Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wed., 12/31/14 Devotion (Rev. 22:17)

Happy New Year!

Today's encouragement comes from Revelation 22:17, where we read these words:

"And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely."

In this one little verse, in the very last chapter of the Bible, we have God's sweet formula for evangelism, and living the Christian life (generally). And that is, simply "Coming" to Christ, by grace through faith; and refreshing our-selves in Jesus—drinking deeply of Him.

And note that God's three mighty forces are at work here, inviting us to come to our Savior: the "Spirit," the Church ("Bride"), and the Word (the preached Scripture itself). If we take any one of these blessed provisions away, we not only cannot come to Jesus, we do not possess Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When God shines in the use of means, then the soul is, as it were, in heaven.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Monday, December 29, 2014

Mon., 12/29/14 Devotion (2 Chron. 34:27)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 34:27, where we read these words:

" ' . . . because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,' says the LORD."

This verse (above) is in reference to the excellent king of Judah, Josiah. When Josiah heard the Scripture read to him, he immediately responded, with faith and repentance. When Josiah inquired of God, as to the judgments pronounced on the land, the king greatly humbled himself before the Lord.

This is a wonderful encouragement for the church today. There is plenty of reason for God’s judgment to fall today; but, so long as believers are thor-oughly pierced by the gospel, and are melted in heart by the Spirit of grace, there is full hope even concerning the temporal issues of life. On top of that, through this process, the souls of Christians are made more like Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Places and conditions are happy or miserable as God grants His gracious presence more or less.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict"]

Friday, December 26, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/26-28/14 Devotion

Yippee—Sunday is coming! As we prepare for the Lord's Day, here is some encouragement from Thomas Watson's "A Body of Divinity" book:

"We glorify God, by praising Him. Doxology, or praise, is a God-exalting work. Ps. 1:23: ‘Whoever offers praise glorifies Me.’ The Hebrew word 'Bara,' to create, and 'Barak,' to praise, are [only a] little different, because the end of creation is to praise God. David was called the sweet singer of Israel, and his praising God was called glorifying God. Ps. 86:12: ‘I will praise You, O Lord my God, and I will glorify Your name.’

"Though nothing can add to God’s essential glory, yet praise exalts Him in the eyes of others. When we praise God, we spread His fame and renown, we display the trophies of His excellency. In this manner the angels glorify Him; they are the choristers of heaven, and do trumpet forth His praise. Praising God is one of the highest and purest acts of religion. In prayer we act like men; in praise we act like angels. Believers are called ‘temples of God,’ (1 Cor. 3:16). When our tongues praise, then the organs in God’s spiritual temple are sounding."

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wed., 12/24/14 Devotion (2 Chron. 29:5b)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 29:5b, where we read these words:

" . . . Sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place."

Chapter 29 of 2 Chronicles gives the model for the restoration of the world, following years of apostasy and sin. The doors of the church are repaired and opened; the ministers are gathered and consecrated to the Lord; and the peo-ple come, contribute, and worship (according to God's own design).

But one of the first necessities is the carrying out of the "rubbish from the holy place," (see above). Let the church officers among us do all that we can, to rid the church and her worship of all the man-made clutter that has deprived the God of heaven of His rightful due. But before we do that, let us cleanse our own hearts, in the blood and grace of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Tell me, saints, is it not a more sweet, comfortable, and delightful thing to look more upon one another's graces than upon one another's infirmities?” —Thomas Brooks, in, "United we Stand"]

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tues., 12/23/14 Devotion (Jn. 13:1b)

Today's encouragement comes from John 13:1b, where we read these words:

" . . . Having loved His own who were in the world, He [Christ] loved them to the end."

This is a beautiful phrase. The Lord Jesus loves His redeemed church which is yet "in the world," viz. down here, where it is tough, and where sin and the fall still assault us. This is because the church is "His own." He possesses us, by virtue of His redemption of our souls. And Christ loves us "to the end." He does not give up on us, just because we stumble around, and fail a lot of times.

Is this not a grand and glorious Savior? Even as He was anticipating His most grievous suffering (on the cross), He was thinking of us, and serving us. Let all His church love Christ in sincerity; and may we find our peace only in Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "And in the dispensing of the gospel, especially in the preaching and unfolding of the Word, the riches of God in Christ are un-folded . . . “ —Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mon., 12/22/14 Devotion (2 Chron. 26:5b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 26:5b, where we read these words:

" . . . And as long as he [King Uzziah of Judah] sought the LORD, God made him prosper."

Why is it that we fallen children of Adam insist on hurting ourselves, and our best prospects for true happiness and peace? In the case of Uzziah (above), it was his pride. So long as he was humble, and sought the Lord, things went well for him. Once he got a bit "uppity" in spirit, he thought he could do any-thing he wanted to, (like offer incense in the temple). For this transgression, God gave Uzziah leprosy, (see vv. 16 ff.).

Pride is at the root of *our* foolishness, as well. What is the Christian to do—especially when our hearts are "lifted up" in pride? We are to humble our-selves, and cast ourselves on the mercies of God as they are found in Jesus. This is done by grace, through faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Is it presumption for a man to keep the Sabbath Day? No. Why? Because it is commanded.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/19-21/14 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday, the Lord's Day, the day of resurrection, one of God's 52 holy days a year! Shifting gears today, here are the words of my second favorite Puritan of all time: the great Richard Sibbes. This snippet comes from a treatise of his, entitled, "Denial of the Best for the Church's Benefit":

"A second thing that I observe hence is this, holy and gracious men, that are led by the Spirit of God, can deny themselves and their own best good for the church's benefit. They know that God has appointed them as instruments to convey good to others; and knowing this, they labor to come to Paul's spirit, to desire to live, to have life in patience, and death in desire in regard of themselves. For it would be much better for a good man to be in heaven, out of misery, and out of this conflicting condition with the devil and devilish-mind-ed men.

