Friday, November 29, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/29-12/1/13 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his incomparable book, "A Body of Di-vinity":

"See in this, as in a transparent glass, the love of Christ to the elect. He came to redeem them; and died intentionally for them. Were it not great love for a king's son to pay a great sum of money to redeem a captive? But that he should be content to be a prisoner in his stead, and die for his ransom; this were matter of wonder. Jesus Christ has done all this, He has written His love in characters of blood. It had been much for Christ to speak a good word to His Father for us, but He knew that was not enough to redeem us. Though a word speaking made a world, yet it would not redeem a sinner. 'Without shedding of blood there is no remission,' (Heb 9:22)."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thurs., 11/28/13 Devotion (Lk. 12:1b)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 12:1b, where we find the Savior saying these words:

" . . . He [Christ] began to say to His disciples first of all, 'Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.' "

Our Redeemer prioritized this teaching (re. the pharisees and their hy-pocrisy) because He knew that it could, and would destroy His follow-ers if it was not addressed head-on. The pharisees' "leaven," (or teach-ing) is dangerous, because it seeks to seduce the soul into smug self-righteousness.

Christ's worst opponents (by far) were the pharisees--the very ones who were the most religious and devout. Jesus reserved His harshest words for them; and He warns us (even today) to watch out for their poison, (which, like the snakes the Lord compared them to, comes from their lips).

[Puritan quote of the day: "God does not bring His people into troubles, and leave them there." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wed., 11/27/13 Devotion (Lk. 11:37)

Happy Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, (that great American, and Puritan holiday)!

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 11:37, fittingly, in this sea-son.  There, we read these words:

"And as [Jesus] spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat."

Our Lord Jesus had some pretty sumptuous meals during His first ad-vent on earth. The pharisees--though short on humility--were typically long on show (and abundance). What do we learn from Christ's willing-ness to eat, even with a pharisee? That the gospel is to go to *all* sorts of people--particularly those in the very *worst* spiritual condi-tions (as was the case with the pharisees).

The dinner conversation turned a bit gnarly, as we see in vv. 39 ff., but even there our Redeemer was doing his guest a favor, by exposing his sin, and directing him to Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "So let us seriously and fruitfully consider what excellent times the Lord has set us in, and respond thankfully and obediently." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tues., 11/26/13 Devotion (Lk. 10:21a)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 10:21a, where we read these few words:

"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth . . . ' "

Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself often thanked His Heavenly Father for the various blessings and mercies that were wrought during the time of the Messiah's first advent. All genuine Spirit-filled Christian living rend-ers thanksgiving to God. There is almost nothing more wretched and disgusting, than a thankless, graceless person.

In this Thanksgiving Week, marking the one great American Puritan holiday, let us follow not only our excellent Pilgrim spiritual fathers; but even much more, our Lord, King, Savior, and Head of the church, the Lord Jesus--by giving heartfelt and sincere thanks to God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justification admits of no degrees. No, not in heaven--you are not more justified there than you are here. You are now as perfectly justified as ever and as accepted of Christ as ever."
--Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mon., 11/25/13 Devotion (Jon. 4:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Jonah 4:6, where we read these words:

"And the LORD God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant."

To his credit, Jonah was "grateful for the plant"; but it would soon be evident that Jonah's thankfulness was piecemeal. When God removed the plant, Jonah became very peevish and childish. When God refused to give Jonah a divine fireworks display, by blowing up Nineveh, it dis-pleased the prophet greatly.

True gratitude that honors God is universal and uniform. This does not mean that we churchmen will always get it right; but it does mean that we are to set our hearts on being grateful to God for all things, be they "good" or "evil."

[Puritan quote of the day: "As the sun rises by degrees till it comes to shine in glory, so it was with the Sun of Righteousness [Christ]. He re-vealed Himself in the church little by little." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glo-rious Freedom"]

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/22-24/13 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is almost here. In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Lord's Prayer" book:

"If all be a gift, then it is not a debt, and we cannot say to God as that creditor who said, 'Pay me what you owe,' (Matt. 18:28). Who can make God a debtor, or do any act that is obliging and meritorious? Whatever we receive from God is a gift; we can give nothing to Him but what He has given to us. 'All things come from You, and of Your own have we given to You, ' (1 Chron. 29:14).

