Friday, October 31, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/31-11/2/14 Devotion

Happy Reformation Day!

Yippee—Sunday is almost here! In order to get ready for church let us hear from Thomas Watson, from his work entitled, "The Art of Divine Content-ment":

"Divine Motives to Contentment.

"Consider the excellency of it. Contentment is a flower that does not grow in every garden; it teaches a man how in the midst of want to abound. You would think it were excellent if I could prescribe a receipt or antidote against poverty: but behold here is that which is more excellent, for a man to want, and yet have enough, this alone contentment of spirit does bring. Contenta-tion is a remedy against all our trouble, an alleviation to all our burdens, it is the cure of care. Contentation, though it be not properly a grace (it is rather a disposition of mind), yet in it there is a happy temperature and mixture of all the graces: it is a most precious compound, which is made up of faith, pati-ence, meekness, humility, etc. which are the ingredients put into it."

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thurs., 10/30/14 Devotion (2 Tim. 2:1)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 2:1, where we read these words:

"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

This is a precious verse. What are we to be "strong" in? The "grace that is in Christ Jesus." What is this grace? It is sufficient grace—that is more than able to meet our specific, everyday, and eternal needs. How are we "strong" in this grace? By faith. When we believe God, that He will answer our prayers, and help us in our needs—it greatly honors Him.

The thing to avoid, is the idea that we need to "get our acts together" *before* we can be strong in Christ's grace. The truth is that Christ’s grace, by which we appropriate to our hearts the help we need from God, *causes* us to "get our acts together." Are we bewildered or troubled today? Let us put our faith in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For from our neglect of prayer comes that dead-ness of spirit, that worldly-mindedness and unaptness to pray, to hear the Word, and to keep the Sabbath." --John Preston, in his sermon entitled, "The Saint's Daily Exercise"]

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wed., 10/29/14 Devotion (2 Tim. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, where Paul wrote these words:

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

To fear from time to time in a fallen world is natural and to be expected. But God does not give us a "*spirit* of fear." Instead, His Spirit working in us ef-fects energy, grace, and sanity. None of this is to deny that even the best of churchmen fail to live up to our potential and our resources (in Christ); but the point is that we should be more and more *governed* by the Spirit that is from God.

Practically-speaking, this will mean that instead of cowering before fearful specters of the future, we begin to face them head-on, in advance—believing that our God is going before us, to give us the victory (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "If God thought it fit that Adam in innocence should not be alone, but should have a helper, much more now in a state of defection since the fall do we need others' help as well as our own." --Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tues., 10/28/14 Devotion (Ps. 119:86c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:86c, where we read these few words:

" . . . Help me!"

Sometimes the best prayers are the simplest ones. God is not concerned about flowery oratory in prayer. He would rather hear a few syllables of gut-wrenching honesty, than a whole bunch of religious nonsense (or proud ut-terances).

Do we need help today? Let us ask Christ for it. Let us be as specific as we can be, for our own soul's well-being; but let us not for a moment think that the Lord cannot figure out what we are trying to say, if we are having a hard time getting the words out. Prayer is important—but it is not a magical genie coming out of a bottle; and God does not hold us to any particular formulas.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is no such thing as any inordinateness in holy affections; there is no such thing as excess in longings after the discov-eries of the beauty of Christ Jesus . . . Men may be as covetous as they please (if I may so speak) after spiritual riches . . . " --Jonathan Edwards, in one of his sermons]

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mon., 10/27/14 Devotion (Ps. 119:52)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:52, where we read these words:

"I remembered Your judgments of old, O LORD, and have comforted myself."

The best way to get a good perspective on the present and the future, is to heartily believe in the God who has decreed all things in eternity past. It is al-so helpful to remember how gracious the Lord has been to His church in days gone by. All this has the effect of giving us confidence and peace in the cur-rent situation (be it "good" or "bad").

But only the faithful churched Christian can do this happy “remembering," however. For the unbelievers, their musings on God are *not* comforting at all. After all, God's "judgments" are just that, for them—unless they come by grace to faith in Christ. For us believers, on the other hand, God's judgment has already been poured out on Jesus (on the cross) for us. We can and should rejoice in the forgiveness of our sins.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God intermixes mercy with affliction. He steeps His sword of justice in the oil of mercy. There was no night so dark but Israel had a pillar of fire in it." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/24-26/14 Devotion

Yippee—Sunday is almost here! Here is Thomas Watson, from "A Divine Cor-dial," to help get us ready for church worship:

"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, October 23, 2014

Thurs., 10/23/14 Devotion (Ps. 116:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 116:1, where we read these words:

"I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications."

