Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thurs.-Sabbath, 12/31/15-1/3/16 Devotion

Happy New Year, everyone!

Yippee! Sunday is coming! As we prepare for the Lord's Day, here is some encouragement from Thomas Watson's "A Body of Divinity" book:

"We glorify God, by praising him. Doxology, or praise, is a God-exalting work. Ps. 1:23: ‘Whosoever offers praise glorifies Me.’ The Hebrew word 'Bara,' to create, and 'Barak,' to praise, are little different, because the end of creation is to praise God. David was called the sweet singer of Israel, and his praising God was called glorifying God. Ps. 86:12: ‘I will praise You, O Lord my God, and I will glorify Your name.’

"Though nothing can add to God’s essential glory, yet praise exalts Him in the eyes of others. When we praise God, we spread His fame and renown, we display the trophies of His excellency. In this manner the angels glorify Him; they are the choristers of heaven, and do trumpet forth His praise. Praising God is one of the highest and purest acts of religion. In prayer we act like men; in praise we act like angels. Believers are called ‘temples of God,’ (1 Cor. 3:16). When our tongues praise, then the organs in God’s spiritual temple are sounding."

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wed., 12/30/15 Devotion (2 Chron. 35:21)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 35:21, where we read these words:

"But he [the king of Egypt] sent messengers to him [King Josiah of Judah], saying, 'What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God command-ed me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.' "

This is a rather odd case (above). The great and godly Josiah does not be-lieve the words of the pagan pharaoh of Egypt, and it ends up costing him (Josiah) his life. God can and does sometimes employ even the heathen for His own purposes. Those who are in the church covenant should be aware of this, and we should be loathe to assume that the Lord cannot (on occasion) speak through them, (those outside the covenant).

Josiah ends up dying in the (unnecessary) battle he insisted on having with Egypt. Let us not "meddle" where we do not belong. In all things, let us be sure to seek God's guidance.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Though [David] found God present with him in ex-ile, yet there is a sweeter presence of Him in His ordinances.” —Richard Sib-bes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tues., 12/29/15 Devotion (2 Chron. 34:27)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 34:27, where we read these words:

" ' . . . because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,' says the LORD."

This verse (above) is in reference to the excellent king of Judah, Josiah. When Josiah heard the new-found Scripture read to him, he immediately re-sponded, with faith and repentance. When Josiah inquired of God, as to the judgments pronounced on the land, the king greatly humbled himself before the Lord.

This is a wonderful encouragement for all of us in the faithful church today. The world of religion, and the world generally, are not good in good shape. But, so long as true believers in Jesus are thoroughly pierced by God's gos-pel word, and are melted in heart by the Spirit of grace, then there is full hope for us—even concerning the temporal issues of life. On top of that, through this whole process, our souls are made more like Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Places and conditions are happy or miserable as God grants His gracious presence more or less.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict"]

Monday, December 28, 2015

Mon., 12/28/15 Devotion (2 Chron. 33:12-13)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 33:12 & 13, which says this:

"Now when [Manasseh] was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God."

This is the account of one of the most astounding conversions of all time. Manasseh, the king of Judah, was one of the worst idolaters the Bible ever chronicled. He never met an idol he did not love. But God, in His amazing and infinite grace and mercy, brought this man to his senses, and gave him the gift of faith and repentance.

May we all take comfort from examples such as this. As the angel said, in Lk. 1:37: "For with God nothing will be impossible."

[Puritan quote of the day: "That you may become capable of [God's] mercy, you must fall out with your sins, for there's no talk of mercy till you first are cruel to your sins.” —Robert Harris, in, "The Way To True Happiness"]

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thurs.-Sabbath, 12/24-27/15 Devotion

Merry Christmas!

Here is the devotion. . . .

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augus-tus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keep-ing watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marvel-ed at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.  (Luke 2:1-20)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wed., 12/23/15 Devotion (2 Chron. 28:22a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 28:22a, where we read these words:

"Now in the time of his distress King Ahaz became increasingly unfaithful to the LORD."

Probably, most of us have known people like this. May we not be numbered among them. They encounter hardships in their lives, and their response is to become so furious at God—that they forsake Him utterly (by abandoning Christ's church and the gospel of grace). Instead of *going* to the only One who can actually *help* them in their distress—they flee even farther from Him than they were before.

In the case of the wicked King Ahaz of Judah (above), his problems were of his own making. He was a gross idolater. His worship of false gods brought on him (and his nation) great judgment. Then, when given an excellent oppor-tunity to repent, and embrace the True God—he "became increasingly un-faithful" to Him. May we learn from Ahaz' bad example; and may we always go to Jesus and His church when we are in trouble.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a harder thing to believe than to keep the Ten Commandments.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast”] GREAT QUOTE, BTW!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tues., 12/22/15 Devotion (2 Chron. 26:5b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 26:5b, where we read these words:

" . . . and as long as he [Uzziah] sought the LORD, God made him prosper."

Why is it, that we cannot seem to understand this very basic principle? So long as we seek the Lord, in His Son, and in the context of His church, we will "prosper." If we do *not* do this, we will not prosper. The reason we so often fail here, is because our faith is not as perfected as it should be. Our flesh tells us that "prosperity" may be had outside of Christ.

Even the great Uzziah ended up getting a bit "full of himself"; and though his life was blessed and prosperous, his pride took a bite out of him before he died, (cf. 2 Chron. 26:16). Let us churchmen be sure to humble ourselves be-fore the Lord—trusting in Him alone, and not in ourselves (at all).

[Puritan quote of the day: "When we preach Christ and free grace it is to bring you to Christ. Our preaching down of [or against] works is not to keep you from doing them but from resting in them.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mon., 12/21/15 Devotion (Jn. 11:26b)

Today's encouragement comes from the few words of John 11:26b, where we read this:

" . . . Do you believe this?"

Our Lord Jesus asked this question (above), of Martha, the sister of Lazarus. Christ is asking her if she believes a body of doctrine that He had just taught her—regarding Himself (Jesus), the veracity (power) of faith, and the resur-rection of the dead.

