Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thurs., 7/31/14 Devotion (Acts 18:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 18:4, where we read these words:

"And [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks."

The New Covenant Sabbath (which is Sunday), much like the Old Covenant Sabbath (which was Saturday), is still the first and foremost day on which everyone must be "persuaded" that Jesus is the Christ. The *place* where this happens is the church, (and, even more-specifically, the pulpit).

Once we have done our due diligence there, we are in a position to bring the gospel into the marketplace, the "Areopagus" (if you will). *Every* believer needs to be "re-convinced" of the truth of the Christian faith every Sunday. This is because we are weak, and given to doubt and unbelief. Once we are re-energized, we are ready to be effective in God's world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "David committed many sins, but especially those two of adultery and murder, and yet God pardoned Him. But Saul committed far less sins than those and yet God cast him off forever." --Jeremiah Bur-roughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wed., 7/30/14 Devotion (Jer. 26:19b)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 26:19b, where we read these words:

" . . . Did [Hezekiah] not fear the LORD and seek the LORD’S favor? . . . "

Here is a good formula for us to live by: fear the Lord, and seek His favor. To fear the Lord means to be serious about hating sin; and to seek the Lord means to be serious about believing gospel grace. Both of these notions are quite alien to our fallen natures.

This is why those (only) who are given new hearts in Christ can truly fear the Lord, and seek His favor. It is possible to be very religious, and yet not re-deemed. What is to be done in this case? We must totally abandon our own works, and alleged righteousness; and seek and trust the Lord Jesus (and His righteousness). God will be found by all those who truly desire to discover Him—so long as we look for Him through Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing in the world more uneasy than the heart of a wicked man made to listen to spiritual instruction . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tues., 7/29/14 Devotion (Acts 16:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 16:4 & 5, where we read these words:

"And as they [Paul, Silas, and Timothy] went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and el-ders at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and in-creased in number daily."

Here is a good example of where Christian joy, prosperity, and liberty is de-pendent upon submission to Christ through His church officers. Paul and his band were faithful to hand down the decisions of the Jerusalem presbytery; and, as they were well-received by the churches, they (the churches) flour-ished.

Today, we are often told that we do not need church, nor authority. This is the same thing as to say we do not need Christ, nor salvation. Let all of us who are committed to Jesus be committed to His ways, as well.

[Puritan quote of the day: "After we are gained to Christ ourselves, we should labor to gain others to Christ." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mon., 7/28/14 Devotion (Mk. 10:35)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 10:35, where we read these words:

"Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to [Jesus], saying, 'Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.' "

I like the audacity (here, above) of James and John. More importantly, I think God Himself likes it. How honoring is it of Christ, for us to come to Him with big, bold, and almost-outrageous requests? God may well not do whatever we ask in prayer--because He loves us too much to give us what is bad for us; but the spirit of childlike asking is to His glory.

So, what is it we want God to do for us? Why should we not ask Him for it? If it is not for our betterment, the Lord will protect us from ourselves.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What need do we have to knock at any other door? Can any be more tender over us than Christ?" --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/25-27/14 Devotion

Yippee--Sunday is almost here! Here is the amazing Thomas Watson, from "A Divine Cordial.” May these words help get us ready for Sunday’s church wor-ship:

"There is nothing in God to deaden our affections or quench our love; no in-firmity, no deformity, such as usually weaken and cool love. There is that ex-cellence in God, which may not only invite, but command our love. If there were more angels in heaven than there are, and all those glorious seraphim had an immense flame of love burning in their breasts to eternity, yet could they not love God equivalently to that infinite perfection and transcendence of goodness which is in Him. Surely then here is enough to induce us to love God--we cannot spend our love upon a better object.

"Love facilitates religion. It oils the wheels of the affections, and makes them more lively and cheerful in God's service. Love takes off the tediousness of duty. Jacob thought seven years but little, for the love he bore to Rachel. Love makes duty a pleasure. Why are the angels so swift and winged in God's service? It is because they love Him. Love is never weary. He that loves God, is never weary of telling it. He that loves God, is never weary of serving Him."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thurs., 7/24/14 Devotion (Mk. 6:56c)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 6:56c, where we read these words:

" . . . And as many as touched Him [Jesus] were made well."

