Let us be as specific as we can be, for our own soul's well-being; but let us not for a moment think that the Lord cannot figure out what we are trying to say--espe-cially if we are having a hard time getting the words out. Prayer is im-portant--but it is not a magical genie coming out of a bottle, and God does not hold us to any particular formulas.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is no such thing as any inordinate-ness in holy affections; there is no such thing as excess in longings after the discoveries of the beauty of Christ Jesus . . . Men may be as covetous as they please (if I may so speak) after spiritual riches . . . " --Jonathan Edwards, in one of his sermons]

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/25-27/13 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his elucidation of the second petition ("Thy Kingdom Come") of The Lord's Prayer (which is also the title of his book):

"Here is comfort to those who are the subjects of the King of heaven. God will put forth all the royal power for their help and comfort. (1) The King of heaven will plead their cause. 'I will plead your cause, and take vengeance for you,' (Jer 51:36). (2) He will protect his people. He sets an invisible guard about them. 'I will be unto her a wall of fire round about,' (Zech 2:5). A wall, that is defensive; a wall of fire, that is offen-sive. (3) When it may be for the good of His people, he will raise up deliverance to them. 'The Lord saved them by a great deliverance,' (1 Chron 11:14). God reigning as a king, can save any way; even by con-temptible means, as the blowing of the trumpets, and blazing of lamps, (Judges 7:20). By contrary means; as when He made the sea a wall to Israel, and the waters were a means to keep them from drowning. The fish's belly was a ship in which Jonah sailed safe to shore. God will never want ways of saving His people; rather than fail, their very ene-mies shall do his work, (2 Chron 20:23). He sets Ammon and Mount Seir one against another. As God will deliver His people from temporal danger, so from spiritual danger, as from sin, and from hell. 'Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come,' (1 Thess 1:10)."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thurs., 10/24/13 Devotion (Ps. 118:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Ps. 118:5, where we read these words:

"I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place."

One of the reasons God allows His beloved churchmen to find them-selves in trouble, is so that they will call upon Him in prayer. If we never had any needs, we would quickly forget about God, and live as if He did not exist. When it pleases the Lord, He sets us in a "broad place"--a situation of relative calm and comfort.

Let us not despair in distress. Instead, we should call on the Lord. He is very pleased to rescue His children who acknowledge that He (God) alone can really help them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Despair is an exceedingly vile and con-temptible sin." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gra-cious Spirit"]

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wed., 10/23/13 Devotion (Ps. 116:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 116:1, where we read these words:

"I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplica-tions."

Among many other reasons, here is a good one for us to love God: He hears the prayers of His faithful churchmen (saints). What prayers does God "hear," in the covenantal sense? (After all, He knows the things religionists all over the world are babbling out all the time.) God hears prayers that are made through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But even these prayers should be sincere and earnest. God hears prayers that come from the heart. He answers those people who *real-ly* want to be heard. God does not hear prayers offered from self-,
law-, or works-righteousness; but He does hear those that are "soak-ed," as it were, in the blood righteousness of Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Although to true religion there must indeed be something else besides affection, yet true religion consists so much in the affections that there can be no true religion without them." --Jon-athan Edwards, in, "A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections"]

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tues., 10/22/13 Devotion (Ps. 115:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 115:3, which says this:

"But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases."

This is a great verse on the sovereignty of God: the doctrine that the Lord does what He wants to, and that He is not beholden to anyone or anything. But I think we have to admit that sometimes we (even among the true church) do not always like the things the sovereign God allows to happen. After all, there are a lot of "negative" events that occur in our world (and even to ourselves).

What is the sincere and serious Christian to do about this? That is a really good question. We are to trust that the Maker of all things, and the Redeemer of His people understands and directs *all* things ac-cording to a great plan of His, (that He alone can and does fully com-prehend). We are to believe that God has His church's best interests in mind always; and that everything He does ultimately accrues for the church's good and His glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have heaven while you are on earth when you have a contented spirit; yea, in some regards it is better than heaven." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Rare Jewel of Christian Con-tentment"]

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mon., 10/21/13 Devotion (Ps. 112:6b-7)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 112:6b & 7, where we read these words:

" . . . The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD."