"David and his people offered to the building of God's house gold and silver, but they offered nothing but what God had given them. 'Of Your own have we given You.' If we love God, it is He that has given us a heart to love Him. If we praise Him, He both gives us the organ of tongue, and puts it in tune. If we give alms to others, He has given alms to us first, so that we may say, 'We offer, O Lord, of Your own to You.' Is all a gift, how absurd, then, is the doctrine of merit? . . . We cannot deserve a bit of bread, much less a crown of glory. If all be a gift, then merit is exploded, and shut out of doors."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thurs., 11/21/13 Devotion (Lk. 5:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 5:8, where we read these words:

"When Simon Peter saw it [the miraculous catch of fish], he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!' "

Here is an irony: Peter knows himself to be a sinner, so he implores his Redeemer to "depart from [him]." Thankfully, Christ did *not* do as Peter suggested. If our Savior "departed" from us every time we sin-ned, we would never have Him near us, ever.

True humility--which Peter was to learn more fully later--is not in seek-ing Christ's "departure" because of the commission of sins. Rather, it is begging His abiding with us, despite them. Peter does do three things very well here: he worships Christ, he confesses his sinfulness, and he calls Jesus "Lord."

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are no sins God's people are more subject to than unbelief and impatience." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wed., 11/20/13 Devotion (Lk. 4:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 4:20, where we read these words:

"Then He [Jesus] closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him."

In this world, the only time the people of God can collectively gaze up-on Jesus intently is in church on Sunday. In today's text (above), the Lord Christ is keeping the old Sabbath. The citizens of Nazareth are, too. They have heard the Word of God read (by Christ), and now the Messiah is about to expound on it. As He does so, the congregants are locked-in on the Redeemer.

This is a good pattern for all who would be Christ's followers today. Let *us* "fix our eyes on Jesus," (as per Heb. 12:2a). Then, upon leaving church, let us love and follow the Savior, (rather than seek to throw Him off the cliff, as the Nazarenes had hoped to do).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is called grace. He is the grace of God clothed with man's nature." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Free-dom"]

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tues., 11/19/13 Devotion (1 Chron. 14:12)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 14:12, where we read these words:

"And when they [the Philistines] left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire."

In my opinion, this is one of the funniest verses in all the Bible. The doltish Philistines lug their gods onto the battlefield, as they seek to take on David and the Israelites--and just as soon as they get routed, the Philistines abandon their gods. What good are gods like that? They are nothing but a burden.

David did the right thing with the Philistine false gods: he burned them up. May we be just as ruthless with our abominable idols, too. They may appear to be a bit more "sophisticated" than the Philistine gods, but they are just as despicable.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Affliction does that which the Word many times will not, it 'opens the ear to discipline,' (Job 36:10)." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mon., 11/18/13 Devotion (Lk. 2:10-11)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 2:10 & 11, where we read these great words:

"Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.' "

These familiar Advent season words are applicable to the church, and to the world all the time. When we are given to fear, let us remember that overwhelming joy has been given to us--and not only to us, but to "All people." But this heavenly comfort and consolation has a Name, Christ, who is "born to [us]" in time and space.

Therefore, it matters not so much what we face today, as much as it does the One we direct our faces to (in faith). If we would but look to Jesus today, and simply ask for His help--surely we will share in the joy of His incarnation and atonement (of sinners).

[Puritan quote of the day: "And by the Spirit we have the beginnings of these [liberties] in this world, too. For, what is peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost? Is it not the beginnings of heaven . . . ?" --Rich-ard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/15-17/13 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here! To help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from "The Art of Divine Contentment":

"The humble man is the contented man; if his estate be low, his heart is lower than his estate, therefore be content. If his esteem in the world be low, he that is little in his own eyes will not be much troubled to be little in the eyes of others. He has a meaner opinion of himself, than others can have of him. The humble man studies his own unworthi-ness; he looks upon himself as 'less than the least of God's mercies,' (Gen. 32:10); and then a little will content him. He cries out with Paul, that he is the chief of sinners, (1 Tim. 1:15). Therefore do not murmur, but admire. He does not say his comforts are small, but his sins are great. He thinks it is mercy he is out of hell, therefore he is contented. He does not go to carve out a more happy condition to himself; he knows the worst piece God cuts him is better than he deserves."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thurs., 11/14/13 Devotion (Heb. 9:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 9:12, where we read these words:

"Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood [Christ] entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal re-demption."