"The reason is, because a good man, as soon as he is a good man, has the spirit of love in him, and 'love seeks not its own,' (1 Cor. 13:6), but the good of another; and as the love of Christ and the love of God possesses and seizes upon the soul, so self-love decays. What is gracious love but a decay of self love? The more self-love decays, the more we deny ourselves."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thurs., 12/18/14 Devotion (Jn. 8:24b)

Today's encouragement comes from John 8:24b, where we find our Lord Jesus saying this:

" . . . For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

Jesus is speaking to very religious people here. It is interesting that He does *not* say, "If you do not straighten-up your acts you will die . . . "; or, "If you do not do enough good deeds you will die . . . "; or, "If you are not more religious you will die . . . "  Instead, Christ requires one thing (only): believing that He (Jesus) is the Son of God—or else we will die in our sins.

Why is this so hard for us sinners to grasp? The gospel is so simple that self-righteous people find it highly offensive. Jesus' blood atonement virtually *ex-cludes* anything that we could add to it, via works or self-sacrifice, etc. This gospel brings God glory, and us good, (but we get no credit for our salvation).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Zeal makes the blood rise when God's honor is im-peached. . . . He who zealously loves his friend cannot bear to hear him spok-en against and be silent.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wed., 12/17/14 Devotion (2 Chron. 20:12b, c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 20:12b & c, where we read these words:

" . . . For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."

Observe the phrase, "Nor do we know what to do." This is how we often feel, when we are faced with overwhelming forces that are arrayed against us, and that are threatening our peace and security. Jehoshaphat, the godly king of Judah who uttered this prayer (above), actually *did* know that he was to trust the Lord, and rest in Him, etc.—but he did not know how this was to *practically* manifest itself (in such a stressful situation).

So it may be for some of us Christians today. What are we to do, especially when we "do not know what to do"? In v. 17 of this same chapter, the people simply "stood still." In v. 22, they sang praises to God. The result: the Lord gave them a big victory. He still does this for His church today!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sin feeds the sinner with delightful objects and then makes him mortgage his soul.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tues., 12/16/14 Devotion (Jn. 6:66-68)

Today's encouragement comes from the wonderful interchange between Christ and His disciples, as it is found in John 6:66-68:

"From that time many of [Christ's] disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?' But Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.' "

This is a very poignant scene in the ministry of the Messiah. After intentionally paring-down the numbers of His "disciples" (among the multitude) by teaching them that they would have to ingest Him into their very beings, and that God alone could draw them to Himself, etc.—the Lord Jesus is left with just a few remaining hearty souls, (one of which was Judas, who, of course, was not faithful).

Peter's confession, representing the true church throughout all ages, is not only brilliantly insightful, but it was also eminently practical: there is nowhere to go, in this world, but to Jesus—uunless one prefers hell.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When the Word comes to any place, the kingdom of heaven is said to come. . . . and Christ rules in it by the preaching of the gospel.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mon., 12/15/14 Devotion (Jn. 5:6b)

Today's encouragement comes from John 5:6b, where we find our Lord Jesus ask this question of the lame man:

" . . . 'Do you want to be made well?' "

At first glance, Christ's question of a man who had been infirm for 38 years seems almost ludicrous. But the simple fact is that it cannot be assumed that people *really* *want* to be made well. There is a certain perverse "security" in sickness that some sinners rest in. Health implies fuller and greater respon-sibilities. Most people are quite content being dead in sin, and bound for hell.

But this is not an option for the redeemed Christian churchmen of God. We are to desire life; and to be willing to live it to the full. Only in Jesus is this possible; but, so long as we abide in Him, it is also inevitable.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Fulfill your course with joy; for we take nothing to the grave with us, but a good or evil conscience.” —Samuel Rutherford, from "Letters of Samuel Rutherford"]

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/12-14/14 Devotion

Wahoo—Sunday is *almost* here! In order to help us all get ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book entitled, "The Beatitudes":

"To do God's will is for our benefit. It promotes our own self-interest. As if a king commands a subject to dig in a mine of gold, and gives him all the gold he had dug out. God bids us do his will, and that is for our good. 'And now, Is-rael, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to keep the commandments of the Lord, which I command you this day for your good?,' (Deut. 10:13).

"It is God's will that we should repent, and this is for our good; for repentance ushers in remission. 'Repent, that your sins may be blotted out,' (Acts 3:19). It is God's will that we should believe; and why is it, but that we should be crowned with salvation? 'He that believes, shall be saved,' (Mark 16:16). What God wills, is not so much our duty, as our privilege; He bids us obey His voice, and it is greatly for our good. 'Obey my voice, and I will be your God,' (Jer. 7:23). I will not only give you My angels to be your guard, but Myself to be your portion; My Spirit shall be yours to sanctify you; My love shall be yours to comfort you; My mercy shall be yours to save you; 'I will be your God.' "

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thurs., 12/11/14 Devotion (Jn. 1:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from John 1:14a, where we read these amaz-ing words:

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . "

This word "Flesh" is very strong. It connotes a sense of the Son of God fully entering into our fallenness and its resulting misery, etc.—yet, of course, with no sin of His own (either original or actual). But the fact of the incarnation has *perpetual* power. Just because the flesh-bound Messiah today is in heaven, this does not mean that He is not *just as* active in His church today (as He was in the days of His bodily earthly sojourn).

