Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wed., 4/30/14 Devotion (Num. 7:89)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 7:89, where we read these words:

"Now when Moses went into the tabernacle of meeting to speak with Him [God], he heard the voice of One speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the Testimony, from between the two cherubim; thus He [God] spoke to him."

The Lord still speaks (as it were) from "above the mercy seat" today. This is because Jesus Christ's perfect sacrifice for the elect sinners that make up His church is completely pleasing to the Father, and Christ's atonement opens the way for full and free communion (and communication) between God and His children.

Let us ourselves often enter the "tabernacle of meeting," even as Moses did. This begins in church on the Lord's Days (Sundays), but it does not end there. If we are sincere believers in Jesus, we should take advantage of our privileged condition and station in life, and frequently commune with God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Whether we have comfort or not, both are for our good." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tues., 4/29/14 Devotion (Heb. 4:15-16)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 4:15 & 16, where we read these amazing words:

"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weak-nesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us there-fore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Jesus Christ is the only Human Being who can fully sympathize with us, fully understand us, and fully meet our needs. Every other human being in the his-tory of the world was/is tainted with original (and actual) sin. We might think that only a sinner could commiserate with us--but this is not true. In fact, only a God-Man can adequately do this.

Because of Jesus' unique and singular qualifications, let us, as the text says, "Come boldly to the throne of grace." If we go to anyone or anything else for our justification, it is the grossest slighting of Christ's work, for sinners; and we may be sure that His righteous wrath will be kindled against it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Show your love to Christ in your vigorous resist-ance and opposition of Christ's enemies." --Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mon., 4/28/14 Devotion (Heb. 3:1-2)

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

"Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house."

Remaining faithful over the long haul is not an easy thing to do. Most people that venture off on their Christian journeys, eventually end up giving up the fight. The key to faithfulness is never found within us--but always and only in the Object of the true disciple's love and devotion: the Lord Jesus Christ.

This was why Moses was able to persevere to the end--because he never lost sight of Christ. Is Jesus our "Apostle," the One who fulfilled the mission of our redemption? Is He our "High Priest," the One whose atonement cleanses us? If so, then we will, by grace, remain faithful. But this is all of God's sove-reign doing. He gets the glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The remembrance of past goodness is very helpful for present encouragement. This rule David followed in Ps. 42:6: 'O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore will I remember You from the land of Jordan.’ " --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/25-27/14 Devotion

Yippee! Sunday is ALMOST here. All God's children GET to go to church. In order to help prepare us for the Sunday worship of God, here is the remark-able Thomas Watson, from, "All Things for Good":

"Let us then ascribe the whole work of grace to the pleasure of God's will. God did not choose us because we were worthy, but by choosing us He makes us worthy. Proud men are apt to assume and arrogate too much to themselves, in being sharers with God. While many cry out against church sacrilege, they are in the meantime guilty of a far greater sacrilege, in robbing God of His glory, while they go to set the crown of salvation upon their own head. But we must resolve all into God's purpose. The signs of salvation are in the saints, but the cause of salvation is in God.

"If it be God's purpose that saves, then it is not free will. The Pelagians are strenuous asserters of free will. They tell us that a man has an innate power to effect his own conversion; but this text [Eph. 1:11] confutes it. Our calling is 'according to God's purpose.' The Scripture plucks up the root of free will. 'It is not of him that wills,' (Rom. 9:16). All depends upon the purpose of God. When the prisoner is cast at the bar, there is no saving him, unless the king has a purpose to save him. God's purpose is His royal prerogative."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thurs., 4/24/14 Devotion (Num. 1:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 1:1a, which says this:

"Now the LORD spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of meeting, on the first day of the second month . . . "

Maybe we sometimes feel like we are in the "Wilderness of Sinai"--wandering around for years, with no apparent end in sight. If so, and assuming that we are faithful churchmen, we should never despair. Just like Moses, we also have God's "tabernacle of meeting." We are privileged to bring our sacrifice of praise to the Triune God every Lord's Day, the first day of the week.