Jesus Christ did not resort to anything short of the shedding of His own precious blood, to procure the atonement (for His elect church) that would perfectly assuage the righteous wrath of God. Jesus bore all the hell, damnation, and torment that the redeemed would have had to shoulder themselves. Now, because of His finished work, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Rom. 8:1).

This ultimate sacrifice occurred once--never to be repeated again, (as the inferior sacrifices had to be in the Old Covenant). If we are children of grace, let us marvel that our Lord is such a God of love.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Never wonder, then, or be offended to see so many fall off from God. Few men have choice spirits." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wed., 11/13/13 Devotion (Heb. 8:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 8:12, which says this:

" ' . . . For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.' "

Here, the writer of the book of Hebrews is quoting from the great New Covenant passage, from Jer., ch. 31. And what a citation! In Christ, God will "be merciful to [our] unrighteousness," and our "sins and law-less deeds [He] will remember no more." These are amazing and won-derful promises, but they only apply to those who trust in Jesus alone for their salvation.

Let all faithful churchmen marvel at the fact that God has forgiven the sins of His people. And let this liberty of heart, spirit, and conscience propel us into active lives of love for such a wonderful God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "This is the greatest slavery in the world, for a man to have no acquaintance with that which is contrary to his cor-rupt disposition." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tues., 11/12/13 Devotion (Ps. 144:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 144:15, where we read these words:

"Happy are the people who are in such a state; happy are the people whose God is the LORD!"

What "state" does the psalmist (David) have in mind, here? The state of temporal bliss, made possible through God's divine protection from His (and our) enemies. This is clear, from the verses that precede v. 15 (above). This doctrine is interesting, because sometimes we are hesitant to ascribe "happiness" to things pertaining to *this* life. But that type of religious outlook is more akin to Buddhism, than it is to authentic Christianity.

The church, "whose God is the Lord," is a blessed community. Not only do we have all the riches of glory, to be enjoyed in heaven--but we already have all the abundance of grace (in all its perfection in Jesus), to be relished here on earth.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Proud innocence is worse than humble sin, and I would rather see a man tainted with many sins, if he is humbled for them and strives against them, than another puffed up and bragging to others of his freedom from gross and notorious enormities." --Rich-ard Harris, in, "The Way to True Happiness"]

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mon., 11/11/13 Devotion (Ps. 143:8a, c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 143:8a & c, where we read these words:

"Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning . . . Cause me to know the way in which I should walk . . . "

We need to "hear" from God every morning, so that we know how to live (throughout the rest of the day). How do we "hear" from God? We wake up, and greet Him in prayer. The Lord then, through His Spirit, communicates with our spirits. How? In several ways: among them, He may bring to our remembrance what we heard from the pulpit the pre-vious Lord's Day, and/or He may communicate to us through His scrip-ture (which we should try to read everyday).

And notice: we need to hear God's "lovingkindness" in the AM. Why? Because we desperately need His encouragement (especially at that critical time).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Spirit of God is a victorious Spirit, free-ing the soul from base fears of any creature." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 8, 2013

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

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday. We GET to go to church! In order to help get us ready, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God":

"Let us contemplate the excellencies of God. He is the ‘God of glory,’ (Ps. 29:3). He is full of orient beauty--in comparison of whom both angels and men are but as the ‘small dust of the balance.’ He is the ‘God of love,’ (2 Cor. 13:11). God triumphs in acts of mercy. Well may this encourage us in our approaches to Him who delights to display the banner of free grace to sinners. If we should hear of a person of honour who was of a lovely disposition, obliging all that came to him by acts of kindness and civility, it would make us ambitiously desirous to ingra-tiate ourselves with him and to obtain his acquaintance. God is the most sovereign good, the wonder of love, ready to diffuse the silver streams of His bounty to indigent creatures. This, if anything, will make us willing to draw near to Him and acquiesce in Him as the centre of felicity.