Therefore, in this joyous season, let all God's Christian churchmen remember that the One who "became flesh" for us is *still* with us. He has made His church "bone of His bone," etc., (cf. Eph. 5:30).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The happiness of man consists in communion with God and conformity to Him." —Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wed., 12/10/14 Devotion (Lk. 24:5b)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 24:5b, where we read these words, spoken by the angels at Jesus' empty tomb:

" . . . 'Why do you seek the living among the dead?' "

This is still a germane question for us, today. How often do we seek "Christ" among dead things: bad theology, superstition, and putrid forms of false reli-gion? The Living One, Jesus, is *just* that: the *Living* One. He has conquer-ed death—even the death and sin of every faithful Christian. Therefore, let us find our Savior where He *is*, and not where He is not.

Jesus lives in the highest heaven, in His risen and glorified body; but He also lives in the humblest hearts of His churchmen, through His residing Spirit. Therefore, let us seek Him there—in both places. He will be found by us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God has reserved us to these glorious times, bet-ter than our forefathers ever saw." —Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tues., 12/9/14 Devotion (Lk. 23:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 23:12, where we read these words:

"That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previous-ly they had been at enmity with each other."

Have we ever considered how the devil holds his forces together? He does this by uniting them around their hatred for Jesus—no matter how much they might otherwise despise each other. Therefore, true Christians ought to be in-finitely *more* united around Jesus, and His church's doctrine, than Satan and his followers are, around their disdain for Christ.

What made Herod and Pilate like each other? It was not their common affinity for a Jerusalem restaurant. Instead, they stood arm-in-arm in opposition to the stated Kingship of Jesus. This is why even today we find Christian hypo-crites "in bed" with Muslims, atheists, and all other unbelievers. They are unit-ed in their resistance to our unconquerable Sovereign, Christ the Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The work and business of ministers of the gospel is, as it were, that of servants: to wash and cleanse the souls of men; for this is done by the preaching of the Word, which is their main business.” —Jona-than Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "Christ the Example of Ministers"]

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mon., 12/8/14 Devotion (Lk. 22:43)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 22:43, where we read these words:

"Then an angel appeared to Him [Jesus] from heaven, strengthening Him."

All God's Christian people need strength. Even the very Captain of our souls, the Head of the church Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, did. Sometimes we children of God find ourselves in very tough circumstances. Naturally, we call out to God for deliverance and freedom (from what afflicts us). But what of-tentimes the Lord chooses to do, is *not* to immediately extricate us from our problem—but to use it as a great opportunity to make us stronger.

After all: this happened with our Savior Himself. He is in the Garden of Geth-semane, He is in agony and anguish; and His Father chooses to give Him strength (even through an angel)—for the purpose of encouraging Jesus in His horrendously difficult task of going to the cross to die for all the elect church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The nature of God is lovely in Christ, and our na-ture in Christ is lovely to Him." —Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/5-7/14 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday. In order to encourage us in our faith walk in ad-vance of The Lord’s Day, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "A Divine Cordial":

"God's purpose is the ground of assurance.

"Here is a sovereign elixir [medicine] of unspeakable comfort to those who are the called of God. Their salvation rests upon God's purpose. 'The founda-tion of God stands sure, having this seal: "The Lord knows those that are His, and, let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity,” ' (2 Tim. 2:19). Our graces are imperfect, our comforts ebb and flow, but God's foundation stands sure. They who are built upon this rock of God's eternal purpose, need not fear falling away; neither the power of man, nor the vio-lence of temptation, shall ever be able to overturn them."

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thurs., 12/4/14 Devotion (Lk. 18:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 18:1, where we read these words:

"Then He [Jesus] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart . . . "

What is it about prayer, that God so earnestly enjoins it on us? Mostly, prayer is designed to keep us in *contact* with God. If all was well with us all the time, we would grow remiss in prayer, and very independent of the Lord. It may well be that God delays answering some of our prayers solely because He wants us still coming back to Him.

If we weary in prayer, and give up on it—it is the same thing (practically-speaking) as giving up on one's belief in Christ. That is a serious matter. May we keep praying to God, all the while leaving our requests in His capable, sovereign, and holy hands.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A man full of grace has Christ in his heart, and the world under his feet; grace humbles, yet elevates.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon entitled, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wed., 12/3/14 Devotion (Lk. 17:20-21)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 17:20 & 21, which says this:

"Now when [Jesus] was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, 'The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, "See here!" or "See there!" For in-deed, the kingdom of God is within [or among] you.' "

In brief, the kingdom of God is wherever Jesus Christ is, covenantally-experi-enced. This is more than simply His omnipresence, by the Spirit. It is also more than His locative position in heaven, where His glorified body and blood is. It is also much more than a future "kingdom" on earth. The kingdom of God is now—wherever Christ is glorified in His church: in the individual ex-pression of particular saints; and in the corporate worship of the body of Christ.

Let us be thankful that the King of the kingdom makes all the difference. The kingdom of God is "within" us, or "among” us—if Jesus is truly ours by faith.

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

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tues., 12/2/14 Devotion (Lk. 16:31)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 16:31, where we see these words, spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ:

"But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "

No one was ever turned to Christianity on the basis of beholding miracles—even the great one of Jesus' bodily resurrection. Instead, all those who are converted are so on the basis of the great miracle of regeneration (or new birth). No one believes the Bible, either, until or unless the Holy Spirit gives them Christ's righteousness (and the subsequent new nature in Him).

