Friday, August 29, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/29-31/14 Devotion

Yippee--it's almost Sunday! In order to get us ready for church, here is Tho-mas Watson, from his book, "A Body of Divinity":

"As God’s mercy makes the saints happy, so it should make them humble. Mercy is not the fruit of our goodness, but the fruit of God’s goodness. Mercy is an alms that God bestows. They have no cause to be proud that live upon the alms of God’s mercy. 'If I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head,’ (Job 10:I5). All my righteousness is the effect of God’s mercy, therefore I will be humble and will not lift up my head.

"Mercy stays the speedy execution of God’s justice. Sinners continually pro-voke God, and make 'the fury come up in His face,’ (Ezek 38:18). Whence is it God does not presently arrest and condemn them? It is not that God cannot do it, for He is armed with omnipotence, but it is from His mercy. Mercy gets a reprieve for the sinner, and stops the speedy process of justice. God would, by His goodness, lead sinners to repentance."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thurs., 8/28/14 Devotion (Ps. 36:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 36:8, where we read these words:

"They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures."

Such is the state (above) of all God's sincere Christian churchmen--who rest all their hopes for redemption and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ (alone). They are given a lot: abundant satisfaction from God's fullness of His house (church). On top of this, they drink daily of the Water of Life (Christ). He is God's "River" of "pleasures."

Is the faithful life easy? No. Are there struggles that accrue to it, that even the unregenerate do not have to deal with? Yes. But, in the full scope of things, the true believer has a very wonderful life and inheritance (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us assure ourselves that God's grace, even in this imperfect state, is stronger than man's free will in the state of original per-fection." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wed., 8/27/14 Devotion (1 Cor. 1:18)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 1:18, which says this:

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

Why do some people fail to respond to the amazing truth that a perfect God-Man died on a cross for wicked sinners? Partly, because they think the mes-sage is foolish, (see the verse above). And why do they think this? Because they cannot conceive of themselves as that bad; and they want salvation mixed with their own works (or alleged righteousness).

Why, on the other hand, do others receive the grace of the cross, and experi-ence redemption? Because God regenerates them, and they recognize the truth: that their sins put the Beloved One on the cruel tree (cross); and that true atonement is powerful--strong enough to effect the forgiveness of their sins.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Where the aim and bent of the soul is towards God, there is grace, though opposed." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mon., 8/25/14 Devotion (1 Sam. 17:26b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 17:26b, where we find David saying this:

" . . . For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"

We have got to love David's heroic spirit here (above). He had a simple and sincere faith in God, so he could not understand why anyone would be afraid of a giant (Goliath). "Compared to The Lord, who is this Philistine?," would be David's way of thinking.

And so it is today. The church needs an army of "Davids," who will not cower before the blustering, bloated "giants" of heresy, blasphemy, sodomy, and atheism—all of which are more full of hot air than they are of any substance. Let us, like David, take our stand on the Christ of the gospel of grace, and fight as the “army of the living God."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Such is the goodness of our sweet Savior that He delights still to show His strength in our weakness." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/22-24/14 Devotion

Fantastic—it is almost Sunday! In order to prepare us for church, here is Tho-mas Watson, from, "All Things for Good":

"The Lord does not tie Himself to a particular way, or use the same order with all. He comes sometimes in a still small voice. Such as have had godly par-ents, and have sat under the warm sunshine of religious education, often do not know how or when they were called. The Lord did secretly and gradually instil grace into their hearts, as the dew falls unnoticed in drops. They know by the heavenly effects that they are called, but the time or manner they know not. The hand moves on the clock, but they do not perceive when it moves.