Whereas the memory of the wicked "rots," (Prov. 10:7); God's redeem-ed churchmen leave a blessed and enduring legacy and heritage. On top of this, those who are in Jesus, and who enjoy His righteousness are not "afraid of evil tidings." Instead, their hearts are "steadfast, trusting in the Lord."

Why is this important? Because circumstances of life--be they on a personal, or an international scale--are not to determine how happy, nor how settled we are. Let us fight a good fight of faith, let us run a good race of faith, and let us keep the faith; but at the end of the day let us leave it all in the good and sovereign hands of our faithful God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have the favor of God, this doctrine [of encouragement] teaches you that you need not be afraid of ene-mies; for whoever is your enemy, God looks upon as His enemy."
--Jonathan Edwards, in one of his great sermons]

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/18-20/13 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday's almost here. In order to help us believers get ready for the Lord's Day, here is Thomas Watson, from "A Body of Divinity":

"Justification is 'inamissibilis'; it is a fixed permanent thing, it can never be lost. The Arminians hold an apostasy from justification; today justi-fied, tomorrow unjustified; today a Peter, tomorrow a Judas; today a member of Christ, tomorrow a limb of Satan. This is a most uncomfort-able doctrine. Justified persons may fall from degrees of grace, they may leave their first love, they may lose God's favor for a time, but not lose their justification. If they are justified they are elected; and they can no more fall from their justification than from their election. If they are justified they have union with Christ; and can a member of Christ be broken off? If one justified person may fall away from Christ, all may; and so Christ would be a head without a body."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thurs., 10/17/13 Devotion (Dan. 2:44)

Today's encouragement comes from Daniel 2:44, where we read these words:

"And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a king-dom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these king-doms, and it shall stand forever."

Daniel is speaking to Nebuchadnezzar here, and is explaining the king's dream. The "kingdom" that Daniel is referring to here, is the es-tablishment of, and the proliferation of the New Covenant Church, by the Lord Jesus Christ. This kingdom is now in the process of "break-[ing] in[to] pieces" all opposing "kingdoms."

Some of these counterfeit "kingdoms" that are being destroyed arise even among professing, errant Christians. Others of them are wholly and self-proclaimedly "anti-Christian." All of them will fall, at the feet of King Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Many, in a fit of terror, are willing to do or to suffer anything to keep out of hell and go to heaven; but when the fit is over, they will not deny themselves and take up the cross to follow Christ." --Isaac Ambrose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wed., 10/16/13 Devotion (1 Thess. 2:18b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 2:18b, where we read these few words:

" . . . but Satan hindered us."

Even true believers have to admit, from time to time, that Satan gets his "licks" in on us. Does God *allow* this to happen? Yes. Is it under God's direct supervision and sovereignty? Yes. But does this lessen the fact that sometimes we feel the cold and clammy hand of the evil one on our hearts? No.

This struggle with Satan is one of the hardest parts of living the Chris-tian life down here. We must always keep in mind that God has a pur-pose for allowing the devil to sometimes seem to prevail; and we must also remember that Christ has completely crushed the snake's head, in His resurrection.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not duty, but love to duty, God looks at. It is not how much we do, but how much we love." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tues., 10/15/13 Devotion (1 Ki. 18:21a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Kings 18:21a, where we read these words:

"And Elijah came to all the people, and said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, fol-low him. . . . ' "

I like this perspective, put forth by Elijah. Even today this principle ap-plies. All people worship some deity (alleged, or true). "Let the best [God] win," should be our attitude. Is the Muslim god the true one? Then all should worship it. Is the atheists' god the true one? Then we should bow down to it. Is the secularists' god true? Let all men honor it (or her, or whatever). Is the God of the True Christian Religion the only Real Deity? Then, all human beings should worship Him.