Such is the nature of all good doctrine, and of the churchman's belief in it: when rightly-construed it (good doctrine) always directs the believer to the Person of Jesus. The difference between a regenerated Christian and the devil himself, is not that we believe different things about historical facts—but that the true saint's faith resides ultimately in the Person of the Redeemer (Jesus).

[Puritan quote of the day: "A man by faith may come into the presence of God with open mouth and speak all his mind unto God.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/18-20/15 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! Here is some encouraging doctrine re. prayer, from the great Thomas Watson. This comes from his "The Ten Com-mandments" book:

"What are the several parts of prayer?

"1) There is the confessor's part, which is the acknowledgement of sin. 2) The supplicatory part, when we either deprecate and pray against some evil, or request the obtaining of some good. 3) The congratulatory part, when we give thanks for mercies received, which is the most excellent part of prayer. In pe-tition, we act like men; in giving thanks, we act like angels.

"What are the several sorts of prayer?

"1) There is mental prayer, in the mind, (1 Sam. 1:13). 2) Vocal, (Psa. 77:1). 3) Spontaneous, which is a sudden and short elevation of the heart to God: 'So I prayed to the God of heaven,' (Neh. 2:4). 4) Inspired prayer, when we pray for those things which God puts into our heart: 'The Spirit helps us with sighs and groans,' (Rom. 8:26). Both the expressions of the tongue, and the impressions of the heart, so far as they are right, are from the Spirit. 5) Pre-scribed prayer. Our Savior has set us a pattern of prayer. God prescribed a set form of blessing for the priests, (Numb. 6:23). 6) Public prayer, when we pray in the audience of others. Prayer is more powerful when many join and unite their forces. 7) Private prayer; when we pray by ourselves: 'Enter into your closet,' (Matt 6:6)."

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thurs., 12/17/15 Devotion (2 Chron. 20:12b, c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 20:12b & c, where we read these words:

" . . . For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."

Let us focus on the phrase, "Nor do we know what to do." This is how we of-ten feel, when we are faced with overwhelming forces that are arrayed against us, and that are threatening our peace and security. Jehoshaphat, the godly king of Judah who uttered this prayer (above), actually *did* know that he was to trust the Lord, and rest in Him, etc.—but he did not know how this was to *practically* manifest itself (in such a stressful situation).

So it may be for some of us Christian church members today. What are we to do, especially when we "do not know what to do"? In v. 17 of this same chap-ter, the people simply "stood still." In v. 22, they sang praises to God. The re-sult: the Lord gave them a big victory. He still does this for His church through Jesus’ mediation today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sin feeds the sinner with delightful objects and then makes him mortgage his soul.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wed., 12/16/15 Devotion (Jn. 6:66-68)

Today's encouragement comes from the wonderful interchange between Christ and His disciples, as it is found in John 6:66-68:

"From that time many of [Christ's] disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?' But Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.' "

This is a very poignant scene in the ministry of the Messiah. After intentionally paring-down the numbers of His "disciples" (among the multitude) by teaching them that they would have to ingest Him into their beings, and that God alone could draw them to Himself, etc.—the Lord Jesus is left with just a few re-maining hardy souls, (one of which was Judas, who, of course, was not faith-ful).

Peter's confession, representing the true church throughout all ages, is not only brilliantly insightful, but it was also eminently practical: there is nowhere to go, in this world, but to Jesus—unless one prefers hell.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When the Word comes to any place, the kingdom of heaven is said to come. . . . and Christ rules in it by the preaching of the gospel.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tues., 12/15/15 Devotion (Jn. 5:6)

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

"When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, 'Do you want to be made well?' "

At first glance Christ's question (above) to the lame man seems out of place. After all, does not everyone want to be "made well"? Actually, no; and this is why Jesus inquired of the infirm person. A lot of people are comfortable with their maladies—especially as they serve as excuses not to live responsibly before God. Some people literally do *not* "want" to be made well.

It is actually a blessing to desire good things—and health and well-being are two of them. It is one thing to be unwell (in whatever way this may be); but it is quite another thing to be content to be in that state. God would have us de-sire Christ, wholeness, and all good things—as His beloved church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sometimes persons live in ways of sin and are not sensible of it because they are blinded by common custom and the examples of others.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Necessity of Self-Exam-ination"]

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mon., 12/14/15 Devotion (Ps. 147:11)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 147:11, which says this:

"The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy."

God created the world, in order to enjoy it. The Holy Trinity always experienc-es perfect and unremitted bliss. God is never perturbed. But, if it may be said that the Lord's pleasure may be "added to," (and I think it *can* be said, [in a certain sense]), then those who "fear Him" are the ones that achieve this re-markable privileged status.

Do we fear the Lord—through our faith in Jesus? If so, then let us take great comfort. God not only delights in us, He also loves us very dearly and tender-ly (as His church).

[Puritan quote of the day: "If once you come to receive the mercy of God in and through Christ Jesus, then that mercy will be the greatest opposer of your lusts and sin as anything can be in the world.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, a book of his sermons, entitled, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/11-13/15 Devotion

Wahoo! Sunday is almost here. Here is Thomas Watson, from "All Things for Good," or, "A Divine Cordial":

"The word preached works for good. It is a savor of life, it is a soul-transform-ing word. It assimilates the heart into Christ’s likeness; it produces assurance. 'Our gospel came to you not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance,' (1 Thess. 1:5). It is the chariot of salvation.

"Prayer works for good. Prayer is the bellows of the affection; it blows up holy desires and ardors of soul. Prayer has power with God. It is a key that un-locks the treasury of God’s mercy. Prayer keeps the heart open to God, and shut to sin; it assuages the intemperate hearts and swellings of lust. It was Luther’s counsel to a friend, when he perceived a temptation begin to arise, to betake himself to prayer. Prayer is the Christian’s gun, which he discharges against his enemies. Prayer is the sovereign medicine of the soul. Prayer sanctifies every mercy (1 Tim. 4:5). It is the dispeller of sorrow: by venting the grief it eases the heart. When Hannah had prayed, 'She went away, and was no more sad,' (1 Sam. 1:18). And if it has these rare effects, then it works for good."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thurs., 12/10/15 Devotion (Lk. 24:27)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 24:27, where we find these words:

"And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He [Christ] expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."

