Friday, February 28, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/28-3/2/14 Devotion

Wahoo! Sunday is almost here. In order to get us more ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Ten Commandments.”  These are great words touching on our inability to work our way to heaven; and of how Jesus is our only hope. . . .

"Why does God permit such an inability in man to keep the law?

"He does it: (1) To humble us. Man is a self-exalting creature; and if he has but anything of worth, he is ready to be puffed up; but when he comes to see his deficiencies and failings, and how far short he comes of the holiness and perfection which God's law requires, it pulls down the plumes of his pride, and lays them in the dust. He weeps over his inability; he blushes over his leprous spots; he says with Job, 'I abhor myself in dust and ashes.’

"(2) God lets this inability be upon us, that we may have recourse to Christ to obtain pardon for our defects, and to sprinkle our best duties with His blood. When a man sees that he owes perfect obedience to the law, but has nothing to pay, it makes him flee to Christ to be his friend, and answer for him all the demands of the law, and set him free in the court of justice."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thurs., 2/27/14 Devotion (1 Cor. 14:33)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 14:33, where we read these words:

"For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints."

Very sadly, there is a lot of confusion in a lot of congregations today. But none of this confusion is from God. Most of it comes from hirelings in the church who lead people astray.  The Lord has laid-out enough content doctrine, theo-logy, knowledge, and understanding in the Scriptures for faithful and truly-called pastors and elders to quite sufficiently lead the flocks of Christ into all the fields of plenty and peace.

The problem of confusion originates in the author of confusion (Satan), and is forwarded by his cohorts. The trouble is with sinful men who craft their own false gospels, and who spurn the only true one. Let us, by grace, sincerely cling to Jesus as His sane and well-ordered church; and enjoy by faith the benefits of life in the body of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To have grace, and to be sure that we have grace, is glory upon the throne, it is heaven on this side [of] heaven." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wed., 2/26/14 Devotion (1 Cor. 13:8a)

Today's encouragement comes from the few, but powerful words of 1 Corinth-ians 13:8a, where we read this:

"Love never fails. . . . "

Why does love never fail? Because Jesus never fails; and love is the best barometer of the Christian heart. Love always exposes the truth; and every-one--without exception--is subject to its scrutiny. When we love God first, we have the privilege of knowing that our hearts are right; and we may relish His assurances. Without sincere love for Christ, none of our other "services" ren-dered to God mean anything--(in fact, they become abominable to Him).

The real important question for us today is, "Who (or what) do we love the *most*?" If Christ is not at the top of that list, then we should face the sober-ing fact that we are idolaters. The Lord would have us love other people, and even some things--but these must be subordinate to our love for Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that frets will be willing to do evil; fretting Jonah was sinning Jonah, (Jon. 4:9)." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tues., 2/25/14 Devotion (Job 25:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Job 25:4, where we read these words:

"How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman?"

Bildad the Shuhite asked this question. It is a very good query. The answer to it is this, "No one can be righteous before God on one's own. What is neces-sary is an 'alien' righteousness." This "alien" righteousness is that of Christ, who imputes His own righteousness to sinful souls—as He is received by us by faith.

Faith follows regeneration (or the New Birth). Regeneration is God's sove-reign act of bringing to life a dead and rebellious soul. Faith is the gift of re-generation. By faith, we fetch to our hearts the Lord Jesus Christ, who then *becomes* our righteousness. Therefore, when we are asked, "Can a man be righteous before God?”—the answer is, "Yes, but only as he or she is clothed in Christ's righteousness."

[Puritan quote of the day: "A godly man loves God and therefore delights to be in His presence; he loves God and therefore takes comfort in nothing with-out Him." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mon., 2/24/14 Devotion (Lk. 10:21a)

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

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

Things can get pretty rough down here on the fallen earth. Is it not wonderful to know that God our Heavenly Father is Lord of heaven "and *earth*"? What-ever difficulties we are experiencing--no matter how real and hard they are--they are nonetheless under the watchful providential sovereignty of our Heav-enly Father.