It turns out that the Holy Trinity *is* the one and only God. We know this--among other reasons--by the resurrection of the Son of God, who lives and reigns today. He can withstand all pretenders to His throne. Let us worship the Christian God, and not fear any of the fake ones.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are the greatest reasons in the world to be a Christian . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mon., 10/14/13 Devotion (Ezek. 47:8-9a)

Today's encouragement comes from the very interesting, and inspiring 47th chapter of Ezekiel. The prophet starts out showing how Jesus, the water of life, flows from His church to all the world; and then how the Gospel brings healing wherever it goes. Here are the words of vv. 8 & 9a:

"Then he said to me: 'This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live.' "

This prophecy was initially fulfilled at Pentecost, (Acts, ch. 2), when the Gospel exploded onto the whole world--and the church would no longer be headquartered in one place (Jerusalem). But, there is a con-tinuation of Pentecost's glories, everyday, as the Good News of Jesus spreads across the globe--even in our day. Everywhere it goes, it brings healing: salvation to the elect; and temporal good to all. The reason for this is because Christ is life; and wherever He goes, He sets up His church.

Let us bless God that we have something to live for, if we belong to the Lord God. Our lives have meaning and purpose. We are ambassadors of grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Pride of spirit unsubdued will bring men to lie at the feet of others forever (Isa. 66:24). But humiliation of spirit will bring them undoubtedly out from under their feet (Mal. 4:2-3)." --Thom-as Boston, in, "The Crook in the Lot"]

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/11-13/13 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here. In order to prepare us for the church's Sabbath worship of the resurrected Christ, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Ten Commandments" book:

"Obedience must be in and through Christ. ‘He has made us accepted in the Beloved,’ (Eph. 1:6). Not our obedience, but Christ’s merits pro-cure acceptance. In every part of worship we must present Christ to God in the arms of our faith. Unless we serve God thus, in hope and confidence of Christ’s merits, we rather provoke Him than please Him. As, when king Uzziah would offer incense without a priest, God was angry with him, and struck him with leprosy, (2 Chron. 26:20). So, when we do not come to God in and through Christ, we offer up in-cense to Him without a priest, and what can we expect but severe re-bukes?"

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thurs., 10/10/13 Devotion (Php. 4:6-7)

Today's encouragement comes from Philippians 4:6 & 7, where we read these great words:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Anxiety gives way to peace, when we bring our troubles to Christ, once again assuring ourselves that we are in right relation to God, on the basis of Jesus' work alone (apprehended by faith). A lot of people pray, and are yet not relieved of their anxieties, because they are not trusting in Christ alone. (They add something else to the mix.)

God will never give true and settled peace to anyone, except those who trust in Jesus' blood (plus nothing). Let us be numbered among the few (and the humble), [to work off of a US Marine expression].

[Puritan quote of the day: "Those who converse much with God have shining hearts and shining conversations." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Hope"]

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wed., 10/9/13 Devotion (Ps. 93:12-13)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 93:12 & 13, where we read these words:

"Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O LORD, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked."

This is a comforting text, especially in the tumultuous spiritual climate of these days, wherein those who are so adamantly opposed to Christ, His church, and His gospel are flaunting their wares with impudence and shamelessness. These things tend to make the people of God afraid, and to begin to wring their hands in anxiety.

But this psalm (above) teaches us that the faithful churchman is really safe in Christ, even as the storm of adversity churns over our heads (as it does everyone else's, as well). So long as we do not cast off our faith in Jesus, we will come through the crisis on the other end, safe and sound.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have the favor of God, this doctrine [of encouragement] teaches you that you need not be afraid of ene-mies; for whoever is your enemy, God looks upon as His enemy."
--Jonathan Edwards, in one of his great sermons]

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tues., 10/8/13 Devotion (Ps. 92:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 92:13 & 14, where we read these words, from a Psalm for the Sabbath Day:

"Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing . . . "

Are some of you growing a bit older (like me); and you may be wonder-ing if your lives have been worth while, or not? If this is the case, let us recognize--even from the verses above--that only those who are firmly planted in Jesus, in His church, make all the difference in the world; and that they alone really *do* "flourish," and continue to "bear fruit in old age."