"Thus God deals with some. Others are more stubborn and knotty sinners, and God comes to them in a rough wind. He uses more wedges of the law to break their hearts; He deeply humbles them, and shows them they are damned without Christ. Then having plowed up the fallow ground of their hearts by humiliation, He sows the seed of consolation. He presents Christ and mercy to them, and draws their wills, not only to accept Christ, but pas-sionately to desire, and faithfully to rest upon Him. Thus He wrought upon Paul, and called him from a persecutor to a preacher. This call, though it is more visible than the other, yet is not more real. God's method in calling sin-ners may vary, but the effect is still the same."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thurs., 8/21/14 Devotion (Rom. 11:33)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 11:33, where Paul wrote these words:

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"

Everything, without exception, that God has done, does, or will ever do is good. Everything that has ever occurred, in the entire history of creation, is designed to further His glory and the welfare of Christ's church. Do we be-lieve these Biblical doctrines? If so, it is because we are willing (by grace) to accept the wonder and amazement of Rom. 11:33--and we share in Paul's astonishment of how good and amazing God is.

Let us believe way beyond the puny purview of the teensy terrain we see with the eyes of our flesh. God is better than we could ever imagine Him to be.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As He is God, all things are His own, and He has a right to dispose of them according to His own pleasure." --Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Sovereignty of God"]

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wed., 8/20/14 Devotion (Jer. 49:38a)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 49:38a, where we read these words:

"I [the Lord] will set My throne in Elam . . . "

What a strange place for God to "set [His] throne”: Elam, an ancient pagan power east of Babylon. This is a good reminder of the fact that nothing is out-side of the Lord's sovereignty: He is king everywherein heaven, and on earth. No devil, no sinners, no evil can overthrow Him; and God remains on His throne at all times, in every situation.

Having said that, it is true that there is a "positive" reign of Christ (in His church), and a "negative" reign of Christ (in His judgment of wickedness). The same Sovereign is in control—it is just that in one case God grants forgive-ness and imputed righteousness (from Christ); and in the other case He exer-cises His prerogative as a Just Judge (in condemnation).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Praise God for every smile, and rejoice in the least." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tues., 8/19/14 Devotion (Rom. 9:20)

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

"But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' "

Though God would have His own sincere Christian churchmen be very gut-wrenchingly candid with Him, and tell Him everything in their hearts, and lay everything bare before Him--the Lord does *not* entertain complaints about *why* He has made particular people in one way or another.

Even when it comes to His sovereign election, (which is the immediate con-text of Rom. 9:20), we are not allowed to "reply against God." Of course, no one cares whether they please God, or not, until they are actually regenerat-ed (or born again). Therefore, it is especially ill-suited for God's redeemed people to quarrel with the Lord, as to why He elects some sinners to life in Christ, and does not choose others.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Without Christ's Spirit the soul is in confusion, with-out beauty and form . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mon., 8/18/14 Devotion (Rom. 8:26)

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

"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

Sometimes it is hard to know just *how* to pray, or for *what* to pray. This is a "weakness," but it is not a debilitating one. The reason is because the Holy Spirit Himself "makes intercession" for us. When we have a hard time know-ing how to pray, we ought to try to discern what the main and pressing *con-cerns* are, that are on our hearts.

Let us then bring these issues to the Lord, and ask Him for strength and wis-dom. It is always better to *try* to pray, than to leave off praying altogether (because it is often so difficult). God is pleased with our faith-driven efforts, even though they are sometimes paltry. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit "fills in the gaps."

[Puritan quote of the day: "God has two arms whereby He draws us unto Himself--the arm of His love, and the arm of His anger and justice." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/15-17/14 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray--it's almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his incomparable work, entitled, "A Body of Di-vinity":

"A people in covenant with God are a willing people; though they cannot serve God perfectly, they serve Him willingly. They do not grudge God a little time spent in His worship; they do not hesitate or murmur at sufferings; they will go through a sea and a wilderness, if God call. 'Your people shall be a willing people,' (Ps. 110:3). This spontaneity and willingness is from the at-tractive power of God’s Spirit: the Spirit does not force, but sweetly draws the will; and this willingness in religion makes all our services accepted. God does sometimes accept of willingness without the work, but never the work without willingness.