Ours is not some "stale" deity. Instead, the Lord of heaven and earth loves us, His churchmen, more than we can imagine. He cares for us much more than we care for ourselves (or for our loved ones). Jesus "thanked" and prais-ed His Father. Let us do the same--even in difficult times.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church is the fitting place for glory. We enter into heaven in the church here." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/21-23/14 Devotion

Wahoo, Sunday is almost here! To help get us ready for the one day in the week we need to be in church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "A Body of Divinity" book:

"All believers are alike justified. Justification does not apply to some more than to others. Though there are degrees in grace, yet not in justification; one is not justified more than another; the weakest believer is as perfectly justified as the strongest. Mary Magdalene is as much justified as the Virgin Mary. This may be a comfort to a weak believer. Though you have but a drachm [small bit] of faith, you are as truly justified as he who is of the highest stature in Christ."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thurs., 2/20/14 Devotion (Lk. 6:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 6:12, where we read these words:

"Now it came to pass in those days that He [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God."

How would you and I spend all night in prayer to God? Would we not run out of things to pray about, after about 20 minutes, or so? The Lord Jesus Christ spoke to His Father in prayer, much like we would with a friend, with whom we were having an extended conversation.

We can imagine that times like those mentioned in the verse above were of the utmost joy for Christ. With the press of people around the Messiah all the time, it must have been a lovely refreshment to get away from it all, and com-mune with His Heavenly Father. Let all of us recognize that if Jesus needed this time in prayer, we (much more so) need to speak with our Father, too.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The house of God is the palace of the great King; on the Sabbath God shows Himself there through the lattice." --Thomas Wat-son, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wed., 2/19/14 Devotion (Ex. 2:24)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 2:24, which says this:

"So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abra-ham, with Isaac, and with Jacob."

This is an amazing couplet: our groaning, and God's remembering. One of the big reasons the good and perfect God gives even His beloved churchmen troubles is so that we will call out (or groan) to Him. This causes the Lord to call to mind His eternal covenant (in Christ).

The covenant of grace is fulfilled in Jesus Christ's body and blood--given for sinners, who are then brought into His family (church). It is our privilege to be in covenant with God, and to secure His aid at every turn. This covenant does not exempt us from problems--but it does provide us redemption (which is of ultimate value).

[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"]

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tues., 2/18/14 Devotion (Lk. 4:22c)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 4:22c, where we read these words:

" . . . And they said, 'Is this not Joseph’s son?' "

The people that made this statement (above) had just been marveling at how wonderful Jesus was. Later in the chapter, however, they are ready to try to throw the Messiah over the cliff of their town (Nazareth). The problem these people had was that they thought Jesus was "Joseph's son." They could not conceive of Christ as being the Son of God, (and not of a mere man: Joseph).

Such is the nature of almost all theological heresy: it starts with a mistaken foundation. If Christ was not the Son of God, He would not be sinless. He could also not atone for sinners, since He Himself would have to deal with His own sin nature. Let us recognize Jesus for who He is: the Son--not of Jo-
seph--but of God Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Defilers and profaners of ordinances, by known and allowed wickedness, provoke God more than the heathen who have no ordinances." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "A Warning to Professors of Religion"]

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mon., 2/17/14 Devotion (1 Cor. 4:17c)

Today's encouragement comes from the few words of 1 Corinthians 4:17c, which say this:

" . . . As I teach everywhere in every church."

Paul was consistent in his preaching, teaching, catechizing, and instruction. All the churches everywhere--be they in Ephesus, Colosse, Thessalonica, Corinth, Rome, or elsewhere--received uniform gospel doctrine. This was particularly true of the critically-important article of justification: that sinners are saved by grace through faith alone.