Every time a human being touches Jesus Christ in faith, there is healing. The entire key to the every human being's life is to come into contact with Jesus the Savior. This is done by faith; and it is applied (practically) in prayer. True "wellness" requires "rubbing shoulders" with God—and this can only be done through contact with Christ the God-Man.

Therefore, let us boldly come to Christ, in faith-filled prayer. He is always ready to heal and forgive. Jesus is the giver of life. May our hearts yearn to be with (and near) Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We would never go to God unless God came to us, such is the stoutness of our hearts." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Re-conciliation"]

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wed., 7/23/14 Devotion (Mk. 5:36c)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 5:36c, where we read these words:

" . . . 'Do not be afraid; only believe.' "

This is sweet counsel of our Lord Jesus Christ, to all of us, His churchmen. There are plenty of times that we are tempted to fear--but the antidote is al-ways faith. It is intriguing that the Savior does not say, "Do not be afraid, only be strong"; or, He does not say, "Do not be afraid; only try harder"; or, He does not say, "Do not be afraid; only get more religious."

The man in Mark 5 had plenty of "reason" for fear: his little daughter had just died. But even in those dire straits, the answer is faith. Let us believe the Lord--albeit weakly, if necessary--recognizing that it is faith (in any sincere measure) that pleases God (cf. Heb. 11:6).

[Puritan quote of the day: " . . . Man's unrighteousness must usher in Christ's righteousness." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tues., 7/22/14 Devotion (Acts 9:31)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 9:31, where we read these words:

"Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied."

Sometimes we hear well-meaning believers say things like this: "What the church needs right now is some persecution." At times, people are even so misguided, as to actually "pray" to God for trial and difficulty. But that is not the Lord's way. He causes His church to prosper in all kinds of spiritual "soil"; but He is most pleased when the gospel "settles" cultures, and gives the church favor in the sight of all.

Therefore, let us do as we are commanded (by the Lord) in 1 Tim. 2:1-4, and ask God to move and guide (even civil) leaders who will make decisions that benefit the body of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "True grace is much engaged in the work of humili-ation . . . " --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mon., 7/21/14 Devotion (Acts 8:8)

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

" . . . And there was great joy in that city."

Sometimes believers forget that the gospel brings great joy to entire cities, as numerous people receive salvation and the forgiveness of their sins, and they are brought into the church. This theme is prominent in the Book of Acts, and the principle runs throughout the entire Bible. (Remember how Nineveh was spared, at the preaching of Jonah?)

Therefore, as we conceive of the church's mission in the world, let us keep "front and center" the redemption of our particular communities. As sinners are showered with the blessings of heaven, they will experience joys the likes of which they never did (nor could) experience in the world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God gives by denying sometimes . . . " --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/18-20/14 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from, "A Body of Divin-ity":

"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, July 17, 2014

Thurs., 7/17/14 Devotion (Josh. 24:15c)

Today's encouragement comes from Joshua 24:15c, where we read these words:

" . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

No matter what other people choose to do, God's true Christian churchmen must choose to serve Him wholeheartedly. The Fall of man into sin has left us all with the deplorable disease of "man-pleasing"; and of mindlessly following whatever new "gods" or theological fads that happen to come along.

The sincere believer must be more thoughtful and intelligent than that. If the world likes something, we ought to look askance at it, with a level of suspi-cion. This is not because we are paranoid--rather, it is because we have come to learn that idolatry is subtle, and easily slipped into.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To the extent that we give way to our will in sin-ning, to that extent we set ourselves at a distance from comfort." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wed., 7/16/14 Devotion (Acts 3:26)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 3:26, where we read these words:

"To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities."

Peter is speaking here to the Jewish people (above). What is intriguing here is that the Risen Christ is "sent" *after* His resurrection, to bless people, in applying the forgiveness of sins. When and where the Holy Spirit works, so does the Risen Savior.