All people who forsake Jesus and His church, end up totally wasting their lives. Their miserable existences are worth nothing. On the other hand, those who plant themselves in Christ and His fertile soil of His church and gospel, are rich and fulfilled.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's blood only can merit pardon."
--Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mon., 10/7/13 Devotion (Ps. 91:9-10)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 91:9 & 10, where we read these words:

"Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling . . . "

Those who are safely trusting in Jesus' blood atonement alone to pro-tect them from the condemnation of sin's righteous judgment are the only people on earth who will weather the storms of this life (and the next). God is the churchman's "dwelling place" by faith. Faith, not any-thing else, proves to be our key to victory (1 Jn. 5:4b), since it directly binds us to Christ.

Do we want to be safe from the most real and fearful evils? Then, as the church, let us trust in Jesus alone. Let us look not to our works, or our performance--but to our Redeemer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the wicked, still, are under the covenant of works . . . " --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/4-6/13 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here! Let's get ready for church! Here is the great Thomas Watson, from his book entitled, "The Art of Divine Con-tentment":

"A contented spirit is a cheerful spirit; the Greeks call it 'euthema.' Contentment is something more than patience; for patience denotes only submission, contentment denotes cheerfulness. A contented Christian is more than passive; he does not only bear the cross, but takes up the cross, (Matt. 6:24). He looks upon God as a wise God; and whatever He does, though it be not willingly, yet sensibly, it is in order to a cure. Hence the contented Christian is cheerful, and with the apostle, 'Takes pleasure in infirmities, distresses,' etc., (2 Cor. 12:10). He does not only submit to God's dealings, but rejoices in them. He does not only say, 'Just is the Lord in all that has befallen me,' but 'Good is the Lord.' This is to be contented."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thurs., 10/3/13 Devotion (Eph. 3:21)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 3:21, where we read these words:

" . . . to Him [God] be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all genera-tions, forever and ever. Amen."

God will get His greatest levels of glory in and through His church--more than anywhere else. The reason for this, is that the redeemed (who make it up) are the recipients of the most amazing and marvelous grace. They are given the very best of heaven, even while they are here on the earth. And this most wonderful gift is that of the Son of God Himself.

Let us build our lives around Christ. If we will do this, we will find our-selves building our lives around His church. Let us do all this by grace, through faith in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If [God] brings any beginnings of grace to truth, the victory is already gotten." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Ex-cellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wed., 10/2/13 Devotion (Eph. 2:8-9)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 2:8 & 9, where we find these remarkable words:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of your-selves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

What?! We are not saved by what we do?! We are not redeemed by be-ing good?! You mean, God is not impressed with our self-righteous-ness?! Indeed, not. The elect are saved by grace through faith in Christ. Otherwise, they could "boast" of their works, and hold God hos-tage, and claim some credit for their salvation.

Let all the redeemed of the Lord affirm the gospel truth of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Every other "gospel" stinks to high heaven.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To be rich in goods and rich in goodness is a happy condition." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tues., 10/1/13 Devotion (Eph. 1:7)

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

"In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . . "

When it is all said and done, the only thing that matters in life (and re-ligion) is the soul's cleansing from sin before a Holy God. Christ's blood *alone* washes away sins; and our confidence before God is solely based in and on our faith in Him (Christ).

So much religious talk and discourse is nothing other than the bluster of foolish, proud, and idolatrous people who wish to find some substi-tute (for the blood atonement of Jesus). Let us not be ensnared by them (or their doctrine); instead may God's true churchmen rejoice in their right standing with the true God, by grace through faith in Christ alone.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a Christian's duty to triumph, not only over the world, but over Satan . . . " --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]