Among many others, here is a good reason for us to love God: He hears our prayers. Precisely *what* prayers does God "hear," in the covenantal sense? (After all, He knows the things religious people all over the world are babbling out all the time.) God hears prayers that are made through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But even these petitions should be sincere and earnest. The Lord hears pray-ers that come from the heart. He answers those people who *really* want to be heard. God does not hear prayers offered from self-, law-, or works-right-eousness; but He does hear those that are "soaked," as it were, in the blood righteousness of Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Although to true religion there must indeed be something else besides affection, yet true religion consists so much in the af-fections that there can be no true religion without them." --Jonathan Edwards, in "A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections"]

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wed., 10/22/14 Devotion (2 Thess. 3:5)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 3:5, where we read these words:

"Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the pa-tience of Christ."

This is such a great prayer of the Apostle Paul. When regenerate Christians can conceive of their Heavenly Father as an ocean of love in Christ, rather than as a wrathful Deity who still is angry with their sins—then a great and marvelous transformation takes place in their souls.

All Christian duty and obedience is futile, if it is not based in the believed in, experienced, and even “felt” love of God the Father. Slavish compliance is neither acceptable to God, nor sweet to us. Instead, joyful, childlike, and will-ing obedience comes naturally to those who know how wonderfully good and loving God really is. This kind of grateful and heart-melting willingness to fol-low the Lord Jesus supremely pleases God, the Holy Trinity.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us pray that God will preserve pure ordinances and powerful preaching among us. Idolatry came in at first by the want of good preaching." --Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Commandments"]

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tues., 10/21/14 Devotion (2 Thess. 2:15)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 2:15, where we read these words:

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle."

Religious traditions are not inherently good or bad—they can be either. Paul passed some traditions along through his preaching and teaching; and others through his inspired NT epistles. All Christian worship—from the most formal, to the least embellished—employ tradition(s). Even those who consciously claim to avoid tradition, inevitably use it.

Tradition is only a problem if and when it conflicts with divine (scriptural) rev-elation—all of which points us to Jesus. When this happens, tradition must be removed, in favor of God's revealed will. Otherwise, however, let God's faith-ful church be careful to maintain, practice, and thank God for all good tradi-tion.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Zeal quickens the pursuit after glory. Zeal, encoun-tering difficulty, is emboldened by opposition and tramples upon danger."
--Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mon., 10/20/14 Devotion (2 Thess. 1:3a)

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

"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly . . . "

We do not usually think of faith as "growing." What does this mean? It refers to the fact that saving faith, which is a gift of God in regeneration, begins to be applied to more and more situations and circumstances of life. Instead of solely touching on salvation--growing faith begins to impose itself on other (and vast) tracts of everyday experiences.

Therefore, what is it that we have to face today? Whatever that is, it is to be subject to our faith in Jesus--the same miraculous faith God gave us when He joined us to our Savior in His church. Faith in Christ is to swallow-up all of our problems. Remember: faith alone pleases God, (cf. Heb. 11:6).

[Puritan quote of the day: "A believing soul dares venture his name, his es-tate, his life, yea, his eternal life on God. He dares to put them all into His hands." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/17-19/14 Devotion

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

"The test of a pilot is seen in a storm; so the test of a Christian is seen in af-fliction. 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 maintain decorum, not behaving himself in an unseemly manner or disguising himself with intemper-ate 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, October 16, 2014

Thurs., 10/16/14 Devotion (1 Thess. 2:4)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 2:4, where we read these words:

"But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts."

The ministers of the church who are truly called by God are sent to speak to all people everywhere the gospel of Christ's grace. But they are to do so with their minds on God first. He is our principal “Audience.” What is it that *God* wants us to say? This is what must be preached. The faithful clergy do not poll the people, to determine what they want to hear. Instead, they "poll" the Lord, in order to know what He would have them proclaim.