The individual churches had particular (and unique) challenges, and Paul's letters reflect his concern about these. But still, *every* church in his day, and ours, is to preach and teach certain things: foremost among them being the sufficiency and atonement of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God] rewards His subjects in this life. He gives them inward peace and joy; a bunch of grapes by the way; and oft-times riches and honor." --Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/14-16/14 Devotion

Yippee! Sunday is almost here. Here is Thomas Watson, from, "The Art of Di-vine Contentment":

"[Contentment] is a hard lesson. The angels in heaven had not learned it; they were not contented. Though their estate was very glorious, yet they were still soaring aloft, and aimed at something higher; 'the angels which kept not their first estate.' They kept not their estate, because they were not contented with their estate. Our first parents, clothed with the white robe of innocency in paradise, had not learned to be content; they had aspiring hearts, and think-ing their human nature too low and home-spun, would be crowned with the Deity, and 'be as gods.' Though they had the choice of all the trees of the garden, yet none would content them but the tree of knowledge which they supposed would have been as eye-salve to have made them omniscient. O then, if this lesson was so hard to learn in innocency, how hard shall we find it, who are clogged with corruption!"

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thurs., 2/13/14 Devotion (Rom. 16:1)

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

"I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cen-chrea . . . "

What a fantastic thing to have said about a person (above). First, the great Apostle Paul "commends" Phoebe. Second, she is a "sister," a part of a great covenantal family. Thirdly, she is a "servant of the church." Phoebe's life is valuable, and well-spent. Fourthly, she is a "servant" of a particular church--the one in "Cenchrea." Phoebe did not content herself with her association with the "invisible" church. Instead, she was committed to a local one.

Godly women are exalted in Biblical Christianity. Their roles are vitally impor-tant. The true church cannot prosper or thrive without them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ does His church more good now that He is in heaven . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wed., 2/12/14 Devotion (Gen. 45:5b)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 45:5b, where we find Joseph saying these great words:

" . . . for God sent me before you to preserve life."

Joseph is seeking to comfort his brothers, who had sold him into slavery in Egypt. He also teaches them that it was God, and not them, who was (ulti-mately) behind his (Joseph's) going there. Here (above), Joseph utters words that are universally true, in the history of the church (and of the whole world)--and that is that the Lord *always* sends His messengers (ministers) *ahead* of others, in order to make the way for life in Christ, and to stem the tide of death (in sin).

Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself was (and is) the greatest example of this. Be-cause He first experienced the cross, the tomb, and the resurrection, He has paved the way for His church to experience those same things as well.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What is the scope of all the Scriptures but
Christ . . . ?" --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tues., 2/11/14 Devotion (Mk. 14:39)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 14:39, where we read these words:

"Again He [Jesus] went away and prayed, and spoke the same words."

It is encouraging to behold that our Savior Himself--in a time of great need and anguish--prayed, and "spoke the same words.” Very often, in our cases, we do not know how to pray as we ought, (as per Rom. 8:26)--and we tend to say the same things over and over. What matters is that we desire to pour our hearts out to God our Father in prayer. Our Lord knows how to "interpret” our random efforts through the atonement Jesus has provided for His churchmen.

Therefore, let us not be discouraged if our prayer life is not all that we want it to be. Instead, let us groan out some heartfelt utterings--and know that God will be pleased with them (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Love was the chain that fastened [Jesus] to the cross." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mon., 2/10/14 Devotion (Gen. 43:29-30a)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 43:29 & 30a, which says this:

"Then [Joseph] lifted up his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, 'Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!' Then Joseph hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep." (ESV)

These tender and beautiful words (above) intimate The Lord's love for us who are His children. God's compassion goes out to us. He longs (as it were) for us. God delights to embrace and love us, as His church. Our Father speaks endearing and encouraging words to us. He provides for us all that we need in Jesus--for this life and the one to come.

