Monday, March 31, 2014

Mon., 3/31/14 Devotion (Prov. 18:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Proverbs 18:17, which says this:

"The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him."

This verse reminds us that it is always prudent to check out both sides of a story, before drawing any conclusions. Tale-bearers and slanderers can sound quite convincing, until the full picture comes into view. Our flesh nature is too inclined to hear what it wants to hear; and sometimes we get humbled by the truth.

If we were to listen only to those who hate Christ, where would any of us be today? Thankfully, by God's grace, we have been able to discern the "rest of the story” through the faithful preaching of the gospel. This renders Jesus lovely to us (who make up His true church).

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is a sanctified use of all troubles to God's children." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/28-30/14 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is *almost* here! We get to go to church! In order to help pre-pare us for Sunday worship, here are good words from Thomas Watson, from his "All Things for Good" book:

"When God calls a man by His grace, he cannot but come. You may resist the minister’s call, but you cannot the Spirit’s call. The finger of the blessed Spirit can write upon a heart of stone, as once He wrote His laws upon tables of stone. God’s words are creating words; when He said 'Let there be light, there was light'; and when He says, 'Let there be faith,' it shall be so. When God called Paul, he answered to the call. 'I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,' (Acts 26:19).

"God rides forth conquering in the chariot of His gospel; He makes the blind eyes see, and the stony heart bleed. If God will call a man, nothing shall lie in the way to hinder; difficulties shall be untied, the powers of hell shall disband. 'Who hath resisted his will?,' (Rom. 9:19)."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thurs., 3/27/14 Devotion (Php. 1:27b-28a)

Today's encouragement comes from Philippians 1:27b & 28a, where Paul wrote these words:

" . . . That you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries . . . "

Paul especially loved the Philippian church, largely because of their steadfast commitment to the gospel, (and consequently, to Jesus, and to him [Paul]). The church in all ages is to be united in the pursuit of Christ's gospel ends; and we are never to be afraid of those who resist (or oppress) us, as we seek to speak Jesus’ Name everywhere.

Let us Christians be bold and courageous today. So long as we love the Lord Jesus, we have no reason to be intimidated by His (or our) foes.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is no greater sign of a rotten heart than a fundamental unsteadfastness in the covenant of God." --Richard Steele, in, "The Character of an Upright Man"]

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wed., 3/26/14 Devotion (Jn. 16:33)

Today's encouragement comes from John 16:33, where our Lord Jesus said this:

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Notice that the Christian churchman's peace is in Christ. It is never to be found in the "world," or in anything other than Christ. Our union with Jesus causes us to be able to be genuinely cheerful, even as we are going through very difficult hardships.

All of this is because our Savior has "overcome the world." The world no longer has controlling power over us (who are in Christ). We, in and with Jesus, have also "overcome" it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Begin with simple things, for all truth begins with simple things. A man can never write good cursive till he has first learned his letters." --Robert Harris, in, "The Way to True Happiness"]

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tues., 3/25/14 Devotion (Jn. 15:5)

Today's encouragement comes from John 15:5, where we read these words of our Lord Jesus Christ:

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

How much can we do, of any spiritual good, without Christ? None whatso-ever. *The* single basic key to Christian living is this idea of "abiding in Christ." But, what does this mean; and how do we do it? It means that we are trusting in HIS righteousness (alone); and that we are trusting in HIM for everything. How do we do that? By faith.

Is this easy? It is fairly facile to understand; but it is hard to do. And why? Be-cause we are not inclined to *remember* to trust in Christ. Our fallen nature hates to depend on Anyone but itself. By grace, may we abide in Christ (as His church) today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We must know for our comfort that Christ was not anointed to this great work of Mediator for lesser sins only, but for the great-est, if we have but a spark of true faith to lay hold on Him." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mon., 3/24/14 Devotion (Jn. 14:27b)

Today's encouragement comes from John 14:27b, where we find the Re-deemer saying this:

" . . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

The people who become the most fearless in Christ are those who are the most naturally timid and afraid (in themselves). This seems odd, but it is true. The reason for this is because Christ instills confidence in those who—by their own nature--would lack it the most. This boldness is a result of faith. The believer says, "God commands me not to fear--therefore, by grace, in Christ, I will be fearless."