"If we would draw near to God, let us study our own wants. Let us con-sider in what need we stand for God and that we cannot be happy with-out Him. The prodigal never drew near to his father, until he began to be in want, (Lk. 15:17). A proud sinner, who was never convinced of his want, minds not to come near God; he [thinks he has] a stock of his own to live upon . . . "

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thurs., 11/7/13 Devotion (Ps. 138:7a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 138:7a, where we read these words:

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me . . . "

We should be encouraged by this little Holy Spirit-inspired phrase. The knowledge and certainty of God's personal "revival" (in this world) is enough to carry us through the difficult times we are having presently. Faith says, "I know deliverance is coming, and I will be very happy then. Because of this, I will praise You *now*, even before it arrives."

Are we the churched children of God through faith in Jesus?  If so, then we are guaranteed these two things: trouble, and revival. Without trouble, we would never adequately appreciate revival.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Joseph dreamed of the preferment and hon-or he would have above his brethren, but dreamed not of being sold in-to Egypt, nor of his imprisonment there." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wed., 11/6/13 Devotion (Ps. 135:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 135:6, where we read these words:

"Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places."

The truth of this verse (above) cuts both ways, from our experiential point of view. At once, we are glad that our God is strong, and that He is sovereign. But, on the other hand, some of the things He allows to happen do not always please us, (and they even go counter to our ex-plicit and fervent prayers).

But, in the end, we realize that we are better off trusting the Lord in all situations; and that leaving the governance of the church and the world in *His* holy hands is the only way to go. God knows all things--and that, with perfection. He knows what will most benefit Christ's church. Let us love and praise our King, the One who does *all* things well.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are two sorts of wicked persons in the world: one sort count it their heaven and happiness to domineer over others. . . . The other sort will sell their liberty, their reason, and every-thing for even a poor thing, so they may get anything that they value in the world." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tues., 11/5/13 Devotion (2 Ki. 18:22)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 18:22, where we read these words:

"But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the LORD our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’?"

This verse (above) records the words of the Assyrian official, who was seeking to taunt and discourage the people of Jerusalem, during Heze-kiah's reign. What is intriguing, is that he thought Hezekiah (who was a very faithful believer in the Lord) had *dishonored* God, by his (Hezeki-ah's) tearing down of "high places" and "altars."

In the True Religion, less is more. And even though there were fewer places for people to be religious--the ground was laid for them to be ac-tually faithful and obedient (to God), through Hezekiah's reforms. Let us be less-impressed by pomp and circumstance; and more committed to God's truth.

[Puritan quote of the day: " 'Yes, I know, Satan, that Christ loves me, because you tell me that He hates me.' " --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mon., 11/4/13 Devotion (Titus 3:3-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Titus 3:3-5.  There, the apostle wrote these words to his fellow minister:

"For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serv-ing various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the wash-ing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit."

Observe where we are, outside of Christ: totally lost, and self-right-eous. See what happens when God's love appears on the scene of our hearts: we are regenerated, washed, and renewed. What role did our "works of righteousness" have in this process? None. What role did the God's mercy have in this process? Everything.

Do we see why God despises self-righteousness? May we treasure the Gift of Jesus; and loathe our own vile claims of "righteousness."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Many men in opposing sin are like the Frenchmen in battle . . . if they meet with a good repulse from the ene-my, then their courage is cooled and daunted and no men are more cowardly and fearful than they." --Christopher Love, in, "The Mortified Christian"]

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/1-3/13 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday. We *get* to go to church! In order to help get us ready, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his excellent book, "A Body of Divinity":

"The doctrine of redemption by Jesus Christ is a glorious doctrine. It is the marrow and quintessence of the gospel, in which all a Christian’s comfort lies. Great was the work of creation, but greater the work of re-demption. It cost more to redeem us than to make us. In the one there was but the speaking of a word, in the other the shedding of blood. The creation was but the work of God’s fingers, (Psa. 8:3). Redemption is the work of His arm, (Luke 1:51). 'Having obtained eternal redemption for us,’ (Heb. 9:12).

"Christ's purchasing redemption for us implies that our sins mortgaged and sold us. Had there not been some kind of mortgaging there had been no need of redemption. When we were thus mortgaged, and sold by sin, Christ purchased our redemption. He had the best right to re-deem us, for He is our kinsman. The Hebrew word for 'Redeemer,' 'Goel,' signifies a kinsman, one that is near in blood. In the old law the nearest kinsman was to redeem his brother’s land, (Ruth 4:4). Thus Christ being near akin to us, 'Flesh of our flesh,’ is the fittest to redeem us."