This principle is then passed down to the entire church, wherein the people of God begin to think this way too. They begin to ask, "What is it that Christ would have me do, and say?" This is the way to be effective for Jesus in the world. Then, when God "tests our hearts," we pass with flying colors—be-cause of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is in the ship of His church; do not fear sink-ing. The church's anchor is cast in heaven. Do we not think that God loves His church, and takes as much care of it as we can?" --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wed., 10/15/14 Devotion (1 Ki. 18:21a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Kings 18:21a, where we read these words:

"And Elijah came to all the people, and said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him. . . . ' "

I like this perspective, put out by Elijah. Even today this principle applies. All people worship some deity (alleged, or true). "Let the best [God] win," as the saying goes. Is the Muslim god the true one? Then all should worship it. Is the atheists' god the true one? Then we should bow down to it? Is the homo-sexuals' god true? Let all people honor it. Is the God of the True Christian Re-ligion—revealed as Triune in the Scriptures—the only Real Deity? Then, let all humans and angels worship The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

It turns out that the church’s Lord *is* the one and only God. We know this—among other reasons—because of the resurrection of the Son of God, who lives and reigns today. He can withstand all pretenders to His throne. Let all sinners worship Christ, and not fear any fake gods.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are the greatest reasons in the world to be a Christian . . . " --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tues., 10/14/14 Devotion (Ezek. 47:12b)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 47:12b, where we read these amazing words:

"They [the trees] will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine."

The first part of Ezek., ch. 47, is remarkable--one of my favorite parts of the Bible. The expanse of the New Covenant church, and the spread of the gos-pel of grace are all in view here. Christ dwells in the "sanctuary," (the church). The church, through the Holy Spirit, feeds, nourishes, and heals the entire world—every part of it. And, in time, the "knowledge of the Lord covers the earth, as the waters cover the sea,” (Hab. 2:14).

Let us be thankful that the God of heaven has *not* abandoned His earth, or the people thereon. He has left His colony, the church, here. As the Body of Christ, let us be "feeders" and "healers" of the whole world—through the spread of the gospel of Jesus. Christ Himself is the only “medicine” that can heal sin-sick souls.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Grace continues and increases." --Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mon., 10/13/14 Devotion (1 Ki. 16:22b)

Today's encouragement comes from the few words which make-up 1 Kings 16:22b, which say this:

" . . . So Tibni died and Omri reigned."

These words (above) are almost comical. But this was how it was in the an-cient (and even the modern) world: when claimants to a particular throne bat-tled it out—the result was that one of them won, and the other one died. But it should dawn on us that there is a much more profound (and legitimate) appli-cation of this principle; and it is this (below). . . .

. . . When Christian churchmen are regenerated, the "old man" of the flesh dies, and the "new man" of the Spirit reigns. The *experience* of this truth is the struggle all converted souls on earth have to traverse, (and we call this, "sanctification"). Let all of us believers reckon ourselves to be dead to sin, and alive in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love Him, and the more uneasy is he at his want [lack] of love to Him." --Jonathan Edwards, in "Religious Affections"]

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/10-12/14 Devotion

Hallelujah--Sunday is almost here! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Lord's Prayer" book:

"Doing God's will propagates the gospel. It is the diamond that sparkles in re-ligion. Others cannot see what faith is in the heart, but when they see we do God's will on earth, it makes them have a venerable opinion of religion, and become proselytes to it. Julian [the apostate], in one of his epistles, writing to Arsatius, says, 'that the Christian religion did much flourish, by the sanctity and obedience of them that professed it.'

"By doing God's will, we show our love to Christ. 'He that has My command-ments, and keeps them, he it is that loves Me,' (Jn. 14:21). What greater love to Christ than to do His will, though it cross our own? Every one would be thought to love Christ; but, how shall it be known but by this: Do we do His will on earth? . . . It is a vain thing for a man to say he loves Christ's Person, when he slights His commands. Not to do God's will on earth is a great evil."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thurs., 10/9/14 Devotion (Ps. 93:12-13)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 93:12 & 13, where we read these words:

"Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O LORD, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked."

This is a comforting text, especially in the tumultuous cultural climate of our day, wherein those who are so adamantly opposed to Christ, His church, and His gospel are flaunting their wares with impudence and shamelessness. These things tend to make the people of God afraid, and to begin to wring their hands in anxiety.