Therefore, let us not be surprised at the recalcitrant blindness and rebellion of many, who simply *will* not believe. The truth is they *cannot* believe, until God sovereignly calls them. Let us ask the Lord to do this for all our lost friends.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now Christ and the church are all one. They make but one mystical body. The church is the queen, and Christ is the King."
Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mon., 12/1/14 Devotion (1 Chron. 29:3)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 29:3, where we read these words of David, inspired by the Holy Spirit:

"Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver."

Whatever we value and love, we adorn. David esteemed the house of his God, having affection for it. Jesus loves His church, and bedecks her with all His gracious jewels, (cf. Rev. 21:10 ff.). Whatever or whoever we love, we are careful to bestow high honor on.

The wise and happy person loves what God loves; and invests his or her life in beautifying what will last forever. Let us set our affection on the Son of God and house of God, even as David did.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For the greatest and most glorious work that you can perform is not nearly worth so much as one drop of the blood of Christ."
--Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, November 28, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/28-30/14 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Ten Commandments” book. This section shows us our utter need of Christ and His righteousness (being imputed to our souls, by faith). . . .

"As the unregenerate cannot keep the moral law perfectly, so neither can the regenerate. 'There is not a just man upon earth, that does good and sins not’; nay, that 'sins not in doing good,' (Eccl. 7:20). There is that in the best actions of a righteous man that is damnable, if God should weigh him in the balance of justice. Alas! how are his duties fly-blown [messed-up]! He cannot pray without wandering, nor believe without doubting. 'To will is present with me, but how to perform I find not.' In the Greek it is, 'How to do it thoroughly I find not,' (Rom. 7:18). Paul, though a saint of the first magnitude, was better at willing than at performing. . . . Aaron was to make atonement for the altar, to show that the most holy offering has defilement in it, and needs atonement to be made for it, (Ex. 29:37)."

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thurs., 11/27/14 Devotion (Lk. 11:37)

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

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 11:37, fittingly, on this day. 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 advent on earth. The pharisees—though short on humility—were typically long on show (and abundance). What do we learn from Christ's willingness to eat, even with a pharisee? That the gospel is to go to *all* sorts of people—particularly those in the very *worst* spiritual conditions (as was the case with the phari-sees).

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 di-recting him to Himself.

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wed., 11/26/14 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 vari-ous blessings and mercies that were wrought during the time of the Messiah's first advent. All genuine Spirit-filled living renders thanksgiving to God. There is almost nothing more wretched and disgusting, than a thankless, graceless person.

As tomorrow many of us gather for Thanksgiving Day—the one great Ameri-can Puritan holiday—let us follow not only our excellent Pilgrim spiritual fath-ers, 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 heav-en—you are not more justified there than you are here. You are now as per-fectly justified as ever and as accepted of Christ as ever." —Jeremiah Bur-roughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tues., 11/25/14 Devotion (Jonah 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 displeased the prophet greatly.

True gratitude that honors God is universal and uniform. This does not mean that we Christians 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 revealed Himself in the church little by little." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mon., 11/24/14 Devotion (Lk. 8:1a, 39b)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 8:1a & 39b, where we read these words:

"Now it came to pass, afterward, that [Jesus] went through every city and vil-lage, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. . . . And [the formerly demon-possessed man] went his way and proclaimed through-out the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him."

Here is a great pattern of how true Christianity works. Jesus' gospel is pro-claimed from the church's pulpits, the cities of the world are filled with Christ's doctrine (cf. Acts 5:28b), and the individually-redeemed saints bring this good news to everyone they can.

Today, just like then, what Christ preaches through His clergy, the parishion-ers proclaim in their worlds and spheres of influence. In this way "every city" and "whole cit[ies]" are reached with the gospel of grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What would become of us if there were not grace above sin, and mercy above misery, and power in Christ Jesus above all the power in Satan and death?" --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/21-23/14 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Beatitudes":

"Let us carry ourselves as the children of God in magnanimity and heroical-ness [as heroes]. The saints are high-born. They are of the true bloodroyal, born of God. They must do nothing sneakingly or sordidly. They must not fear the faces of men. As said that brave-spirited Nehemiah, 'Shall such a man as I flee?' (Neh. 6:11). So, should a child of God say, 'Shall I be afraid to do my duty? Shall I unworthily comply and prostitute myself to the lusts and humors of men?'? The children of the most High should do nothing to stain or dis-honor their noble birth. A king's son scorns to do anything that is below him."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thurs., 11/20/14 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 special time the people of God can collectively gaze upon 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 ex-pound 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 cloth-ed with man's nature." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wed., 11/19/14 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 command-ment, and they were burned with fire."

To me, this is one of the funnier verses in the Bible. The Philistines lug their gods around; and after they get defeated on the battlefield by David and the Israelites, they (the Philistines) dump their gods, and do not even bother to take them with them (as they flee).

What good are gods that cannot possess enough value, so that people do not even show them a little respect, so as to get them off the field of battle?! But so it is with all idols: they are worthless. They are good only for being burned (see above). Even our "sophisticated" idols need to be thrown into the dump.

[Puritan quote of the day: “God has sent forth His messengers, and appointed ministers in His church, to be subordinate lights, to shine with the communi-cations of His light, and to reflect the beams of His glory on the souls of men." --Jonathan Edwards, from his sermon, "The True Excellency of a Gospel Min-ister"]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tues., 11/18/14 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 over-whelming 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 . . . ?" --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mon., 11/17/14 Devotion (Lk. 1:68)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 1:68, where we read these words:

"Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His peo-ple . . . "

God does not relate to us, His church, from afar. Instead, He condescends to us, perfectly, in the incarnation of His Son Jesus. Then, having visited us, the Redeemer does the unthinkable, and dies for us. But that in itself would not be enough, if He did not also rise again from the dead (for us).