"God's covenant people are a consecrated people, they have holiness to the Lord written upon them. . . . God's covenant people are separated from the world, and sanctified by the Spirit. The priests under the law were not only to wash in the great laver, but were arrayed with glorious apparel, (Ex. 28:2). This was typical, to show God’s people are not only washed from gross sins, but adorned with holiness of heart: they bear not only God’s name, but image. Tamerlane refused a pot of gold, when he saw it had not his father’s stamp upon it, but the Roman stamp. Holiness is God’s stamp; if He does not see this stamp upon us, He will not own us for His covenant people."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thurs., 8/14/14 Devotion (Rom. 4:2-3)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 4:2 & 3, where we read these amazing words:

"For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' "

Religious people often like to boast (at least within themselves) about how good they are. But Abraham knew better. He understood that his faithful deeds--like being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac--were not the *cause* of his right standing with God, but were, rather, the *results* of his being justified by faith.

There is nothing more despicable in the world, or in the eyes of God, than a self-, or works-righteousness person. These people despise and disdain the work of Christ, and believe themselves good enough to satisfy an absolutely holy God on their own. On the great Judgment Day, *only* those clothed with Jesus' righteousness, apprehended by faith alone, will stand.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Every man is as his God is. If you would know whether a man is a godly man or not, you must inquire what his god is like."
--Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "A truly Godly man prefers God before all others"]

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wed., 8/13/14 Devotion (Rom. 3:28)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 3:28, where Paul, under the in-spiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote these words:

"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law."

How much of our own righteousness do we have? If we answered by thinking that we have any at all, then we are definitely in trouble, and we have blas-phemously denigrated the atonement of Christ. There is not one thing we can do to procure our right standing with God, outside of believing that Jesus Christ Himself has *fully* (and not partly) accomplished this for us.

The Fall has left us all with the accursed sense that we still somehow pos-sess Adam's initial "righteousness."  The fact is, it is completely gone. If we are going to be justified at all, it must be done in and through Christ alone, ap-prehended by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Heaven is ours already, only we strive till we have full possession." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tues., 8/12/14 Devotion (1 Sam. 2:30c)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 2:30c, where we read these words:

" . . . For those who honor Me [the Lord] I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed."

The Lord cannot be "outdone." If anyone is willing, by grace through faith in Christ alone, to "honor" Him, God will more than "return the favor." On the flip side: those who treat the Lord with disdain will be "lightly esteemed." (And to be "lightly esteemed" by God is *not* a good thing.)

How do we honor God? Only one thing pleases Him, and that is faith in Christ. (See Heb. 11:6 for vivid proof of this.) Sincere faith will then, inevitably, lead to a life of gratitude and willing obedience--beginning with Sunday (Sab-bath) observance, church membership, and true worship.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Morality shoots short of heaven. It is only nature refined. A moral man is but old Adam dressed in fine clothes." --Thomas Wat-son, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mon. 8/11/14 Devotion (Ps. 13:1, 6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 13:1 & 6, where we read these words:

"How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? . . . I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me."

Such is life down here in a fallen world--even among the people of God. David opens his psalm with the lamentable words of, "How long . . . ?"; and ends it just five verses later with, "[God] has dealt bountifully with me." One moment he is in the pits; two minutes later he is on the mountaintop.

The wise Christian latches onto the Lord Jesus Christ, and “hangs on for the ride.” Nothing is guaranteed, except all the best from God to His church, in Jesus. None of us can control our various circumstances; but the one thing we *can* and *must* do is to cling tenaciously to Christ our Savior.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[Christ] was love itself clothed with man's na-
ture . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/8-10/14 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost upon us! Here is Thomas Watson, from, "All Things for Good," to help us get ready for the church's Sabbath worship:

"The Word is the instrumental cause of our conversion, the Spirit is the effi-cient [cause]. The ministers of God are only the pipes and organs; it is the Spirit blowing in them, that effectually changes the heart. 'While Peter spoke, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word,' (Acts 10:44). It is not the farmer's industry in plowing and sowing, that will make the ground fruitful, without the early and latter rain. So it is not the seed of the Word that will ef-fectually convert, unless the Spirit put forth His sweet influence, and drops as rain upon the heart. Therefore the aid of God's Spirit is to be implored, that He would put forth His powerful voice, and awaken us out of the grave of un-belief."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thurs., 8/7/14 Devotion (Ps. 7:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 7:1a, where we read these words:

"O LORD my God, in You I put my trust . . . "

This is a succinct creed, and one worthy of our attention, respect, and imita-tion. David put his trust in the Lord, and not in anyone or anything else. Be-cause of this, God delivered him from his fierce enemies (mentioned through-out this Psalm 7).