The apostles themselves were good examples of this. Some of them were initially and by constitution falsely self-confident (like Peter); but all of them were really fearful at heart. Only after the power of Pentecost were they filled with so much divinely-inspired strength, that nothing could intimidate them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Holy Ghost is content to dwell in smoky, offen-sive souls." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/21-23/14 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is *almost* here! In order to prepare us for church worship, here is the incomparable Thomas Watson, from his excellent work, "Heaven Taken by Storm":

"The sixth duty wherein we must offer violence to ourselves, is the religious sanctifying of the Lord's Day. That there should be a day of holy rest dedicat-ed to God appears from its institution. 'Remember to keep holy the Sabbath.' Our Christian Sabbath comes in the place of the Jewish Sabbath: it is called ‘The Lord's Day,' (Rev. 1.10)--from Christ the Author of it.

"Our Sabbath is altered by Christ's own appointment. He arose this day out of the grave, and appeared on it often to His disciples, (1 Cor. 16:1)--to intimate to them (says Athanasius) that He transferred the Sabbath to The Lord's Day. And St. Augustine says that by Christ's rising on the first day of the week, it was consecrated to be the Christian Sabbath, in remembrance of His resur-rection.

"This day was anciently called 'dies lucis,' 'the day of light,' as Junius ob-serves. The other days of the week would be dark, were it not for the shining of the Sun of Righteousness on this day. This day has been called by the ancients, 'regina dierum,' 'the queen of days.' And St. Jerome prefers this day above all solemn festivals. The primitive church held this day in high venera-tion. It was a great badge of their religion; for when the question was asked, 'servasti dominicum?,' 'do you keep the Sabbath?'; the answer was, 'Christi-anus sum,' 'I am a Christian; I dare not omit the celebration of The Lord's Day!' "

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thurs., 3/20/14 Devotion (Jn. 10:4)

Today's encouragement comes from John 10:4, where our blessed Lord Jesus said these words:

"And when he [the Good Shepherd] brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice."

This is such a great verse (above). All pastors (and elders) should take com-fort from a text such as this one. All the truly redeemed saints *will* indeed follow their Savior, no matter how ill their hearts may be, or how lacking in knowledge, etc., they may be. And these same souls will follow the preaching and teaching of God's true undershepherds, too--because they know this is how the Good Shepherd feeds them.

Let us keep listening for Jesus' voice, and follow Him. Wherever He takes us is for our best. Christ is a *very* Good Shepherd.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church of God shall never be so persecuted as to be cast off, utterly forsaken, and destroyed by wicked men. But the church of God shall continue to the end of the world.” --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wed., 3/19/14 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 glorious freedom that the children of grace enjoy is a priceless treasure. This is why the world, the flesh, and the devil are constantly seeking to steal it away from us who are in the faithful church. Gospel liberty must be zealously guarded, maintained, and emboldened--otherwise, the "gospels" of works, self, and law will infiltrate the soul, and destroy all our joy.

The Galatians had heard the gospel of grace from Paul. They initially embrac-ed it. Later, they heard a gospel of law, and they began to believe it. Paul's words throughout the epistle were designed to bring them back to Christ. May we find our souls resting in Jesus' righteousness alone, today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Full assurance is 'optimum maximum,' the best and greatest mercy; and therefore God will only give it to His best and dear-est friends." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tues., 3/18/14 Devotion (Ex. 29:43)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 29:43, where we read these words:

"And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory."

God meets with people in His "tabernacle," or "sanctuary." Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His resurrected and glorified body, has already "entered" this realm in heaven (cf. Heb. 9:12 & 24). Now, because the God-Man has finished His work, and poured out His Spirit on His New Covenant Church, the sanctuary is “universalized," if you will—as the church is found all over the face of the earth.