Jesus, the anchor of our souls, will keep us tethered to Himself, no matter how difficult things may get down here. The Lord still speaks to His children today. Let us be sure to hear His voice.

[Puritan quote of the day: "But plain dealers will always be approved in the end; and the time is at hand when you will confess that they were your best friends." --Richard Baxter, in the dedication of "The Reformed Pastor"]

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wed., 4/23/14 Devotion (Ps. 34:18)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 34:18, where we read these words:

"The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit."

There is a time and place for everything; and it is always suitable to have a humbled soul. Even in the greatest joys and loftiest experiences of God's grace in the Lord Jesus Christ--it is lovely when the children of God have a modicum of grief (over sin). This is what our Savior meant when He said "blessed are those who mourn," (in Matt. 5:4a).

Why is it blessed to mourn? Because divine comfort follows it, (Matt. 5:4b). There is no sweeter sense, than that of the knowledge that one's sins are forgiven (in the blood atonement of Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Even in the worst time the prophets mingled sweet comfort for the hidden remnant of faithful people." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tues., 4/22/14 Devotion (Lev. 26:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 26:8, where we read these words:

"Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thou-sand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you."

Among the many blessings that accompany those who keep the covenant of grace in Jesus Christ is this one: that just a few of God's churchmen can chase a whole bunch of His enemies. This is quite encouraging. After all, only a very small percentage of humankind, i.e. the true believers, have all the real impact on the most important aspects of what happens in the world.

By grace, let us be among the few, who, because of our union with Christ, make all the difference. God never sought to overwhelm the world purely with numbers. He delights to take it through His choice instruments of those who love Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is a Being infinitely lovely, because He has infinite excellency and beauty." --Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Know-ing Christ"]

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mon., 4/21/14 Devotion (Lev. 25:23)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 25:23, where we read these in-teresting words:

"The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me."

One of the fascinating things about this verse (above) is that it says that we are "sojourners with [God].” Is that not a profound thought? As we traverse this sod of the world down here, the Lord Himself is with us. This is the "Im-manuel" principle, that we celebrate relative to Christ's abiding with His church on earth.

God owns the whole world, and He has purchased His church from within it. Believers are "strangers and sojourners" here--but we have already been giv-en a permanent home (in Christ). Let us take comfort and encouragement from the fact that our Savior is with us through thick and thin.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You will certainly be accepted of the Father if your soul lays hold of Jesus Christ." --Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Know-ing Christ"]

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/18-20/14 Devotion

Yippee—Sunday (Easter Sunday!) is almost here! In order to help us believ-ers get ready for the Lord's Day, here is Thomas Watson, from "A Body of Di-vinity":

"Justification is 'inamissibilis'; it is a fixed permanent thing; it can never be lost. The Arminians hold an apostasy from justification; today justified, tomor-row unjustified; today a Peter, tomorrow a Judas; today a member of Christ, tomorrow a limb of Satan. This is a most uncomfortable doctrine. Justified persons may fall from degrees of grace, they may leave their first love, they may lose God's favor for a time, but not lose their justification.

"If they are justified they are elected; and they can no more fall from their jus-tification than from their election. If they are justified they have union with Christ;, and can a member of Christ be broken off? If one justified person may fall away from Christ, all may; and so Christ would be a head without a body."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thurs., 4/17/14 Devotion (Ps. 27:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 27:1, where we read these words:

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"

This is a logical deduction of every faithful Christian churchman. If Christ is in-deed our light and our salvation--how can anyone hurt us? Therefore, why should that person be feared? If the Lord is our life's strength, then what ene-my can possibly stand up to Him? Therefore, why should we cower before the foe?

Believers in Christ are the only ones in all the world with enough sense to know that there are real and fatal dangers out there. But ironically, we are al-so the only ones who have no cause to fear them. Let us trust Christ for all things; and worry about nothing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The wounds of secure sinners will not be healed with sweet words." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wed., 4/16/14 Devotion (Ps. 25:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 25:10, where we read these words:

"All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies."