For all of these reasons, we, like Zacharias, whose words are found above, ought to "Bless the Lord God of Israel." There is every cause to do so, and no reason to fail to do so. No matter how dark our days may appear, or how heavy our burdens may be—the Light is shining about us (in the Lord Jesus Christ); and His burden is light.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now when the Spirit of God sets the will at liberty, a man does what he does being fully advised by reason." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/14-16/14 Devotion

Thank God--Sunday is almost here. We get to go to church, and worship The Lord. In order to help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Art of Divine Contentment" book:

"To learn Christ, is to believe in Him: 'My Lord, and my God,' (Jn. 20:28). When we do not only believe God, but IN God, which is the actual application of Christ to ourselves, and is as it were the spreading of the sacred medicine of His blood upon our souls. Have you heard much of Christ, and yet cannot with a humble adherence say, 'My Jesus'? Be not offended if I tell you, the devil can say his creed as well as you.

"To learn Christ, is to love Christ. When we have gospel-conversations, our lives like rich diamonds cast a sparkling lustre in the church of God; and are, in some sense, parallel with the life of Christ, as the transcript with the origin-al."

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mon., 11/3/14 Devotion (Ps. 126:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 126:3, where we read these words:

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad."

If we are regenerated Christian churchman, then one thing is absolutely true of us: the Lord has done great things for us. To be given Jesus Christ, His righteousness, and His Spirit; to be placed into His church, and to be the re-cipient of His many tender mercies and gentle benevolences—is to be bless-ed, indeed.

Flowing from these (most important) spiritual blessings are numerous tempor-al benefits, as well: family, country, health, sustenance, material goods, and even recreational enjoyments. All God's people have much *more* to be thankful for than any of us could ever adequately enumerate. Let us recog-nize this—especially in our dark times—and give God proper gratitude.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A heartless, drooping, and discouraging life and walk is very unbecoming the gospel of Christ." --James Durham, in, "The Un-searchable Riches of Christ"]

Friday, October 31, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/31-11/2/14 Devotion

Happy Reformation Day!

Yippee—Sunday is almost here! In order to get ready for church let us hear from Thomas Watson, from his work entitled, "The Art of Divine Content-ment":

"Divine Motives to Contentment.

"Consider the excellency of it. Contentment is a flower that does not grow in every garden; it teaches a man how in the midst of want to abound. You would think it were excellent if I could prescribe a receipt or antidote against poverty: but behold here is that which is more excellent, for a man to want, and yet have enough, this alone contentment of spirit does bring. Contenta-tion is a remedy against all our trouble, an alleviation to all our burdens, it is the cure of care. Contentation, though it be not properly a grace (it is rather a disposition of mind), yet in it there is a happy temperature and mixture of all the graces: it is a most precious compound, which is made up of faith, pati-ence, meekness, humility, etc. which are the ingredients put into it."

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thurs., 10/30/14 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 Christ’s grace, by which we appropriate to our hearts the help we need from God, *causes* us to "get our acts together." Are we bewildered or troubled today? Let us put our faith in Christ.

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wed., 10/29/14 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 expected. But God does not give us a "*spirit* of fear." Instead, His Spirit working in us ef-fects 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 advance—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"]

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tues., 10/28/14 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 concerned about flowery oratory in prayer. He would rather hear a few syllables of gut-wrenching honesty, than a whole bunch of religious nonsense (or proud ut-terances).

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, if we are having a hard time getting the words out. Prayer is important—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 inordinateness in holy affections; there is no such thing as excess in longings after the discov-eries 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]

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mon., 10/27/14 Devotion (Ps. 119:52)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:52, where we read these words:

"I remembered Your judgments of old, O LORD, and have comforted myself."

The best way to get a good perspective on the present and the future, is to heartily believe in the God who has decreed all things in eternity past. It is al-so helpful to remember how gracious the Lord has been to His church in days gone by. All this has the effect of giving us confidence and peace in the cur-rent situation (be it "good" or "bad").

But only the faithful churched Christian can do this happy “remembering," however. For the unbelievers, their musings on God are *not* comforting at all. After all, God's "judgments" are just that, for them—unless they come by grace to faith in Christ. For us believers, on the other hand, God's judgment has already been poured out on Jesus (on the cross) for us. We can and should rejoice in the forgiveness of our sins.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God intermixes mercy with affliction. He steeps His sword of justice in the oil of mercy. There was no night so dark but Israel had a pillar of fire in it." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/24-26/14 Devotion

Yippee—Sunday is almost here! Here is Thomas Watson, from "A Divine Cor-dial," to help get us ready for church worship:

"There is nothing in God to deaden our affections or quench our love; no in-firmity, no deformity, such as usually weaken and cool love. There is that ex-cellence in God, which may not only invite, but command our love. If there were more angels in heaven than there are, and all those glorious seraphim had an immense flame of love burning in their breasts to eternity, yet could they not love God equivalently to that infinite perfection and transcendence of goodness which is in Him. Surely then here is enough to induce us to love God--we cannot spend our love upon a better object.

"Love facilitates religion. It oils the wheels of the affections, and makes them more lively and cheerful in God's service. Love takes off the tediousness of duty. Jacob thought seven years but little, for the love he bore to Rachel. Love makes duty a pleasure. Why are the angels so swift and winged in God's service? It is because they love Him. Love is never weary. He that loves God, is never weary of telling it. He that loves God, is never weary of serving Him."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thurs., 10/23/14 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 supplications."