How can we not love such a good and generous Heavenly Father?! Let us run into His arms of grace today, bringing Christ in our arms of faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "None refuse Christ, but such as do not know Him. He is nothing but love incarnate. He Himself was bruised to heal those who are bruised." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/7-9/14 Devotion

Sunday is coming, DV! Wahoo! Here is Thomas Watson, from "The Art of Di-vine Contentment"--in order to help prepare us for the church's worship of our Redeemer:

"God sees, in His infinite wisdom, that the same condition is not convenient for all. That which is good for one, may be bad for another. One season of weather will not serve all men’s occasions, one needs sunshine, another rain. One condition of life will not fit every man, no more than one suit of apparel will fit every body. Prosperity is not fit for all, nor yet adversity. If one man be brought low, perhaps he can bear it better; he has a greater stock of grace, more faith and patience. He can 'gather grapes of thorns,' pick some comfort out of the cross.

"Every one cannot do this. Another man is seated in an eminent place of dig-nity; he is fitter for it; perhaps it is a place that requires more parts of judg-ment, which every one is not capable of. Perhaps he can use his estate bet-ter, he has a public heart as well as a public place. The wise God sees that condition to be bad for one, which is good for another; hence it is He places men in different orbs and spheres; some higher, some lower."

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thurs., 2/6/14 Devotion (Gen. 39:9a)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 39:9b, where we find these words:

" . . . How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"

These are the words of Joseph, to Potiphar's wife. What is interesting about Joseph's response is his reference to sinning against "God." What did Mrs. Potiphar have to do with God? She probably could not have cared less (about the LORD). Joseph's speech is actually a form of evangelism of her.

Real sins against human beings translate into ultimate sins against God Him-self. Joseph did not so much fear Potiphar, as he did the Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Is there a soul who fears the Lord, who trembles at His presence? To that soul is the word of salvation sent." --Jeremiah Bur-roughs, in, "Gospel Fear"]

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wed., 2/5/14 Devotion (Mk. 8:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 8:15, which says this:

"Then [Jesus] charged them, saying, 'Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.' "

This is a very interesting verse (above). Our Lord Jesus Christ wants us, His church, to "beware" of the teaching of certain elements, which are found in every society, in every place, and in every era (of fallen humanity). The one, Pharisaism, is rather well-known. It is a hyper-religion, that seeks to be more righteous than God Himself. Essentially, it is self- or law-righteousness.

"Herod's" doctrine, however, gets much less press. It also is lethal. It is the mind-numbing mantra of liberalism, characterized by greed, racism, pride, sodomy, and false forms of civil religion. The Lord Jesus would have us be wary of both of these errant teachings. Let us be on our guard.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Saul's sparing Agag lost him the kingdom, and your sparing sin will lose you the kingdom of heaven." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Mischief of Sin"]

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tues., 2/4/14 Devotion (Mk. 7:9)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 7:9, which says this:

"And [Jesus] said to them, 'You have a fine way of rejecting the command-ment of God in order to establish your tradition!’ " (ESV)

Ask any faithful minister, and he will tell you, that most people are much more fastidious about their religious traditions, than they are about the actual com-mandments of God. This is a primary curse result of the fall of man. Tradi-tions are perceived as "safe," and manageable; whereas God's commands are considered hard and unreasonable. In fact, the exact opposite is the case.

Let us recognize that some tradition in religion is unavoidable, (and some is even to be commended).  But let us always subject our traditions to the word of God, and the gospel of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[A godly man] is not content to go to heaven alone but wants to take others there. . . . A godly man is both a diamond and a lode-stone [magnet]--a diamond for the sparkling luster of grace and a lodestone for his attractiveness." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mon., 2/3/14 Devotion (Job 2:19b)

Today's encouragement comes from Job 2:10b, where Job said this:

"Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?"

Job asks a good question here (above). God knows that too much "good" would not be good for any of us. He also knows that too much "adversity" would not be good for us, either. The Lord knows how to perfectly mix and match the two, so as to bring about His desired result: more and more Christ-likeness in His churched children.

Of course, we would think (wrongly), that we would be happy with an over-abundance of "good," and a shortage of "adversity." But we think that way be-cause we do not know what is best for us. God does. Therefore, let us rejoice in the good things in Jesus; and thank God for the tribulations that come our way, too.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is infinitely greater than kings. He is universal King of heaven and earth, the absolute Sovereign of all things." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Warnings of Scripture"]