Monday, June 30, 2014

Mon., 6/30/14 Devotion (Matt. 10:27-28)

Today's encouragement comes from the lips of the Redeemer, as they are found in Matthew 10:27 & 28:

"Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

Jesus is telling His ministers here to be faithful to speak His words that He will give them. Fallen humans by nature hate the word of God, and there is al-ways a temptation to "water it down" for the alleged betterment of sinners. But the Lord would have His pastors speak the truth of the gospel, and fear Him, the Living God.

Men may kill the body, or do whatever damage they can--but this is nothing in comparison to what God can do. Let all God's people--clergy and laity--hum-bly receive His word, whether we like it, or not.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Under the fair leaves of civility, the worm of unbe-lief may be hid. Many a person decked with morality is now descended into hell." --Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "A Plea for the Godly"]

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/27-29/14 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--Sunday is *almost* here!  In order to help get us ready for church, here is the incomparable Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "The Art of Divine Contentment":

"Let us beg the Spirit of God to teach us; we must be 'divinely taught.' The eunuch could read, but he could not understand, till Philip joined himself to his chariot, (Acts 8:29). God's Spirit must join Himself to our chariot; He must teach, or we cannot learn. 'All your children shall be taught of the Lord,' (Isa. 54:13). A man may read the figure on the dial, but he cannot tell how the day goes, unless the sun shines upon the dial.

"We may read the Bible over, but we cannot learn the purpose, till the Spirit of God shines into our hearts, (2 Cor. 4:6). O implore this blessed Spirit! It is God's prerogative-royal to teach: 'I am the Lord thy God, who teaches you to profit,' (Isa. 48:17)."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thurs., 6/26/14 Devotion (Isa. 58:13b-14a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 58:13b & 14a, where we read these words:

"And [if you] call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honor-
able . . . Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD . . . "

How does one "delight" oneself "in the Lord"? Or, to put it another way, "How does any human being experience the truest, highest, and most lasting and satisfying pleasure?" Answer: by delighting in the *same* things God Himself does.

The Lord delights in seeing faith and repentance in sinners, which manifest themselves immediately in love for Christ, Sabbath (Sunday), church, and worship. Do we really want to be happy, like God is; or are we content being miserable? If we desire true happiness then we will adopt God's values, prior-ities, and love-objects.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We must keep grace in exercise. It is not sleepy habits, but grace in exercise, that preserves us." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wed., 6/25/14 Devotion (Isa. 57:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 57:15, where we read these won-derful words:

"For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.' "

This is a lovely verse, indeed. We are particularly blessed today by the end of it: "To revive the spirit of the humble . . . " Because the contrite ones dwell with God in Christ (by faith), God dwells also with them (in the lowliness of their hearts). And the Lord "revives" them, His faithful church.

This "revival," among other things, is the experience of those occasional "glimpses" into heaven, wherein we are fully assured of the absolute love, goodness, power, and sovereignty of God. We can, and do live a long time on these mercies.

[Puritan quote of the day: "And if you look into your experience, who has more kisses and embraces of love from God our Father, than the weak Chris-tian has?" --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tues., 6/24/14 Devotion (Isa. 56:6-7a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 56:6b & 7a, where we read these words:

" . . . Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My cove-nant--even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. . . . "

Here (above) is a sweet promise to the faithful churchman. Do we love the Lord? Do we love Him enough to value His Sabbath (Sunday), His church, and His worship? If so, then there are real solid blessings that are ours. We will know "mountain" experiences of praise (even in this world); and we will be joyful in God's house, His church.

Most religious people are seeking their fulfillment in other places, and in other ways. They may receive some false "highs" from time-to-time; but only the faithful get the real goods (in Christ).  Let us stay the course of faith. We will not regret it (on the last day).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Prayer is the pouring out of the soul to God; not the pouring out of words, nor the pouring out of expressions; but the pouring out of the soul to God." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mon., 6/23/14 Devotion (Isa. 55:2b)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 55:2b, where we read these words:

" . . . Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight it-self in abundance."

One of *the* great glories of the gospel--and it is vividly demonstrated in Isa. 55--is this dimension of our need to simply come, take, and "eat" to our heart's content of all the grace of God in Christ. Gluttony is a sin; but it is *not* a sin to sate oneself on as much of Jesus and His goodness as one wants to.

Therefore, let all people recognize that God is good; and that He has prepar-ed a great feast for those who would but come and avail themselves of it--without money, without works, without effort, and without law. The church cer-tainly serves a wonderful God. Let us enjoy Him wholeheartedly.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The . . . people of God are . . . of God's special ac-quaintance, and so they have peace, for they walk with God, and have com-munion with Him." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/20-22/14 Devotion

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

"Each Sabbath may be the last we shall ever keep. We may go from the place of hearing to the place of judging--and shall not we give reverend atten-tion to the word? Did we think when we come into God's house 'Perhaps this will be the last time that ever God will counsel us about our souls'; and before another sermon death's alarm will sound in our ears; with what attention and devotion should we feel, and our affections would be all on fire in hearing!

"You must give an account for every sermon you hear. 'Give an account of your stewardship,' (Lk. 16:2). So will God say, 'Give an account of your hear-ing. Have you been affected with the word? Have you profited by it?' How can we give a good account, if we have been distracted in hearing, and have not taken notice of what has been said to us? The judge to whom we must give an account is God. Were we to give account to man, we might falsify ac-counts; but we must give an account to God. . . . "

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thurs., 6/19/14 Devotion (Isa. 51:12a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 51:12a, where we read these words:

"I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be
afraid . . . "

When God comforts His churchmen, as He always does in the atonement given them in Christ, they (the believers) have no ground for fear (especially of man). And the reason for this is because of *Who* it is that consoles and strengthens our hearts: it is not another fellow-sinner, nor an angel, nor any-one else--but God Himself.