Among many others, here is a good reason for us to love God: He hears our prayers. Precisely *what* prayers does God "hear," in the covenantal sense? (After all, He knows the things religious people 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 petitions should be sincere and earnest. The Lord hears pray-ers that come from the heart. He answers those people who *really* want to be heard. God does not hear prayers offered from self-, law-, or works-right-eousness; but He does hear those that are "soaked," 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 af-fections that there can be no true religion without them." --Jonathan Edwards, in "A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections"]

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wed., 10/22/14 Devotion (2 Thess. 3:5)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 3:5, where we read these words:

"Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the pa-tience of Christ."

This is such a great prayer of the Apostle Paul. When regenerate Christians can conceive of their Heavenly Father as an ocean of love in Christ, rather than as a wrathful Deity who still is angry with their sins—then a great and marvelous transformation takes place in their souls.

All Christian duty and obedience is futile, if it is not based in the believed in, experienced, and even “felt” love of God the Father. Slavish compliance is neither acceptable to God, nor sweet to us. Instead, joyful, childlike, and will-ing obedience comes naturally to those who know how wonderfully good and loving God really is. This kind of grateful and heart-melting willingness to fol-low the Lord Jesus supremely pleases God, the Holy Trinity.

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tues., 10/21/14 Devotion (2 Thess. 2:15)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 2:15, where we read these words:

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle."

Religious traditions are not inherently good or bad—they can be either. Paul passed some traditions along through his preaching and teaching; and others through his inspired NT epistles. All Christian worship—from the most formal, to the least embellished—employ tradition(s). Even those who consciously claim to avoid tradition, inevitably use it.

Tradition is only a problem if and when it conflicts with divine (scriptural) rev-elation—all of which points us to Jesus. When this happens, tradition must be removed, in favor of God's revealed will. Otherwise, however, let God's faith-ful church be careful to maintain, practice, and thank God for all good tradi-tion.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Zeal quickens the pursuit after glory. Zeal, encoun-tering difficulty, is emboldened by opposition and tramples upon danger."
--Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mon., 10/20/14 Devotion (2 Thess. 1:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 1:3a, where we read these words:

"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly . . . "

We do not usually think of faith as "growing." What does this mean? It refers to the fact that saving faith, which is a gift of God in regeneration, begins to be applied to more and more situations and circumstances of life. Instead of solely touching on salvation--growing faith begins to impose itself on other (and vast) tracts of everyday experiences.

Therefore, what is it that we have to face today? Whatever that is, it is to be subject to our faith in Jesus--the same miraculous faith God gave us when He joined us to our Savior in His church. Faith in Christ is to swallow-up all of our problems. Remember: faith alone pleases God, (cf. Heb. 11:6).

[Puritan quote of the day: "A believing soul dares venture his name, his es-tate, his life, yea, his eternal life on God. He dares to put them all into His hands." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/17-19/14 Devotion

Hurray—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church worship, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "A Godly Man's Picture":

"The test of a pilot is seen in a storm; so the test of a Christian is seen in af-fliction. That man has the right art of navigation who, when the boisterous winds blow from heaven, steers the ship of his soul wisely, and does not dash upon the rock of impatience. A Christian should always maintain decorum, not behaving himself in an unseemly manner or disguising himself with intemper-ate passion when the hand of God lies upon him.

"Patience adorns suffering. Affliction in Scripture is compared to a net: 'You brought us into the net,' (Psa. 66:11). Some have escaped the devil's net, yet the Lord allows them to be taken in the net of affliction. But they must not be 'as a wild bull in a net,' (Isa. 51:20), kicking and flinging against their Maker, but lie patiently till God breaks the net and makes a way for their escape."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thurs., 10/16/14 Devotion (1 Thess. 2:4)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 2:4, where we read these words:

"But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts."

The ministers of the church who are truly called by God are sent to speak to all people everywhere the gospel of Christ's grace. But they are to do so with their minds on God first. He is our principal “Audience.” What is it that *God* wants us to say? This is what must be preached. The faithful clergy do not poll the people, to determine what they want to hear. Instead, they "poll" the Lord, in order to know what He would have them proclaim.

This principle is then passed down to the entire church, wherein the people of God begin to think this way too. They begin to ask, "What is it that Christ would have me do, and say?" This is the way to be effective for Jesus in the world. Then, when God "tests our hearts," we pass with flying colors—be-cause of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is in the ship of His church; do not fear sink-ing. The church's anchor is cast in heaven. Do we not think that God loves His church, and takes as much care of it as we can?" --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wed., 10/15/14 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, follow him. . . . ' "

I like this perspective, put out by Elijah. Even today this principle applies. All people worship some deity (alleged, or true). "Let the best [God] win," as the saying goes. 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 homo-sexuals' god true? Let all people honor it. Is the God of the True Christian Re-ligion—revealed as Triune in the Scriptures—the only Real Deity? Then, let all humans and angels worship The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

It turns out that the church’s Lord *is* the one and only God. We know this—among other reasons—because of the resurrection of the Son of God, who lives and reigns today. He can withstand all pretenders to His throne. Let all sinners worship Christ, and not fear any fake gods.

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tues., 10/14/14 Devotion (Ezek. 47:12b)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 47:12b, where we read these amazing words:

"They [the trees] will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine."

