Monday, May 26, 2014

Mon., 5/26/14 Devotion (1 Jn. 5:12)

To those of you who are Americans, Happy Memorial (or Decoration) Day!

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 5:12, where we read these words:

"He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

This is a very straightforward scripture (above). If a soul has Jesus, that soul has life. If a soul lacks Jesus, that soul has no life. If this is true--which it clearly is--then most people do not have life. No matter what else they poss-ess, they are devoid of the most important and vital principle of existence: be-ing "alive" spiritually, (or, in the soul).

Therefore we must ask: "*How* do we *get* this life? Do we have to work for it, beat ourselves up (in order to get it), or become extremely religious (to pro-cure it)?" No; none of this will suffice. We must have *faith* in Jesus. Saving faith fetches Christ to our hearts; and He (alone) gives us life. (Cf. 1 Jn. 5:4 in this regard.)

[Puritan quote of the day: "We do not live by feeling, but by faith. It is the duty of a Christian to begin with faith, and so to rise up to feeling." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/23-25/14 Devotion

Wahoo--it's almost Sunday! In order to help us get ready for church, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Ten Commandments":

"The grand reason for changing the Jewish Sabbath to the Lord's Day is that it puts us in mind of the 'Mystery of our redemption by Christ.' The reason why God instituted the old Sabbath was to be a memorial of the creation; but He has now brought the first day of the week in its room in memory of a more glorious work than creation, which is redemption. Great was the work of crea-tion, but greater was the work of redemption. As it was said, 'The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former,' (Hag. 2:9). So the glory of the redemption was greater than the glory of the creation.

"Great wisdom was seen in making us, but more miraculous wisdom in sav-ing us. Great power was seen in bringing us out of nothing, but greater power in helping us when we were worse than nothing. It cost more to redeem than to create us. In creation it was but speaking a word (Psa. 148:5); in redeem-ing there was shedding of blood (1 Pet. 1:19). Creation was the work of God's fingers, (Psa. 8:3), redemption was the work of His arm, (Luke 1:51). In crea-tion, God gave us ourselves; in the redemption, He gave us Himself. By crea-tion, we have life in Adam; by redemption, we have life in Christ, (Col. 3:3). By creation, we had a right to an earthly paradise: by redemption, we have a title to a heavenly kingdom. Christ might well change the seventh day of the week into the first, as it puts us in mind of our redemption, which is a more glorious work than creation."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thurs., 5/22/14 Devotion (1 Jn. 1:10)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 1:10, where we read these words:

"If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him [God] a liar, and His word is not in us."

Sin is an insidious thing. If we acknowledge it, we must confess it and repent of it. If we do not acknowledge it, we sin even worse (by pretending it does not exist). The best thing to do, in confessing sin, is to be as honest with God as we possibly can be. This requires God's assistance.

Confession of sin usually has these two temptations attached to it: 1) to say things to God that we do not really mean (just to ease our conscience); or, 2) to confess things to God which (in themselves) are really not sin at all. Again: the key is candor. May the Lord help us know our hearts well enough, in order to make good confession to Him.

[Puritan quote of the week: "The eyes of our souls cannot be towards Him [God] unless He has cast a gracious look upon us first." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wed., 5/21/14 Devotion (2 Pet. 3:18a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Peter 3:18a, where we read these words:

" . . . But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. . . . "

How does a whole church *grow* in "the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"? Primarily, by being well-fed. The context of Peter's injunction (above) is largely that of the proper use and understanding of the word of God (the sacred scriptures)—especially as they are preached as the gospel of grace.

Christians *grow* when they ingest Jesus—being hungry for His Person. The written word, which is the base and foundation of the church's preached word, always points to the Incarnate Word (Christ, the "Logos," of Jn. 1:1). This "Word" is the ultimate Revelation of God. Christ feeds us His own "flesh" and "blood," in the preached Gospel, and in the proper administration of the sacrament of The Lord's Supper.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Every godly, gracious man is a praying man."
--William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tues., 5/20/14 Devotion (2 Pet. 2:9a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Peter 2:9a, where we read these words:

" . . . Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations . . . "

Peter establishes this truth (above) on the basis of God's willingness and ability to punish sin (and evildoers). But whereas the Lord did not have a means of redemption for the fallen angels--He *does* provide it to His elect churchmen. On top of that, God delivers us "out of temptations."