Why did Jesus employ the Scriptures (only), when He was teaching His dis-ciples all things concerning Himself? Why did He not use tradition, councils, and the opinions of ancient Jewish leaders? Because those sources were not inspired of God—they had no authority over His disciples' consciences.

Let us be sure we garner what we are going to know about God from the Holy Scriptures. This will require the ministry of the church, to be sure—but as your ministers are faithful to their callings, they will be preaching The Christ as He is revealed in HIs Resurrection and God's Holy Book.

[Puritan quote of the day: "None can better discover Satan's sleights and poli-cies, than those who have been long in the fencing-school of temptation.”
—Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wed., 12/9/15 Devotion (Lk. 23:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 23:12, where we read these words:

"That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previous-ly they had been at enmity with each other."

Have we ever considered that the devil does quite well at holding his forces together? God's people could learn a lesson from this fact. We ought to be in-finitely *more* united around Jesus, and His church's gospel doctrine, than Satan and his followers are, around their hatred for Christ and His people.

What made Herod and Pilate like each other? Not their affinity for Jeru-salem's restaurants. Instead, they stood arm-in-arm in opposition to the stat-ed Kingship of Jesus. This is why even today we find Christian hypocrites "in bed" with Muslims, atheists, and all other unbelievers. They are all united to-gether in their resistance to our unconquerable Sovereign, Christ the Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The work and business of ministers of the gospel is, as it were, that of servants: to wash and cleanse the souls of men; for this is done by the preaching of the Word, which is their main business.” —Jona-than Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "Christ the Example of Ministers"]

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tues., 12/8/15 Devotion (Lk. 22:43)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 22:43, where we read these words:

"Then an angel appeared to Him [Jesus] from heaven, strengthening Him."

All God's churchmen need strength. Even the very Captain of our souls, the Head of the church Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, did. A lot of times we chil-dren of God find ourselves in trouble, or need. Naturally, we call out to God for deliverance and freedom (from what afflicts us). But what oftentimes the Lord chooses to do, is *not* to immediately extricate us from our problem—but to use it as a great opportunity to make us stronger.

After all: this happened with our Savior Himself. He is in the Garden of Geth-semane, He is in agony and anguish; and His Father chooses to give Him strength to endure the looming cross, (rather than a way around it). This is certainly something for us to think about today. . . .

[Puritan quote of the day: "The nature of God is lovely in Christ, and our na-ture in Christ is lovely to Him.” —Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, December 7, 2015

Mon., 12/7/15 Devotion (2 Jn. 10)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 John, v. 10, where we read these words:

"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him."

These are interesting words from the tender and sensitive "apostle of love," (John). Is it not the case that sweet-natured people are to listen to just about anyone? Are we not to be open to everyone's take on God? Actually, no. The best love says, “You are coming to my house with a false gospel of works. I serve the God of heaven, who gave His Son for my sins. I do not need, nor will l tolerate your doctrines of demons."

Does this mean we do not try to reach these people? No, it does not mean that. Here is the rule to go by: inform all heretical works-righteousness people that *you*, not they, will do the talking. If they want to listen, fine; if not, "adieu."

[Puritan quote of the day: "A great part of the pleasure and delight of the Christian life is made out of the observations of Providence.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/4-6/15 Devotion

Hurray—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his work entitled, "The Lord's Prayer."  (He is dealing with the second petition, "Thy Kingdom Come," here.) . . .

"God is a glorious King. 'Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory,' (Psa. 24:10). He has internal glory: 'The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty,' (Psa. 93:1). Other kings have royal and sumptuous ap-parel to make them appear glorious to beholders, but all their magnificence is borrowed. God is clothed with His own majesty; His own glorious essence is instead of royal robes, and 'He has girded Himself with strength.' Kings have their guard about them to defend their person, because they are not able to defend themselves; but God needs no guard or assistance from others. 'He has girded Himself with strength.' His own power is His lifeguard. 'Who in the heaven can be compared to the Lord?'

"Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?,' (Psa. 89:6). He has a pre-eminence above all other kings for majesty. 'He has on His vesture a name written, Rex Regum, KING OF KINGS,' (Rev. 19:16). He has the highest throne, the richest crown, the largest dominions, and the longest possession. 'The Lord sits as King forever,' (Psa. 29:10). Though He has many heirs, yet no successors. He sets up His throne where no other king does; He rules the will and affections; His power binds the conscience. Angels serve Him; all the kings of the earth hold their crowns and diadems by immediate tenure from this great King. 'By Me kings reign,' (Prov. 8:15). To this Lord Jehovah all kings must give account, and from His tribunal there is no appeal."

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thurs., 12/3/15 Devotion (Nah. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Nahum 1:7, which says this:

"The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him."

Because God is inherently benevolent (good), He is able to help His believing children whenever they are in distress. But the phrase that most comforts me is that, [quote], "He knows those who trust in Him." This knowledge is not only informational, viz., "Joe trusts Me, Fred does not”—but it is *personal*, viz., "I KNOW Joe, hehe iss one of My redeemed churchmen. I also love Joe."

Our trust in God is not perfect in this life. Therefore, let us not be tricked by the devil into thinking that we have *no* faith in Christ, when in fact we *do*—even though it is not to the degree that we desire.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You come to prayer and cannot tell what to
say. . . . Can you breathe? God's ear lies open to the breathings of a soul He has received to mercy.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wed., 12/2/15 Devotion (Lk. 16:31)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 16:31, where we read these amaz-ing words:

"But [Jesus] said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "

No one was ever converted to Christ on the basis of beholding miracles—even the great one of Jesus' bodily resurrection. Instead, all those who truly belong to God are in this blessed state because of the great miracle of re-generation (or the new birth). No one believes the Bible, either, until or unless the Holy Spirit gives him or her Christ's righteousness (and the subsequent new nature in Him).