Are we faithful by grace to our church covenant (baptismal) vows in Christ? If so, then God is also faithful to us--and He will lead us in all His paths of "mercy and truth." Our faithfulness is not a result of our own goodness; in-stead, it is the fruit of God's gift of genuine and real faith in Jesus.

If we are in Christ (and therefore in covenant with God), let us  take comfort from the fact that our Heavenly Father will only direct us into what is ultimate-ly good for us, and what is truly best for us. Let us persevere to the end. We will not regret doing so.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The best men are severe to themselves, [but] ten-der over others." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tues., 4/15/14 Devotion (1 Tim. 4:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 4:4 & 5, where we read these words:

"For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is receiv-ed with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."

For those Christians who believe in Jesus’ blood atonement of their souls, no-thing God made can be bad. For those outside of Christ, everything God made might be construed to be bad. The Lord would have His church enjoy everything He has created, so long as we do not make idols of them.

Hyper-religion, and human religion seeks to "out-God" God, by commanding things of people that the Lord Himself does not prohibit. Let us be concerned to live in grace, and to obey God's real commandments; without being dis-turbed by the hypocrisy of false religion.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Love knows that the least evils are contrary to the greatest good." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mon., 4/14/14 Devotion (1 Tim. 3:15)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 3:15, where we read these words:

"But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

By knowing how to live in "the house of God," we then know how to live everywhere else: in our own houses, in culture, etc. But how will we know how to live in the church, without the word of God itself, which instructs us to do so?

The church, as "the pillar and ground of the truth," holds out the gospel to us and to the world, so that all people may hear of Jesus and come to Him. It is only in the context of the family of God, that anyone may know how to live as the children of grace in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You cannot know the love of Christ, before you know the badness of your nature." --John Bunyan, in, "All Loves Excelling"]

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/11-13/14 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! (That almost rhymes!) In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Ten Com-mandments" book:

"Meditating on a Lord's Day morning on Christ's love, would kindle love in our hearts to Him. How can we look on His bleeding and dying for us and our hearts not be warmed with love to Him? Love is the soul of religion, the purest affection. It is not rivers of oil, but sparks of love that Christ values. And sure, as David said, 'While I was musing the fire burned,' (Psa. 39:3)--so, while we are musing of Christ's love in redeeming us, the fire of our love will burn to-wards Him. And then the Christian is in a blessed Sabbath-frame, when, like a seraphim, he is burning in love to Christ."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thurs., 4/10/14 Devotion (2 Thess. 2:16-17)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 2:16 & 17, where we read these words:

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, com-fort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work."

In order for any of us to be effective Christians, we need to have a base of comfort (or security). Without this, we will never endeavor to act on our faith (through God-honoring deeds and words). This is why the Apostle Paul en-courages the church to know that they are loved by God; and that they have received hope and grace in Christ.

If we are in Jesus today, we are in a blessed position--whether we feel like we are, or not. May God make His face shine on us today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A holy despair in ourselves is the ground of true hope." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wed., 4/9/14 Devotion (Ps. 16:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 16:6, where we read these words:

"The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inherit-ance."

If we believing Christian churchmen could see the whole picture (as God does), we would be totally amazed at how incredibly good we have it (in Christ). Because of sin, the fall, and the clogs and corruptions of our flesh--we fail to recognize this a lot of the time.

Every once in a while we get a blessed glimpse of just how wonderfully bless-ed we truly are in God’s goodness to us. But it is faith that says, "I know I have it all, in Christ. Therefore, I will be thankful, and give God praise (despite how I might feel)."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Faith is the key that unlocks paradise, and lets in a flood of joy into the soul." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tues., 4/8/14 Devotion (Ps. 13:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 13:1 & 2, where we read these words:

"How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?"