What kinds of temptations will we face today? Not all of them will be to do some gross, crass evil. We may be tempted to doubt the love of God, (or even His very existence). We may be tempted to succumb to great discour-agement of heart. We may be tempted to quit church, and prayer. The Lord can and will supply His children persevering grace, to withstand and over-come all of these temptations (and more).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The valley of your discouragements shall be the door and inlet unto all your rest and comfort." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mon., 5/19/14 Devotion (Isa. 19:24-25)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 19:24 & 25, where we read these words:

"In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria--a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, 'Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inherit-ance.' "

These two verses (above) end a remarkable section of scripture, that de-scribe the era in which we currently live. Egypt, Assyria, Israel, and every oth-er nation on earth are all now "leveled" in the New Covenant church. No one country has prominence over another, since elect souls in all of them are brought into the one church, by grace through faith in the One Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thank God that this day has come. Had it not, most of us who are reading these words would still be in darkness, and in the condemnation of our sins. But now, Christ has proclaimed His gospel to the whole world. May His Name be blessed for this!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's blood is the object of faith, and faith brings peace." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/16-18/14 Devotion

Yippee—it is *almost* Sunday! In order to help us get ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Ten Commandments” book:

"We dress our souls on a Sabbath morning by prayer; 'When you pray, enter into your closet,'  (Matt 6:6). Prayer sanctifies a Sabbath.

"The things we should pray for in the morning of the Sabbath. Let us beg a blessing upon the word which is to be preached; that it may be a savor of life to us; that by it our minds may be more illuminated, our corruptions more weakened, and our stock of grace more increased. Let us pray that God's special presence may be with us, that our hearts may burn within us while God speaks, that we may receive the word into meek and humble hearts, and that we may submit to it, and bring forth fruits, (James 1:21). Nor should we only pray for ourselves, but for others."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thurs., 5/15/14 Devotion (Ps. 66:12b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 66:12b, where we read these words:

"We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich ful-fillment."

Only those who persevere through the trials of life get the benefit of "rich ful-fillment" at the end of them. This principle is true at both the micro- and macro-levels of life. When testings and temptations are endured (in Christ), they give way to rest and satisfaction later. After the devil left Jesus, angels came and ministered to Him (in Matt. 4:11).

The spoils of Christ's victory for His church do *not* go to "prima donna" spirits. Instead, they are the sole possession of those brave hearts that are willing, by grace, to take on the flesh, the world, and the devil--and defeat them (through sincere faith in the Redeemer).

[Puritan quote of the day: "True religion in a state is as a main pillar of a house and the post of a tent that upholds all." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wed., 5/14/14 Devotion (1 Pet. 1:7c, 8a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 1:7c & 8a, where we read these words:

" . . . Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. . . . "

Is it possible to love Someone we have not seen with the eyes of our flesh? For that matter, is it possible to believe in the existence of that Someone (God), whom we have not seen? Indeed, the answer to these questions is, "Yes." How do we know that Jesus Christ lives; and that we can love Him? Through credible witnesses. The ultimate Witness is the Holy Spirit Himself.

If we sincerely love the God we have not seen with the eyes of our body, we are blessed. Jesus said as much, in Jn. 20:29. The greatest realities are un-seen ones. Even atheists must employ [these unseen realities], in order to deny them. Let us love the Christ who is as much *with* us, as we are with ourselves.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Compare sin with hell, and you shall see that sin is worse." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tues., 5/13/14 Devotion (Ps. 62:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 62:5, which says this:

"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him."

Though the saints can and do need each other in the church; and though we are all dependent (to some extent) on people in the world that we do not (and never will) know--still, in the end, it is God *alone* that we *must* have. With-out Him, our lives are worthless and miserable. With Him, everything else comes into proper focus.

Sometimes churchmen have to "wait" for Christ. This is not because He is too busy for us, or that He does not care for us--but it is because this is one of the ways God develops faith, balance, and grace in us, His children.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you would be rid of Satan from coming into your quarters, fall you upon his.” [In other words, attack him (the devil).] --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mon., 5/12/14 Devotion (Jas. 4:6)

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

"But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.' "

Are we not glad that God "gives more grace"? This is sanctifying grace given to Christ’s church, that both causes us to humble ourselves (before the Lord), and increases our humility (before Him). No one in their right mind would really want to be "resisted" by God. Who could withstand the Almighty One?

Let us humble ourselves today, under the Lord's powerful hand, and in that position enjoy the sweet peace and freedom that only comes to the contrite of heart. In Christ, God does not, and cannot "resist" the truly humble soul. To them, He always "gives more grace."