Therefore, let us not be surprised at the recalcitrant blindness and rebellion of sinners, who simply *will* not believe. The truth is they *cannot* believe, until God sovereignly calls them. Let us ask the Lord to do this for all our lost friends.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now Christ and the church are all one. They make but one mystical body. The church is the queen, and Christ is the King.”
—Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tues., 12/1/15 Devotion (Lk. 15:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 15:1, where we read these words:

"Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him [Jesus] to hear Him."

Are not verses like this one (above) astounding? Let us ask ourselves: "Why did the notorious 'sinners' find Christ so compelling, so attractive, so alluring, that they would gather around Him, and hang on every word that fell from His blessed mouth?" I believe it is because they knew that He was real. They knew that He was not a religious freak, or a hypocrite, or a puffed-up doctrin-aire. They also knew that Jesus genuinely cared for them.

Let all of us who are sincere Christian churchmen recognize that if unbeliev-ers do not find us magnetic—something is wrong with us, not them. Jesus set the standard; let us follow in His blessed steps. Let pharisees despise us; but may ordinary sinners love us, and seek us out.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you grieve [God's] Spirit in heaven, He will sad-den your spirit on earth.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Monday, November 30, 2015

Mon., 11/30/15 Devotion (Mic. 5:2)

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

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting."

Often, God works from and in obscure places. Bethlehem was certainly not Rome, or Babylon, or even Jerusalem. Still, it would be the place where the now-incarnated King of Glory would be born into the fallen world. Bethlehem became the "hinge" between Christ's heavenly past, and His current state as the God-Man Lord of of heaven *and* earth. The humble Baby born in a manger now reigns as the King and Head of His church and all that exists.

Are our situations in life down here a bit on the "humble" side? Let us not think that God cannot and will not visit us in our lowly conditions. He delights to do so—and Bethlehem is proof of this.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Those whose hearts follow hard after the Lord have the right hand of God upholding them.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gos-pel Worship"]

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/27-29/15 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! So as to help prepare us for the Lord's Day's church worship, here are some good words from the great Jonathan Ed-wards, as they are taken from his sermon entitled, "God Glorified in Man's Dependence":

"The grace of God in bestowing this gift [of grace] is most free. God was un-der no obligation to bestow it. He might have rejected fallen man as He did the fallen angels. We never did anything to merit it; it was given while we were yet enemies, and before we had so much as repented. It was from the love of God, who saw no excellency in us to attract it; and it was without ex-pectation of ever being requited [paid back] for it.

"And it is from mere grace that the benefits of Christ are applied to such and such particular persons. Those who are called and sanctified are to attribute it to the good pleasure of God's goodness alone, by which they are distinguish-ed. He is sovereign, and has mercy on who He will have mercy."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thurs., 11/26/15 Devotion (Lk. 10:21a)

Happy Thanksgiving, all you American, Puritan-loving Christians!

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 10:21a, where we read these few words:

"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth . . . ' "

Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself often thanked His Heavenly Father for the vari-ous blessings and mercies that were wrought during the time of the Messiah's first advent. All genuine Spirit-filled living renders thanksgiving to God. There is almost nothing more wretched, gross, and disgusting than a thankless, graceless person.

On this Thanksgiving Day, the one great American Puritan holiday, let us fol-low not only our excellent Pilgrim spiritual fathers; but even much more, our Lord, King, Savior, and Head of the church, the Lord Jesus—by giving heart-felt and sincere thanks to God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justification admits of no degrees. No, not in heav-en—you are not more justified there than you are here. You are now as per-fectly justified as ever and as accepted of Christ as ever.” —Jeremiah Bur-roughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wed., 11/25/15 Devotion (Jon. 4:6)

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

"And the LORD God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant."

To his credit, Jonah was "grateful for the plant"; but it would soon be evident that Jonah's thankfulness was piecemeal. When God removed the plant, Jonah became very peevish and churlish. When God refused to give Jonah a divine fireworks display, by blowing up Nineveh, it displeased the prophet greatly.

True gratitude that honors the Lord is universal and uniform. This does not mean that we Christian churchmen will always get it right; but it does mean that we are to set our hearts on being grateful to God for all things, be they "good" or "evil."

[Puritan quote of the day: "As the sun rises by degrees till it comes to shine in glory, so it was with the Sun of Righteousness [Christ]. He revealed Himself in the church little by little.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tues., 11/24/15 Devotion (1 Chron. 20:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 20:8, where we read these words:

"These were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants."

What problems do we have, that were (and are) "born" of the "giants" that have harassed us (perhaps for years)? Whatever they are, they may fall at the feet of King Jesus, the true and ultimate "David." Even as David, the lad, slew Goliath, the experienced soldier—so it is that all sincere Christian churchmen overwhelm God's enemies, through our faith in Jesus.

Our good and holy God allows "big" troubles to assail us, so as to show us just how great He truly is.  “The bigger they are, the harder they fall”—and no enemy of the true church can stand before Christ, the conquering Sovereign of all.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In heaven the saints rest with Him [God], on earth they walk with Him.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mon., 11/23/15 Devotion (Jon. 2:4)

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

"Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ "

Jonah goes from consciously running away from God, to once again desiring to enjoy His sweet presence (in the context of the temple—the Old Covenant church). What made the difference? Probably, the interesting time he spent in the belly of the great fish.

God has a way of making us, His churched children, want Him very badly. Even when our own fleshly wills assert themselves and get us into big trou-
ble—the Lord knows how to turn us back to Himself, and to cause us to de-spair of sin’s false promises. As we once again regain our senses, and begin to think clearly, we, like Jonah, begin to say, "I will look again toward Your holy temple."  In Christ, there is always hope.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God would have His people humble, but not un-grateful. It is the devil's policy either to keep us from duty, or else to put us up-on it when it is least in season.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Trees of Righteousness Blossoming"]

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/20-22/15 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "A Body of Divinity":

"If you would have peace, make war with sin. Sin is the Achan that troubles us, the Trojan horse. . . . If you would have peace with God, break the league with sin; give battle to sin, for it is a most just war. God has proclaimed it: nay, He has promised us victory. 'Sin shall not have dominion,' (Rom. 6:14). No way to peace, but by maintaining a war with sin. . . . "

"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 taken in by faith, gives peace. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,' (Rom. 5:1). There is no balm to cure a wounded conscience, but the blood of Christ."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thurs., 11/19/15 Devotion (1 Chron. 14:12)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 14:12, where we read these words:

"And when they [the Philistines] left their gods there, David gave a command-ment, and they were burned with fire."