When we rest, by faith, in Jesus' righteousness alone (as our own)--then, how can we justify fearing man or anything else? After all, if God is satisfied with us, in Christ, who cares what anyone else thinks?

[Puritan quote of the day: "If God delivers you from any of your sins, He must do such  work as is greater than the making of heaven and earth." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wed., 6/18/14 Devotion (Isa. 50:2b)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 50:2b, where we read these words:

" . . . Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver? . . . "

How often do we think that our worst struggles *really are* beyond the reach, even of God Himself? If the truth be told, this thought comes to our minds more often than we would like to admit. But in reality, are our trials really too hard for the Lord? They are not. We might be asking, "If this is the case, then why has He not answered my prayers, and relieved me of this (or that) bur-den?"

This is a good question. We cannot know the answer (absolutely)--only God does. But, it is certain that the Lord allows us to continue with particular diffi-culties for our good. Maybe these things pull down our souls, and keep us humble. Maybe they are designed by God to cause us to always have to rely on Christ and His grace. In all cases, God *can* deliver us. He has the power to redeem us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To suppose a man is justified by his own virtue or obedience derogates [takes away from] the honor of the Mediator
[Christ] . . . " --Jonathan Edwards, in, "Justification by Faith Alone"]

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tues., 6/17/14 Devotion (Ps. 111:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 111:2, where we read these words:

"The works of the LORD are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them."

God's works are remarkable indeed. Consider the far-flung universe. Who created all those galaxies and stars, etc.? God. But the creation of one hu-man being is more significant than *all* the non-rational creation put together. Still, greater than the work of the making of man, is the labor of God through which He procured His church's salvation.

The work of Christ on the cross, and in His glorious resurrection--is the "mag-num opus," and masterpiece of all that God has ever done. We contribute *no* work to our salvation--God does it all, even "against the grain" of our natural rebellion and disdain for Him. Creation is the work of the Lord's "fin-gers"; redemption is the work of His "arm."

[Puritan quote of the day: "God, in the sentence of justification, pronounces a man perfectly righteous, or else he would need a further justification after he is justified." --Jonathan Edwards, in, "Justification by Faith Alone"]

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mon., 6/16/14 Devotion (Isa. 48:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 48:17, which says this:

"Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go.' "

Observe (above) how good God is to His church. First of all, He redeems her. But the Lord goes further: He also teaches her (even how to "profit"). On top of that, our Father shows us the way--so that we do not have to try to figure it all out on our own.

These are all things that God does for His church, even when we do not *feel* like they are being done. Sometimes we wonder if we are lost--when in fact, if we are in Christ--we are quilte *found*. Let us not be discouraged. If we are a faithful Christian churchman by grace through faith in Jesus, then we are in a better condition than we could ever imagine ourselves to be.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justifying faith is that by which the soul, which be-fore was separated and alienated from Christ, unites itself to Him . . . " --Jon-athan Edwards, in, "Justification by Faith Alone"]

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/13-15/14 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Ten Commandments" 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, June 12, 2014

Thurs., 6/12/14 Devotion (Isa. 44:19c)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 44:19c, where we read these words:

" . . . Shall I fall down before a block of wood?"

The soul is God's noblest creation. Man was crafted in the very "image of God." Therefore, it is especially deplorable that fallen and sinful human be-ings choose to worship sticks, rocks, and piles of dirt. It makes absolutely no sense at all--and yet such is the remarkable stupidity that befalls blinded sin-ners.

But there is an answer to this shameful dilemma. Instead of looking down, on the lower creation (even than that of ourselves), let us look *up* to the God that has created us. And there is no way to behold that God, except by faith in the One (Christ) who has redeemed us, and made us His holy church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is a peculiar relation between true Christians and Christ which there is not between Him [Christ] and others." --Jonathan Edwards, in, "Justification by Faith Alone"]

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wed., 6/11/14 Devotion (Isa. 43:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 43:1, where we read these words:

"But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who form-ed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.' "

Observe (above) the blessed state of the redeemed church. We are often in-clined to fear--wondering if indeed our sins are still blocking our relationship with God. We are sometimes prone to wonder if God has forgotten us. We are from time-to-time even tempted to believe that we are orphans, and not children of grace.

But this verse affirms all the good things for the church: God made us; He knows us; He encourages us; He has cleansed and forgiven us; and He has joined us to Himself (since Christ is the Head of the church). What more could we want?!

[Puritan quote of the day: "We are under greater obligations to love a more lovely being than a less lovely one . . . " --Jonathan Edwards, in, "Justification by Faith Alone"]

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mon., 6/2/14 Devotion (Deut. 6:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 6:5, where we read these words:

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."

This (above) is one of the most important verses in all the Holy Book. In the final analysis, everything comes down to whether or not we love God--and that supremely, more than any other entity. From whence does love come? It comes from God Himself. When He grants a sinner the gift of saving faith, that soul, recognizing the immensity of what the Lord has done for it, now genuinely and deeply loves God.

This, then, is the key to all the churchman's obedience and happiness. Do we love God? If so, we are willing and pleased to serve Him (in any and all re-spects). We can endure hardships and trials, because we know we are for-given, and that the Almighty Himself loves us. Love is the most powerful force in the world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Are you accused by Satan, the world, or your own conscience? Christ is called your Advocate." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]