[Puritan quote of the day: "When you go to mourn for sin, begin aloft with Christ: and do not always think to begin below with sin, and so to come up to Christ; but begin aloft with Christ, and so by your humiliation, fall down upon sin." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/9-11/14 Devotion

Praise God—Sunday is very near! In order to help prepare us for the church's Sabbath (Sunday) worship, here is Thomas Watson, from the preface of his amazing book, "All Things for Good":

"Christian Reader,

"There are two things, which I have always looked upon as difficult. The one is, to make the wicked sad; the other is, to make the godly joyful. Dejection in the godly arises from a double spring: either because their inward comforts are darkened, or their outward comforts are disturbed. To cure both these troubles, I have put forth this ensuing piece, hoping, by the blessing of God, it will buoy up their desponding hearts, and make them look with a more pleas-ant aspect [perspective].

"I would prescribe them to take, now and then, a little of this Cordial [refresh-ing drink]: all things work together for good to them that love God. To know that nothing hurts the godly, is a matter of comfort; but to be assured that all things which fall out shall cooperate for their good, that their crosses shall be turned into blessings, that showers of affliction water the withering root of their grace and make it flourish more; this may fill their hearts with joy till they run over."

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thurs., 5/8/14 Devotion (Heb. 13:20-21)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 13:20 & 21, which says this:

"Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting cove-nant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for-ever and ever. Amen."

What a great benedictory prayer this is (above). Let us note how God puts a *comprehensive* blessing on His church. The Lord does not cut us short in anything with regard to His Son's resurrection. Instead, we get ALL of those benefits now, as we grow into our understanding of them, day by day.

Let us recognize this: that no matter what we struggle with down here, there is NOTHING so powerful, that our participation in Jesus and His resurrection cannot conquer it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The mercies of God have a melting influence upon the soul; they dissolve it in love to God. God's judgments make us fear Him, His mercies make us love Him." --Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wed., 5/7/14 Devotion (Ps. 51:1b-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 51:1b & 2, where we read these words:

"Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin."

This is a splendid prayer by David (above). After all, if our sins are forgiven, and if we know (and even sense) this--can there be any greater blessing? Jesus died for sinners. He did not die for good people (that think they do not need Him). If we are sinners today, saved by grace through faith in Christ (plus nothing)--then we are supremely blessed (and therefore happy).

What are we to do when we feel guilty? We are to bring our sin (or concern) to God. If we believe in Jesus' atonement, then let us leave our sin there (at the cross). If we do not believe in Jesus' atonement, then we are lost, and must bear our own sin's punishment (in perdition).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church of Christ is a common hospital, where-in all are in some measure sick of some spiritual disease or other . . . " --Rich-ard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tues., 5/6/14 Devotion (Ps. 50:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 50:15, where we read these words:

"Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."

God brings trouble to His people, so that they will cry out to Him. The Lord loves it when we in His church exercise faith in His Son (see Heb. 11:6). Our faith is mostly demonstrated through our responses to difficulties. Faith takes practical expression in and through prayer.

Are we in any kind of trouble today? That is fine, so long as we have God to go to with those problems. Life is less about how to avoid hardship; and a lot more about how to take advantage of the opportunities it affords us (to know Christ better).

[Puritan quote of the day: "We should labor to give the best interpretation to the actions of governors that the nature of the actions will possibly bear."
--Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mon., 5/5/14 Devotion (Num. 12:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 12:3, where we read these words:

"(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)"

Moses' humility was in some respects his most notable characteristic. He was not full of himself. Moses would have been very pleased, had God chosen someone other than he (Moses) to lead the people.

Humility, however, is necessary for greatness; and Moses was certainly des-tined for that. Let us recognize that God chooses His faithful churchmen, not on the basis of anything at all in them--but entirely on the premise of His own will and greater glory. None of us have anything to boast in (except Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church is a distinct race, that originally came from God."   --Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Knowing Christ"]

Friday, May 2, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/2-4/14 Devotion

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

"The test of a pilot [a sea captain] is seen in a storm; so the test of a Christian is seen in affliction. 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 main-tain decorum, not behaving himself in an unseemly manner or disguising him-self with intemperate 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, May 1, 2014

Thurs., 5/1/14 Devotion (Heb. 6:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 6:15, where we read these great words:

"And so, after he [Abraham] had patiently endured, he obtained the promise."

The most important practical fruit of sincere and saving faith in Jesus, in this world, is perseverance. Without endurance to the end, even love has no cred-ibility. It is not easy to stretch-out all the way to the finish line, and to conclude the race of faith well. But, if we are to please God, and be satisfied in our souls, we must do this.

So, are we having problems in church, home, state, marriage, job, raising children, etc.? Then, let us join our spiritual father (Abraham); and, like him, make it all the way to the end—through our faith in Christ.  (If we do this, we will get to enjoy the promises: in this life, and in the one to come.)

[Puritan quote of the day: "If civility were sufficient to salvation, Christ need not have died." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]