To me, this is one of the funniest verses in all the Bible. The Philistines lug their heavy gods around; and after they get defeated on the battlefield by David and the Israelites, they (the Philistines) dump their gods, and do not even bother to take them with them (as they flee).

What good are gods that are so valueless, that people do not even show them a little respect, so as to get them off the field of battle?! But so it is with all idols: they are worthless. They are good only for being burned (see above). Even all of our "sophisticated" idols need to be thrown on the fire, too.

[Puritan quote of the day: “[God] has sent forth His messengers, and appoint-ed ministers in His church, to be subordinate lights, to shine with the com-munications of His light, and to reflect the beams of His glory on the souls of men.” —Jonathan Edwards, from his sermon, "The True Excellency of a Gos-pel Minister"]

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wed., 11/18/15 Devotion (1 Chron. 11:6)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 11:6, which says this:

"Now David said, 'Whoever attacks the Jebusites first shall be chief and cap-tain.' And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and became chief."

David here employs God's way of developing leaders. The king did not need talkers, braggers, or theoreticians—he needed someone to risk his neck, and kick the Jebusites out (of what would become Jerusalem, the headquarters of the Old Covenant church). We see this same pattern in the New Testament, (cf. Rom. 16:3-4).

What about us? Is God calling us to do something bold for Christ and His church, within the sphere of our influence and ability? Spiritually, we are al-ways "safer" when we are on the offensive, rather than when we are on the defensive.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is not the weakest and poorest creature in the world who is pardoned [for sin] but he understands more of the light of God's grace and covenant than the greatest doctors or rabbis in the world.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tues., 11/17/15 Devotion (1 Chron 9:22)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 9:22, where we read this:

"All those chosen as gatekeepers were two hundred and twelve. They were recorded by their genealogy, in their villages. David and Samuel the seer had appointed them to their trusted office."

David was the king of Israel. Samuel was the prophet of Israel. This verse re-minds us that the church and the state—though not one and the same—are certainly not to be enemies. Both are instituted by God. There is a proper no-tion of the "separation of church and state”—but not so as to put them in ten-sion with one another. They are distinct entities, but they are to work together for the glory of Christ, and the spread of the gospel.

The church is greater than the state (or the family, for that matter); and be-cause of this she is to serve them both, by gentle instruction, and godly ex-ample.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Where God has forgiven sin, such a one need not care for the censures of all the world and the reproaches they cast upon him.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mon., 11/16/15 Devotion (Heb. 11:6)

Today's encouragement comes from the immortal words of Hebrews 11:6, which say this:

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

This amazing verse, along with the chapter in which it is found, is of great en-couragement to every sincere Christian church member. Why? Among other reasons, because it highlights the primacy of the one grace (faith) that imme-diately fetches our Only Hope (Jesus) to our souls. Also, when we look at the "heroes" of the true religion mentioned in Heb., ch. 11, we see a lot of people who were ordinary sinners—just like us—but who were *extraordinary* be-cause of their exercise of faith (just like we get to do).

Let us recognize that faith pleases God because it asserts that it believes He exists, and that He can do anything He wants to, for our good. Are we weak in other graces? Then, let us not worry, so long as we have faith in Jesus.

[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, November 13, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/13-15/15 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is the amazing and incomparable Puritan Thomas Watson, from his book entitled, "The Ten Commandments":

"Faith in Christ is acceptable to God because it is a self-denying grace; it makes a man go out of himself, renounce all self-righteousness, and wholly rely on Christ for justification. It is very humble, it confesses its own indigence [poverty], and lives wholly upon Christ. As the bee sucks sweetness from the flower, so faith sucks all its strength and comfort from Christ.

"Faith is a grace acceptable to God, because by faith we present a right-eousness to Him which best pleases Him: we bring the righteousness of Christ into court, which is called 'the righteousness of God,' (2 Cor 5:21). To bring Christ's righteousness, is to bring Benjamin with us. A believer may say, 'Lord, it is not the righteousness of Adam, or of the angels, but of Christ who is God-Man, that I bring before You.' The Lord cannot but smell a sweet savor in Christ's righteousness."

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thurs., 11/12/15 Devotion (Ps. 144:15)

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

"Happy are the people who are in such a state; happy are the people whose God is the LORD!"

What "state" does the psalmist (David) have in mind, here? The state of tem-poral [this world] bliss, made possible through God's divine protection from His church's enemies. This is clear, from the verses that precede v. 15 (above). This doctrine is interesting, because sometimes we are hesitant to ascribe "happiness" to things pertaining to *this* life. But that type of religious outlook is more akin to Buddhism, than it is to authentic Christianity.

The church, "whose God is the Lord," is a blessed community. Not only do we have all the riches of glory, to be enjoyed in heaven—but in Christ alone we already have all the abundance of grace (in all its forms), to be relished here on earth.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Proud innocence is worse than humble sin, and I would rather see a man tainted with many sins, if he is humbled for them and strives against them, than another puffed up and bragging to others of his freedom from gross and notorious enormities.” —Richard Harris, in, "The Way to True Happiness"]

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wed., 11/11/15 Devotion (Heb. 6:19-20a)

Today's encouragement comes from the words of Hebrews 6:19 & 20a, which say this:

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus . . . "

The hope of believing Christian church members is as tied to the Person of Jesus Christ, as was the rope that they used to tie to the high priest in the old covenant, when he entered the Holy of Holies (for fear that he would die in there, and they would not be able to get him out). When God's people are af-flicted, and tossed and turned on the sea of a world of sin and rebellion—they are always tethered to the Rock, which cannot be moved.