Let us put our trust in Christ today. If we do, we will not be disappointed. We *will* be assaulted, and mistreated--but we will *not* be defeated or deserted. God will not permit those who trust in His Son to be left to their enemies' de-vices.

[Puritan quote of the day: "After conversion, the saints have a principle [within them that is] contrary to sin." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Hope"]

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wed., 8/6/14 Devotion (Acts 24:25a)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 24:25a, which says this:

"Now as [Paul] reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid . . . "

Here (above) the Apostle Paul is evangelizing the public official Felix. The *order* of Paul's discourse is intriguing (as it is given us by the Holy Spirit, here in the Book of Acts). Paul *starts* with "righteousness." We can be sure he put all the stress on *Christ's* righteousness, imputed to sinners, by grace through faith (alone). Only then, does the apostle go into "self-control," and "the judgment to come."

Too often well-meaning believers seek to "evangelize" by telling people they need to change the way they live; and by "scaring" them (with judgment). These dynamics are important; but they are never effective without the gos-pel: the righteousness of Christ being freely offered to sinners.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The word 'Father' is a sweet word, for it sweetens all our duties." --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tues., 8/5/14 Devotion (Ps. 4:6-7)

Today's encouragement comes from David's words of Psalm 4:6 & 7, which say this:

"There are many who say, 'Who will show us any good?' LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased."

There are many pessimists today, especially in the religious world. Pessimism is typically nothing more than a cloak for unbelief and hopelessness. David's hope was not in the things worldlings seek after (solely): money, clothing, houses, prestige, etc. Instead, David enjoyed, as all the godly do, a "secret feast" of the soul, whereby he was constantly nourished and refreshed.

Let us see God's kingdom (of the church) with the eyes of faith in Jesus. Even today, we should enjoy the reign of Christ and His grace (in our souls). In this way, we carry about with us, even in *this* world, a real piece of heav-en.  For where Jesus is, there is heaven.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As God has two places He dwells in, heaven and a humble heart, so the devil has two places he dwells in, hell and a hard heart." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mon., 8/4/14 Devotion (Jer. 32:26-27)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 32:26 & 27, which says this:

"Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 'Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?' "

Nothing is too hard for God, because no circumstance or situation is outside of His complete ability to rectify. When even the prophet Jeremiah considered God's promise, that the people would return to the land, it seemed utterly pre-posterous (to Jeremiah) that it could actually come to pass.

Perhaps we are facing something today that truly is humanly-impossible. But, what is not possible for man is possible for God. Why should we not lay our situation out before Him, and ask Him to do some great miracle? If the Lord chooses to do so, great; if not, we know that He knows what is best for us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Keep the soul open to entertain the Holy Ghost, for He will bring in continually fresh forces to subdue corruption, and this most of all on the Lord's Day." --Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/1-3/14 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here. We get to go to church, and worship God. In order to help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Art of Di-vine Contentment" book:

"To learn Christ, is to believe in Him: 'My Lord, and my God,' (Jn. 20:28). When we do not only believe God, but IN God, which is the actual application of Christ to ourselves, and is as it were the spreading of the sacred medicine of His blood upon our souls. Have you heard much of Christ, and yet cannot with a humble adherence say, 'My Jesus'? Be not offended if I tell you, the devil can say his creed as well as you.

"To learn Christ, is to love Christ. When we have Bible-conversations, our lives like rich diamonds cast a sparkling lustre in the church of God; and are, in some sense, parallel with the life of Christ, as the transcript with the ori-ginal."