There are a number of "How long?" questions here. David is just being hon-est with God. He is miserable, and he is willing to admit it. There is no virtue in falsehood--so we should not pretend all is well with our states, when it is not the case.

David determined to worship the God he truly loves; and this brought him out of his severe low point, (see vv. 5-6). This was wise on David's part, because no amount of darkness can stand against the light of the saints' faith in Christ. Are we down today? If we are believing churchmen, let us recognize that God has been good to our souls, in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We see, therefore, that the condition of those with whom [Christ] was to deal was that they were bruised reeds and smoking flax; not trees, but reeds; and not whole, but bruised reeds." --Richard Sib-bes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mon., 4/7/14 Devotion (Ps. 12:8)

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

"The wicked prowl on every side, when vileness is exalted among the sons of men."

When sin is not checked civilly, the godless go completely bonkers. The church's primary role is to preach Christ's gospel of grace, and to provide people a community wherein they may find refuge in the Redeemer. When this is not happening, "all hell breaks loose" (so to speak).

When gospel sanity is restored through the ministry of God-honoring church-es, we will no longer see vile persons marching in the streets, parading their sin with pride. Instead, we will observe a different phenomenon: God's people will be exalted; and His enemies will be in hiding.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church converts the whole world by blood and prayer." --Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/4-6/14 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from "All Things for Good," in order to help get us ready for Sabbath Worship:

"Here is a sovereign elixir of unspeakable comfort to those who are the called of God. Their salvation rests upon God's purpose. 'The foundation of God stands sure, having this seal. The Lord knows those who 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 violence of tempta-tion, shall ever be able to overturn them."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thurs., 4/3/14 Devotion (Col. 4:2)

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

"Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving . . . "

Prayer is a strange phenomenon. God does not need it; but we do. And why? Because it keeps us *consciously* "connected" to the Lord. Without it, we would grow complacent, self-sufficient, and dull. With it, we stay in vital rela-tionship with our God.

These things we know about prayer: it is always to be made to God only, through the Name and sacrifice of Christ; it is to be an honest expression of our hearts; and it is to be a means of demonstrating gratitude to the Lord for all He has done for us. Let us not ever give up praying. To do so is to give up on our faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The heroic deeds of those great [Biblical] worthies [heroes] do not comfort so much as their falls and bruises do." --Richard Sib-bes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wed., 4/2/14 Devotion (Prov. 20:9)

Today's encouragement comes from Proverbs 20:9, where we read these words:

"Who can say, 'I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin'?"

All fallen people actually *do* say this (statement above), in their heart of hearts. The problem is: it is not true. First of all, we *cannot* "make [our hearts] clean"; and, because of this, on our own, we are *never* "pure from [our] sin." What the NT calls the "flesh" is the agency that seeks to convince us that we really *are* clean before God--when, in fact, we are not.

Only an "alien" righteousness can really and fully purify us. This righteous-ness is from Another--and not from within ourselves. This cleansing, this jus-tification comes from Christ, and is imputed to believing churchmen by faith. Are our hearts clean? Are we pure from our sin? We are, if we trust Jesus (alone) to do it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "No one grows so much as those who have their growth stopped for a time.” --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tues., 4/1/14 Devotion (Col. 2:8a, 9-10a)

Today's encouragement comes from Colossians 2:8a, & 9-10a, which says this:

"Beware lest anyone cheat you . . . For in [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him . . . "

The liberated lives of redeemed Christian churchmen must always be zeal-ously guarded. People devoid of grace--in particular, religious people devoid of saving grace--are always seeking to "cheat" the saints of their rightful in-heritance in Christ. They desire to bring us down to their level; and to see us enslaved, just like they are.

The answer to this pressure is self-understanding, which is based in Christ-understanding. The faithful churchman is "complete" in Christ. He or she needs nothing more. Since God's "fullness" is in Jesus, we do not need look to any other beings for salvation or its benefits.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's prayer takes away the sins of our prayers." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]