God dwells in three particular covenantal “places”: heaven, humble hearts, and in holy Sabbath [Sunday] church worship services. Let us be sure to avail ourselves of our full access to God, in and through Jesus; and let us be care-ful to always approach Him by grace through faith in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that is most tender of God's honor, shall find by experience that God is most mindful of his comfort." --Thomas Brooks, in "Heaven on Earth"]

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mon., 3/17/14 Devotion (Ex. 28:12b)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 28:12b, where we read these words:

" . . . So Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders as a memorial."

Whereas Aaron the high priest bore the names of the tribes of Israel before the Lord, as he entered the Most Holy Place--so our Lord Jesus Christ bears the individual names of all His redeemed churchmen, as He presents us to the Father as the beneficiaries of His atonement.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the church's high priest. If we are in Christ today--by faith and by baptism—let us not be overly disturbed by our sins. They have been dealt with at the cross.  A Person of infinite worth has died for them; and He is now forever risen from the dead, interceding for us in heaven.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not always high water with saints, sometimes they are reduced to a very low ebb." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/14-16/14 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is ALMOST here! In order to help prepare sincere believers for their Sabbath worship of the Triune God on the Lord's Day, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his wonderful book, "A Body of Divinity":

"Go to Christ's blood for peace. Some go to fetch their peace from their own righteousness, not Christ's. They go for peace to their holy life, not Christ's death. If conscience be troubled, they strive to quiet it with their duties. This is not the right way to peace. Duties must not be neglected, nor yet idolized. Look to the blood of sprinkling, (Heb. 12:24). That blood of Christ which paci-fied God, must pacify conscience. Christ's blood being sucked in by faith, gives peace. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,' (Rom. 5:1): No balm to cure a wounded conscience, but the blood of Christ."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thurs., 3/13/14 Devotion (Job 42:5-6)

Today's encouragement comes from Job 42:5 & 6, where we read these words:

"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."

The church’s ministers preach the word of the gospel; the Holy Spirit applies that word to the hearts of the elect redeemed; but it is only when the believer "sees" Christ, with the eyes of faith, that he or she is thoroughly humbled, and marvels at God's love.

This is the universal testimony of all the Scriptures--(see Isa., ch. 6 as a clas-sic example). Do we need to hear about the Lord Jesus? Yes. But we also need to behold Him with the eyes of faith. In so doing, we will never be the same; and we will forever disdain our formerly-held (but putrid) self-righteous-ness.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Surely, it is better to lack any mercy than a humble heart, it is better to have no mercy than lack a humble heart." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wed., 3/12/14 Devotion (Jn. 2:24-25)

Today's encouragement comes from John 2:24 & 25, where we read these words:

"But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man."

The Lord Jesus was quite careful regarding those with whom He would totally commit Himself; and those with whom He would not. Though our Messiah was not burdened with the curse of original sin (or any sin, for that matter)--He still completely understood what it (sin) was, and what it did to mankind.

The people in Jn., ch. 2, were "believing" in Jesus; but they were *not* *real-ly* believing in Him. They were impressed by Christ's miracles; but they were not moved to love Him on the grounds and basis of who He was (as the Son of God). May all God's true churchmen prove to be sincere in our faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[Ministers'] success depends entirely and absolute-ly on the immediate blessing and influence of God." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "God Glorified in Man's Dependence"]

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mon., 3/3/14 Devotion (2 Cor. 2:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 2:14a, where we read these words:

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ . . . "

How is it that God *"always"* leads His church in triumph in Christ? After all, do we not often fail; and are our lives not many times filled with stress, confu-sion, and uncertainty? The answer, of course, is, “yes, they are"; but this in no way negates the inevitable success of the children of God, as we are now in Christ, by faith.

The principle here is that it is our *faith* that is our victory, (even as 1 Jn. 5:4b explicitly states). Since we have Christ, by faith--nothing can conquer us. If our sins are forgiven, and we have a right standing with God, through the im-puted righteousness of Christ (apprehended by faith alone)--then what can defeat us? Nothing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Beware you do not lose your God in the crowd and hurry of earthly business." --John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]