As Christ is our "forerunner," then we who believe will inevitably end up where He is. Jesus is our Hope. There is none to be found anywhere else.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Keep your ear open to God and shut out sin; deaf-en your ears to the lies of the slanderer and the heretic. Do not let him have your ear who comes to rob you of your heart.” —Thomas Watson, in his ser-mon, "The Spiritual Watch"]

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tues., 11/10/15 Devotion (Ps. 142:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 142:7, where David wrote these words:

"Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name; the righteous shall surround me, for You shall deal bountifully with me."

This (above) is a neat last verse of this psalm, because David started-out very down and dejected. Just as the dark clouds hide the bright sun—so life's struggles may hinder our view of the Son of God. Still, let us remember that He is there; and that He will again (soon) show His wondrous face (to our souls).

It is highly God-pleasing when the saints praise the Lord in earnest, even when we feel blue. When we are finally delivered, we will wish we had glori-fied Christ with vigor and enthusiasm (while we were going through our trial).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Church is the wisest body and society in the world. Indeed, all the world besides is a company of mere fools and mad-men.” —Nathaniel Vincent, in, "A Discourse concerning Love"]

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mon., 11/9/15 Devotion (2 Ki. 22:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 22:8, where these words are found:

"Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, 'I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.' And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it."

Whenever the Holy Scriptures are "discovered," especially for the very first time, by Spirit-ripened souls—the results are revolutionary. When young King Josiah had this newly-found scroll read to him, he responded with faith, humil-ity, contrition, and repentance. He then embarked on his wonderful and far-reaching reforms (in Judah).

Does the Holy Book, in conjunction with the Spirit and the gospel life of the church, continue to transform our lives? If our Bible reading brings us to Jesus, and causes us to love Him more—then there is no doubt but that it does.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The heart will tell us that sin is but small, and, be-ing small, it is venial. The heart will apologize for sin, masking bad transac-tions over with golden pretenses.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Spiritual Watch"]

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/6-8/15 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here are words from Thomas Watson's, "The Lord's Prayer" book:

"True faith is wrought by the ministry of the word. 'Faith comes by hearing,' (Rom. 10:17). Peter let down the net of his ministry, and at one [fell swoop] caught three thousand souls. Let us examine how our faith was wrought. Did God in the ministry of the word humble us? Did He break up the fallow ground of our heart, and then cast in the seed of faith? A good sign; but, if you know not how you came by your faith, suspect yourselves; as we suspect men to have stolen goods, when they know not how they came by them.

"True faith is at first small, like a grain of mustard-seed; it is full of doubts and fears; it is smoking flax: it smokes with desire, but does not flame with com-fort. It is so small that a Christian can hardly discern whether he has faith or not.

"True faith is joined with sanctity. . . . Though faith does but touch Christ, it fetches a healing virtue from Him. Justifying faith does that in a spiritual sense which miraculous faith does; it removes the mountains of sin, and casts them into the sea of Christ's blood."

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thurs., 11/5/15 Devotion (2 Ki. 18:22)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 18:22, where we read these words:

"But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the LORD our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’?"

This verse (above) records the words of the Assyrian official, who was seek-ing to taunt and discourage the people of Jerusalem, during Hezekiah's reign. What is intriguing, is that he thought Hezekiah (who was a very faithful be-liever in the Lord) had *dishonored* God, by his (Hezekiah's) tearing down of "high places" and "altars."

In the True Religion, less is more. And even though there were fewer places for people to be religious—the ground was laid for them to be actually faithful and obedient (to God), through Hezekiah's reforms. Let us be less-impressed by pomp and circumstance; and more committed to God's truth—especially as it is incarnated in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: " 'Yes, I know, Satan, that Christ loves me, because you tell me that He hates me.' “ —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wed., 11/4/15 Devotion (Ps. 130:3-4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 130:3 & 4, which says this:

"If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared."

This psalm is written by, and for those who were on their way to perform sin-cere worship of God. The true believer knows, that though he or she hates his or her sins, and seeks to repent of them all—he or she is still far from confes-sing all of them. On top of that, all hearts, in their natural states, are still totally corrupt.

But the wonder is that God forgives *all* the sins of those who sincerely be-lieve in Christ's blood atonement. This fact engenders a loving fear of the Lord, (even as this psalm avers).

[Puritan quote of the day: "If, when public ordinances are administered, any person, whether out of pride or sloth, shall stay at home, though he may have his private devotions, yet he brings forth fruit out of season, and let that man know he shall bear his sin.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Trees of Righteousness Blossoming"]

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tues., 11/3/15 Devotion (Ps. 128:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 128:5, where we read these words:

"The LORD bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life."

This is a sweet benediction (above). What better life is there, than to be bles-sed by God "out of Zion," viz. from Christ's church? And what more pleasant prospect is there, than to "see the good of Jerusalem," viz. the church, the people of God, "all the days of [our lives]"?

These are the values the Lord places on life on earth; and they are the ones we ought to aspire to, as well. As we do so, by grace, we learn how to live in heaven, while we are yet on the earth. May all God's children be encouraged today. Instead of despairing, let us look to Christ for help and grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Hence we learn that a life of holiness is the pleas-antest life in this world, because in such a life we have the imperfect begin-nings of a blessed and endless sight of God.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Pure in Heart Blessed"]

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mon., 11/2/15 Devotion (Hos. 8:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from Hosea 8:14a, where we read these words:

"For Israel has forgotten his Maker, and has built temples . . . "

At first glance, this is a strange couplet (above). Israel *forgets* God; and then goes out and *builds temples*. Here, we see the incurable religiosity of all people everywhere. Just because sinners choose to dishonor the True God—this does absolutely nothing to alleviate their need to worship *some* god, of some sort.