When we think of Christ's "comings," we should not limit these to the Incarna-tion, the Second Coming, and the events of 70 AD. We should also include the visitation Jesus makes to every redeemed soul. This is a great blessing--one that culminates every other "coming" of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God sees fit that we should taste of that cup of which His Son drank so deep, that we might feel a little what sin is, and what His Son's love was." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tues., 7/15/14 Devotion (Acts 2:47b)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 2:47b, where we read these words:

" . . . And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

This blessed phrase (above) describes what is still happening today, and everyday. God is "adding to the church daily those who are being saved." The Holy Spirit never takes a break from His labors; and the sovereign decree of God is never interrupted by any of the events in a fallen world; and the church can never be destroyed.

Therefore, the operations of God, whereby He continually brings in His lost sheep continues unabated. But, the Lord has deigned to allow us to share in this sweet privilege. Are we already faithful churchmen? If so, then be about sharing Jesus with those who are not.

[Puritan quote of the day: "How [Jesus] defends His disciples from malicious imputations of the Pharisees!" --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mon., 7/14/14 Devotion (Josh. 21:45)

Today's encouragement comes from Joshua 21:45, where we read these neat words:

"Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass."

God's Word's track record is 100%. When the Lord makes a promise to His church, He keeps it. In Jesus, the redeemed have the complete fulfillment of the ultimate promise of God, (see 2 Cor. 1:20). Everything that we supremely need and want is to be found in Christ (alone). Just as God delivered the Is-raelites into the promised land, and gave it to them--so He has translated His church from sin, and into Christ.

What do we need today? Let us go ahead and ask God for it. So long as we belong to the Savior, our Father in heaven is more than pleased to show us His faithfulness.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Shall man be proud after God has been humble?"
--Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/11-13/14 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is just around the corner! In order to help get us ready for church, here is the incomparable Puritan Thomas Watson, from his book, en-titled, "The Ten Commandments":

"It is God that speaks to us in His word; therefore the preaching of the word is called the 'breath of [God’s] lips,' (Isa 11:4). Christ is said now to speak to us 'from heaven,' as a king speaks in his ambassador, (Heb 12:25). Ministers are but pipes and organs, it is the Spirit of the living God that breathes in them. When we come to the word, we should think within ourselves, 'God is speak-ing in this preacher.' The Thessalonians heard the word Paul preached, as if God Himself had spoken unto them. 'When you received the word of God, which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of men, but (as it is in truth) the word of God,' (1 Thess 2:13). When Samuel knew it was the Lord that spoke to him, he lent his ear, (1 Sam 3:10). If we do not regard God when He speaks to us, He will not regard us when we pray to him."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thurs., 7/10/14 Devotion (Jer. 6:16a, b)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 6:16a & b, where we read these words:

"Thus says the LORD: 'Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your
souls. . . . ' "

People like "new" paths, because by walking in them they think they are "cool," and avant garde. But in reality the old paths are better. Old truths may (legitimately) be re-framed into updated language, etc.--but the *essence* of the truth itself can never be changed.

I think, (perhaps overly-optimistically), that some folks are growing weary of all the failed promises of the "new" ways. They are finding them boring, mind-less, and unsatisfying. Perhaps many will begin to re-investigate the "tried and true” paths in Jesus. Even if they do not, those people who are blessed enough will, and God will get the glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Weaknesses do not break covenant with God . . . [and they] do not debar us from mercy." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wed., 7/9/14 Devotion (Ps. 144:15b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 144:15b, where we read these words:

" . . . Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!"

Why is the church of God in a happy and comfortable condition? Because of our Risen Head Jesus--who has conquered our sin, forgiven us, and given us immediate, full, and free access to the throne of grace. Are God's people *al-ways* "circumstantially" happy? No; the presence of sin in us, others, and the fallen world prevents this.

But, are the redeemed of the Lord *inherently* happy? Yes; because every-thing of ultimate importance has been taken care of for us by our Savior. Cheerfulness should characterize those of us who are loved by God--even though there are legitimate times and reasons for grief. Let us be God's happy people, in Jesus and His grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We are only poor for this reason, that we do not know our riches in Christ." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]