The first part of Ezek., ch. 47, is remarkable--one of my favorite parts of the Bible. The expanse of the New Covenant church, and the spread of the gos-pel of grace are all in view here. Christ dwells in the "sanctuary," (the church). The church, through the Holy Spirit, feeds, nourishes, and heals the entire world—every part of it. And, in time, the "knowledge of the Lord covers the earth, as the waters cover the sea,” (Hab. 2:14).

Let us be thankful that the God of heaven has *not* abandoned His earth, or the people thereon. He has left His colony, the church, here. As the Body of Christ, let us be "feeders" and "healers" of the whole world—through the spread of the gospel of Jesus. Christ Himself is the only “medicine” that can heal sin-sick souls.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Grace continues and increases." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mon., 10/13/14 Devotion (1 Ki. 16:22b)

Today's encouragement comes from the few words which make-up 1 Kings 16:22b, which say this:

" . . . So Tibni died and Omri reigned."

These words (above) are almost comical. But this was how it was in the an-cient (and even the modern) world: when claimants to a particular throne bat-tled it out—the result was that one of them won, and the other one died. But it should dawn on us that there is a much more profound (and legitimate) appli-cation of this principle; and it is this (below). . . .

. . . When Christian churchmen are regenerated, the "old man" of the flesh dies, and the "new man" of the Spirit reigns. The *experience* of this truth is the struggle all converted souls on earth have to traverse, (and we call this, "sanctification"). Let all of us believers reckon ourselves to be dead to sin, and alive in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love Him, and the more uneasy is he at his want [lack] of love to Him." --Jonathan Edwards, in "Religious Affections"]

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/10-12/14 Devotion

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

"Doing God's will propagates the gospel. It is the diamond that sparkles in re-ligion. Others cannot see what faith is in the heart, but when they see we do God's will on earth, it makes them have a venerable opinion of religion, and become proselytes to it. Julian [the apostate], in one of his epistles, writing to Arsatius, says, 'that the Christian religion did much flourish, by the sanctity and obedience of them that professed it.'

"By doing God's will, we show our love to Christ. 'He that has My command-ments, and keeps them, he it is that loves Me,' (Jn. 14:21). What greater love to Christ than to do His will, though it cross our own? Every one would be thought to love Christ; but, how shall it be known but by this: Do we do His will on earth? . . . It is a vain thing for a man to say he loves Christ's Person, when he slights His commands. Not to do God's will on earth is a great evil."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thurs., 10/9/14 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 cultural climate of our day, 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 en-couragement] teaches you that you need not be afraid of enemies; for who-ever is your enemy, God looks upon as His enemy." --Jonathan Edwards, in one of his great sermons]

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wed., 10/8/14 Devotion (Php. 2:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Philippians 2:14, where Paul wrote these words:

"Do all things without complaining and disputing . . . "

Complaining (grumbling), and disputing (arguing) come naturally to the fallen children of Adam.  Do any parents ever have to train their children to com-plain or dispute?  It comes easily to all of us, in our sinful conditions.

But grace transforms us from being grumblers and arguers, to being helpful and thankful.  Paul will go on, and say that the genuineness of our Christian testimonies are directly linked to the godly attitude we are to have when we do anything, (see vv. 15-16).  Today, let us trust Christ to give us supernatural grace to be grateful, not disgruntled.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is not one of us who does not have many mercies if we could just see them.  But, because we do not have all that we desire, we lose the comfort of that which we have."   --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tues., 10/7/14 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 protect 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 one). God is the Christian churchman's "dwelling place" by faith. Faith, not anything 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 perfor-mance--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"]

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mon., 10/6/14 Devotion (Ps. 90:17a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 90:17a, where we read these words:

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us . . . "

Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote the words of the psalm (quoted above). What did he mean by "the beauty of the LORD"? All beauty comes from God, who Himself is the ultimately beautiful Being; and who is the Standard of all comeliness. Those related to Christ possess the same na-ture, Spirit, and beauty that He demonstrates, even today, in heaven.

The church's beauty is irresistible to God; and it is a prime means of attract-ing the yet-lost elect to Christ, His gospel, and His community. Let us seek to reflect and radiate God's beauty today.

[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, October 3, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/3-5/14 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here. In order to prepare us for the church's Sab-bath 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 procure accept-ance. 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 mer-its, 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 lepro-sy, (2 Chron. 26:20). So, when we do not come to God in and through Christ, we offer up incense to Him without a priest, and what can we expect but se-vere rebukes?"

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thurs., 10/2/14 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."

We sinners are not saved by anything we do. This truth can be extremely hard to accept, because we are so geared in our natural flesh to believing the exact opposite. After the Fall of man in the Garden, works went out the win-dow, (but our memory of them never left us).

To seek to be redeemed by works, or to supposedly sustain a relationship with God through works is a great affront to Christ and the gospel. If we could be saved by what we do, why would God the Father send His precious Son to die on a cruel cross for helpless sinners? Let us be grateful that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. This pleases God; and it brings us the best of everything.

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wed., 10/1/14 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 religion) is the soul's cleansing 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 peo-ple who wish to find some substitute (for the blood atonement of Jesus). Let us not be ensnared by this; and may God's true Christian churchmen rejoice in their right standing with the Lord, by grace through faith in Christ.

[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 Down-cast"]

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tues., 9/30/14 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 will endure to the end in his own strength, has failed before he even got started. Many people who embark on the journey of faith with earnest zeal, fall away. Why? Much of this is from not counting the cost (Lk. 14:28); but much of it is from not under-standing the nature of the trek.