Let us resolve to remember that every unbeliever we talk to today—be they allegedly as "irreligious" as they want to pretend to be—are diligently building temples for their false deities. We also would be in this boat, except that God has miraculously and sovereignly brought all true believers to Himself, and placed us in Jesus, and His church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that enjoys much of God in this life carries heaven about him. . . . The enjoyment of God's sweet presence here is an earnest of our enjoying Him in heaven.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Di-vinity"]

Friday, October 30, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/30-11/1/15 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Lord's Prayer":

"Here is comfort to those who are the subjects of the King of heaven. God will put forth all the royal power for their help and comfort. (1) The King of heaven will plead their cause: 'I will plead your cause, and take vengeance for you,' (Jer. 51:36). (2) He will protect His people. He sets an invisible guard about them: 'I will be unto her a wall of fire round about,' (Zech. 2:5). A wall, that is defensive; a wall of fire, that is offensive. (3) When it may be for the good of His people, He will raise up deliverance to them. 'The Lord saved them by a great deliverance,' (1 Chron. 11:14).

"God reigning as a King, can save any way; even by contemptible means, as the blowing of the trumpets, and blazing of lamps, (Judges 7:20). By contrary means; as when He made the sea a wall to Israel, and the waters were a means to keep them from drowning. The fish's belly was a ship in which Jon-ah sailed safe to shore. God will never want ways of saving His people; rather than fail, their very enemies shall do His work, (2 Chron 20:23). He sets Am-mon and Mount Seir one against another. As God will deliver His people from temporal danger, so from spiritual danger, as from sin, and from hell. 'Jesus delivered us from the wrath to come,' (1 Thess. 1:10)."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thurs., 10/29/15 Devotion (2 Tim. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, which says this:

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

Ministers have to be pretty stout souls—and Paul knew that Timothy's natural disposition was anything but "Type A." Still, the apostle reminded the young pastor that God's provisions in his (Timothy's) ordination included courage, sweetness, and firm resolve.

The world around us *can* at times be a pretty foreboding (fearful) place; but the Lord has given each of His Christian churchmen—clergy *and* laity—a Spirit—not of cowardice, but one of true skill in living, charity, and solid, spirit-ual reason. Let all God's believing children rise up today, and shed every-where the light of Christ's grace. Let us take our rightful places as the royalty of heaven (here on earth).

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who has God to be his God is so well content-ed with his condition that he does not much care whether he has anything else.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wed., 10/28/15 Devotion (Ps. 119:86c)

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

" . . . Help me!"

Sometimes the best prayers are the simplest ones. God is not impressed with flowery oratory in prayer. He would rather hear a few syllables of gut-wrench-ing honesty, than a whole dissertation of religious insincerity.

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]

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tues., 10/27/15 Devotion (Ps. 119:49)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:49, where we read these words:

"Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope."

All of us operate on the principle(s) of one or two foundational statements, which we thoroughly believe; and, against which all other truth claims get measured. The psalmist (above—who wrote Ps. 119) was famous for his love for God's word; and yet even he fiercely clung to some *one* promise of the Lord, which gave him "hope," and which helped him cope in a tough world.

What is it, at base, to which we are *really* committed? If it is the Gospel prin-ciple, which directs us to Jesus, and puts us in His church—then we are in good shape. If it is anything else, then we are putting our hope in things (and people) which cannot deliver.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Faith works the heart to a sweet, serene compo-sure. It is not having food and raiment, but having faith which will make us content.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mon., 10/26/15 Devotion (1 Tim. 4:4a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 4:4a, where we read these words:

"For every creature of God is good . . . "

This is a refreshing doctrine (above). Every single created being and thing is good, (even mosquitos—if we can believe that[!]). Of course, fallen sinners have managed to foul-up and idolatrize virtually every good thing God creat-ed. But this in no way detracts from the intrinsic goodness of everything God made.

False religion leaves people feeling sick and uneasy. This is because it seeks to gain God's approval through denigration of the good things God created, viz. by requiring people to abstain from them, or using them in a perverse way. The True Religion is able to enjoy *everything* God made; and do so to Christ's honor and glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Lord gives double pay. He gives great rewards in His service here—and afterwards He refreshes us with the delights of para-dise which are without intermission and expiration.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Fight of Faith Crowned"]

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/23-25/15 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! This Lord’s Day is “Reformation Sun-day,” as we celebrate the 498th anniversary of the official start of the Protes-tant Reformation. In order to try to help get us ready for the church's worship of God, here is the amazing Thomas Watson, from his "A Divine Cordial" book:

"If it be God's purpose that saves, then it is not free will. The Pelagians are strenuous asserters of free will. They tell us that a man has an innate power to effect his own conversion; but this text [Eph. 1:11] confutes it. Our calling is 'according to God's purpose.' The Scripture plucks up the root of free will: 'It is not of him that wills,' (Rom. 9:16). All depends upon the purpose of God. When the prisoner is cast [bound] at the bar, there is no saving him, unless the king has a purpose to save him. God's purpose is His prerogative royal.

"If it is God's purpose that saves, then it is not merit. Bellarmine holds that good works do expiate [take away] sin and merit glory; but the text says that we are called according to God's purpose, and there is a parallel Scripture: 'Who has saved us, and called us, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace,' (2 Tim. 1:9). There is no such thing as merit. Our best works have in them both defection and infection, and so are but glittering sins; therefore if we are called and justified, it is God's purpose that brings it to pass."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thurs., 10/22/15 Devotion (Ps. 115:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 115:3, which says this:

"But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases."

This is a great verse on the sovereignty of God: the doctrine that the Lord does what He wants to, and that He is not beholden to anyone or anything. But sometimes we have to admit that we (even among the true church) do not always like the things the sovereign God allows to happen. After all, there are a lot of "negative" events that occur in our world (and even to ourselves).

What is the sincere and serious Christian to do about this? That is a very valid question. We are to trust that the Maker of all things, and the Redeemer of His people understands and directs *all* things according to a great plan of His, (that He alone can and does fully comprehend). We are to believe that God has His church's best interests in mind always; and that everything He does ultimately accrues for the church's good and His glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have heaven while you are on earth when you have a contented spirit; yea, in some regards it is better than heaven.”
—Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment"]

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wed., 10/21/15 Devotion (Dan. 6:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from Daniel 6:3a, where we read these words:

"Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, be-cause an excellent spirit was in him . . . "

Daniel was an extraordinarily-gifted man. He had faith, integrity, humility, in-telligence, looks, position, honor, advancement, and the respect of all his superiors. But what is interesting—and we see this as an almost-universal fact—is that his carnal contemporaries both envied him, and sought to bring him down.