But this psalm (above) teaches us that the faithful churchman is really safe in Christ, even as the storm of adversity churns over our heads (as it does everyone else's, as well). So long as we do not cast off our faith in Jesus, we will come through the crisis on the other end, safe and sound.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have the favor of God, this doctrine [of en-couragement] teaches you that you need not be afraid of enemies; for who-ever is your enemy, God looks upon as His enemy." --Jonathan Edwards, in one of his great sermons]

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wed., 10/8/14 Devotion (Php. 2:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Philippians 2:14, where Paul wrote these words:

"Do all things without complaining and disputing . . . "

Complaining (grumbling), and disputing (arguing) come naturally to the fallen children of Adam.  Do any parents ever have to train their children to com-plain or dispute?  It comes easily to all of us, in our sinful conditions.

But grace transforms us from being grumblers and arguers, to being helpful and thankful.  Paul will go on, and say that the genuineness of our Christian testimonies are directly linked to the godly attitude we are to have when we do anything, (see vv. 15-16).  Today, let us trust Christ to give us supernatural grace to be grateful, not disgruntled.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is not one of us who does not have many mercies if we could just see them.  But, because we do not have all that we desire, we lose the comfort of that which we have."   --Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tues., 10/7/14 Devotion (Ps. 91:9-10)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 91:9 & 10, where we read these words:

"Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling . . . "

Those who are safely trusting in Jesus' blood atonement alone to protect them from the condemnation of sin's righteous judgment are the only people on earth who will weather the storms of this life (and the next one). God is the Christian churchman's "dwelling place" by faith. Faith, not anything else, proves to be our key to victory (1 Jn. 5:4b), since it directly binds us to Christ.

Do we want to be safe from the most real and fearful evils? Then, as the church, let us trust in Jesus alone. Let us look not to our works, or our perfor-mance--but to our Redeemer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the wicked, still, are under the covenant of works . . . " --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mon., 10/6/14 Devotion (Ps. 90:17a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 90:17a, where we read these words:

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us . . . "

Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote the words of the psalm (quoted above). What did he mean by "the beauty of the LORD"? All beauty comes from God, who Himself is the ultimately beautiful Being; and who is the Standard of all comeliness. Those related to Christ possess the same na-ture, Spirit, and beauty that He demonstrates, even today, in heaven.

The church's beauty is irresistible to God; and it is a prime means of attract-ing the yet-lost elect to Christ, His gospel, and His community. Let us seek to reflect and radiate God's beauty today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The law is but a dead letter in comparison to the word of the gospel. If you come merely to the law to hear the law preached, and not in a [gospel] way, you may hear it a hundred times and it will never be written in your hearts." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in "Gospel Worship"]

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/3-5/14 Devotion

Wahoo--Sunday is almost here. In order to prepare us for the church's Sab-bath worship of the resurrected Christ, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Ten Commandments" book:

"Obedience must be in and through Christ. ‘He has made us accepted in the beloved,’  (Eph. 1:6). Not our obedience, but Christ’s merits procure accept-ance. In every part of worship we must present Christ to God in the arms of our faith. Unless we serve God thus, in hope and confidence of Christ’s mer-its, we rather provoke Him than please Him. As, when king Uzziah would offer incense without a priest, God was angry with him, and struck him with lepro-sy, (2 Chron. 26:20). So, when we do not come to God in and through Christ, we offer up incense to Him without a priest, and what can we expect but se-vere rebukes?"

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thurs., 10/2/14 Devotion (Eph. 2:8-9)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 2:8 & 9, where we find these remarkable words:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of your-selves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

We sinners are not saved by anything we do. This truth can be extremely hard to accept, because we are so geared in our natural flesh to believing the exact opposite. After the Fall of man in the Garden, works went out the win-dow, (but our memory of them never left us).

To seek to be redeemed by works, or to supposedly sustain a relationship with God through works is a great affront to Christ and the gospel. If we could be saved by what we do, why would God the Father send His precious Son to die on a cruel cross for helpless sinners? Let us be grateful that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. This pleases God; and it brings us the best of everything.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To be rich in goods and rich in goodness is a hap-py condition." --Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wed., 10/1/14 Devotion (Eph. 1:7)

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

"In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . . "

When it is all said and done, the only thing that matters in life (and religion) is the soul's cleansing before a Holy God. Christ's blood *alone* washes away sins; and our confidence before God is solely based in and on our faith in Him (Christ).

So much religious talk and discourse is nothing other than the bluster of peo-ple who wish to find some substitute (for the blood atonement of Jesus). Let us not be ensnared by this; and may God's true Christian churchmen rejoice in their right standing with the Lord, by grace through faith in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a Christian's duty to triumph, not only over the world, but over Satan . . . " --William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Down-cast"]