Let us look to the Captain of our souls, Jesus (Heb. 12:2); and be encouraged by the promise that we will reap a rich harvest if we persevere—both in 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." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon entitled, "Christ's Loveliness"]

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mon., 9/29/14 Devotion (Gal. 5:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 5:1, where we read these words:

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."

The default position of the flesh--even in truly converted Christian church-men--is always back to law, and works. The Galatian congregation had been sold a "bill of goods" by a Judaizer. He was urging them to add the Old Cove-nant stipulations to their faith in Christ. Some of the Galatians were caving in. The Apostle Paul took out all his guns, and began to blast away (at this works-religion).

Let us recognize that, unless we are very careful, we also will fall back into "ordinary religion," which amounts to nothing more than what a Muslim or an atheist hopes for: rewards based on performance. Instead, let us continue to cling to Christ, by faith; and, in so doing, enjoy our blessed freedoms as chil-dren of the Great King.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Prayer is the pouring out of the soul to God; not the pouring out of words . . . " --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Down-cast"]

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/26-28/14 Devotion

Praise God—Sunday is almost here! In order to help get us ready for church, here is the great Thomas Watson, from "All Things for Good":

"There may be the seed of grace, where there is not the flower of joy. The earth may want a crop of corn, yet may have a mine of gold within. A Chris-tian may have grace within, though the sweet fruit of joy does not grow. Ves-sels at sea, that are richly fraught with jewels and spices, may be in the dark and tossed in the storm.

"A soul enriched with the treasures of grace, may yet be in the dark of deser-tion, and so tossed as to think it shall be cast away in the storm. David, in a state of dejection, prays, 'Take not thy Holy Spirit from me,' (Psalm 51:11). He does not pray, says Augustine, 'Lord, give me Thy Spirit,' but 'Take not away Thy Spirit,' so that still he had the Spirit of God remaining in him."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thurs., 9/25/14 Devotion (Gal. 1:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 1:6, where Paul wrote this:

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— . . . " (ESV)

How was this false "gospel" "different"? It still spoke of Christ, of faith, of re-pentance, and of church. It was a "different" "gospel" because it *added* things to the pure gospel. If we add but a drop of poison to a perfectly good glass of wine—it is no good anymore. If we add circumcision and the cere-monial law to the true gospel, it is no good anymore. If we add anything for-eign to the true gospel, we now have "man's" gospel, or, more accurately, we have the "devil's" gospel--because it leads people to hell.

There is a lot at stake with regard to the pure gospel of Jesus. Let us treasure it, believe it, and die for it. But let us never pollute it, to our own destruction.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Nothing more prostitutes the conscience, and no-thing utterly undoes men more, than being fast and loose with God in sacred vows and promises." --Richard Steele, in, "The Character of an Upright Man"]

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wed., 9/24/14 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). Un-believers' 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 *experience* these blessed attributes of His (love and peace), as we are maturing, 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 nat-ural 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"]

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tues., 9/23/14 Devotion (2 Cor. 12:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 12:8, where we read these words:

"Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me."

Paul is referring (above) to his famous (and never-fully-defined) "thorn in the flesh." All regenerate Christians have a "thorn in the flesh." Think with me about our most difficult and persistent "heart-struggle"--the situation that we have to face everyday, and which we wish would just "go away." This is very likely our "thorn in the flesh." Is it wrong for us to desire to be released from this hardship? No. Paul prayed three times that it might "depart from" him.

But a Sovereign God gives us these "thorns" for our good. If we could see things as the Lord does, we would actually *thank* Him that we have these problems. By faith, we may do that now--recognizing with Paul that God's grace is "sufficient" for us, in Christ, (cf. v. 9).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The object of divine love is God. God is good, and good is amiable. God is all good; and there is none good but one, and that is God." --Richard Alleine, in, "Heaven Opened"]

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mon., 9/22/14 Devotion (2 Sam. 18:9b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 18:9b, where we read these words:

" . . . so he [Absalom] was left hanging between heaven and earth."

Our Lord Jesus Christ, when He was on the cross, bearing the sins of all the elect church from all time, hung, as it were, "between heaven and earth." He bridged the infinite gap between a holy God and sinful men. The regenerate Christian, who struggles through the process of sanctification, also, in a sense, is suspended "between heaven and earth." Our old flesh natures (earth), are at war with our new natures in Jesus (heaven).

Where are the eyes of our hearts focused, today? If they are on earth, we will naturally gravitate there. If they are on heaven, we will, by grace, soar there (in our souls).

[Puritan quote of the day: "In His last sufferings, Christ sapped the very foun-dations of Satan's kingdom. He conquered His enemies in their own territo-ries, and beat them with their own weapons, as David cut off Goliath's head with his own sword." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Excellency of Christ"]

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/19-21/14 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his incomparable work, entitled, "A Body of Divinity":

"A people in covenant with God are a willing people; though they cannot serve God perfectly, they serve Him willingly. They do not grudge God a little time spent in His worship; they do not hesitate or murmur at sufferings; they will go through a sea and a wilderness, if God call. 'Your people shall be a willing people,' (Ps. 110:3). This spontaneity and willingness is from the at-tractive power of God’s Spirit: the Spirit does not force, but sweetly draws the will; and this willingness in religion makes all our services accepted. God does sometimes accept of willingness without the work, but never the work without willingness.

"God's covenant people are a consecrated people, they have holiness to the Lord written upon them. . . . God's covenant people are separated from the world, and sanctified by the Spirit. The priests under the law were not only to wash in the great laver, but were arrayed with glorious apparel, (Ex. 28:2). This was typical, to show God’s people are not only washed from gross sins, but adorned with holiness of heart: they bear not only God’s name, but im-age."