When we find these "excellent spirit"-type of Christian church members—we should seek to emulate them; and not to destroy them. They are models to us of what we can all be, too. Let us learn to appreciate what God Himself ad-mires; and let us not forget the fate of the enemies of such souls: they—Dan-iel's accusers—ended up being dinner for a bunch of hungry lions(!)

[Puritan quote of the day: "A true saint thinks he can never speak too well of God or too ill of himself.” —Richard Steele, in, "The Character of an Upright Man"]

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tues., 10/20/15 Devotion (Ps. 111:4b, 5b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 111:4b & 5b, where we read these words:

"The LORD is gracious and full of compassion. . . . He will ever be mindful of His covenant."

What a great God all true Christians serve! He is amazingly merciful; and He is totally committed to His covenant (i.e. keeping His promises to His church, in Christ's blood atonement). The world, our own flesh, and the devil are al-ways seeking to make us think that the Lord is anything *but* "gracious and full of compassion”—but in time and space all the redeemed know this to be true.

Since we have such a wonderful God, let us serve Him with cheerfulness and liveliness today. While we live in this world, we have the honor and privilege of overcoming our weaknesses (by faith); and, as we do this, we can lift up the Name of the Lord Jesus before the watching world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Though heaven is God's glorious mansion, yet it will not serve His turn. God does not think that to be enough unless He has a dwelling also in a tender, broken, humble spirit.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Fear"]

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mon., 10/19/15 Devotion (1 Ki. 22:14)

Today’s encouragement comes from 1 Kings 22:14, where we read these words:

“But Micaiah said, 'As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I will speak.’ “ (ESV)

Faithful and truly-called church ministers of Christ’s gospel would literally rather die, than fail to deliver the message God lays on their hearts. Micaiah (above) was being encouraged to join the false prophets, and speak words that the wicked King Ahab wanted to hear. But Micaiah refused to do this. He was but one against 400 (false) prophets.

Even today, real pastors are urged to “fudge” on the truth, and to “tickle the ears” of sinners. Worse than that, they are pressured to “ease-up” on sin, and especially not to make it too “personal.” But God’s faithful servants do Christ and His church the most good (by far) when they are true to Jesus, and preach to people what they really need to hear.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Nothing in all the world can deliver from the fear of death but forgiveness of sin, and then this makes a man look on the Day of Judgment with comfort.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in a book of his sermons, en-titled, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/16-18/15 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from, "The Ten Com-mandments." Here, he is dealing with the Fifth Commandment. . . .

"Honor these spiritual fathers, by becoming advocates for them, and wiping off those slanders and calumnies which are unjustly cast upon them, (1 Tim 5:19). Constantine was a great honorer of the ministry; he vindicated them; he would not read the envious accusations brought against them, but burnt them. Do the ministers open their mouths to God for you in prayer, and will not you open your mouths in their behalf? Surely, if they labor to preserve you from hell, you should preserve them from slander; if they labor to save your souls, you ought to save their credit.

"Honor them by conforming to their doctrine. The greatest honor you can put upon your spiritual fathers, is to believe and obey their doctrine. He is an hon-orer of the ministry who is not only a hearer, but a follower of the word. As disobedience reproaches the ministry, so obedience honors it. The apostle calls the Thessalonians his crown. 'What is our crown of rejoicing? Is it not you?' (1 Thess 2:19). A thriving people are a minister's crown. When there is a metamorphosis, a change wrought; when people come to the word proud, but go away humble; when they come earthly, but they go away heavenly; when they come, as Naaman to Jordan, lepers, but they go away healed; then the ministry is honored. . . . You cannot honor your spiritual fathers more, than by thriving under their ministry, and living upon the sermons which they preach."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thurs., 10/15/15 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. . . . ' "

We should appreciate this perspective, put out by Elijah. Even today this same 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 him (or it). Is the atheists' god the true one? Then we should bow down to it. Is the secularists' god true? Let all people honor it (or her, or whatever). Is the God of the True Christian Religion the only Real De-ity? Then, let all humans and angels worship Him.

It turns out that the Holy Trinity *is* the one and only God. We know this—among other reasons—primarily by the resurrection of the Son of God, who lives and reigns today. Christ can withstand all pretenders to His throne. Let us worship Him; and let us 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"]

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wed., 10/14/15 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. This is all happening today. Christ dwells in the "sanctuary," (the church). The church, through the Holy Spirit, feeds, nou-rishes, and heals the world. And, in time, the "knowledge of the Lord covers the earth, as the waters cover the sea."

Let us be thankful that the God of heaven has *not* abandoned His earth, or the people thereupon. 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 preaching of the gospel.

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tues., 10/13/15 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 comedic. But this was how it was in the an-cient (and still even in the modern) worlds: when claimants to the throne bat-tled it out, one won, and the other died. But it may dawn on us that there is a much more profound (and legitimate) application of this principle; and it is
this . . .

. . . When sinners 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 true believers reckon themselves to be dead to sin, and alive to 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"]

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thurs.-Mon., 10/8-12/15 Devotion (Ps. 92:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 92:13 & 14, where we read these words, from a Psalm for the Sabbath Day:

"Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flour-ishing . . . "

Are some of us growing a bit older (like me), and wondering if our lives have been worth while, or not? If so, please recognize—even from the verses above—that those who are firmly planted in Jesus, in His church *do* make all the difference in the world, and that they *do* "flourish," and that they *do* continue to "bear fruit in old age."

All who forsake Jesus, and therefore also His church, waste their lives. Their miserable existences are worth nothing. On the other hand, those who plant themselves in Christ and His soil, are rich, fruitful, and fulfilled.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's blood only can merit pardon.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wed., 10/7/15 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 of them are the only people on earth who will weather the storms of this life (and the next). 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 per-formance—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"]